Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Review

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Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Review

Postby wayno » Wed 15 Aug, 2018 6:24 pm

The Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite Communicator is a reliable and easy-to-use GPS-enabled satellite communicator that can send SOS messages to rescuers in an emergency, email or text your friends and relatives, track your route, mark GPS waypoints and help you navigate in the backcountry. Like its big brothers, the inReach Explorer+ and the SE+, the Mini notifies you when it’s successfully sent your messages. It can also receive messages from other people, including search and rescue personnel, friends, and family, anywhere in the world via the Iridium Satellite Network, offering piece of mind for anyone who spends time off the grid.


https://sectionhiker.com/garmin-inreach ... or-review/
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby emma_melbourne » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 2:20 pm

Any update on how you're finding the Garmin InReach Mini?

I'm considering buying one very shortly. Just weighing up between a regular PLB versus a Garmin InReach mini, and the advantages of being able to check-in with family and / or communicate nuanced situations - in respect of a bush fire or snowstorm or anything else experienced on trail.

How are you finding your Garmin InReach Mini?
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 2:34 pm

reliable so far, but havent used it in thick forest or canyons yet, I will be at xmas.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 2:37 pm

I think the inreach mini is the superior device compared to a PLB. The two key advantages (as I see it) are the weather updates and the two way communication. The ability for loved ones to see your location is also a nice feature.

Downside is the higher upfront and the ongoing cost. (though ongoing cost has been reduced with some of the more basic but still useful plans being released)

I currently own a PLB and most of my bushwalking is below 1100m in NSW. So im not subject to quickly developing alpine weather. (where the ability to receive weather updates via inreach could be invaluable.) I could see the two way msging being very useful to prevent next of kin worry and/or rescue operation being launched if Im delayed but its not an emergency eg a impassable flooded river.

I just came back from NZ and it would have been useful for the alpine weather. However I did get some weather updates at one hut so this was manageable.

So at the moment despite spending 30+ nights in tent per year and majority of that off track I havent been able to justify the cost to upgrade to a inreach and am happy with the PLB. Ive camped with a couple of people who have a inreach and they are happy with it.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 2:45 pm

the weather forecasts arent particularly accurate esp when theres bad weather
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 2:55 pm

wayno wrote:the weather forecasts arent particularly accurate esp when theres bad weather


Good to know. Though for me I received an update via a fellow walkers inreach. Which essentially stated that the rain that was forecast for the next day was being downgraded to slight showers. Which was good to know (and accurate) as I had a siginficant river crossing to do on a river that was already up due to snow melt.

I didnt pay much more attention to the forecast than that, and its a shame to hear you say that there isnt a more robust mountain weather service provided.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 3:01 pm

the inreach looses battery charge when switched off, always charge the battery before you each trip...
if you use the tracking function you ca get better battery life by reducing the frequency of tracking and logging, and using the extended tracking function which uses power saving, turning off networking when not needed.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 3:03 pm

the other option is if you know a reliable weather forecast service, get someone to message you with that forecast... the service offered is most detailed for the United states and less detailed outside the states and can be inaccurate
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby emma_melbourne » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 3:54 pm

Sorry I posted a reply on the wrong thread....

Thank you all for the update.

It appears that the ResQ Link PLB is usually $299, and the Garmin InReach Mini is $439.12 (cheapest I could find), so the difference in price is only $140.
(Link: https://www.zylax.com.au/catalogsearch/ ... reach+mini )

I realize there's subscription fee and monthly fee etc, also for using the Garmin InReach Mini.

Aside from the price difference, the Garmin InReach Mini is 30 grams lighter than the ResQ Link PLB. (At 100 grams versus 130 grams)

Then the added functionality of messaging, checking in with family, being able to communicate my location etc.

So I've just bought the Garmin InReach Mini in orange. Yay!
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Lamont » Fri 07 Dec, 2018 4:34 pm

My basic weather forecast has been accurate. No doubt about it. I have about 50-60 trips usage and called up about 12 basic weather reports.
Perhaps NZ is less successful?
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Ms_Mudd » Mon 28 Jan, 2019 10:05 am

Just used my new inreach mini on a 5 day trip. The battery life was great. I set it at 20 min tracking intervals, turned bluetooth off unless was specifically sending a non pretext message and only had it on when I was walking until I reached my next overnighting spot. I did give it a charge on the powerbank on the last day, but honestly it would have made it without- I think I just wanted to justify carrying my stupid-heavy cheapo powerbank!

Messages got through quickly even in gullies etc, loved the sound it made to confirm a sent message and the tracking/map share info was accurate.
I purchased it more as a reassurance that all was well, particularly when on my own, as not activating the PLB was my husband's only assurance that I should be okay. Didn't think I would need it to specifically text home, but did on the second day to text my husband for a detailed weather report/radar check. We had been caught up high in 2 x lightning storms on our walk in, with one strike to a tree very close to us, so I was stacking my dacks a bit about the next day as it was hours on a ridegeline with no tall trees- he was able to reply back with what looked to be the best window to get along that exposed section. Very useful intel that meant I didn't need to make skidmarks in my only pair of undies ;-)

Really pleased I finally stopped procrastinating and just bought one.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Drummo62 » Fri 05 Jul, 2019 10:45 am

Time to replace my old SPOT and Magellan Explorist GPS. Trying to decided between the Inreach mini and the Inreach Explorer.

