Apr 20, 2012

New Spot II Satellite GPS Messenger

Spot GPS Messenger
Just got a new Spot GPS Messenger.  Got it for my son exploring China, but will use on my backpacking trips in the future.  BestBuy has these for $60.  www.bestbuy.com/site/SPOT

--- Snip --- The SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger gives you a line of communication when and where you want it, and emergency assistance when and where you need it. Stay connected regardless of cell coverage.

   SPOT Satellite Tracker Main Functions:

Check-in Using Spot
Check-in with SPOT - This feature allows you to let your friends and family know that all is OK with a pre-programmed message along with your GPS location is sent via email or SMS to up to 10 pre-determined contacts and your waypoint is stored in your SPOT account for later reference. Your stored waypoints can be easily integrated into a SPOT Shared Page or SPOT Adventure account. 

Help me SPOT - Ask for helpHelp! - In the event of a non-life threatening emergency, you can use this function to notify your personal contacts that you need assistance. [Optional $$] Additional SPOT Assist services can be purchased and programmed to your Help button as well. When activated with SPOT Assist, the Help button will notify professional services either on the land or water. SPOT has partnered with national service providers to offer non-life threatening assistance. 

Custom Message - This feature allows you to send your friends and family receive a pre-programmed, custom message along with your GPS location with a push of a button. 

911 SPOT with GEOS don't forget to buy insuranceSOS and 911 - Press and hold the SOS button to alert emergency responders of life-threatening events. The GEOS Emergency Response Center will work with public response agencies around the world, and call your emergency contacts to find out more about your situation and keep them informed of rescue progress. GEOS works with all rescue agencies from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and Coast Guard to local urban and rural 9-1-1 call centers. Optionally [$12/yr], GEOS will also dispatch private rescue agencies in those countries where public resources won't do. SOS sends a message and location update every 5 minutes until canceled. 

Track your Trip with SPOT Satellite Messenger[Optional $50/yr] SPOT Track Progress - This feature allows you to send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress in near real time using Google Maps. With your SPOT account you have the ability to set up a SPOT Shared Page which allows you to show your SPOT GPS locations to others on a Google Map.

[Optional $$] Roadside Assistance - Using the SPOT help feature you can get roadside service 24/7  in the United States and Canada. Using your national roadside assistance provider the SPOT will pinpoint your location for the service provider to ensure quick service when you are stuck by the road. -- Snip --

Basic Service costs $99 for I'm OK, Custom message, Help and SOS.  Options: $49 for Tracking, which uploads your location every 10 minutes for 24 hours.  All info is available from a shared website.  You can see my site here: 

Spot uses the Globalstar Simplex Data Service. Globalstar is a low Earth orbit satellite constellation for low-speed data communications, somewhat similar to the Iridium satellite constellation and Orbcomm satellite systems.
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Packing a Backpack

While trying to figure out how to pack my backpack, I found this great blog post by Eric "The Black" Aborbon.  http://blackwoodspress.com/blog/9556/how-to-pack-a-backpack/

I can take NO credit for this great graphic!
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Osprey EXOS 58 Backpack

Osprey Exos 58
I just got a new backpack.  It's an Osprey EXOS 58.  It weighs just 2.5 lbs!  My old pack weighted over 5.5 lbs.  While extremely light, it is much more versatile than my old one.    I had given up my pack top "lid" on my old pack to save weight.  I'm glad I get that feature back on my new pack.  It also has a pair of clips for hold your hiking sticks while hiking.
For more on this pack, see:

3-19 Update:  After a week on the AT with this pack, I absolutely love it.  All the pockets keep me organized.  The side mesh pockets allowed me to stash my Gatorade bottles while on the move and still hold my windshirt and/or trash I picked up on the trail.  The sleeping pad loops are a little short.  Just fits my RidgeRest.

  • Ice Axe clips hold my hiking poles when traveling. 
  • Hiking pole Stow-and-Go works perfectly.  Great
    • Putting one pole in the Stow-and-Go and using it to prop my arm while holding my umbrella worked great.
  • Found that the lower Inside-out compression is best inside to not hinder putting my Gatorade bottle in the side mesh.
  • Easily bottle to and from the side mesh pockets without missing a stride.
  • Air Suspension back panel kept my back cool.
  • Vertical access zips is really a pocket, not access to main bag.  Can be difficult to get stuff in these when bag is packed.
  • Hip belt buckle seams a little small...  But working great so far. 
4-19-12 Update: Backpacker Magazine May 2012 scored the Osprey Exos 46 as most stable ultralight pack, and scored just below GoLite Jam 50. See http://www.backpacker.com/gear-review-osprey-exos-46-backpack/gear/16631

6-25-12 Update: Found a great review on backpackgeartest that describes the pack in detail:

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