Garmin inReach Mini

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Hates_, May 3, 2018.

  1. Hates_

    Hates_ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
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    66
  2. Stazza

    Stazza Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    154
    Location:
    Mackay, QLD, Australia
    Just came across this while looking up options for a tracker. Cant wait to see some more real word reviews.
    #2
  3. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2,684
    Location:
    Kitty litter USA
    Might be time to upgrade from my Spot...
    #3
    9Realms likes this.
  4. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
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    Location:
    Central Mn
    Subscribed.
    #4
  5. Hates_

    Hates_ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    66
    Another review has popped up

    #5
  6. Menhir

    Menhir Been here awhile

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    Mar 11, 2017
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    118
    I was pretty interested in this...I'd just love to find a device to compete with SPOT to give them a kick in the pants for their smarmy rate practices...but I'll give it a pass.

    It doesn't do much more than my SPOT II but costs a helluva lot more. The subscription plans don't make up for the difference, and the battery life is very significantly shorter.

    Also, my SPOT has all the buttons in the front...not on the sides, so I can operate it while it's snugly in it's RAM mount on the handlebars.

    I had hopes, but it's not gonna work out for me.
    #6
  7. dartmouth01

    dartmouth01 Noob4Life!

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Oddometer:
    358
    Location:
    South Lake Tahoe, CA
    I chose the Delorme (now Garmin) route because it supposedly uses the Iridium network, vs the Globalstar network that Spot uses. Supposedly, the Iridium network works better, but thats just from reading reviews, I don't have first hand experience comparing both side to side.

    #7
  8. jackalsour

    jackalsour Xennial

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    Dec 14, 2010
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    Transient
    Iridium has global coverage except for a period in 2016-2017 between some gaps in the original constellation and delays launching their second generation constellation Iridium-NEXT. Something like 50 have been launched in the past year with 25 more to launch this year so the remaining originals are being deliberately de-orbited. Globalstar is already second generation but far fewer satellites and less coverage. Both can have gaps in mountains/valleys but Iridium would have better coverage in polar regions
    #8
  9. Sobiloff

    Sobiloff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    Reno, NV (USA)
    So a gen3 SPOT is $200/year (or $300/year with tracking at 2.5-minute intervals), while the Mini runs from $143.40 to $959.40 (!) per year, depending on how many text messages, tracking points, location pings, and weather reports you want.

    To get unlimited tracking points on the Mini you need to pay at least $300/year, and you're still limited to 10-minute tracking intervals. You have to upgrade to the top ($960/yr) plan to get 2-minute tracking intervals.

    Garmin does offer a month-by-month option that saves you money if you use it for less than nine months of the year.

    The ability to have a two-way conversation is a definite plus for the Mini, and the ability to get weather and link with your phone for maps might be a plus as well. The drawback is the long tracking interval, so it seems like it depends on how important the tracking interval is to folks.
    #9
  10. JONK

    JONK Pick a direction and go

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    347
    Location:
    Warshington
    This thing is tiny! Spot gen3 replacement. 20180712_124301.jpg
    Tracking is not important for me, 2 way texting is.

    Battery life should be good if not using bluetooth or fast track pings.

    Will report after use this wknd.
    #10
    Reddog* likes this.
  11. JONK

    JONK Pick a direction and go

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    347
    Location:
    Warshington
    Called to cancel the SPOT tracker and told them about the new inreach purchase. They offered to give me a discount to stay.
    #11
  12. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

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    Jul 23, 2010
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    Location:
    Central Mn
    :-)

    That's the best way to send them the message.... just leave.
    I like it. I left them too a long ways back.
    #12
    JONK likes this.
  13. Wreckchecker

    Wreckchecker Ungeneer to broked stuff.

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,874
    Location:
    Damascus, MD
    My dos centavos:

    Picked up a Mini on the most basic plan and tested it around home and in the Canadian Rockies for most of two weeks where there was no cell service.

    I love the size. It's small enough to attach to the shoulder strap of a kayak life vest or backpack strap and not be a nuisance. Mine is black and fairly inconspicuous when on a shoulder strap. In my Klim jacket when riding the bike, it disappears into the chest pocket and feels less bulky than the SPOT3 did even though they are close in dimensions. Because it bluetooths to the bigger screen on my phone, the little screen on the Mini is not the limiting factor that the Garmin Oregon or one of their watches were. While it is supposed to turn itself off when not moving for a while, I turned it off when we weren't moving in the evenings and the battery had plenty of charge after every couple of days when I would recharge it. I am sure it's waterproof, but the worst we had was lots of heavy rain. The charge port cover is rock solid and not always coming off like the one on the SPOT.

    I typically record my tracks for the bike, hiking, and paddling on the Android phone with OSMand+, which works great off-line. The Mini uses the Earthmate app for mapping and after downloading area maps to the phone before heading out, the Mini hooked up bluetooth to the phone without issues. OSMand+ uses a lot of phone battery so put the phone in airplane mode to save battery while the Mini buffers the track and when ready BT them together to get the points into Earthmate. Walking and long paddles are typically no more than 3.5 to 4 mph, so worst case with the 10 minute intervals has been about a half mile between hits. On the bike, the interval between hits could be as much as 10 miles at 60 mph. If I've not reported in and the family wants to find me, that is not as good as I'd like but close enough for a search to be pretty quick. If I'm not unconscious and push the SOS button the location will be exactly where I need help.

    I set up some texts and they worked when tested, but other than "starting out" and "end of day" to family, those aren't something I'm going to use much.

    I do head out alone regularly, so do want a locator of some type. SPOT wanted $240 this year and using the Mini at the most basic rate, the cost to me is a toss-up when compared to the SPOT plan. Yes, there is a difference, but not enough for one or the other to stand out so to me the cost was not decisive. I do like that I can suspend the Garmin service. My other half has an REI membership and buying through them meant getting 10% back on the purchase in REI bucks.

    So why'd I switch from the SPOT3?

    The first real reason was SPOT's business and billing BS. I've wanted to ditch them from the start, because it was an annual game of getting a big automated billing increase every year that you can't get out of, wasting time on the phone to get passed to a supervisor, tell them I insisted on leaving due to the cost increase, then getting the bill cut. When I really did try to quit a couple of months ago, they argued that it wasn't yet subscription renewal time and I couldn't have a refund for unused service. It wasn't far off till my credit card would expire so I let it. Suddenly, I was getting daily emails and even two phone calls offering to reduce the rate if I would give them the updated credit card number. F-that! That's no way to run a business and keep your customers.

    Second was that regardless of what the SPOT coverage map shows, I've had the device not connect in the US, Canada, and Africa. That's a fatal flaw right there for Globalstar, which SPOT uses. We use Iridium sat-phones for work and I've never ever had problems connecting with that service, which is what the Garmin is on. I have no doubt that if I push the panic button on the Mini, somebody will get the signal and I was never totally comfortable about that with the SPOT.
    #13
  14. Kuzflies

    Kuzflies n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2
    Put about 13k miles on the mini. Worked flawlessly. A little cumbersome with the interface but it’s Garmin that’s to be expected. Anyone find a good handlebar mount?
    #14
  15. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,604
    Location:
    San Antonio
    I used to keep the inReach on the handlebar, but anymore it's either in the tank bag or the Camelbak.

    It doesn't need a completely unobstructed view of the sky*. In both locations cited its never missed a ping.

    *That's not to say it will work buried in a pannier. But a few thin layers of material has not impeded the signal.
    #15
    Kuzflies likes this.