Garmin Inreach Mini:

At last a fully functional GPS, satellite communicator and epirb which weighs 100 grams (3.5 oz!) The new and improved ‘Poor Man’s Satellite Phone‘. I already own the earlier ‘Delorme Inreach’ model (190 grams) which I love, so can’t imagine just now spending perhaps A$499 (Jun 2018) on its replacement in order to save carrying 90 grams. Pity. This one is a stunner. Maybe Garmin will offer me one to review! You can only hope!

But if you haven’t already got one (or something like it), it really is time you went out and bought one. It could easily save your life!

What you get is a ‘Small, rugged, lightweight satellite communicator enables two-way text messaging via 100% global Iridium® satellite network (satellite subscription required)

Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center (satellite subscription required)

Access downloadable maps, color aerial imagery and more by using the free Garmin Eathmate® app and compatible devices

Optional InReach weather forecast service provides detailed updates directly to your inReach Mini or paired device; basic and premium weather packages available

Send and receive InReach messages through compatible Garmin devices, including connected wearables and handhelds

Internal, rechargeable lithium battery provides up to 50 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode’

It includes many other features such as, ‘Wireless unit-to-unit connectivity lets you remotely control inReach Mini to send and receive messages using compatible Garmin handhelds, wearables or other mobile devices. GPS-based location tracking lets you share your whereabouts with those at home or out in the field.’

This will pair so well with my new ‘Atom’ mini phone:

The Go Tenna is also an excellent lightweight device for keeping in contact in the field: but be aware that two Garmin Minis can also communicate with each other.

The Iridium Extreme (268 grams) remains the gold standard for off-grid communication and Epirb functionality, but it will set you back nearly three times as much. I think it is worth carrying both though – how much is your life (or your wife’s life) worth after all?

I have used it to helicopter my wife Della out from Supper Cove, Fiordland when she fell and dislocated her shoulder. It is so easy to have such an accident. Only last week my right leg plunged into a tunnel erosion hole on the Wonnagatta (and was trapped). My body kept lurching forward. It was a real wonder I did not break my leg, but my hip is still sore I can tell you. I have used the Iridium network over the years between 6-10 times to call in a helicopter rescue for someone in serious trouble in the wilderness.

However, I have now (twice) had my satellite phone fail (for one reason or another). Anything electronic can have intermittent problems. That’s why I now carry two devices. Redundancy is sometimes very desirable. The new Iridium (Extreme) plus the new Garmin Mini now weigh (collectively) considerably less than my old satellite phone – which could also use an update after over 20 years. Pity money doesn’t grow on trees since I spend so much of my time in the forest!

Hikers, hunters and fishermen can fill their Xmas stockings with these three goodies!

PS: I carry one of these to recharge all my devices: They are great.

PPS: I notice Spot also have a new model two-way Messenger/Epirb which weighs 7 oz (200 grams) but is very much cheaper (US$250 Jun 2018) than the Garmin (though with many fewer features – and heavier):

I would like to draw you attention to a reader’s comment (below), eg ‘Go for the older inReach explorer with the Pivotel account. Garmin’s plans are nowhere near as good, especially for Australia. At least research the difference in Pivotel versus Garmin plans.’

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8 thoughts on “Garmin Inreach Mini:”

  1. Hi Steve. Can you tell us the cost of the rescue service when you used your plb? And thanks for all your great work on this site.

    1. Thanks Peter. The cost of rescue depends on the country you are in. Most (Australia/ New Zealand for example) do not charge, no matter what the cost. This has become a problem with people submitting ‘trivial’ needs for being rescued (eg short of food, tired, bored etc). Nonetheless, even if you had to pay full cost recovery (eg for a helicopter rescue from the Victorian Alps (a few thousand at most) this would have to be better than being dead! How much is one’s life worth, after all? Cheers, Steve.

      1. Thanks Steve, there was a case here in the blue mountains were a man ill prepared with only potatoes was charged 20,000 for the trip out lol. We always have a plb on us . I had a dislocated shoulder and I slowly managed to walk\climbed out with the help of my wife . Yes Steve a few thousand is better than dead.

        1. So apparently you can get charged, though I had never heard of it happening in Victoria or NZ. The Sat Messenger is a lot better than a simple PLB. Just the mapping function & GPS alone makes the extra cost worthwhile even without the two way messaging. Cheers, Steve.

  2. Go for the older inReach explorer with the Pivotel account. Garmin’s plans are no where near as good, especially for Australia. At least research the difference in Pivotel versus Garmin plans. As an aside my inReach explorer managed to send & receive a message in Claustral Canyon (at the start & exit points) when initially trying it.

    1. Thank you for that. I was only looking at the size/weight I admit – but I doubt I was about to spend A$500 just to save 90 grams when my Delorme is pretty much brand new still. I will add you comment if I may. What I may need more urgently is a new sat phone as my old one is starting to give trouble. I will try a repair first. Cheers, Steve.

  3. I’d really like the two-way message functionality. I have a spot gen 3 which is handy in that I can send check-in messages, but only that which I’ve pre-determined. Keeps the missus happy when I’m out of mobile range though.

    The spot-x two way system looks good, but no 2-way coverage available for Australia yet.

    1. I hadn’t noticed the Spot X didn’t cover Australia. I think you would be better with the Garmin then for a whole lot of reasons.

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