Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: hospengr on July 18, 2017, 11:15:17 am

Title: GPS Tracker
Post by: hospengr on July 18, 2017, 11:15:17 am
Looking for a GPS Tracking device that can connect to a web site, so that friends and family can track my ride.  I know this can be done through Strava, but not sure I want to leave my phone on all day every day (recharging can become challenging on a self-contained camping tour).

Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: John Nelson on July 18, 2017, 12:18:02 pm
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: DarrenBnYYC on July 19, 2017, 12:29:47 am
The Delorme (now Garmin) InReach device is another great option. The device is more expensive, but the subscription plans are more flexible. Plus, in addition to GPS tracking, you can send and receive text messages via satellite service (no cell towers needed).
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: John Nettles on July 21, 2017, 10:08:28 am
I have used the Inreach.  Expensive but highly accurate and the wife really likes that I can text her or she me.  Note that it can take up to 20 minutes (usually around 10) for each round trip message (question then response) though so ensure all your questions and answers are thought out.  Depending on the plan you select, you can track as frequently as 2-minute intervals.

It also has a cool map that tracks where you have been/are showing the speed and elevation.  It is highly accurate.  Once, I went off the road for a "nature break" and she wondered if I had wrecked or something since it was 20+ feet off the road.  The battery life is pretty good.  Two AAA rechargeable batteries last about 5-6 days on the 10-minute tracking mode assuming I turn the device off at night.

Consider where you tour is going.  If you will have cellular data service fairly often (say along the coast), I "think" you can get phone apps that will do the same thing.  However, if you do more remote touring, i.e. Great Divide, northern central plains, Alaska, etc., then a satellite tracker may be the way to go.  All depends on what you need.

My big gripe with the InReach is that you have to pay $25/year for the "subscription renewal" in addition to any plan.  Plus if you use the freedom plan (month to month), you have to pay $25 to start the plan again each time.  So in other words, you go on one 1-month (or less) tour a year, it is $50 plus the plan cost and then you can cancel the plan.  If you did say, two separate 1-month tours a year, it would then cost about $75 plus the plan costs assuming you cancelled the plan between the tours.  Considering all this is automated through the website, I think that is a bit steep.

However, for me, since my lovely wife wants to be able to get a hold of me no matter where I am, I am unfortunately forced to keep it.  Otherwise, I would seriously consider the Spot.
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: hospengr on July 22, 2017, 11:32:08 pm
Thank you all for the advice!   Very useful information.  I think I will go with the findmespot.  Reviews were not good on Amazon, but I just learned of a former co-worker who just completed a cross country tour earlier this month.  She used the spot, and it worked great for her (when it was turned on!)
Thanks again!
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: misterflask on August 04, 2017, 10:08:57 am
I've used a Spot locator  for several years.  It was my wife's precondition for lone cycle touring; that I not be able to disappear from the face of the earth without her having a jumping off point for the search.  She liked the notification feature - that she received an 'all ok' email from every campsite.  But to be fair, there were only a few spots on the TA that my verizon-network phone didn't work.

The website lacks some features that should have been added by now; history greater than two weeks and the ability to download tracks.  But it did fulfill the function of being a huge time-waster and source of amusement for coworkers and relatives.  My coworkers generally had a much better idea of where I was than I did.  They never followed through, but contemplated sending pizza to my campsite.
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: indyfabz on August 05, 2017, 04:43:55 pm
I would advise your friends and family not to call out the cavalry too quickly. Thins malfunction. Batteries Die. A few years ago a seemingly panicked mother showed up here and on pleading for information on her missing son. The kid was fine. IIRC, his phone battery died and it took him a few days to find a place to recharge it. Kid never knew he was missing.
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: BrianW on August 13, 2017, 08:11:51 am
If you have an iOS device, the included "Find Friends" app works pretty well for letting people track you in near real time  (assuming you have cell service).
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: John Nettles on August 13, 2017, 01:36:27 pm
Out of curiosity, how much data does something like the "Find Friends" app use on a day and/or week?  I have thought of using this on tours where I am always going to be "in cell coverage" but thought it might eat data and/or batteries a lot.
Title: Re: GPS Tracker
Post by: BrianW on August 19, 2017, 09:57:48 am
Out of curiosity, how much data does something like the "Find Friends" app use on a day and/or week?

I don't know, although the real issue with battery life when in remote areas is your phone ramping up power to try and find/keep a signal. In areas with strong signals and lots of towers it can run at lower power levels because it doesn't have to hunt for signals as much. My guess with Find Friends is that it's not really drawing any additional power like a GPS/map app would, but I haven't researched it.