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Garmin inReach Mini Review


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Garmin inReach Mini Review

Viewing 25 posts - 51 through 75 (of 102 total)
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  • #3551307
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    FYI you can get routes created in the Gaia app to the Garmin mini without using a computer on an iPhone.

    Do you mean you can export from Gaia to the Earthmate app? Earthmate seems pretty terrible to me compared to Gaia, so if that’s what you are referring to, I’m not sure I see the utility. “Navigating” a route using just the Mini is a non-starter unless there is some cleverly-hidden mapping feature I have missed.

    #3551308
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Agreed. It doesn’t come close to Gaia based on my experimentation.

    #3551320
    Hanz B
    BPL Member

    @tundra-thrasher-ouch-man-2

    I disagree (I wasn’t talking about Earthmate map functionality). There’s utility to having a device with 10 days of battery power that will help you wayfind and give you your coordinates that doesn’t die in in 24 hours. Gaia is great for planning. But it’s non functional in the back country. Experts only need a map compass and gps coordinates. I’m not an expert. Sometimes I need  a gpx file with a  preloaded route (the background electronic map is irrelevant) to make sure you haven’t veered off course . Simply having these uploaded to the mini to check myself  with a map is lighter and and last longer then taking the extra battery power to power a phone for enough check ins. It’s not about Earthmates usability, I’m just saying that you can get these routes on the mini on the fly. And that’s a distinct benefit over the only Other device in this weight class that can last 2 weeks on 10 min gps tagging, my suunto ambit 3 peak.

    #3551427
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Okay, gotcha. I understand what you are getting at now.

    I did a 10-mile loop hike today and uploaded that route (drawn in google earth) into my online garmin site beforehand, and then sync’d it to my Mini. Some of the route was on trails, and a lot was just open alpine terrain. I let the Mini do its thing in a pocket, and occasionally pulled it out to see what it was doing. ‘Navigating’ that route was very crude, but as long as the waypoints are located at critical junctures, reasonably effective. The route navigation on the Mini screen tells you the direction via an arrow (only works while moving because the unit has no actual compass and just interpolates your travel direction from successive gps positions) and the distance to the next waypoint. Presumably you are “past” a waypoint along the route when it is greater than 90 degrees to the side of your position/travel direction, because it then jumps to the next waypoint even when you didn’t pass directly over the current point. I wondered if this added gps work would draw the Mini battery down faster. After 4.5 hours I was at 88% battery (I started with a full battery), so nothing obvious there.

    #3551432
    Hanz B
    BPL Member

    @tundra-thrasher-ouch-man-2

    • Curious, I’ve never uploaded from google . were you uploading a gpx route or a different type of file of way points? I thought the route gpx file Navi snapped to my locations fairly well, though slightly less well compared to my ambit 3 peak. I guess I use mine as more of “a turn it on when needed” back up to my map so I see a little more battery conservation.

    I think the biggest thing I wish for is still how to get Gaia gpx routes on the mini without my phone internet connection on the fly.  Otherwise I think a good map and some preloaded routes in the mini for less then 4-5 oz total is a nice balance of safety and ultralight.

     

    #3551855
    Patrick O’Neil
    BPL Member

    @human

    Piping in to say I have a terrible time getting a Bluetooth connection to my phone with the mini.

    I keep the mini on while hiking to track but put my phone on airplane mode to save the battery life of the phone. When I turn on Bluetooth it takes forever to connect to the mini (10 minutes ofendless putzing around) Real bummer.

    #3552062
    Jeffrey List
    BPL Member

    @jlist

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    So the mini has no altimeter?  That seems like a very shortsighted omission of a standard capability.

    #3552638
    Patrick O’Neil
    BPL Member

    @human

    Hi Jeffrey when you look at your location it shows your altitude. Not sure if that’s based on maps and location or a real altimeter though . . .

    I just used mine on a four day hike paired with my phone. I had an older Oregon GPS that never got used because the batteries drained quickly and turning it on and getting a fix took forever.

