$250; 7 oz.; find­

Backpacker - - Field Test Shakedown -

OUR TAKE A time-tested emer­gency track­ing de­vice gets an up­grade in the SPOT X. The orig­i­nal SPOT was a one-way mes­sen­ger, al­low­ing you to send pre­set out­go­ing texts, but no one could text back. The new ver­sion is built for two-way mes­sag­ing; it’s not as fea­ture-rich as the Garmin in­Reach Mini (left), but for $100 less it’s a great choice for ad­ven­tur­ers who just want to stay in touch in re­mote lo­ca­tions and not much else.

THE DE­TAILS Ser­vice plans start at $12 per month for 20 cus­tom texts and un­lim­ited S.O.S.; use the Black­berry-like key­board on the hous­ing and text away. The SPOT X uses the Glob­al­star satel­lite network, pro­vid­ing cov­er­age any­where in the United States (only one-way mes­sag­ing in Asia and Ocea­nia, though, and no cov­er­age at ex­tremely north and south lat­i­tudes). As with the orig­i­nal SPOT, folks at home can track your lo­ca­tion, and you can use the “check in” fea­ture to quickly send up­dates. You can also post to Twit­ter and send an S.O.S. (hope­fully not in that or­der).

OUR TAKE “When my party got sick on the John Muir Trail, the SPOT X was cru­cial in de­vis­ing an early exit strat­egy with help from folks at home,” one tester says.

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