Feedback on the Garmin Inreach Mini Masterclass

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    Kelly C
    BPL Member


    I wanted to provide some feedback on the Garmin InReach Mini Masterclass I took in February.

    Overall I really liked it.  Ryan is a great presenter and has the ability to explain even complicated things in an easily understandable manner.  I notice this on the Backpacking Light podcasts too.  I have been using the Inreach Mini for close to a year before viewing the Masterclass, so honestly there wasn’t a lot of “new” for me.  I had already activated the unit so that wasn’t anything new.  Most of the features  presented I was already very familiar with.  The biggest benefit I think I got from the class was how Ryan grouped and really organized what he calls the Garmin ecosystem.  I knew about all the parts (Sync, Explore, Express), but having the graphics really helped me see how it all connects.

    Now I know there are way more features and functions than could possibly be presented in two hours.  However, if I had been teaching the class there are three big features/pieces of information I would have included that I feel are important to know about that I didn’t hear mentioned:

    First, (and if it was mentioned and I missed it my apologies), has to do with activating the SOS feature.  I understand the SOS can be activated even if the unit is powered off by pressing and holding the SOS button for 5 seconds.  That will force the unit to power on and send an SOS.  Some people might think the only way to activate an SOS is to power up the unit using the on-off button and then press SOS.  Kind of a cool feature a Master Inreach user should know about.

    Second, I would have at least touched on how to send texts using the built-in scroll text feature on the Inreach.  Is it easier to pair it with Earthmate to type out texts?  Absolutely.  But it isn’t as bad to use as many have said.  (I think the BPL review pretty much panned this feature.  I respectfully disagree.)  Honestly I don’t find it as hard to use as many make it out to be.  Does it take a little more time?  Again yes.  But I only send maybe one or two custom texts per trip so it’s not that bad.  (98% of what I send are one of the three preset messages.)  The more you use it the better the autosuggest feature works.  It does take a little time to get familiar with the scroll-text feature, but with practice it gets easier and quicker.  Certainly if one were sending a lot of custom texts then using the Earthmate app is the way to go.  (I use the basic Safety plan so am not sending a lot of custom texts.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone over my included 10 custom messages per month.)

    The third feature I would have definitely mentioned is the ability to put contacts directly into the Inreach without going through Explore.  Suppose you met someone on the trail and want to keep in touch with them through your Inreach.  You can put phone numbers, emails, and addresses directly into the unit.  I think that’s an important feature!  You can also delete contacts on the Inreach.  (However, I’m pretty sure the additions and deletions don’t cross back over to Explore when you Sync.)

    I hope you found this useful.

    Kind regards,


    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I agree with you, entering custom message with scroll text isn’t impossible.  Takes a while, but for one message its doable

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    I find the scrolling-text-entry painfully slow but usable. And when I don’t bring a smartphone, it limits my stream-of-consciousness texting, and helps me enjoy the backcountry.

    I also use 16 Quick Text Messages (not free) to dramatically reduce free-form text entry. Covers most of my daily needs and a bunch of emergency needs, based on experience so far. Here are some of my favorites:

    • Starting hike today. Reply to this message to contact me, emojis don’t work.
    • All OK, camped for the evening, reading messages now, reply to contact me.
    • Yes
    • No
    • Battery low, turning off map tracking.
    • Battery very low! Turning off tracking AND I will NOT check messages until the end of the trip.
    • I need help at this location, it is NOT an emergency.
    • I am injured at this location and cannot move. Please send help.
    • Someone else is hurt and we can’t move from this location. Please send help.
    • Several people are hurt and we can’t move from this location. Please send help.


    — Rex

    Bill in Roswell
    BPL Member


    Locale: Roswell, GA, USA

    Excellent info Rex. Thanks for posting!

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