Nobody likes to think about it, but things can go wrong fast on a dirt bike. Those things can be compounded by remoteness and being alone. That’s why the SPOT Gen3 exists. This GPS tracking device’s sole purpose is to help you out when you are out of cell range and need to communicate to someone or have help sent.
The Gen3 works by using both a GPS satellite system and commercial communication satellites to get messages from your device to the people who need to get them. The main feature of the tracker is the SOS button, which is exactly for what you think it’s for. It is just like dialing 911—only to be used in life-or-death situations. If you hit this button, there is a boat, plane, helicopter, and/or a Jeep coming to your exact GPS location.
All the other features of the SPOT tracker have to be set up on your computer before you head out.
On SPOT’s website, you enter up to 10 contacts (emails/phone numbers) that you want to be contacted when you hit any of the other function buttons. The next step down from the SOS button is the HELP button for non-life-threatening emergencies. That’s like if you broke an arm and can’t ride out but you’re not in mortal danger. Or if you are horribly lost and need a buddy to find you, but, again, you are not dying. Then there is the personal message button that can say anything you set it up to say before you leave. The OK button sends your exact location and just lets your contact know you are okay. Lastly, a tracking feature lets people track you via the SPOT website in real time and lets you see your route when you get home.
I’ve used it on a bunch of rides and my wife really likes the OK message. I send one right before I start riding so she knows where my truck is and where I started from, and then I will send another if I will be gone longer than expected. The email and text she receives includes my latitude and longitude, date, time, and a link to a Google Maps page with a pin showing my exact location.
A bummer is that on top of the price of the Gen3 you have to pay for a subscription to use SPOT’s services. Overall, this is a great peace-of-mind product that can calm you and your spouse when you go for a solo ride. I hope I never have to use the HELP or SOS features, but when I’m out on the trails it’s nice to know they are there.