    The Bluetooth on this thing does suck though. On a four day hike it connected to my phone fine then the last two days I had to pair the thing to my phone each time. This doesn’t take long but by the time I get around to trying the fix quite a bit of time has passed. I shouldn’t have to default to re pairing them each morning. I’m not sure what the resolution on the earthmap maps are but it’s nice to see them on a phone screen rather than a washed out tiny 2.5 inch screen.

    I sent way to many texts this month wonder what the charges will be like . . .

    #3552680
    Jeffrey List
    BPL Member

    @jlist

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Thanks for the info Patrick. Hopefully it does have a real altimeter. Can you get the cumulative altitude gain of the route you travel, either on the Mini or the Earthmate app? My old Garmin ETrex gives that, pretty accurately, but that functionality seems to have been dropped in the Inreach lineup, from what I understand (but not from first hand knowledge). thanks.

    #3552682
    Patrick O’Neil
    BPL Member

    @human

    That info isn’t on earthmate unfortunately. It shows only the last tracking. Since the mini automatically goes into tracking mode my last track was 5 seconds just to check the battery power. No mention of elevation on it.

    I’ll have to sync the mini with Garmin’s online software whatever it’s called. I’m hoping it syncs all the last tracks of done recently.

     

     

    #3552702
    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member

    @kbabione

    Locale: Pennsylvania

    Patrick – Can you please tell us which phone you used that had Bluetooth issues with the Mini?

    #3552708
    Hanz B
    BPL Member

    @tundra-thrasher-ouch-man-2

    Has anyone been able to delete an uploaded gpx route from the website? I can’t.

    #3552711
    Patrick O’Neil
    BPL Member

    @human

    Hi Kevin it was a Moto g5. I’ve never had problems connecting to anything else. There is a YouTube video of a guy having the same problems connecting to a tablet as well.

    YouTube video

     

    #3552717
    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member

    @kbabione

    Locale: Pennsylvania

    I’ve found that not all bluetooth devices work perfectly with each other.  In my wife’s Toyota Highlander neither of us had any connection issues when we had iPhone 6 but when she upgraded to an iPhone 7 she had all kinds of wacky things going on while my 6 was just fine.  Then Toyota did an update and she was good.

    I’m getting ready to pull the trigger on a Mini and figured I’d found out if I need to anticipate issues with my iPhone 7.  Thanks for your help!

    #3552719
    Hanz B
    BPL Member

    @tundra-thrasher-ouch-man-2

    This is pure conjecture but  if the bluetooth connection problem is happening toward the end of the trips I wonder if it has to do with background app refresh rates when phones have low power modes that go into affect. For instance, the iPhone low power mode dose the following according to the Apple website:

    Low Power Mode reduces or affects these features:

    • Email fetch
    • “Hey Siri”
    • Background app refresh
    • Automatic downloads
    • Some visual effects
    • Auto-Lock (defaults to 30 seconds)
    • iCloud Photo Library (temporarily paused)
    #3552752
    Katherine .
    BPL Member

    @katherine

    Locale: pdx

    So, I’m reading some of the above posts correctly that if I wanted GPS functionality, just for say, the case of a whiteout & the surface/trail at my feet isn’t super clear, and I’ve preloaded everything in advance and I just want that little arrow to say “yep, go that way!” The mini would suffice?

    I recently rented a stand-alone GPS device at the suggestion of the Iceland SAR agency. And I could see how if the conditions sucked bad enough for me to want GPS I might also not want to be dickering around with my nice, new wind-catching phone. Luckily I didn’t need it—did check in once when the trail present markers going in two different directions (confirmed both ways were good)—but it, an old Garmin Dakota, gave me a new appreciation for having a non-phone unit.

    Reconsidered Mini v. Explorer+, but I’m still thinking Mini.

    #3552773
    Patrick O’Neil
    BPL Member

    @human

    There is an arrow that appears on the mini itself. However, if you have a gpx route to follow the phone and map will be far clearer.

