Sharing satellite trackers?

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  • #14146
    Nick Heath

    As Susan Conrad passed around her trusted old SPOT satellite tracker at our last general meeting, I was reminded that sitting in my pack at my feet was my own trusty (so far) SPOT that sees use about twice a year but otherwise sits dormant, as I’m sure do many others belonging to other members. (I include all varieties of trackers such as InReach etc.)

    These things are not so expensive to buy but have a heavy monthly/annual cost for service. The cheapest service for my SPOT is $200USD or $249CAD. You have to by year-round service although they cunningly claim that there is a monthly subscription rate – which is a sham. The thing costs more than my smart phone!

    It is easy to reconfigure the cloud software to change the basic personal information – this is done, I guess, at the insistence of rescue authorities who want to know exactly who who set off the SOS alert, not who bought the thing. They anticipate that folks lend them to each other – e.g. to my daughter for her weekend hiking trip.

    So, would it work for SKABC to have a loaner program? Many years ago, I suggested that SKABC buy some of these devices as loaners, but the club’s history with shared equipment (radios) was not good, so the idea was dropped quickly. Instead, what I propose is a loan of one’s personal tracker – or is this too risky to contemplate?  I’d just like to see mine get more than minimal use. Maybe others feel the same way or I am missing some vital point?

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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  • #14157
    Nick Heath

    Thanks for those replies. As a result of this input, I don’t see any good reason why my SPOT Gen 3 could not be available to any SKABC member who wants to borrow it, provided that they return it in its original condition, possibly refresh the Li-On batteries pay me a deposit (such as their first born child) and update the web-based ‘ownership’ data. My main risks are that they lose it, break it or fail to return it (covered by deposit), that I forget to re-set the web data (my problem) or that, although it looks fine, it no longer works properly. I can easily test the messaging function on return, so I don’t see the last point as a serious one.  If someone loses it, I can say thanks, pocket the deposit and go out and buy the Delorme unit instead, which has broader functionality and a more rational, but still expensive service plan. Or better yet, I can borrow one!

    This points to a high potential for swapping privately-owned units among members, but unless someone is willing to take on the task and be dedicated to it, this is not an suitable official club function using club-owned loaner units.

    Please don’t buy more SPOT Gen 3s for your occasional trips – put the money to a better cause –  like I wish I had chosen to do!

    Randy Chatterjee

    I have in past years publicly offered my InReach Navigator to anyone in the club.  The only taker from the club was Harald, whom of course I could trust implicitly.  He borrowed it for several months while out cruising in his sailboat and he left a breadcrumb trail we could all follow.  He reimbursed me for the cost of the device for that period he had it.

    In addition, I lent it to some UBC students who called me to ask for beta for a trip to a remote part of Vancouver’s Islands west coast.  I lent it to them for free for three weeks, just to keep them safe.

    I could not agree more that the sticker price (high as it is at $300-400) is a small part of the actual cost.  I am on a US “Freedom Plan” that charges me USD $18 per month essentially for emergency use only and is the minimum possible monthly charge.  If I want to send more than 10 messages per month or not pay 10 cents per uploaded waypoint, then the price jumps to $40 a month for unlimited waypoint tracking and up to 40 messages at no additional cost per message.

    The InReach can have multiple different profiles for different users, so is very easy to share.  They are hard pieces of equipment to break, and so sharing makes a lot of sense.

    Allen Rowley

    I have a Garmin (Delorme) Inreach Explorer which seems to have a very flexible fee structure in that you can go into dormant mode in the winter dropping the charges to $5 per month then increase for the summer season or really crank up the options for major trips etc. Month to month. Might be cheaper than what you describe but of  course there is the up front cost of the device.

    Cameron Redenbach

    Yes the ACC alpine club of Canada is well organized and rents sat phones as well. Great idea but a huge logistical nightmare that only a dedicated person could over see. As for lending or renting out your own personal unit. That’s very generous but what happens if the unit gets lost or damaged?

    I believe a web page exists that you can rent gear out and it has a insurance policy. I can’t find the web page but it would have been perfect perfection.


    Jacquie Gaudet

    The following info copied from the ACC Vancouver Section web page on Gear Rental might be useful:

    Rentals are to ACC Vancouver Section members only. Please include your Alpine Club member number in email correspondence with gear custodians.

     *New Policy*  All gear is now available free of charge for Vancouver Section trips and events. Basic rental charges and deposits are waived for all trips and events posted on the Calendar. Any additional charges, e.g. satellite phone air time are still applicable.

    SPOT and Delorme InReach

    One SPOT Gen3 and one Delorme InReach SE satellite communicator units are now available for rent to ACC Vancouver Section members. These devices provide a position reporting, text messaging and distress alerting capability as a lower-cost alternative to the satellite phone where voice communication is not needed. Cost is $5 per weekend or $10 per week, with a $100 deposit. Note: These devices provide the capability to initiate a search-and-rescue at the push of a button. The renter must agree to the detailed terms and conditions and are responsible for all charges and any damage or loss. For more information and to book one of these devices, [email contact]


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