Having just completed my third Primal Quest Adventure Race as the designated Pack Mule for our team, I was especially impressed with SPOT, which we were required to carry with us through the 500-mile race that took place in Montana this year.
Unlike the four-pound shoebox-sized unit I lugged around like a boat anchor in the previous two PQ’s, SPOT is slightly larger than a couple decks of cards and weighs in a paltry 7 ounces. As an expedition adventure racer, I am constantly looking for ways to shed grams from their backpack and optimize space for food, mandatory gear and other necessities. By essentially eliminating the burden of the emergency locator, I could now consider bringing another half-day’s worth of food and those additional fleece layers, gloves and hat that I would otherwise been forced to leave behind.
There were several other not-so-subtle advantages that the SPOT emergency locator brought with it that were equally, if not more important to PQ race officials. First of all, SPOT’s rugged, self-contained package required none of the external wires and antennas of the sort that the unit from previous PQ’s required. No more worrying about routing fragile wires from the bottom of the pack to the shoulder strap. And, because SPOT is completely submergible, there was no longer a need to stow the unit in a separate dry-bag to prevent leakage. The SPOT unit runs on two AA batteries, which provide an amazing 7 days of continuous use in tracking mode. This is enough battery life for most expedition format adventure races, including a good portion of the teams at PQ08 Montana. This greatly reduced the amount of maintenance required from PQ staff during the course of the race.