    Despite aIl my whining about Bluetooth connectivity I really enjoyed using the mini and earthmate on a recent hike with some basic route finding and it saved me a good 30-40 minutes of backtracking over the course of a day.

    For me I think the screen on the explorer would be to small.

    #3553658
    Stuart W
    BPL Member

    @stuartworley

    A couple of questions reagrding the Mini and Earthmate onan iPhone.

    1. Which GPS does Earthmate use whrn tracking is on? Mini or iPhone? Can you turmn off the iPhone GPS to save phone battery?
    2. When I try to send a msg using Earthmate and click “+” to bring up contacts, it brings up all my IOS contacts, not just the ones I entered into MapShare.
    3. When sending a msg using Earthmate how do you choose between text or e-mail?
    4. Earthmate route planning: How do you delete individual route points?
    #3553692
    Jim Wintermyre
    BPL Member

    @jim-w

    Regarding #1, I mentioned this in an previous post (#3547900):

    Another random note.  When inReach is paired to an iPhone, any mapping app used on the phone will use the inReach GPS rather than the phone’s, additionally saving phone battery.  Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, it seems that it can sometimes switch back to internal GPS, some details in this link:

    https://icmtgis.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/using-an-external-gps-with-icmtgis-ii-on-ipad/

     

    I don’t think there’s any way to manually turn off the iPhone GPS.  Typically I’ll load offline maps for whatever app I’m planning on using, and then when I’m actually on the trail I’ll put the iPhone in airplane mode and pair it to the inReach.  As mentioned this *should* use the inReach GPS, but may not always (on the iPhone, GPS has been enabled in airplane mode since iOS 8.3, see: https://blog.gaiagps.com/use-gaia-gps-in-airplane-mode-in-ios-8-3/).  Even if it does sometimes end up using the internal iPhone GPS though, the battery savings from running in airplane mode are significant.

    #3554710
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Some questions about the emergency uses.

    I assume that the device does not use the same frequencies as a PLB/EPIRB – OK. But an activated PLB becomes a rescue beacon for SAR to home in on: does this device have such a beacon feature? (I assume not.)

    A brief mention is made of the GEOS emergency service. Just how widely available is this around the world? I know the PLB is global, but is this? Does the Iridium network really cover all the world? Oh well, how about Australia?

    What is the response time for the GEOS network in an emergency? Can they redirect immediately to the Australian emergency services?

    How do I send an SOS with this device? Do I have to have a predefined emergency number like 000 or 112 and a predefined text message to send to that phone number? Or is there a separate SOS button or option?

    Please note: we do not carry, nor do we even own, a smart phone. And we don’t want to. I am asking about this device for medical emergencies: broken leg, heart attack, etc.

    Cheers

    #3554714
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    “nor do we even own, a smart phone”

    join the 21st century Roger, get a smart phone

    I’m going to get one too, real soon : )

    #3554723
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    From the Garmin site: “In case of emergency, trigger an interactive SOS message to GEOS, a professional 24/7 global monitoring center. Their trained staff is available to respond to your message, track your device and notify emergency responders in your area — giving you the peace of mind that help is on the way. GEOS will stay in touch with you and your emergency contacts until your situation is resolved.”

    “How do I send an SOS with this device? Do I have to have a predefined emergency number like 000 or 112 and a predefined text message to send to that phone number? Or is there a separate SOS button or option?” – Separate SOS button on the device.

    “does this device have such a beacon feature? (I assume not.)” – I don’t think a beacon, per se, but it sends your coordinates to GEOS, and GEOS can track the device if you’re moving. (At least I think that’s correct).

    “Please note: we do not carry, nor do we even own, a smart phone.” – Not that you have one, but you could also pair it to an iPod and get the same functionality you’d get from an iPhone. But the inReach can be used as a standalone device – it would just be beyond tedious to type a message on it.

