Home Hiking In-Depth Garmin Inreach Explorer Review

In-Depth Garmin Inreach Explorer Review

92 min read

Garmin inreach review

In This Guide
  • What the Garmin InAttain Does
  • Garmin InAttain Explorer+ or SE+?
  • Which Garmin InAttain Subscription To Get
  • How to Get Rescue Insurance With the Unit
  • Tips On Using the Garmin InAttain

The Garmin InReach Explorer (previously Delorme InAttain) is a must have in your pack. Outside of proudly owning a satellite tv for pc telephone, it’s one of many solely methods to have two-way communications with buddies, household, and emergency companies outdoors of cell service. Its navigation capabilities have some flaws, however don’t get the InAttain for that; it’s price the price only for the messaging and climate options. For a couple of hundred bucks, the Garmin InAttain may save your life. It’s a no brainer.

If you discover this information useful, you possibly can assist assist this website by buying the Garmin InReach with this link to REI. You get a reduction as much as 10% with an inexpensive REI membership and free transport. It finally ends up being cheaper than shopping for from Amazon, there are benefits to buying from REI, and also you assist assist free hiking guides for everybody.

There’s additionally a mannequin referred to as the inReach Mini which I’ve a review on here.

A Quick Primer On Why the InAttain Is Great

So everybody understands the best way to ship a textual content message with a mobile phone. And when you’re hiking, and you’ve got mobile phone reception, and are in an emergency, you possibly can name 911 (or text 911) and deal with the scenario. But what occurs whenever you don’t have mobile phone reception? That’s a standard prevalence whenever you’re out hiking within the wilderness. Hell, it’s a reasonably widespread prevalence even when not within the wilderness.

That’s the place the Garmin InReach is available in. The InAttain makes use of satellites to speak and ship and obtain textual content messages. There’s no must be close to a mobile phone sign. You will be in Antartica, and it really works (not confirmed, but!).

cell versus satellite phone
The InAttain doesn’t want a reference to a cell tower throughout land, only a line-of-sight to a satellite tv for pc.

The InAttain, which is available in two fashions, the SE and Explorer, has many different useful capabilities as nicely. Keep studying to see why you want this probably life-saving system in your pack.

Garmin InAttain Review Video

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Garmin InAttain Explorer+ or SE+?

Garmin sells two flavors of the InAttain, and right here’s the distinction. The SE has all of the core capabilities together with SOS and two-way texting. The Explorer, which prices about $50 extra, provides topo maps, a built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer.

garmin inreach review unit comparison
Aside from the colour, the models are similar on the skin. It’s the insides and software program which can be totally different.

Are the maps and sensors price the additional $50? Yes, despite the fact that I not often use them. As you learn on, you’ll discover out that the InAttain Explorer isn’t actually a superb unit for mapping and navigation. I’ve different instruments that I exploit for that. I believe the additional $50 is an efficient funding in case of an emergency. If your fundamental GPS fails, you’ve sturdy instruments within the Explorer’s topo maps, elevation, and compass. It needs to be sufficient to get you out of a jam. So I spend the additional $50 simply in case.

Garmin InAttain Subscriptions

Before we discover the InAttain in depth, I need to point out that you want a paid subscription to make use of the Garmin InAttain. I knew that a whole lot of people aren’t paying for a subscription, so if that’s you, you possibly can cease studying right here.

For me, the small month-to-month charge is price it for the peace of thoughts. When you think about that this system can save your life, $15/month doesn’t appear too costly.

Here are the present service tiers. I exploit the most affordable Freedom Plan choice, which lets me ship limitless preset messages and use the SOS, and it really works nice. If you get the Freedom Plan, you possibly can flip it on and off at month-to-month intervals. You may simply get an annual plan for much less.

garmin inreach subscription plans
Here’s the lineup of plans. Again, the most affordable plan works positive for me. Check the Garmin web site for the newest and biggest.

I’ll discuss monitoring factors and placement pings later. You in all probability don’t want them, however perhaps you do. Read on.

Garmin fees a $20 “activation” charge that you simply pay as soon as. You can all the time improve your account without cost, and when you downgrade, it prices you $25.

I used to be going tenting out in Joshua Tree with buddies and was going to not convey my household with me. I came upon that there was no cell service. I discovered this unit because it was in a position to ship and obtain messages to your loved ones over satellite tv for pc. Well, it labored. When everybody had no service, I used to be preserving in shut contact with my spouse and children. I additionally like the truth that it has SOS. You by no means know what may occur and need to be sure that communications are there whenever you want them. I’m glad I bought this! – REI Reviewer

There are additionally third-party companies that provide Garmin InAttain subscriptions like these guys. You don’t have to make use of the default subscription. I haven’t used them as a result of the usual subscriptions have labored positive for me.

You may get business plans for the InAttain which assist a number of models and groups.

