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Garmin inReach Messenger (Preview)


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Garmin inReach Messenger (Preview)

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  • #3760797
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    Companion forum thread to: Garmin inReach Messenger (Preview)

    The Garmin inReach Messenger provides seamless messaging across cellular, WiFi, and satellite networks for only 4.0 ounces. It offers some compelling features over its closest competitor, the Zoleo Satellite Communicator, including an on-device display that makes it a viable standalone device when used without a smartphone.

    #3760801
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    This is interesting. Looking forward to your results using it. I’m curious how you like it compared to the Garmin Mini having used both of them..

    #3760802
    Hunter C
    BPL Member

    @hlcincou

    Wow, just as I was about to pull the trigger on an inReach Mini 2. Seems very strange that the new one is (barely) heavier than that, but definitely looking forward to your experience with it.

    #3760803
    Yves L
    BPL Member

    @yleboeuf

    Will the new inReach Messenger have a dedicated phone number? This is one of the key advantage of the Zoleo as a messaging device that the inReach Mini/Mini 2.0 is missing.

    #3760814
    Arthur Viens
    BPL Member

    @ajviens

    I am looking forward to reading more from Backpacking Light. Glad I waited before purchasing inReach Mini 2—still using my original inReach Mini.

     

    #3760816
    Kristoffer
    BPL Member

    @koffea

    Kind of disappointed that the new Messenger App has no support for the Mini 2.

    #3760817
    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member

    @balzaccom

    Locale: Wine Country

    Two months ago I tried to buy a Garmin Mini2–and found out that they have a software glitch on their website that wouldn’t allow me to register it. Further research showed that they had known about the problem, we working on it, but didn’t have a fix, and couldn’t tell me when they would have a fix.

    I bought a Zoleo, which works just fine for what I need.

    #3760819
    Chris FormyDuval
    BPL Member

    @chform

    Locale: RTP
    • I agree. I’d really like to see the new app work with at least the mini 2. I assume someone has tried to make sure it didn’t work. No luck so far with my orig mini.
    #3760820
    Hunter C
    BPL Member

    @hlcincou

    Just curious, what’s the advantage to the new app vs. the Explorer app that the Mini 2 uses?

    #3760821
    Jim D.
    BPL Member

    @jgdaley

    One of the nice things about the original inReach is the ability to communicate with other inReach users in the backcountry via their inReach address. Would you still be able to communicate with other original inReach users this way if you had the inReach messenger and they have inReach mini’s? That would be an important consideration for me before upgrading. We often have leaders dispersed across the Adirondacks leading different groups, and having the ability to communicate via inReach minis among groups has helped coordination and safety immensely.

    #3760822
    Chris FormyDuval
    BPL Member

    @chform

    Locale: RTP

    Just that it acts like the zoleo app. If your phone has internet connectivity messages can be sent and received that way instead of only thru the satellite device. That way people can use just the one messaging app instead of switching back and forth between app and regular phone texting and not worry about missing a message. That was biggest gripe people had when comparing the inreach with the zoleo. For some it was apparently a deal breaker. I assume the new messenger also comes with a fixed phone number so people can text to that instead of the kinda convoluted way the inreach works.  Maybe they’ll add the feature to mini 2 users.

    #3760824
    Jim D.
    BPL Member

    @jgdaley

    Yes, but can the messenger initiate a conversation with an InReach mini, which has no phone number. Previously that was only possible for InReach mini to InReach mini communications.

    #3760827
    Matt S
    BPL Member

    @likethejams

    ACR Bivy Stick user here. It also includes seamless messaging across networks and a dedicated phone number like the Zoleo — and in a lighter package. The one distinctive feature that doesn’t get much attention is the ability to accumulate/rollover credits month-to-month, which, to my knowledge, isn’t available on competitors’ plans.

    #3760834
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Interesting that this new unit costs $100 less than the Mini 2. Other than the tiny, tiny screen, I wonder what that cost differential is based on?

    #3760836
    Eric Kammerer
    BPL Member

    @erickammerer

    I’ve been using an inReach for the last eight years. Messaging is my third-priority function from a satellite device. SOS is number one, GPS tracking that my wife can follow is number two. This may be because the effectiveness of the messaging depends upon whether or not a satellite is close enough at the right time, and whether the local environment helps or hinders the communication. It took 4 hours for a response to get to me in a sub-alpine lake bowl last week. I’ve waited longer than that to actually transmit responses in a tree-covered canyon.

