Garmin Inreach Mini

Discussion in 'Communication & Navigation' started by CV Kurt, May 11, 2018.

  1. CV Kurt

    CV Kurt

    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    96
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    Carson Valley, Nevada
    I've been looking at getting a 2-way satellite messenger for a while now... but didn't like the bulk/weight of the Garmin InReach SE+/Explorer+ models or even the older DeLorme models. I wanted something that was small/light enough that I'd have little excuse to leave it behind while fly fishing and wanted a good IPX rating. Of course, needs to have enough battery for a long day out. Pairing with my GPS-less iPad would be a nice plus.

    Garmin has now come thru with a mini version! Lists for $350. Introducing inReach® Mini from Garmin® - Garmin Blog

    Got my pre-order in... should arrive in time for my next native trout hunt (4 days in Elko County, NV). I'll write up a field review afterwards.

    Edit: Review below
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
    ewillis, NateMob, LC4LIFE and 2 others like this.
  2. Dharma Dude

    Dharma Dude

    Messages:
    367
    Likes Received:
    164
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2016
    Location:
    Palo Alto, California
    I have the old DeLorme InReach model. It's been a great device! The mini looks even better. Hope to hear about your experience soon.
     
  3. CV Kurt

    CV Kurt

    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    96
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    Carson Valley, Nevada
    My mini finally arrived a couple of days ago... So far, I'm quite happy with it. However, I have yet to use it in field conditions, nor have I learned how to use all of its functions. I have a few excursions planned over the next month and will write a full field review afterwards.
     
    Dharma Dude likes this.
  4. CV Kurt

    CV Kurt

    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    96
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    Carson Valley, Nevada
    Just returned from Knott Creek Reservoir... my first field use of the Mini. Tracking updates while driving, whether on highway or off, were uploaded fine with the mini setting on the dash. On the way home, I left in the center console where it worked so long as nothing was covering it (as expected). Sending preset messages from the mini itself is quite easy. Confirmation was given generally within a few seconds. Sent one custom message to everyone's spouses (8 in total, we had a large group) using my paired iPhone. Here the hardest thing was getting all the phone numbers/email addresses into my iPhone contact list. The Earthmate app itself is easy to use. In addition to using it to send the custom message, we used it a bit for off the grid navigation... where it worked just as well as apps I regularly use for this purpose. My wife liked having MapShare to check up on my whereabouts. The terrain on this outing was quite open... no deep canyons, no dense forests.

    My next outing, into the Jarbidge wilderness solo, should be a more severe test. I'll post a more complete review afterwards.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
    DancesWithMutts, Fj81 and Dharma Dude like this.
  5. BMThiker

    BMThiker I aim to misbehave Moderator SILVER Star

    Messages:
    8,586
    Media:
    50
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    7,999
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I'm pretty sure the second R in Jarbidge is silent ;) Just ask @FJ60Cam
     
  6. FJ60Cam

    FJ60Cam Supporting Vendor SILVER Star

    Messages:
    9,055
    Likes Received:
    11,069
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Haha!

    37AAA37F-1851-4F22-850C-0E6A5E3371B6.jpeg
     
  7. CV Kurt

    CV Kurt

    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    96
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    Carson Valley, Nevada
    Recently got back from my NV native, wild fish hunt... 1500+ miles in White Pine and Elko counties, Nevada; 4 target trout (Bonneville Cutthroat, Yellowstone Cutthroat, Inland Redband, and Bull), lots of two track roads and bush whacking in the wilderness, etc.. This trip included driving, hiking, and fishing is fairly rugged country including river gorges and thick forests.

    When driving on highway, I generally kept the device on my dash. While off-highway, I tended to move it to my center console to keep it from sliding about. Worked fine in both locations. While fishing, I hooked it to my chest pack waist strap. It never got in my way. While hiking about without my chest pack, I clipped it onto a belt hoop. The carabiner is appropriately sized. At 4oz (including carabiner), it's light enough to always have it with you.

    I relied on my Garmin InReach Mini heavily for tracking and 2-way communications. The device worked quite well. GPS acquired lock quickly and maintained it even in the gorges and forests, with track points were uploaded to Garmin's MapShare website in a timely manner. Sent messages were acknowledged quickly.

    I kept the device on a USB charger when in the auto ensuring that I had a good charge for the start of each day. I was able to get 50hr+ (as advertised) of use on a charge with 10 minute tracking interval and 2 minute logging. Once plugged in, it began working immediately (didn't need to wait for some minimum charge level to be obtained). For those going on multi-day hikes, one should use 30-minute tracking in power save mode which should give you up to 20 days of battery life.... and/or carry a suitable USB battery pack.

    I note that if you attempt to send a message before the device acquires GPS lock, it will give you the option to send the message immediately without location or to send it automatically once your location has be determined.

    You can customize the preset messages to meet your needs via the InReach website. I decided, for this trip, to have Okay (moving), Okay (parked), and Caught target fish! with appropriate recipients, whether email addresses, phone numbers for SMS, or MapShare. I used custom messages for messages I'd send less frequently, like "Camping here".

    I didn't have to use the SOS feature... but it was great to know it was there if needed.