Should You Upgrade From the Delorme InAttain

If you weren’t conscious, Garmin acquired the firm Delorme, which made the unique InAttain models. In truth, Garmin acquired Delorme merely for the InAttain unit, despite the fact that Delorme had been creating maps and mapping merchandise for over 40 years. So that’s a superb signal that the unit and expertise is nice.

garmin inreach review Delorme next to Garmin
The Delorme InAttain SE subsequent to a Garmin InAttain Explorer

Garmin took a couple of 12 months to enhance the InAttain Explorer unit.  Garmin addressed a couple of key flaws within the unique Delorme InAttain Explorer.

  • They enlarged the (previous) onerous to learn display – from 1.4″ x 1.2″ inches to 1.75″ x 1.5″. It may appear to be a small change, however it’s simpler to learn.
  • They improved the keypad. There are a couple of extra buttons, the previous lock slide is gone, and the SOS button was moved away from the principle keypad and was given a canopy to keep away from unintentionally hitting it.
  • They added climate forecasts.

Using the Garmin InAttain

The Garmin Explorer is Easy To Use

To start, I’ll stroll you thru the format (extra on that later too). The buttons are easy, and as soon as you utilize it a couple of occasions, turn out to be second nature.

inreach keys
The {hardware}, keys, and case are similar on the Explorer and SE.

inreach keys

I notably like the truth that the ability button is on prime and partially protected by the antenna, the place it doesn’t get pressed unintentionally. Same factor with the SOS button. It’s the largest button on the unit, and simple to seek out when you’re harm, blinded, and so on.

garmin inreach review sos button
The precise SOS button is hidden below this protecting cowl.

The menu is easy, however a bit crowded and dated. Again, when you play with it for a couple of minutes, it’s simple to make use of. You merely use the rocker button to maneuver by the menu gadgets. The test button places you right into a perform; the “x” button backs you out. It’s easy.

inreach menu
The fundamental menu of capabilities is break up throughout two screens,

Here’s an outline of the capabilities:

  • Preset – ship preset messages that you simply specify on the Inreach web site.
  • Tracking – monitor your self with the inbuilt journey laptop.
  • Check – test for brand spanking new messages. If you don’t do a handbook test, it can test for messages each 10 minutes.
  • Routes – observe a route that you simply’ve deliberate on-line.
  • Messages – a listing of your inbound and outbound textual content messages. You may ship customized textual content messages from right here.
  • Waypoints – a listing of your waypoints and the power so as to add a waypoint.
  • Weather – get a climate report for a location. There are two flavors, free and premium (extra later).
  • Map – an interactive topographic map.
  • Trip Computer – stats to your present journey.
  • Data Use – test whether or not your information use remains to be inside your plan.
  • Compass – entry the compass and a few navigation data.
  • SOS – launch an SOS from the menu. There’s an computerized cancel in case you hit this by mistake.
  • Contacts – a listing of your contacts which you could sync from the web site.
  • Location – pinpoint your location with the GPS and share it.
  • History – a historical past of your messages.
  • Test – assessments the models reference to the Iridium satellite tv for pc community.
  • Settings – tweak a bunch of settings to customise the unit.

Satellite Text Messages

This is the primary motive why I like to recommend InAttain Explorer. The Garmin InAttain Explorer is exclusive in that it enables you to ship and obtain textual content messages with any mobile phone on the earth. The different capabilities are okay, however that is the sport changer (and why Garmin in all probability purchased the corporate from Delorme).

There are a couple of methods to ship messages.

You have three preset messages that are very simple to ship from the unit. These are canned textual content messages to preset recipients that you simply specify on the web site. The good factor about these preset messages is which you could ship as many as you need inside all the information plans (extra later). You may connect a link to your place. So I ship quite a bit.

garmin inreach review presets
You must set your preset messages on the web site. You can’t do it from the system.
garmin inreach review presets
Here are my three preset messages, all sendable with two clicks (menu>preset, then ship).
garmin inreach review preset message
After you ship, you possibly can see all the situation pings that you simply despatched on the InAttain.

Here’s my setup (yours may be totally different).

  1. Just checking in to say I’m okay. I hearth this off a few times to my spouse once I do a hike, normally once I end. It offers her peace of thoughts, particularly if I’m doing a hike that’s particularly difficult, lengthy, or off the crushed path.
  2. Running late, will let you recognize once I arrive. Every as soon as and some time a hike runs longer than anticipated, and I don’t need my spouse to name search and rescue if I’m not again once I say I can be. This is an easy option to say I’m late. I follow-up with my first “I’m okay” preset message once I end.
  3. I’m going to hit SOS, please name the closest police station with my place. This is for a worse case situation. I determine that if I hit SOS and I’ve a member of the family calling the police station, my member of the family will be capable of give the search workforce extra data about me. I ship this message to my spouse and some different members of the family. The solely factor you must watch out of is hitting this by mistake.
garmin inreach review preset message
Here’s what it appears like whenever you get a message from the InAttain in your telephone. It’s only a common textual content message.
garmin inreach review preset message
The link within the textual content message features a link to your place that’s viewable on a map.
garmin inreach review reply
Recipients may reply to a preset message. You pay for replies that you simply obtain, except you’ve a plan with limitless texts.