    I would like to see side-by-side tests of all of the above devices, plus the mini-2. This means sending from all devices at the same time, scheduled inbound messages to all devices at the same time, and (obviously) all devices in the same location. Otherwise, the results will not be comparable.

    #3760837
    David P
    BPL Member

    @dwpyle

    DCRainmaker has a pretty full review as he has a prerelease review unit, and says “The new Messenger app will also become available via firmware update for the GPSMAP 66i, Montana 700i/750i, Alpha 200i, and the inReach Mini 2 units. The timelines on that aren’t solidified yet. Once enabled though, with the Messenger app, those devices will be able to utilize the cellular/WiFi connectivity options when in range.” So I won’t immediately sell my new inReach Mini 2.

    #3760839
    Adrian Griffin
    BPL Member

    @desolationman

    Locale: Sacramento

    All of the devices have pros and cons. I use the ACR BivyStick, 3 ½ oz. The data plan is probably the cheapest for folks using it mainly for checkins and suspending it at the end of the backpacking season. Also, the checkin message is good at the recipient end. It has lat and long in the text of the email or message, so can be read without following a link. Easy to read to or forward to a Forest Service dispatcher if the checkins stop coming.

    #3760872
    Hunter C
    BPL Member

    @hlcincou

    My guess is it’s not about cost at all.

    For many (most?) products input costs have little bearing on price. The further they are from a fungible commodity the more that’s true; put another way, the more direct-replacement competition a product has the more pressure there is to keep the price low and thus the closer it gets to input costs. This case seems to follow that logic well: the Messenger seems to have several direct competitors, whereas the Mini 2 has a set of features that pretty clearly sets it apart from anything else. My guess is the two devices cost very similar amounts for Garmin to build, but they feel they can charge more for the Mini 2 because there aren’t other ways to get that exact thing.

    #3760948
    Breau
    BPL Member

    @breau

    Adding group messaging features without increasing the currently stingy message allotments in the inReach plans, expect for the most expensive plan, will probably lead to many surprisingly high bills.

    #3761229
    Richard Russell
    BPL Member

    @w5yk

    I just bought one of these. I was hoping it would have its own phone number, like my Zoleo, but it doesn’t. It’s basically the same as an InReach Mini – you have to initiate an SMS, the other party replies, and then you are good. You can’t hand out a phone number or email address in advance. After some initial disappointment with this, I am starting to think maybe it’s not so bad. I don’t think I ever did use my Zoleo phone number or email as much as I thought I would. It’s easier for most people just to reply to you, rather than trying to find that pre-trip email you sent out with all your contact info. Also, I had some issues with some Zoleo SMS messages not going out. It seems like Verizon was not accepting a lot of their messages for some reason. Zoleo couldn’t figure it out. In-app messages were fine, but I ended up not using the direct SMS option at all in case it didn’t go through. That was the big advantage of the Zoleo, having a real phone number, but now I am cooling off on that. This new Garmin Messenger is basically a Zoleo with a screen and smaller size. My initial feeling is that I prefer it to the Zoleo.

    #3761249
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    Does having a number cause the spam messages that most cell phones have?

    #3761250
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Oh wow. That would be beyond annoying.

    #3761272
    David Targan
    BPL Member

    @jerimoth

    Locale: New England

    I had planned to purchase the mini-2- I have one being saved for me at a store. I’m wondering, with the messaging transition(cellular to satellite, etc.) coming with the new app, the two devices seem pretty similar, although the reverse charging is a bonus in an emergency. I can also see the group chat offered by the new device might be useful, but I’m not sure about that. It seems the mapping for the mini might be a plus, but I would need to see how it compares to a regular GPS unit in that regard.

    I appreciate the detailed comparison chart provided above, but I’m also wondering if anyone would prefer this device over the mini-2, or vice versa, and your reasoning behind your preference. I’m a ranger in New Hampshire and so I often find myself in locations that have no cell service, and no access to one of our VHF repeaters. This can be a serious problem during a rescue, so I’m wondering if one of these devices would be better than the other.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    #3761274
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    I assumed that the firmware update allowing current devices, including the Mini 2, to use the Messaging app would also enable the group chat feature.

    #3761278
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    It remains to be seen how well the messenger will connect with satellites (and how to carry it) since the surface needs to be flat facing up for best reception? The mini 2 has better antenna and attachment it seems.

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