    Garmin offers a wide range of plans, including both Annual and Flexible (per Month) ones. Low end annual plan is $12/mo with 10 custom text messages (0.50 for each extra), unlimited presets, and 10+ minute interval tracking at 0.10 each. The next level plan is $25/mo with 40 custom text messages, (0.50 for each extra), unlimited presets, and unlimited 10+ minute interval tracking. I expect to constantly use 10 minute tracking, so I opted for the $25/mo plan. If you didn't use tracking or used it infrequently or at tracking at a greater interval, you likely could get away with the cheaper plan.

    The Flexible are a bit more expensive per month and require an annual $25 fee, but if you only use the device a few months per year, they'd be cheaper. For instance, a cheap ("Safety") annual plan is going to run you $180 for the year. If you use the device only 10 months of the year, you'd save a few bucks by switching to a flexible plan. If you used it only for half the year, the savings would be more significant. For the "Recreation" plan, if you use it 8 months or more, the Annual plan is cheaper.

    I fish every month... often solo and out of cell phone coverage. I don't want to think about wether I currently have active service. So, for me, the annual Recreation plan best fits my usage. $300 per year is pretty cheap price to pay for my wife's peace of mind.

    I recommend the Garmin InReach Mini to anyone who spends significant time outdoors without cell phone coverage.
     
    saucebox, db3, RTaylor and 1 other person like this.
  8. Live to Ski

    Live to Ski

    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    155
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dana Point/San Diego CA
    Nice write up....very appreciative.
     
  9. coleAK

    coleAK

    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    178
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2018
    Location:
    Alaska
    CV Kurt nailed it. We have now 3 of the InReach Explorer+. Use them year round all over Alaska. They work perfect for their intended use.

    We went with the Explorer over the mini as wanted maps for biking, hunting, hiking without thw Need to bring the phone along in areas where it won’t work anyway. But it’s all personal preference on that.
     
    CV Kurt likes this.
  10. NOSAJ

    NOSAJ

    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    126
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Thanks for this write up. Headed out west soon on a 3 week trip from TN and needed this info. Trying to figure out if it might be worth it on our trip so I can stay in contact with my business back home. But not sure I can justify the monthly cost for just 3 weeks and limited other use. Any ideas on canceling the service and possibly restarting when needed?
     
  11. coleAK

    coleAK

    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    178
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2018
    Location:
    Alaska
    Have you looked at cell service maps for where you will be? As for the service you can pay month to month, it is more and there is a connection fee every time you turn service back on. Not sure of the costs as we keep our service on all the time. In mentioning how you would like to use it Some other things to consider: it counts outgoing and incoming messages so if you do back and forth conversations you’ll use a lot of messages, the data transfer is slow (it has to go to space) I have tested it can take 3-5 min per message from send to receive, it does not work relaibly from inside a building.

    As I mentioned we now have 3 InReach, my wife and I keep ours in the cars and we got the 3rd for our kids, my oldest will be driving in 3 years and for now they do some backcountry excursions together.

    I’ll give you an idea of how we use ours: first for emergencies, very little of Alaska is covered by cell service (<10% of the land) even our major roads have hour+ stretches without coverage. We mostly use the preset messages, we do this to tell the others when/where we start and stop excursions and if we get delayed past expected return time and need/don’t need assistance. I use the tracking with the kids when they head out with out me and also we use it when the kids and I caribou hunt so my wife knows where we are since we can cover up to 14 miles a day. Fortunately haven’t had to use SOS but I know it’s there. When hiking, biking, hunting in the mountains having the Topo maps is a must which is why for us I didn’t consider the mini for our 3rd one.

    Sorry for the long post, hope this helps
     
  12. CV Kurt

    CV Kurt

    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    96
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Location:
    Carson Valley, Nevada
    Monthly plans (you pay per 30-day period, no minimum) do have an annual fee ($25). Whether it worth it for just one trip depends on the nature of the trip and other factors. You might be better off renting a sat phone or just relying on cell coverage.

    In NV and surrounding states, Interstates and other high traffic highways have pretty decent coverage... but there are dead spots. And there are some pretty lonely roads out this way with little to no cell phone coverage. And coverage is dependent on which carrier you have.
     
  13. Dharma Dude

    Dharma Dude

    Messages:
    367
    Likes Received:
    164
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2016
    Location:
    Palo Alto, California
    Garmin offers "Freedom" monthly plans that only have 30 day commitment. There is no charge to suspend service but there is an annual fee of $24.95. I use Flex plans, only turning it on for the four to six months per year in which I use the InReach. This saves over the annual plan.

    I have been very happy with the InReach. I use my phone for nav with offline maps in Google Maps, Avenza, and Gaia. The InReach on-device nav is a bit too old-school for me. The Garmin Earthmate App is ok.
     
    pappy likes this.
  14. NOSAJ

    NOSAJ

    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    126
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    I really appreciate all the info guys!
     
  15. pappy

    pappy photosynthesizing Moderator

    Messages:
    9,283
    Media:
    67
    Albums:
    6
    Likes Received:
    1,316
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2003
    Location:
    Too far north. Too far east.
    Love my inReach. I also use the Freedom plan. $25/year, then what ever plan you want for the month you need it. I usually go for one of the lesser plans because I'm out to disconnect, and don't want to be connected home. Basically, I have it for the tracking so folks know where to find my corpse. I also use it for daily "I'm OK" messages to keep people at home from freaking out.
     
    CV Kurt, Dharma Dude and coleAK like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.