This previous week the Explorer+ actually got here via. Day one in every of a Scout 50 miler I grew to become a warmth casualty and ended up caught on the aspect of a mountain at 5000′. I used to be in a position to join with my spouse to let her know I wanted to get picked up the subsequent day. It’s in all probability the one gear buy that I’ve made that my spouse actually appreciates. Take the time to learn the person handbook (PDF) obtainable on Garmin’s web site. It took a short time however positively price it. – REI Reviewer

There’s additionally one thing referred to as “Quick Text Messages” the place you possibly can pre-type a message on the web site. It’s good as a result of typing a message with the rocker keyboard is a ache. Quick Text Messages depend towards your information plan.

inreach quick set
You choose the little lightning bolt to entry fast set messages and keep away from utilizing the keyboard.

A notice on the preset and fast textual content messages. You should create them on the web site earlier than you utilize the unit, after which sync them to the unit. The sync is a handbook operation together with your laptop, a USB cable, and your unit (extra later).

Lastly, you possibly can simply do a free-form textual content message. As I discussed, it’s a ache to sort them out with the rocker button and keyboard, nevertheless it works. I not often use this, nevertheless it’s good to have. 99% of the time I exploit the preset messages.

garmin inreach review reply
Typing a freeform textual content message. You use the little rocker button to undergo the keyboard, character by character.

Satellite Performance

The InAttain Explorer solely sends and receives messages if it has a satellite tv for pc connection. It makes use of the Iridium satellite network, which has pole-to-pole international protection, so it basically works in all places.

I used to be in a position to obtain GPS coordinates on my InAttain however not on my iPhone when in a closely forested space. – REI Reviewer

The antenna does finest when it has a transparent line-of-sight to the sky, however I’ve used it in a cover of timber with out issues.  Other occasions cloud cowl has made a connection robust. I believe it’s extra a perform of satellite tv for pc expertise moderately than the unit itself. In basic, I can get a satellite tv for pc and GPS connection inside 2-3 minutes of startup. Most message sends occur in 2-5 minutes.

Sometimes it takes a couple of minutes extra, even with a transparent line of sight. It does appear to attach faster than the previous Delorme InAttain although, however that is simply an remark.

An excellent characteristic of the system is that it’ll proceed to try to ship the message even when it doesn’t have a message. So I normally simply ship it, hike, and I get a particular beep when the message goes by.

garmin inreach review mounting
I normally stick my unit within the aspect pocket of my backpack and it really works nicely.

Garmin recommends mounting it on the highest of your pack or higher body.

Emergency Beacon

The SOS beacon is the primary motive why I selected this unit. Well, perhaps this and the textual content messages. There’s not quite a bit to say right here, I believe you in all probability figured it out already. The InAttain makes use of the identical Iridium satellite tv for pc community to ship misery indicators.

There are two methods you possibly can ship an SOS.

garmin inreach review sos button
The SOS button is the one one on the aspect of the unit, and is simple to really feel together with your fingers when you can’t see.
garmin inreach review sos button
You may set off an SOS utilizing the menu. If you click on on SOS, it can mechanically cancel after a couple of seconds except you explicitly cancel that operation. It’s good when you unintentionally hit the button.

Here’s how the SOS emergency beacon works. Garmin has teamed up with GEOS, which handles the precise emergency communications. When you set off an SOS, GEOS will get a message together with your GPS place. They may also get entry to the information related to the system, which features a little bio you possibly can fill out that describes you.

garmin inreach review sos info
When you setup the system, you enter details about your self that helps search and rescue know who they’re on the lookout for. There’s additionally a freeform textual content field the place you possibly can discuss your expertise, any circumstances, no matter.

GEOS has a database of all the primary responders on the earth, and they’re going to contact the suitable company and coordinate a response. They may also message you again on the system (not confirmed!) and preserve in touch with you. This is a key differentiator from different (one-way) emergency beacons (aka PLB, private locator beacon). For instance, if it’s essential carry out rapid actions (resembling first-aid), GEOS can advise utilizing textual content messages.

Already used it within the Alps and within the Costa Rica jungles. Communicates nicely and your location in addition to any extra messages are transmitted as promised. – REI Reviewer

This emergency protection works all around the world and even in the course of the oceans (which is why it’s a superb choice for sailors too). GEOS has coordinated rescues in over 140 international locations. It makes you need to simply preserve this factor with you on a regular basis, simply in case.

Garmin has a rescue story up on their blog here, which provides you with an concept of what a rescue appears like. Also, notice that the rescue took 21 hours. Hitting the SOS button doesn’t ship a chopper inside 30 minutes. A rescue can usually be many hours and might occur on foot. Expect at the very least 6 hours.

You should use the SOS button with care. While units just like the Garmin InAttain are nice for hikers like us, a whole lot of SARS (search and rescue) responders aren’t massive followers. Why? Because people use them when it’s not a real emergency. I’ve heard tales of oldsters hitting the button when they’re nauseous, have a sprained ankle, and so on.  When you hit that SOS button, you instantly put your complete SARS workforce lives’ in peril. You must weigh the scenario fastidiously earlier than you hit SOS. If you possibly can evacuate your self, do it. I highly recommend a wilderness first aid course, which for a small funding of a weekend, provides you with the abilities to probably save lives (together with your individual). It may also educate you on when to sign for a rescue.

