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Thread: GPS Trackers and Emergency Evacuation

  1. #16
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by robsryder View Post
    The information contained in this thread is useful and should be "stickied" to allow easy future reference. I was particularly interested in learning about options for short term rental of sat phones and getting short term coverage for emergency evac services. This may be quite useful for those planning a longish ride out west this summer.

    I found a few websites that provide coverage maps for various cell phone providers -

    My primary cell phone is through AT&T, but they have very poor coverage along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. Therefore I have obtained a pre-paid Verizon phone for emergency use (Verizon has pretty good coverage in most of the areas where I ride).
    The thread is well documented in the "Tag Cloud". Unfortunately, not many read "stickies" :-(
    Also unfortunately many skip the Best of Forum area as well'
    For those unfamiliar with "Tag Cloud" usage, here is a tutorial-

    Always good to prepare for the worst and hope for the best

    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose". MI5
    Moderator Team.
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  2. #17

    PLB plus SPOT

    Forgive my formatting if it's incorrect. Just joined, this is my first post.

    I've owned a SPOT for almost 10 years for aviation use. It's excellent for tracking and sending basic pre-formatted messages. I've never used the emergency response button, but I have heard firsthand reports that the service is good and was dispatched quickly into VERY rural Quebec for a downed aircraft.

    For piece of mind, I also carry a dedicated PLB, particularly for overwater flights to the Bahamas.

    The roughly ~$1000 cost of the SPOT, subscription, and the PLB are a small price for peace of mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    Devices like SPOT and InReach are very useful for tracking, but should not be depended upon as frontline rescue equipment. Tracking has value in that it allows family and friends to follow along on your journey, provides an exact record of your travels, and can provide a jumping-off point and direction of travel in the event that you suddenly go incommunicado. If you wish to do tracking my recommendation would be to link your device (SPOT, InReach, or cellphone with Bubbler or SWConnect installed) to the excellent Spotwalla site run by Jason Jonas ( An example track of mine can be seen here. Once you build a "trip" file there it remains in place for future reference.

    Be aware that these devices are relatively inexpensive and as such, you should not expect a super-high level of reliability. These units can and do fail, with no warning other than a change of color on the blinking lights--which is useless for the colorblind among us. My wife and I had a SPOT unit fail during a Three Flags ride and traveled across much of lower British Columbia thinking our kids knew exactly where we were, when in fact the track had stopped before we even crossed into BC.

    SPOT has traditionally had a limited range of messaging, consisting of pre-formatted messages that can be sent from the device buttons. On mine, for example, pressing OK button sends a message of "Just checking in. If stopped I am getting food, fuel, or rest! Follow my trip at XXX". Pressing the HELP button sends "If you are receiving this I have had a breakdown or other problem. Please call ASAP XXX-XXX-XXXX". And of course, pressing the SOS button initiates a rescue routine. InReach and the newest SPOT device allow comms through your cell phone, which offers greater flexibility in messaging but also assumes you will be in a condition capable of communicating, or that another rider or passer-by will be able to deduce how to use your device to signal that help is needed. Lastly, the SPOT has generally been less expensive to buy and subscribe than the InReach devices, but since SPOT is now rolling out new devices and services that relationship may change. SPOT and InReach use different satellite networks and InReach, using Iridium, probably has the superior network.

    Always wear or carry your device, whichever one you choose, on your person and not your bike. There's a good chance that in the event of an injury crash you will be separated from the bike, and you may not be capable of getting back to the bike or digging through a tankbag or pannier to find your device.

    If you want a higher level of dependability WRT emergency assistance in the event of a crash or other major catastrophe requiring medical extraction, you really don't want to depend upon either SPOT or InReach--you want a PLB or EPIRB similar to this. These are one-time purchase, no annual fee, and generally have a 5yr lifespan before needing to be sent in for battery replacement, and I plan on carrying one when I ride Austraila someday.

    Lastly, medical extraction and transport services are a good idea. Just be sure to read the policies carefully, as most are quite explicit about the conditions required before they will dispatch air or other transport. And LifeFlight (Medivac) insurance to cover transport from crash site to trauma center is generally an entirely separate policy and coverage. READ the POLICIES CAREFULLY.

    The above is based strictly on my experience and opinion and likely worth whatever you paid for it...

    Good luck, and enjoy your ride in the US!

  3. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by robsryder View Post

    My primary cell phone is through AT&T, but they have very poor coverage along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. Therefore I have obtained a pre-paid Verizon phone for emergency use (Verizon has pretty good coverage in most of the areas where I ride).
    Hopefully you will have better luck than us up there. We have found Verizon to be very spotty on Skyline Drive and the BRP. Rarely do we have coverage anywhere we camp.

    I carry an ACR PLB that is about the size of a deck of cards and fits in my pocket. No subscription fees. I donít have any use for the tracking or signalling features offered by SPOT, etc.

    If I need to communicate with someone for some reason in a non-emergency situation, it can wait until I have cell coverage. If itís an emergency, first try cell phone then use PLB if no cell coverage.

  4. #19
    Registered User rwadamsidaho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Sweet, Idaho

    Spot & inReach use in remote country

    As a member of Backcountry Horsemen of Idaho HTTP:// I can tell you that many of our member carry them and they have been instrumental in a number of rescues over the last few years. Most of us also carry Life Flight insurance so if we need a ride our of a wilderness it's covered. I personally carry a inReach Mini and as long as it is paired to a smart phone it is a great option. Otherwise one of the Garmin option with a keyboard and bigger screen is a better choice. The big advantage to these devices is two-way communication, the old Spots were push and pray. The current generation when SOS is pushed, you will get a response and can tell them what is going on 140 characters at a time, think tweets. You can also send text messages to any cell phone or email address and receive replies, so you can tell your family if you are having a problem or just want to stay a day longer. I won't leave home without one, on either my horse or F850GSA

  5. #20
    Registered User bluegrasspicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Rochester, MN
    Here is a great podcast episode on how the rescue response works
    Tom Barrie
    2012 K1600GTL
    2002 R1150RT (sold)

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