Garmin inReach Mini 2 review

When I started backpacking, smartphones -let alone satellite communicators – were the stuff of science fiction. Then mobile phones arrived and the world changed. This century, the first satellite communicators appeared and revolutionised communications in the outdoors. I’ve been using one of the first models for several years. Compared to the latest ones, like the Garmin inReach Mini 2, it is basic: it can only send preset messages or an SOS signal. I use it to send occasional OK messages home on overnight trips. Read our Garmin inReach Mini 2 review.

Dimensions: 5.17×9.9×2.61cm

Screen size: 23x23mm

Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion

Battery life: 2 to 30 days depending on activity recordingand sky view

Garmin inReach Mini 2 review

Recently, Garmin offered me an inReach Mini 2 to test. I’ve been using it for several months, and I have to say it is excellent and more useful than I thought it would be.

Design and usage

The inReach Mini 2 is tiny, tough and designed for rough usage. It has an on/off button,four control buttons and an SOS button, the latter being covered to prevent accidental use. The screen is black and white with a clear display. It uses the global Iridium satellite network to send messages and SOS alerts. Screen menus are logical. The fingertip size buttons are unlikely to be pressed accidentally.

Battery

The lithium-ion battery is built-in, and charging is via a USB-C connection. How long the battery lasts depends on whether you have a full sky view, and what settings you use. The maximum battery life is with 30-minute Standard tracking, when it can last up to 30 days with full sky view. I have the inReach set to standard 10-minute tracking, which gives up to 14 days with full sky view and four days with moderate tree cover. On overnight or longer trips I carry a battery pack to recharge the inReach if necessary.

Garmin Explore app and smartphones The inReach Mini 2 can be used on its own, but pairing it with the Garmin Explore app on a smartphone makes it much easier to use.The app can also be used at home on a laptop or desktop computer. Using the Explore app on a phone you can send texts and emails without a phonesignal (typing messages is a very slow and frustrating process on the tiny inReach screen).

GPS navigation

The inReach also functions as a GPS navigation unit, using four satellite networks. You can see your location on the map (again, much more clearly on a smartphone) or as a grid reference, and share it. All the usual way point functions of a GPS are present, including a digital compass that works when stationary and a GPS compass that only works when moving. There’s also a track-back function that enables you to navigate back to your start. Map and route can be shared with contacts.

Subscriptions

There are three subscription plans, each with two charging options: monthly and annual.

All the plans allow unlimited preset messages and unlimited SOS signals. The basic plan, called Safety, allows 10 messages per month and charges 10p for each track point sent. The Recreation plan allows 40 messages and has no charge for sending track points. Both Safety and Recreation plans have tracking intervals of 10+ minutes. The Expedition plan allows for unlimited text messages, unlimited track points, and 2+ minutes tracking intervals. Note: messages include those sent to you as well as those you send.

The costs for monthly and annual plans are £ and £forthe Safety plan, £ and £for Recreation, and £ and £ for Expedition. The monthly plans are good if you won’t be using the inReach much as you can suspend the service when it’s not needed. However it wouldn’t take much extra usage for the costs to exceed those of an annual plan.

For sending preset messages and the very occasional text on day walks and short backpacking trips the Safety plan looks best. For more than five messages a month and longer trips the Recreation plan looks best.

Conclusion

The inReach 2 is expensive to buy and to run, but if you want two-way communication when out of range of a phone signal it is excellent. The navigation functions work OK but I find this more easily done with the GPS and mappingappon my phone, especially as the Garmin map is not OS standard. Being able to send your location and route to contacts from the inReach is useful though.

The inReach Mini 2 is very light and compact, and so far it has proved reliable. It will now be with me on every trip.

+ two-way messaging, smartphone app, Light weight

– cost

Best Garmin inReach Mini 2 prices ?

$390.89
September 25, 2022 6:12 am
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27 new from $390.89
1 used from $349.99

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