Leaning towards the mini but wondering how it is for GPS navigation. It can obviously do straight line navigation to a waypoint as a stand alone unit but wondering how it goes in real life using the phone interface and Earthmate app?

Thanks in advance for any opinions.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby ribuck » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 1:48 am

Drummo62 wrote:Leaning towards the mini but wondering how it is for GPS navigation. It can obviously do straight line navigation to a waypoint as a stand alone unit but wondering how it goes in real life using the phone interface and Earthmate app?

The InReach Mini is a wonderful piece of hardware, and its satellite messaging works really well. But I find the Garmin software really clunky and see no benefit in using the InReach Mini with Earthmate for navigation. If you can run Earthmate, you have a GPS-capable phone and can use your phone's GPS with a mapping app of your choice, which works much better.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 3:45 am

the mini is really for two way comms... and live updating your position... as above you can use the phone for navigating...
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby matagi » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 8:04 am

Which plans are people using?
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 8:29 am

i switch depending on what i need from month to month, usually on the basic plan. if i've got a decent overnight trip going on i'll upgrade one level so i can use the automatic tracking
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby ribuck » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 4:22 pm

matagi wrote:Which plans are people using?

The basic plan. I can always send free preset messages to indicate my location.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Lamont » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 5:08 pm

matagi wrote:Which plans are people using?

'Safety plan'-make your own presets. I send a free message every couple of hours or whenever I want and early morning and at last thing at night.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 5:33 pm

For you guys that have the mini, how easy is the user interface for someone who had never seen one before? Could someone send an SOS as easy as it is with the SPOTs?
I'm considering one because basically for the cost of an additional cellphone and plan I can be tracked all the time. My current situation being that if I do have another seizure, I don't know that I'll reliably be able to activate a beacon, but if I suddenly stop moving for an hour without sending an OK or other message, help could still be sent. It feels overkill, but I also have to balance being responsible. An EPIRB, while on paper the better option, not going to be helpful unless someone finds me.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 5:54 pm

has a clearly marked, dedicated SOS button, the same as the SPOT
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby wayno » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 5:56 pm

theres a lot of situations where people never manage to set off their beacon when they needed to... so automatic tracking isnt overkill. if you have a problem that could physically disable you, auto tracking is a good option
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Lamont » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 6:19 pm

Gadgetgeek wrote:For you guys that have the mini, how easy is the user interface for someone who had never seen one before? Could someone send an SOS as easy as it is with the SPOTs?
I'm considering one because basically for the cost of an additional cellphone and plan I can be tracked all the time. My current situation being that if I do have another seizure, I don't know that I'll reliably be able to activate a beacon, but if I suddenly stop moving for an hour without sending an OK or other message, help could still be sent. It feels overkill, but I also have to balance being responsible. An EPIRB, while on paper the better option, not going to be helpful unless someone finds me.

The user interface on the mini is poo... but the SOS button is huge and easily accessible as Wayno said.
If you had something organised (I will message on the hour or two etc and you have full tracking on) help could be sent on being static to the very point you last moved.
As Wayno said if you have an issue auto tracking is not overkill- sounds like it may be the best option in your case.
If you want to be able to communicate with the aiders I would not go with the mini but the full size version, chunky (but not too large-fits the hand nicely) and you can use it (type-old fashioned mobile phone mode with a toggle -slowish but very manageable) without pairing to a phone. One less device to rely upon. Cheers.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sat 06 Jul, 2019 6:30 pm

We have the big ones at work, and I'm happy to rely on my phone as an interface, though its on the small side to type on. Having had only one incident, its hard to know how quick my fine motor control will come back, and I presume my typing won't be better on a bigger, more complex screen. If I send a load of random characters, that would be an alert in and of itself.
Sounds like it might be worth doing, I need more dirt time, and it seems like the only way I can make that happen in a responsible way. Funny, would have been willing to walk alone before, and nothing has changed, but so goes life doesn't it. Upside is I can walk for myself now, no need to worry about doing it for work, so just bought a nice light pack.
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Re: Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way GPS Satellite Communicator Rev

Postby headwerkn » Thu 22 Aug, 2019 8:28 pm

I have the Explorer+ version and have found it a good piece of kit so far... though I haven't had to use it to call in a helicopter yet, hopefully I won't ever have to.

The mapping is basic by modern GPS standards but more than enough for my purposes. The built in map shows most Tasmanian tracks that ListMap shows so that's useful, even if it doesn't allow proper tracking along them.

I'm on the $40 plan with 10 min tracking and 40 messages per month. Messaging works really well, have used it to track and communicate with my partner when she was hiking in the Blue Mountains without a hitch.

Battery life is awesome... a whole day of tracking and the occasional mapping/navigation maybe uses 5-10% battery power. Would feel confident you'd get a week or more out of it before needing to recharge it.

Only real annoyance I've found is that there is a bug in the software that makes it impossible to input a Tasmanian UTM coordinate (55Gx) directly as a way point eg. when trying to navigate to the known high point/summit. Garmin have acknowledged the bug but are yet to actually fix it despite a couple of software updates since... grrrr
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