Rescue Insurance

Another wonderful thing about the InAttain is which you could choose into some moderately priced search and rescue insurance coverage. These are 100% elective, and you’ll opt-in out of your InAttain account webpage and dashboard.

garmin inreach review sos signup
You can simply signup for further rescue companies from the InAttain dashboard on-line. You can’t signal on the unit.

The first choice is GEOS Search and Rescue insurance. It prices $18/12 months, and offers you $100,000 of rescue insurance coverage throughout life-threatening emergencies alerted together with your InAttain Explorer. So when you have a stomachache and name for assist, you’re paying for it your self. It covers you worldwide, apart from a couple of international locations (don’t hike in Syria). There are some exclusions, resembling pre-existing circumstances, so read the terms earlier than you signup.

The second choice is GEOS MEDIVAC, which prices $130/12 months for USA & Canada, and $175/12 months internationally. This protection comes into play after you’ve been rescued. It’s a one-time insurance coverage that means that you can be transported to the hospital of your alternative anyplace on the earth. For instance, let’s say you’re harm within the backwoods of Costa Rica, and as a substitute of being evacuated to the native hospital, you need to simply return dwelling to your native hospital the place you’ve insurance coverage protection, household, and so on. With the GEOS MEDIVAC insurance coverage, a medically geared up and staffed plane can be ready for you whenever you exit the backwoods and can take you dwelling. There’s even a medical director at GEOS that may monitor your scenario and advise. That’s fairly nice.

Weather Reports

One of the good new options that Garmin added to the InAttain Explorer is climate reviews. The climate reviews work by a textual content message and are powered by DarkSky (within the USA at the very least). DarkSky focuses on hyper-local climate forecasts, and so they even have a very cool app for smartphones. On the InAttain Explorer, the climate report is a bit more fundamental (however nonetheless very helpful).

I simply return from a profitable Denali expedition and my inReach Explorer+ labored very nicely for limitless texting whether or not tethered to my telephone or not. The GPS labored fairly nicely for 10-minute interval monitoring though it did report much more spurious off-track factors than my Garmin GPSMap does in large open areas the place it shouldn’t. I noticed a whole lot of different groups with this mannequin and anticipate it’s on the way in which to changing dearer and heavier satellite tv for pc telephones. – REI Reviewer

For most hikers, you have to be checking an in depth climate report earlier than you hit the path. But the climate can change, even on a day hike. I discover the climate most respected on multi-day hikes, particularly within the mountains. I used the climate texts on backpacking journeys within the Sierras and on Catalina, and it was nice. I may see an hourly climate report with temp and probability of precipitation. So it was fairly simple to see if there have been thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, and I may make certain I wasn’t on a summit or someplace dangerous when that occurred.

There are a couple of flavors of climate reviews.

  • Basic (free)
    • 3-day forecast displayed in 6-hour intervals.
    • Stats
      • Cloud cowl
      • Temp
      • Precipitation
      • Chance of
      • Precipitation
      • Wind
      • Barometric Pressure
      • Humidity
  • Premium ($1.00 per request)
    • Same stats
    • 7-day forecast displayed in various intervals (1-2 hour intervals for the primary day, 3-6 hour intervals for the subsequent day and 12-hour intervals for the remaining 5 days).
  • Marine ($1.00 per request)
    • Activated when your place is over water
    • Same stats within the Premium forecast
    • Wave height, ocean present, and visibility particulars
    • Based on OCENS premium marine climate information

You can select between fundamental, premium, and marine on the go, which is useful. Thank you Garmin for not locking us into an costly subscription right here.

garmin inreach review weather
You can choose your present place, or use one other place for the report. It’s helpful if you wish to get the climate for a location that’s at your vacation spot. When you request a climate report, you will get a fundamental report for the price of a textual content message, or request a extra detailed climate report for a charge.
garmin inreach review weather
The first display offers you day by day climate.
garmin inreach review weather
Clicking right into a day offers you a extra detailed breakdown. This is the essential climate report.
garmin inreach review weather
Clicking in additional offers you forecast specifics for that point.
garmin inreach review weather
Here’s a premium climate report. You can see the forecast goes additional out.
garmin inreach review weather
The premium forecast additionally offers you an hourly breakdown.

Topo Maps, GPS, and Navigation

Just a reminder, there are two fashions of the Garmin InAttain, the SE and Explorer. The InAttain Explore+ has topo maps, built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer. The SE simply makes use of GPS for navigation capabilities, so you must be shifting for it to guesstimate your route.

If you’re on the lookout for a superb mapping and navigation unit, don’t purchase the InAttain. With somewhat time, you possibly can discover ways to navigate with it and make it work, nevertheless it’s clunky and also you’d be higher served by utilizing different models like a Fenix or eTrex (and even GaiaGPS and your telephone). Spend the additional $50 on the InAttain Explorer so that you’ve got some map and navigation backup instruments in case your different GPS fails, the batteries die, and so on.

