Several people told me that they’re worried about the remote areas I’m going to in Hornstrandir, Iceland. Just because I might very well be all by my self for the whole duration and that the cell phone coverage isn’t the best. Better to be safe than sorry if something happens. Also Safetravel.is recommends carrying on combined with a compass, map and a GPS because if winds are blowing in from the north or north-west it comes with very dense fog and visibility is usually around 50 meters or less.
Of course safety is always on the top of the list, especially when going solo. After a little researching if I was to rent a PLB (personal location beacon) at Ísafjörður or buying one, I bought myself a Spot Gen 3. The price tag of renting a PLB from West Fjords Tours was about 20€ per day so it was quite expensive as a Spot Gen 3 costs about 200€, for the unit.
It would be nice if it was done there but for 200€ you get a piece of plastic and a strap so that you can attach it to your backpack. Noup, you need a yearly subscription too, 180€ with VAT. This includes the possibility to set tracking intervals between 5, 10, 30 and 60 minutes. The renewal is fortunately enough cheaper, about 100€ less, depending on if you want to have the possibility to set the tracking on anything other than real-time. If you want to be able to send text-messages to phones you can either pay per text or buy a SMS-bundle of 200 for an additional 20€. If you don’t want to buy this, e-mail and a smart phone app is included. The checkout process feels kind of like buying airplane tickets… You want this too? And maybe this?
Registering on the site takes a few minutes but is not complicated. Just follow the instructions and keep the serial number and the authentication code ready. Ones you’re done this is what the setup page looks like where you manage your device(s) and can set your different messages for Check In, Custom message and Help/SPOT S.O.V. The last one being the “I need help but not helicopters and search teams” – here you can customize the message being sent. Mine reads something like “Something has happened, it’s not urgent but I need help. Please check my location and try to call my phone”.
With all of this in place you’re good to go. Plug it in to your computer, there’s a mandatory update, run that and you’ll also “download” the tracking profile. Tracking settings is the only thing you can’t do wireless. Then just go outside, fire up the unit and wait for it to get connection with the satellites. After that you can send the Check In message to see that everything works.
You can even run different profiles if you’d like. Each profile can then of course hold different messages and tracking intervals.
All the specifications such as weight, size etc can be found here. It’s currently on sale in the US, 50% off, unfortunately not in Europe.