SPOT Trace GPS Tracker Review

IMG_5905

I have owned a SPOT Messaging device for many years as an emergency beacon whilst hiking and mountain biking.  I have a seperate review on this which you can find here.  Before embarking on a year long trip around Australia I was after a tracker I could attach to my Drifta DOT Camping Trailer that would work whilst off the grid.  I came across the SPOT Trace which ticked all the boxes.

My Requirements..

  • Ability to track my location whilst travelling with no mobile phone signal
  • Movement sensor to alert me via text message when the trailer moves (from a theft perspective)
  • Share my location with family and friends so they can follow me over the years trip.
  • External power supply option so I don’t have to keep changing batteries
  • Mounted onto the Drifta DOT Camping Trailer

The SPOT Trace..

The SPOT Trace met all my requirements and being familiar with the SPOT products and configuration through the SPOT website I knew this would do the job.  There are limited choices when it comes to a tracker that will work off the grid using satellites as most depend on a mobile network to send messages.  Here is an overview of the SPOT Trace features and how I have used them..

Trailer Mounting and Power

IMG_5895

I mounted the SPOT Trace onto the toolbox on the trailer using the provided mounting bracket.  There needs to be a view of the sky or under something that is not metal that would stop the satellite signal.  Getting power to the SPOT on the toolbox was pretty easy although you do have to buy an additional cable to do this as it does not come as standard.  This placement seems to have worked quite well although the power cable did fail at some point and I have been using battery power for the last few months.  I think the small fuse in the cable has blown so I will need to replace this or replace the cable.

Movement and Status Alerts

Alerts are configured through the SPOT website for your device and after changing some of these settings you need to plug in the SPOT Trace via USB to your computer to finish the setup as well as update any firmware.  I have the following alerts set..

  • Movement Alerts – If the SPOT Trace moves it will send a movement alert over satellite with it’s location.  I get this alert to my phone as a text message but you can also send it as an email.
  • Status Alerts – Each day the SPOT Trace sends me an email giving me it’s status to ensure it’s all working correctly.
  • Battery Power – When the batteries are running low I receive a text message and an email to remind me to change them.

All alerts can be viewed on the spot website as well as a great smartphone app that shows the location of the alerts that are sent.  The alerts worked well although in really heavy rain you can get a movement alert sensor which starts the tracking and then if no further movement a stop message will be sent which you can view on the website or app.

Tracking

Tracking intervals are configurable (5,10,30,60 mins) however the smaller the intervals the greater demand on battery power so it’s better to not have too short a time unless you need it for a specific reason, or if you are on a power supply.  I have my tracking set at 30 minute intervals where a location message is sent over satellite to SPOT who then display this on a webpage that can be accessed by family/friends.  All the tracking location messages can also be viewed on the smartphone app.

Tracking starts after the SPOT Trace detects a movement alert and then will go into standby mode when not moving to save battery power.  Tracking works well and great to watch on the app or on the website.  If you’re after extreme tracking then you can take this to 2.5 min intervals but is an additional subscription cost.

Anti-Theft

I include this section as considerations need to be made.  My primary purpose was tracking rather than anti-theft however it is marketed as an anti-theft device.  Consideration needs to be given as to where you mount your tracker as mine is in plain sight and if someone knew what it was they could just rip it off and yes I would get a movement alert but not much good to track the stolen trailer.  Ideally this needs to be hidden where the satellite signal can still penetrate.  This may well mean it’s difficult to provide external power too depending on your setup.

Conclusion

The SPOT Trace met all my requirements and has worked well over the last 18 months.  The big benefit is the ability to work off the grid with no mobile reception being required.  We found it incredibly useful when the car broke down and had to have the trailer recovered as well.  We were able to keep a track on where the tow truck was when onward transferring to Adelaide at the time.  It has also been nice for family and friends to also check on our progress and with the SPOT Trace automatically sending tracking messages we don’t need to think about anything, just set it and go.

For the full specification and where to buy click here.

Richard.

Review Transparency…A bit of info about this review as I get asked this many times so like to make it clear… This review is for a product I purchased myself and use on my adventures.  I am not sponsored by the brand or by anyone else.  This is a genuine review of what I use and hope you find this useful.  I do have an affiliate link from an outdoor store (Wild Earth) I use for most of my gear and find their prices really good as well as their customer service.  If you find this review useful then you can use my link to connect through or you can head off and do your own research on where to buy etc. My main aim is that you find this useful and if you do buy it by clicking on my link I will get commission on it at no cost to you.

Leave a Reply