    What’s nice about the inReach, especially when paired with a smartphone or such, is that you can communicate with GEOS personnel, so you can describe your situation after you’ve pushed the SOS – better informed rescuers are a plus, IMO.

    #3554724
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    “When sending a msg using Earthmate how do you choose between text or e-mail?” – I believe Earthmate sends everything as an SMS – you can send it to an email address or a phone number so that’s how you’d choose.

    #3554726
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    better informed rescuers are a plus
    I wonder.
    If you dial 000 here in Oz they send an ambulance (van or chopper) with two paramedics. I don’t think they change the on-board equipment before despatch. Of course, the ambos carry phones and can catch with ER when they get to you. Would they get to you any faster via the Mini?

    I am struggling to see any advantage of the Mini over a PLB when used purely for emergency. And the PLB has much higher radiated power.

    Interesting, and thank you.

    Cheers

    #3554763
    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member

    @rex

    Locale: California

    Answering some of Roger’s questions:

    I assume that the device does not use the same frequencies as a PLB/EPIRB – OK. But an activated PLB becomes a rescue beacon for SAR to home in on: does this device have such a beacon feature? (I assume not.)

    You are correct on all counts. The PLB homing beacon is intended for short-range search, typically by aircraft. As others pointed out, the inReach sends your GPS coordinates with SOS messages; so does a PLB if it gets a GPS fix. But in some settings, GPS fixes are unavailable or way off.

    Does the Iridium network really cover all the world? Oh well, how about Australia?

    Potential Iridium satellite coverage is 100% global. Actual coverage is limited by US regulations (certain countries and regions banned via Iridium technology), and local laws that make carrying or using the device legally challenging. Australia isn’t on the banned list, yet :-)

    How do I send an SOS with this device? Do I have to have a predefined emergency number like 000 or 112 and a predefined text message to send to that phone number? Or is there a separate SOS button or option?

    When you push the physical SOS button, or activate SOS in the smartphone app, inReach SOS text messages go to GEOS for further processing, including notifying the appropriate local authorities. If your rescue service supports text or email messages, you could add those to your contact list and notify them directly through standard messaging. Activating SAR by text or email is not common in USA; I would also contact trusted friends and family, and rely on them to get help.

    Please note: we do not carry, nor do we even own, a smart phone. And we don’t want to. I am asking about this device for medical emergencies: broken leg, heart attack, etc.

    The inReach Mini is difficult and frustrating to use for writing and sending text messages without a smart phone. The larger and heavier inReach SE+ or Explorer+ are somewhat easier to use without a smart phone.

    I am struggling to see any advantage of the Mini over a PLB when used purely for emergency.

    PLBs are “activate and pray” – you don’t know if the message got through, and you don’t know if or when someone might show up. Generally they work quite well.

    When you have two-way communications with SAR, you get confirmation that help is on the way, which can relieve suffering; you can tell SAR how many people might need help and of what kind (e.g. swiftwater rescue or cliff rescue); they can tell you when and how they might arrive so you could (for example) move to a helicopter-friendly location; and they can advise you on potential treatments for which you might not be trained or equipped. Doing all of that by text can be challenging; that’s why some people carry satellite phones instead.

    Also, an inReach can send tracking points. If you are unable to trigger an SOS, someone at home might notice that you are overdue or stopped moving, and activate SAR with a pretty good last-known position.

    Finally, a PLB activation means “get me out of here now,” and SAR volunteers literally risk their lives to get to you as soon as possible. With an inReach, you can tell SAR that your ankle is broken and you are in pain, but rescue tomorrow morning is OK. I would have a hard time living with a SAR volunteer getting seriously injured or killed because I had a broken ankle and activated a PLB.

    And the PLB has much higher radiated power.

    PLBs need more power to reach geosynchronous satellites that are about 50 times farther away than Iridium satellites. Many other aspects of satellite system design affect reliability as much or more than device power.

    More background on satellite communications here:

    https://backpackinglight.com/satellite_communications_sotmr_part1/

    Hope this helps.

    — Rex

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