We hire and sell several different models. We are not tied to one supplier, so we can offer impartial advice based on your use case or areas you usually visit.
All trackers use satellites to determine their location
The way they transmit their location data back to you is where they differ
Some transmit using GSM (mobile - combining power of all mobile networks)
Others transmit data via satellite
If your expeditions are mainly in the most remote parts of either Scotland, Brecon and Snowdonia, while the GSM coverage in those areas is very high (90+%), if you want 100% coverage in every valley then SPOT or Iridium will provide that cover. Elsewhere in the UK, generally speaking, the GSM models will outperform the others due to their faster update time and they do not need line-of-sight to a satelllite. Outside the UK, contact us for advice on your use case, as any of the models could be appropriate.
The pros and cons of each type are below
GSM - Multi-network
GSM/WCDMA models transmit your location via all mobile networks (i.e EE, Vodafone, Three, O2). They are fitted with 'emergency; SIM cards, which means they can send on any mobile 2G (3g in some cases) network in the world; so they combine the coverage of them all. These trackers are able to transmit in 2G even in places where your mobile phone will not appear to work at all. They are the lightweight. Hire charges are from £15 for one unit. They cost £125.00. They have the fastest location update time, as quick as every 15 seconds. They are most often deployed for UK expeditions but can be used abroad. They feature a rechargeable battery which lasts around 5 - 10 days (if used 24 hours a day). GSM units have monthly data contracts, so they can be turned on and off when required. Both hire costs, and annual cost of ownership considerably more affordable than other trackers.
These transmit direct to the Globalstar Satellite network. They have good global coverage, but not 100%. Coverage can be patchy or non-existent in very remote locations; around the equator, far Northern, Southern Hemispheres, and they do not work well on the oceans. Hire charges are from £25 for one unit. They cost £139 to purchase. They use 4 x AAA L92 Lithium batteries, which are expensive. The device can last for up to 45 days use based on 8 hours a day, as long as the SPOT has 100% clear line of sight to satellite (based on 10 min update frequency. 9 days battery life if used 24 hours a day). SPOTs can use NH12 rechargeable batteries too. SPOT Gen3 offer 12-month contracts, and also a new monthly Flex plan option.
SPOT needs a clear view of the sky to obtain a GPS signal and provide the most accurate location information. It is not reliable indoors, in a cave, or in very dense woods.
All tracking devices, regardless of manufacturer can sometimes require a reset if the device is not communicating location, especially if out of signal for a period of time.
These transmit direct to satellites of the more powerful Iridium Satellite network. These weigh around 200 grams. They do offer 100% global coverage; all oceans, the equator and polar regions. If you are going somewhere very remote this is the only choice. They are rarely used for UK expeditions. They feature weather, navigation, and 2-way SMS messaging to any mobile phone. Hire charges are from £45 for one unit. They are expensive to purchase (£400 plus). They have a rechargeable battery. Contracts can be 12 yearly or monthly (for a higher fee). InReach communicate direct to satellite and so do not function reliably under heavy canopy or in buildings.
Ready to Reserve your trackers?
We have created a handy comparison table below to show you the differences at a glance.
*Update frequency shown is based on the standard tariffs for each model
Iridium and SPOT can update as quickly (SPOT 2.5 mins, Iridium 2 mins) for additional premium cost. GSM can update as quickly as once every 15 seconds for additional cost. SPOT highly recommends that you use only non-rechargeable Energizer™ Ultimate 8x L92 AAA Lithium Batteries, or NH12 batteries, to achieve reliable performance.