The real genius in this little gadget is it's ability to send an SOS anywhere in the world. When activated, the people at SPOT will contact the appropriate agencies to initiate rescue, and notify designated contacts. This service comes with a one year subscription of $99. For an additional $14/year a SPOT subscriber can purchase a $100,000 Rescue Insurance policy that covers costs associated with helicopter rescue, ground transport, and medical expenses. So, for $113/year I have a silent partner on my solo trips.
Those of you who know me are aware that most of my trail days are spent solo. I like being alone but I also realize that there is no safety net in the back-country. This device won't activate itself if I get brained by a falling rock (but then, I'd be a vegetable anyway), but it does provide a huge, potentially life-saving service. In many of my posts I have tried to relate that personal safety in the mountains is the hiker's responsibility and that if at all possible one has a responsibility to get oneself out of the jam they got themselves into. This SPOT is me living the line. I figure this gadget is a bit like a handgun...you never need one until you NEED one. It's the best little Christmas present I hope to never use.