Written by 1:30 pm Communication

Garmin Inreach Mini Review

Photo of a black Garmin inreach mini satellite communicator in black color with display on its LED screen.

If you are the type of person who likes adventure and you find yourself hiking out to the most beautiful and most remote parts of the world, then you are probably familiar with losing contact with your friends and family due to the terrible phone signal. This is why there has been a great increase in popularity in having possession of a satellite communicator.

Garmin is well known in the industry as a company that has supplied a high-quality satellite communicator in many different shapes. Garmin has released their smallest satellite communicator so far to help you give better access to your big adventures without breaking your bank balance. No longer will you need the search and rescue to save the date and you will be the envy of all your fellow travelers.

This tiny little device works just like any other satellite communicator, however, by connecting to your phone through Bluetooth it can create an interface on the earthmate app. This gives a much bigger and brighter interface to your inreach mini which therefore offers a bigger list of features such as two-way text messaging, a weather forecast service, and a handy tracking mode.

But does the Garmin inreach mini compare to the competition and is it worth purchasing for your next big trip? We are looking into all the key features, technical specifications and we come to a final verdict of whether this is the right device for you.

Keep reading to see how we break it down and what our final opinion of this mini device is.

Product Overview

Photo of a black Garmin inreach mini satellite communicator in black color with display on its LED screen.

Display Size: 5 inches | Map Type: Topographical | Item Weight: 3.53 oz

Key Features:

When it comes to satellite communicators there are a lot of expected features to help protect you when your cellphone signal just won’t cut it. But since our phones have become more and more advanced, our expectations of what we want when out and about has grown away from just the ability to trigger an SOS, we want so much more.

This is where the Garmin inreach mini takes leaps and bounds above the competition, with its introduction to the earthmate app. This allows your mobile phone to connect with your inreach mini and opens a whole world of features that the inreach mini could not do alone. This then gives you access to download maps, charts, and much more to help keep you on the right track.

The mini version of the Garmin inreach also offers the ability to send and receive messages using the global iridium satellite network. This means that even when your phone loses its signal you still have the ability to send and receive text messages with your friends and families.

The Garmin inreach mini also comes with an incredible lithium-based battery that can give a battery life of up to 50 hours. Meaning that even on your longest journeys you will have the reassurance of keeping in contact with your nearest and dearest.

Technical Specification:

Many technical aspects make this communicator stand out from the rest. The inreach mini is made from tough, durable, impact-resistant, and water-resistant material to ensure that not even the toughest terrains will ruin your chances of keeping in touch with your pals. The inreach mini comes in a lot smaller than the previous inreach se, it measures at a tiny 9.9cm by 5.2cm which is not much bigger than a dish sponge.

The inreach mini comes with a lithium battery offering a battery life of up to 50 hours of charge when using the 10-minute tracking mode and a potential 20 days of charge on battery saving mode. This means that you will rarely lose important access to your pals and family, as well as access to maps and charts to help you find your way home.

The communicator uses the 100% global iridium satellite network much like the inreach SE which was previously released by Garmin. This allows consistent and uninterrupted use of two may messages and the ability to trigger an interactive SOS whilst using the mini version of the inreach.

Potential Expenses:

Once you have bought your choice of compatible Garmin devices you will also need to think about connecting yourself to the satellite service using one of Garmins flexible plans. A flexible satellite subscription is required to use the many features of the mini inreach, but like all Garmin devices, it comes with many different options to fit your current financial situation.

You may also need to make sure you have a cellphone that you can connect your communicator to through Bluetooth. If you do not have one of these devices or you don’t want to take your precious cellphone on a tough journey then you may need to invest in one. Without having a cellphone you may not be able to reach all of the potential features. This is because of the mini nature of this device.

These are definitely things to consider before purchasing this mini device and if you do not have a cellphone, is it better for you to buy a bigger and maybe more expensive communicator? However, if you already have a cellphone you may just save yourself a big chunk of money by combining your cellphone with this communicator and maximizing your abilities without the costs.

Pro's:
  • The ability to connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth
  • A free app is available to expand features
  • Two-way messages can be sent and received
  • Small size and weight which is easy to travel with
  • Optional inreach weather forecast services
  • By using the handheld GPS you can easily be found in an emergency
Cons:
  • Not necessarily beginner-friendly
  • Not many features without connecting to your cellphone
  • More premium models are available
  • Larger sets are available

Final Verdict:

The mini edition of the inreach communicator certainly gives us a lot to think about. Though this is a small device it most definitely packs a punch in the shape of features and technical specifications on offer. Because of the mini size of this device, it could be said that without an accompanying cellphone you may not get the best out of this mini communicator.

Once a cellphone is connected using Bluetooth, and it does suddenly open a whole world of free resources that become available. This allows messages to be sent to anyone you may be traveling with that you are wanting to check up on and keeps you all safe.

But not only will it allow you to keep in touch with your closest but through the free app, you can also get free entitlement to lots of goodies such as maps, charts, and even premium weather packages created uniquely for Garmins’ customers. That is great customer service if ever I have seen it!