Here’s the lowdown on the maps that include the InAttain Explorer. Note that the maps will not be obtainable on the InAttain SE.

  • The Explorer bought in North America comes preloaded with USA, Canada, and Mexico topo maps.
  • The USA and Canada maps are 1:24ok scale.
  • The Mexico map is 1:125ok scale.
  • Units bought in different elements of the world can have maps related to that area preloaded.
  • The maps are NOT Garmin maps; they’re Delorme maps. The Delorme maps will not be pretty much as good for hiking as Garmin or OpenStreetMaps, however they do have an honest quantity of topo element and roads. Enough to make use of in a pinch.
  • You can load different worldwide maps from the InAttain web site onto the system. They embrace some OpenStreetMaps, however not those tailor-made to hiking. They nonetheless have good element, and I picture Garmin may add extra flavors sooner or later.
  • You may pay for and cargo searching maps on the InAttain web site. I don’t know what they offer you, but when it’s essential to you, they’re there.
  • You can customise the map show in settings.
  • If you need to create a route on the map, the InAttain gained’t route you on trails or streets; it can create a straight line between you and your vacation spot.
  • You can transfer the pointer across the map to get a lat/lon, elevation, distance, and bearing.
garmin inreach review maps
Here’s the element of an OpenStreetMap that I loaded onto the unit, overriding the default Delorme map, which didn’t embrace many trails.
garmin inreach review maps
You can flip loaded maps on and off. You load extra maps utilizing the InAttain web site and the sync program.
garmin inreach review maps
Within every map group, you possibly can allow or disable a selected area.
garmin inreach review maps
Hitting the house button on the maps web page enables you to tweak the map settings.

Absolutely glad that I bought this unit and would buy once more. Just don’t anticipate quite a bit out of the GPS mapping and monitoring options. – REI Reviewer

At probably the most fundamental stage, you need to use the “trip info” display to offer you key navigation info. It covers a lot of the normal data like distance, time, velocity, time, and so on. A pleasant facet of the “trip info” display is which you could customise the information fields and discipline measurement. The variety of information fields will not be as sturdy as different Garmin units. For instance, it doesn’t offer you elevation climbed, simply present elevation. And the InAttain can’t hook up with Garmin sensors like a coronary heart charge monitor, foot pod, VIRB digicam, and so on. to supply that info.

garmin inreach review trip info
The journey data offers you stats in your journey.
garmin inreach review trip info
You can customise the journey data display
garmin inreach review trip info
Here are a number of the choices which you could pull from to populate the information fields on the journey data display.

If you’ve the InAttain Explorer, you possibly can show the digital compass, which provides you with a bearing even when you’re standing nonetheless. You may show the barometric stress, which is helpful to regulate the climate. If the barometric stress goes down, the climate will worsen (and vice versa). If it’s altering shortly, the extra shortly the change will happen.

You can mark waypoints and navigate them on each models, that’s fairly easy. The benefit on the InReacher Explorer is that you need to use the map to browse and mark waypoints, whereas on the SE you can not. You may mark waypoints by coming into a lat/lon. For all waypoints, you possibly can navigate to them (in a straight line). The unit gained’t route you alongside trails or streets, only a straight line.

There’s a characteristic referred to as “tracking” that’s somewhat totally different {that a} regular Garmin GPS monitor. On the InAttain, monitoring means recording your monitor and transmitting monitoring factors to an internet web page that plots the factors on a map. There are a couple of monitoring intervals which you could set. First is the “send interval” which specifies what number of occasions the InAttain will broadcast your place to the monitoring web site. And then there may be the “log interval” which is what number of occasions the InAttain will take a GPS repair and plot it on the unit. There are additionally choices resembling “extended tracking,” “auto tracking,” and “burst mode.” Check out the online manual for specifics. Last Depending in your plan, you’ll have to pay for every time it sends your location (a location ping measured by the “send interval”). Note that monitoring and transmitting drains the battery greater than not doing it.

garmin inreach review tracking
You can choose a monitoring and sharing interval.

The monitor on the inReach will not be as helpful as it’s on different GPS models. On models just like the eTrex, you possibly can see a monitor and double again on it. Here, it will get transmitted out, you possibly can view it on the display. and that’s it. The gross sales info for the InAttain says you possibly can “follow a breadcrumb trail back to base” however I can’t for the lifetime of me learn the way to do that, and the handbook doesn’t point out me.  The solely factor I can assume is that you are able to do it visually by taking a look at your recorded monitor after which observe it.

Tip: Change your monitor coloration to pink within the map settings so you possibly can see it higher.

garmin inreach review tracking
Here’s what a monitor appears like on the web site after it’s been transmitting for some time.

