inReach Mini is your go-to connection for maintaining off-the-grid contact. It’s Garmin’s palm-sized satellite communicator for adventures where size and weight matter. inReach Mini lets you send and receive text messages, track and share your journey and, if necessary, trigger an SOS alert to contact the GEOS 24/7 emergency response team. With inReach connectivity, your family and friends will know they can stay in touch globally.
Measuring just under 4” tall by 2” wide and weighing a mere 3.5 oz, inReach Mini is fit for exterior pack pockets or accessory loops. It connects for messaging via the 100% global Iridium satellite network. You don’t have to worry about being within range of a cell tower or encountering spotty coverage.
Small, rugged, and lightweight makes it easy to carry it with you.
Internal, rechargeable lithium battery provides up to 50 hours of battery life.
Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center (satellite subscription needed).
To set the context, my primary interest in PLBs/satellite messengers are for the SOS functionality and GEOS backcountry insurance, not tracking and rarely messaging. I previously used a SPOT, but canceled service due to their deceptive practices of forced auto-renewal and opaque annual price hikes.
With GEOS I didn't have many options. When the inReach Minis came out they seemed like the perfect fit for what I needed. Topo map options for Garmin and DeLorme (now owned by Garmin) handheld GPS devices are horrible in comparison to what you get with many ~$10 USGS+ map-enabled mobile apps, so that ruled out the larger inReach map-capable devices. 99% of the time I would be using a mobile app for navigation so didn't want the extra weight of the map-enabled devices.
Garmin inReach Mini plans are tiered depending on the features you want and how many free messages are included. One nice thing is that Garmin offers a flexible as-you-need service option (in 30 day increments) for all plans, but the downsides are that it costs an additional $25/year plus an extra small upcharge per month, and you have to remember to opt out each month you don't want it.
What didn't go smoothly, however, is the activation process. The instruction booklet that comes with the device tells you to create an account on Garmin's website, then take your device outside for activation. While my online account activation was successful (and the billing started), my Mini hung in the dreaded "Waiting for confirmation" screen. I tried multiple things, including updating the firmware and rebooting the device (as recommended on other forums). Others reporting being locked out of their accounts. I was unable to use my original password and had to do a reset, but did not get locked out.
When I initially called Garmin tech support the hold time was "greater than one hour". I waited until the morning and tried again. waiting ~15 min. I had to do several rounds of device syncing and one factory reset to get it through the device confirmation process. I also had to switch browsers since on the original browser with which I signed up, the Garmin site now throws a (too many redirects) error after I authenticate. None of this (or the firmware update) is noted on the support site and their setup video states that the sync comes after activation.
Bottom line is if you do get this device leave yourself plenty of time for activation.
Price-wise the device is overpriced for what's actually useful, granted retail prices will likely drop below MSRP after they've been out longer.
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