THE BLOG / Garmin inReach Mini

Garmin inReach Mini

As outdoors people, Stephanie and I love being far from modern conveniences and in amazing places, but the reality is that sometimes being in contact is a necessary evil. Also, sometimes we do hike and enjoy the outdoors separately, and I have to admit that sending a text to Stephanie at night time really does make me feel a little closer.

In my search for a two-way messenger I found a ton of options, but ultimately I ended up trying out the Garmin inReach Mini, and honestly I really enjoyed it. There are things I love, things I am not super fond of, and a final verdict coming at the end.

Taking the Garmin out of the box and getting it ready takes a little effort and there are a lot of blog articles, documentation and YouTube videos on that. Suffice to say, it takes a bit of effort. I will say that it’s very important to set up your contact list, write your preset messages, change your settings and ensure you have a plan selected before you take it out.

The thing that impressed me the most about the inReach Mini was the way the no-fluff design allowed it to function on the trail. On a recent solo trip I was able to easily send Stephanie messages and let her know that things were fine with minimal effort. It also has an awesome battery life and I only had to plug it into my power bank one time over 7 days.

The good

So, overall I really liked the Garmin inReach Mini - it’s lightweight and compact, easy enough to use, and you really do feel like a bit of a bad ass sending and receiving messages from deep in the backcountry. Here is what I loved about the device on my recent 7 day solo trip.

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Terrific battery life
  • Easy to send preset text messages

The bad

There was very little I didn’t enjoy about the Gamin inReach Mini, but I have to call out that I didn’t enjoy the fact you need your phone in order to send a custom message or request a weather forecast.

The Mini version of the inReach certainly ticks a lot of boxes, but it does feel somewhat dependent on your phone which is disappointing. This is likely to suit most situations, but hiking in awful weather had me checking weather daily and sending messages, and it felt quite cumbersome.

The verdict

For me, the phone dependency is actually a bit of a deal-breaker and I am considering an upgrade to the full device. I really want to be in the moment and have my phone away from me, so ultimately it’s not really a 10/10 review for me. The Garmin inReach Mini is pretty epic, but I personally see an upgrade to the Explorer+ version in my near future.

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