You may create routes to observe. First off, you must do that on the InAttain web site and sync the path to your system. And second, in contrast to different models that route you along a trail, right here you intend your routes manually, level by level. So if a path twists and turns 20 occasions in a mile, you’re creating 20 factors on that route. Not very sensible. The web site means that you can import a GPX monitor from elsewhere, however once more, it’s a whole lot of hoops to leap by to finish a easy activity. You can’t create routes on the unit or a paired telephone, though you possibly can mark waypoints on both (after which navigate to them).

garmin inreach review routing
Creating a route includes making a collection of waypoints. It doesn’t route you alongside the path mechanically.

When you’ve a route within the InAttain and also you need to observe it, it solely offers you a straight line bearing and distance to the subsequent level on the route (consider a route as a group of sequential waypoints). The unit won’t warn you when it’s essential flip just like the eTrex will. The finest display to observe routes from is the compass display.

garmin inreach review routing
Following a route on the InAttain. From the compass web page, you observe the inexperienced arrow.
garmin inreach review routing
You can see your monitor and the route on the map.

To sum it up, I wouldn’t use this unit to navigate. Get the maps and further instruments on the Explorer as a backup navigation instrument. It’s $50 extra and that’s it. The unit is in any other case the identical (weight, dimensions, and so on.)

I purchased the InAttain proper earlier than our journey to Mt San Jacinto peak. On our approach up a lot of the path was unmarked and had extra snow than we thought. On the way in which down we misplaced the path however fortunately we had this glorious piece of drugs to get us again on the path. Best piece of drugs I personal right now. I can see this saving somebody’s life in a tough time. – REI Reviewer

Sharing Your Position

If you need to share your place in real-time with others, the Garmin InAttain is nice. You should pay for monitoring in your information plan, however you will get limitless monitoring for a couple of dollars a month. You can customise your monitoring interval and sharing interval from 1 minute to 4 hours.

garmin inreach review map share
Here’s an instance of a share display. You can see the route, waypoints, and messages. It’s fairly cool.

The expertise itself labored flawlessly and allowed simple two-way communication plus pinpoint accuracy on my son’s location up to date each 30 minutes. As a security and monitoring system this expertise and specifically this unit is ideal. It’s not cheap, however with regards to security I believe it’s price each penny. – REI Reviewer

People can observe your progress by the Garmin net portal, which you’ll setup and customise. You can password shield it, customise the show, and even enable viewers to message you thru the portal. When you start monitoring, you’re additionally prompted to share your new monitor with buddies (on the InAttain system), which you may also opt-out of. If that wasn’t sufficient, you would additionally publish to Facebook and Twitter.

garmin inreach review map share
There are a whole lot of choices on the map share web page, together with password safety. You may publish to Facebook or Twitter.

Overall, I believe this sharing characteristic could be very cool, however I by no means use it. I may see this coming in helpful for an expedition the place you need to work together with an viewers. But for me, it’s overkill. I merely embrace a link to my place in my preset messages like “I’m okay just checking in” and that works positive. And it doesn’t require the additional prices for information monitoring.

Battery Life

Overall, the battery performs nicely however has some limitations.  Garmin lists the battery life as:

Up to 100 hours at 10-minute monitoring mode (default); as much as 75 hours at 10-minute monitoring with 1-second logging; as much as 30 days on the 30-minute interval energy save mode; and as much as 3 years when powered off

My expertise has been fairly according to that. With 30 minute monitoring, two textual content msgs per day, and unit off at night time, a full cost lasts about 6 -7 days. If you simply energy the unit on to ship an occasional preset message, the unit lasts months with out a cost. That’s usually how I exploit it. If I’m on a distant or lengthy hike, I’ll hearth it up a couple of occasions to ship an “I’m okay” preset message after which flip it off.  That approach if I do have an emergency, I’ll have loads of juice to run the factor with forwards and backwards textual content messages.

This is a strong, dependable satellite tv for pc communicator and GPS orienteering system multi functional bundle with the power to final 100 hours on a cost if used responsibly. That ought to finish the dialogue. In my pondering, everybody who drives out of cell protection ought to have one in every of these with a minimal subscription plan if solely to have the ability to summon assist if the automotive brakes down. – REI Reviewer

There are a couple of choices to increase the battery life, and it’s very customizable. You can set an extended monitoring broadcast interval, diminish the display brightness, and switch off bluetooth.

garmin inreach review map battery
The Garmin InAttain fees on a micro-USB cable which you could connect to many sources: a USB wall charger, an exterior widespread USB charger, USB automotive charger, or laptop.

The limitation of the system is that the rechargeable lithium battery is inside, so you possibly can’t purchase one other, you possibly can’t swap it out, and so on. I actually want Garmin created the unit in order that you would swap one other rechargeable lithium battery into the unit. That would lengthen it’s usefulness for a lot of people.

However, the issue will not be a tricky one to resolve. Just purchase any old external battery charger that works on USB (like the ones used to charge phones) and also you’ll be positive.

Phone Connection

Another neat characteristic is which you could sync the Garmin InAttain together with your mobile phone. I don’t use this perform a lot nevertheless it turns out to be useful for some individuals, particularly the texting half (since you need to use the telephone keyboard). The easy approach to consider it’s as a distant controller for the InAttain unit. It makes use of bluetooth to get the GPS, message, and sensor information from the InAttain, after which shows them on the telephone (with maps).