However, this mini pocket rocket does come with some downsides that you need to put into considerations also. Though the battery life is really impressive you will also need to connect your cellphone for a lot of the features, so you may want to consider if your cellphone is up for the hard work too. It is also important to remember that all of these great features are only achievable when you are part of a subscription that allows you to use the global satellite service.

Should I buy this communicator?

If you are looking for a lightweight, small and durable communicator to take on your travels then we would absolutely recommend this communicator to you. If you are taking a cellphone along on your journey then you will have entitlement to heaps of features that other communicators will not have.

However, if you do not have a cellphone then you may find that you are limited with what you can do with this communicator. It will go from a package full of features and transform into a communicator that can only do the most basic of communications.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a Garmin inReach subscription?

A subscription will give your mini communicator the ability to connect to satellites all over the world. These allow you to send messages even in the most remote of places because the communicator does not need to be connected to telephone pylons but instead satellites up in space.

Paying for a subscription does not necessarily have to cost you the earth, in fact, they have been split into 8 different packages depending on what you want from the service. Obviously the more expensive the package the more that you can expect to get out.

These subscriptions are split up into Safety, Recreation, and their biggest package Expedition. The names of the packages perfectly explain exactly what they are intended to cover. For instance, the ‘Safety’ package is purely there to keep you safe and not very full-blown conversations with your peers. This package only offers 10 texts per month whilst always ensuring you have unlimited SOS cover.

In comparison, the Expedition package intends to cover people who may go on even longer journeys more frequently. Therefore it gives the user an unlimited amount of texts to any other explorers.

You can also reduce the cost of your subscription by making sure that you pay for your subscription annually rather than paying for it monthly. Though this is a big cost up front, you may save yourself up to $15 a month.

What is Garmin inReach mini?

In short, this is a communicator that can be an extension to your cellphone in remote places all around the globe. The communicator can help you get in touch with our explorers who may be traveling with you that you may have got separated from. The communicator also has an emergency SOS trigger which can alert the closest emergency responders to your group by using your local GPS location.

This could be an absolute lifesaver in these circumstances and should be an absolute essential on all your long adventures.

The mini is the next generation of communicators after the inreach SE. This communicator allows you to connect to your cellphone through the use of Bluetooth. This then allows itself to become a modem for your cellphone and allows it to connect to the satellites up in space. You can then download a variety of unique and exclusive goodies from the free app supplied with the communicator.

The ability to download maps, charts, and weather reports make this communicator at the top of the list of other competitors because of its ability to be lightweight but also provide so many features. Though this may not be the communicator for people who do not have their own cellphone as the list of features make become much more reduced.

However, many other competitors in the market do not have a cellphone or perhaps do not want to take their own cellphone with them. Luckily the market is vast and has lots of options.

Is the Garmin inReach mini worth it?

This wholly depends on what it is that you are looking for in a communicator. Perhaps you are just looking for a basic communicator that just the basic things such as sending and receiving texts and sending SOS signals. If that is what you are looking for then the mini is definitely worth it in the grand scheme of things.

What makes this really a communicator that you cannot do without is its ability to connect to your cellphone using its built-in Bluetooth. This automatically upgrades your communicator to much more than just a communicator. It allows you to download plenty of important documents such as maps, charts, and weather reports that other communicators cannot do.

It is for these reasons that we would consider this communicator most certainly ‘worth it’. In fact for the small price that you are paying you are getting a lot of features packed into a very small model. You will find yourself paying a lot more for a communicator that has all these features built-in. Therefore, by allowing the communicator to become your modem and allowing your cellphone to do some of the hard work you are getting a lot for your dollar!

One disclaimer would be that if you are not in possession of a cellphone already then you may find that this communicator is not for you. Comparing the level of features that would become available to you without the cellphone probably would not make this purchase worth it. You may find it a lot better to buy a communicator that has everything integrated. This way you will have the maximum amount of features, though you may have to pay a little more for this.

Can you use Garmin inReach mini without subscription?

Without a subscription, your communicator will not have entry to the ability of the global satellites that have been set up. Without the satellites then your communicator will be quite useless as it’s the main ingredient is no longer there.

For your communicator to make contact with emergency rescue teams or to your adventure buddies, you will need something to help your communicator signal travel the distance. The whole reason people purchase these communicators rather than using their cellphones is that their cellphones cannot find any signal.

To get a signal without the usual means that cellphones use, there is a small price to pay.

Don’t let the words ‘subscription’ put you off though. There are many different packages available that may be suitable for you and you can pick the one that suits your finances better.

The packages range from a basic package which you can use in emergencies all the way up to extensive packages that allow you unlimited texts and many more things. You should have a sit-down and think about how much you will realistically be out of cellphone range and how much you will need to message people you are not with.

For example, if you are part of a small group that doesn’t plan on splitting up, you may only need a basic package just in case you somehow split up in an emergency. Alternatively, if you are going to be part of a big group that plans to take different routes then you may want the bigger package so that you can keep in touch with that group. This way you can make sure you can meet up with the other half of your group with ease.

This wholly depends on you and your group’s personal needs, but either way, any communicator will not work without some kind of subscription for use with satellites.

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