Gear Watch: Spot Connect

SPOT Connect is a GPS-enabled, satellite-communication device that wirelessly links to your smart phone via a Bluetooth connection. Once connected, you can use your smart phones to send short text messages via satellite from virtually anywhere on Earth, including backcountry areas that are far, far beyond the range of cell coverage.

Created by the same company (Spot) that manufactures the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, this new 4.9-ounce (including batteries) device provides the capabilities to type and send (very) short text messages of up to 41 characters, or send a predefined message of up to 120 characters. Users download the accompanying smart phone app to interface with SPOT Connect.

SPOT Connect incorporates many of the same features found in its Satellite GPS Messenger, including the ability to check in with friends and relatives using a predefined email or text message and track your progress in (near) real time using Google Maps. It also works as a stand-alone emergency device—users can send a 'come-rescue-me-or-I'm-going-to-die' signal directly from SPOT Connect to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center. (You can read more about the technology behind SPOT and other locator beacons in my article Wilderness Lifelines.)

SPOT Connect runs on two AA batteries (no battery life listed), which means you can swap in new batteries in the field. Here's the company's spec sheet and a promotional video outlining SPOT Connect's benefits and functionality.

SPOT Connect should hit store shelves sometime in February and will retail for $170. It requires an additional annual service plan to enable its various features. A basic plan runs $100 for the year, but does not include the tracking feature ($50 extra per year) or the Type & Send ($50 for 500 messages, $30 for 100 messages, or $0.50 per individual message).

Another small step towards total connection and information, anywhere, anytime. The implications and effects of all this on the future of "wilderness experience" is another topic entirely.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.