Aug 9, 2008 at 9:47 am #1230558
Those who are following Karl Meltzer's record attempt for a supported AT thru-hike (http://www.whereskarl.com/) can only be underwhelmed by the performance of the SPOT satellite messenger system he has chosen.
Of the two his team has, both have been confirmed to work as of this post on his blog: "Ok. So see the little Karl icons off the trail time-stamped from last night? That's me. After I got the guys all lined out with dinner last night, I drove down the fire road about 7 miles to a clearing by a lake. I had both the SPOT units we have with me so that I could test them out. I turned them on and spent about 25 minutes out there, sending signals and trying to get in touch with someone on my cell phone who could tell me if they were working. They worked."
The reason for such an entry? It's 10-minute uplink has proven painfully unreliable, and many people have asked if the SPOTs are turned on or working properly. In the first days of his run, where he averaged 12 hours of movement per day, he is only showing up with 2 or 3 locations out of a potential of 70 or more. SPOT may have sponsored Karl, but it seems they are hurting their reputation more than helping it with this publicity.
While it is true that heavy foliage can prevent such transmissions, the only areas in which Karl is showing up is in places with NO cover at all, such as on Mt. Katahdin, the Kennebec River, and road crossings where he is meeting his team. Karl will face comparable tree cover the entire length of his attempt except in the above-timberline country of New Hampshire's White Mountains and the southern balds.
Only time will tell how Karl does, but it seems likely SPOT will NOT make a good showing.Aug 9, 2008 at 10:38 am #1446403
@clwillaLocale: The Bluegrass
I'm highly intrigued by the potential that SPOT has. It would certainly make my wife feel better knowing that she could look me up at just about any point and see exactly where I am, and that I might have the ability to send for help in the event I ever needed it.
That said, this technology is definitely not yet fleshed out and has quite a long way to go before it is actually ready for widespread use.
It's a great idea which isn't implemented very well.Aug 9, 2008 at 10:51 am #1446407
@johnnybgood4Locale: New Hampshire
My wife has been asking me to get it after seeing the TV commercials with Les Stroud, but after following Karl's attempt the last few days I think I'm going to pass. It just doesn't work well enough, at least in the Northeast where I do the majority of my hiking.Aug 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm #1446469
René EnguehardBPL Member
"It's a great idea which isn't implemented very well."
Which is really sad to say of what is chiefly an emergency device. If there's one device you need to work in an emergency, I guess it better not be this one.Aug 15, 2008 at 1:19 pm #1447244
My SPOT has worked well for me here in the PNW.
Oddly, it is 100% in the backcountry, even in trees, by cabins, and low down, but is 50/50 when I tested it in the city.
I'm curious if some units simply work better than others – I would not trade mine, hearing about problems others have had.Aug 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm #1447249
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
I and many others used these things on the Colorado Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Bike route this summer, including 2 emergency situations. While it's not perfect, I'm pretty happy with mine and will continue to carry it. It's a better device for me than a cell phone which never has signal.
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