Here’s a lowdown on the way it works.

  • You set up the free Earthmate app in your telephone (iPhone and Android).
  • You should pair your telephone to the InAttain utilizing Bluetooth.
  • You can learn the GPS place and information from the InAttain unit and show them in your telephone.
  • You can obtain extra maps within the Earthmate app and plot your place on them. This is a helpful characteristic, particularly when you solely use the InAttain SE that doesn’t have construct in maps.
  • You can start and cease monitoring and navigation from the telephone. The telephone map show really reveals your monitor line too.
  • You can ship and obtain messages utilizing your telephone. This is mostly a lot simpler as a result of you possibly can sort in your telephone’s keyboard. It can also entry your telephone’s contacts so you possibly can textual content to them.
  • You can view the compass.
  • You can view routes and waypoints, and you’ll start navigation to them.
  • If your telephone has a cell connection, routes and waypoints can be synced from the InAttain web site to the telephone.
garmin earthmate
There are many map layer selections on the Earthmate app. These are only a few.
garmin earthmate
You can view your monitor on any of these map selections on the Earthmate app.

Personally, it’s an excessive amount of to have the telephone and InAttain linked. It doesn’t actually supply me a lot and drains each batteries (the InAttain and the telephone). I admire being able to do it within the case of an emergency although. If I wanted to do a whole lot of forwards and backwards messaging with a GEOS rescue coordinator, I’d in all probability hearth the telephone up in order that I may sort faster.

Syncing The InAttain

One of the necessities to make use of the Garmin InAttain is that you must have a pc to sync it and set it up with.  The course of is fairly easy, you simply obtain the InAttain Sync program, join your system with a USB cable, and sync. You might want to sync with the cable to replace the unit’s firmware and sync extra maps. It may also sync waypoints, messages, contacts, and routes.

garmin inreach sync
The sync is fairly easy. I want it synced the whole lot by the telephone / bluetooth connection although.

The Earthmate telephone app additionally has restricted syncing capabilities. If your telephone has a knowledge connection, it can pull the waypoints and routes from the InAttain web site and sync them with the system.

Using It On the Trail

One of the good issues about this system is that it’s rugged. It feels beefy, and has a rubber “bumper” that surrounds it. You can drop it, get it moist, no matter, and it really works. It’s IPx7 rated, so it’s constructed to get moist and soiled (however not submerged deep underwater).

The display is vibrant and simple to learn from virtually any angle (and begins to turn out to be unreadable at about 145 levels).

garmin inreach on trail
The display is vibrant and simple to learn, even in vibrant daylight.

I comes with a carabiner clip so you possibly can connect it to your pack. I normally carry it in a aspect pocket of my pack, however it will probably simply slot in most pants pockets too.

Garmin InAttain Or Other Options?

Garmin InAttain vs Spot Messenger

I used to like my SPOT messenger. It was a revolutionary piece of drugs once I bought my first one in 2010. It is much like the InAttain in that it means that you can ship an SOS, ship (1) customized message, ship an “I’m okay” message, and ship monitoring factors. You may put AAA batteries in it or recharge with USB. It’s less expensive than the InAttain, at round $150 + subscription. I used mine for years however deserted it as a result of there are higher choices on the market (just like the InAttain).

spot registration options
Here’s are the SPOT subscription ranges. The unit is cheaper, however the subscription will not be an ideal worth.

Here’s why I don’t use the SPOT.

  • The fundamental motive is that it’s unreliable. Often “I’m okay” messages wouldn’t exit till hours later. It was typically okay given the hours I used it, however I need to be 100% positive it can work in a survival scenario, and I couldn’t with the SPOT. I had an unique SPOT and a SPOT 3. The SPOT 3 was somewhat higher however died in a rain storm.
  • The SPOT doesn’t allow you to obtain messages. You don’t know if somebody bought your SOS or textual content.
  • There aren’t any different navigation capabilities on the SPOT.
  • The SPOT doesn’t supply a freedom plan, you must lock into an annual time period.
  • They have horrible customer support.
  • Other people have had a tough time canceling their subscription, and SPOT evidently auto-renews with out notifying you first, locking you into one other 12 months when you overlook about it.

If you’re on a strict price range, it’s higher than nothing. But simply keep in mind, you would be saving cash on the expense of your life.

Don’t idiot round with the weak “Spot”, the rescue pilots I do know shortly satisfied me that ACR was the way in which to go. – REI Reviewer

Garmin InAttain vs ACR ResQLink

So I really hike with each the Garmin InAttain and the ACR ResQLink, with the ACR ResQLink being my backup emergency beacon.

garmin inreach and acr resqlink
The ACR ResQLink is somewhat smaller than the Garmin InAttain. It goes within the backside of my pack in case of an emergency.

The ACR ResQLink is somewhat totally different in some essential methods.

