Quite a few family members have asked about how to track my ride now. I had, and mostly still do, intend to merely rely on sporadic updates of twitter/fb as and when I can find a cafe. with WiFi. But I also looked into the alternatives, which is primarily going via satellite.
The main one (by which of course I mean the one that came up quickest on google) seems to be a company called SPOT. Two of their products look suitable: the Gen3, and the Connect. The Gen3 sends updates, roughly every 10mins whilst you’re moving. In the states it costs US$150 (plus taxes) for the unit, and then subscription at US$50/year. It uses AAA batteries, but can charge them via USB ( 🙂 ) and it weighs 114g.
The Connect acts as a modem, b/wn your smartphone and the internet, via the satellite. It costs US$170, plus US$99/year. It weighs 130g, takes 2x batteries, and I’ve no idea how it charges.
Either can be bought from BestBuy, and are waterproof. Obviously it would be cheapest to buy in Oregon (a saving of some 8%, or US$12) but that is a good 1/3 of the way through the trip. I had a look on their website for Canadian pricing: they are both Ca$170 =US$163, making the Connect cheaper in Canada, and the Gen3 more expensive. Weird.
Or of course, if I’d be been better organised, I could’ve sourced an previous generation from ebay. They appear to be about $30-$50 for the Gen1 models; I can’t see any Gen2/Gen3 models up there. Downsides: Gen1 doesn’t let you know whether your msg sent successfully, and had problems with sending the messages. Either way, would still need to pay the $50/year subscription.