  • The ResQLink has no two-way communications or navigation screens. In truth, it doesn’t actually have a display.
  • The ResQLink is a pure emergency beacon. It does one factor, and one factor nicely. You press the SOS button and it alerts search and rescue.
  • It’s constructed to industrial requirements.
  • It requires no subscription charge.
  • It works on a unique communications system than the InAttain (which makes use of Iridium satellites). The ResQLink makes use of the 406 MHz SARSAT COSPAS system, which is a completely totally different system than the one which the InAttain makes use of. Instead of being plugged into GEOS for search and rescue administration, you’re plugged into the US Air Force search and rescue on land within the USA (and Coast Guard if offshore).
  • It additionally works worldwide and can notify the suitable search in rescue workforce within the nation you activate it in.

The ResQLink not solely offers me an emergency backup, but additionally works on a complete totally different system in case Iridium / GEOS will not be working for no matter motive. Does it price a couple of hundred bucks to hold each? Yes. Is it a lot heavier? It’s about 5oz, which is the weight of a baseball. Is my life price it? Yes. Yes. Yes.

You can try my review of the ACR ResQLink here.

Other Options

You may additionally get a satellite tv for pc telephone. In basic, they’re costly, and the plans are very costly. There’s additionally a unit referred to as the Iridium GO, which is a cell satellite tv for pc WiFi hotspot, so you possibly can join your smartphone and sign for assist that approach. That choice can also be costly. If you have already got one in every of these units, you possibly can in all probability simply hike with that. Otherwise, I’d get one thing just like the InAttain, which is tailor-made in the direction of hikers and the outside.

An Iridium sat telephone subsequent to a Garmin GPS 64st.

What Could Be Better on the InAttain

While the InAttain is nice, there may be room for enchancment. I believe this product will evolve, and this primary Garmin unit is an incremental evolution from the Delorme model.

  • The InAttain isn’t built-in into the Garmin ecosystem of merchandise. It has its personal web site, you want a unique sync program than all the opposite Garmin packages, you possibly can’t use Garmin Basecamp to plan hikes, and you’ll’t use Garmin maps.
  • The interface is somewhat clunky and old-school. It’s not likely a giant deal, however you’re feeling such as you went again to 2006 whenever you use it.
  • It falls brief as a navigation instrument. I’d think about that the subsequent era of models will mix the very best navigation options of different Garmin GPS models with the satellite tv for pc messaging on the InAttain.
  • The telephone and Earthmate app ought to can help you sync extra issues, resembling preset messages, routes, maps, and so on. The unit could be a lot extra helpful when you could plan a route on a routable map in your telephone or pill, ship it to the system, after which get navigation alerts when it’s essential flip.
  • The positioning solely gives GPS, no GLONASS (like many different Garmin GPS models). Not an enormous deal.

When I take a look at the dangerous opinions for the unit, they typically fall into two buckets.

  • People who’ve issues setting it up or syncing it, which may come up from a lot of causes.
  • People who purchase it pondering that it’s pretty much as good as different Garmin GPS models for navigation.

For me, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.

Should You Get the InAttain Explorer?

The Garmin InAttain is the one option to have a two-way dialog with buddies, household, and rescue companies (except you pay a couple of thousand for a sat telephone and plan). It’s not solely an effective way to let individuals know your protected, it’s an effective way to share your adventures, and naturally, an effective way to sign an SOS that might save your life. That’s why I all the time carry the Garmin InAttain. If you’re on a good price range, simply get the InAttain SE. If you possibly can afford one other $50, go for the maps and enhanced sensors within the InAttain Explore. In an emergency scenario, they’re an ideal asset to have.

If you’re serious about shopping for the Garmin InAttain, there’s one thing essential you are able to do to assist assist this website. Click on the link under to purchase your InAttain from REI. You get REI dividend a refund, free transport, you possibly can simply return it, and there’s a host of other benefits. I get a small proportion of each sale, so that you’ll assist assist my web site internet hosting prices and all that dumb stuff.

Latest Garmin InReach Prices and Reviews

If you would rather get it from Amazon, please use this link and I’ll get a small percentage of of the sale.

Setting Up Your Garmin InAttain

Lots of people appear to have unfavourable opinions of the configuration however for me it was nothing wanting clean and completely operational inside a couple of brief steps. Is it extremely configurable? Yes. This will not be a tool that you simply go away as is. You customise and configure the maps, waypoints, routes, comm settings as you see match. – REI Reviewer

Setting up your InAttain unit takes somewhat time. Block off an hour to undergo all of the steps. And the extra time you spend utilizing the unit and understanding the options up entrance, the extra you’ll get out of it on the path.

Garmin inreach unboxing
This is what comes within the field.

And one other reminder, you want a pc, web connection, and subscription to make the unit work. You can’t simply take it out of the field, hearth it up, and hit the path.

Garmin inreach activation
The activation is fairly simple, simply observe the instructions on the display.

This video by Garmin does an honest job of strolling you thru setup on the unit.

I additionally suggest trying out the online manual.

If you’ve any questions or get caught, I like to recommend:

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