Sep 6, 2018 at 10:40 am #3554769
Thank you Rex. Much as expected.
An interesting trade off for sure. Why could they not have created an on-screen keyboard for the Mini???
Or could that be in the next model, I wonder? Keep people upgrading.
Of course, if you are up in the mountains and have an accident to deal with, it will be in one of two forms.
Form A: “hell this hurts, can you get here by tomorrow morning?”,
Form B: “if the rescue will take longer than 20 minutes, don’t bother as by then the patient will be dead”.
CheersSep 6, 2018 at 1:05 pm #3554784Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Nice post Rex, thanks,
I keep thinking about getting a mini (and smartphone) and this and everything else people have said helps figure it out. Of course, the best thing would be to send and receive a daily message that everything is okay.Sep 7, 2018 at 7:07 am #3554900Hanz BBPL Member
You know I’m usually really weight conscious in fact I think some here would call me an once counter. But I can’t put a weight on a message like this from my wife on day 4 when she’s usually worried about me…
The gps locations have been spot on for the 4 nights I tried in Indian peaks.
I honestly don’t track my hikes so for someone like me that wants a gps ping once a day for Safety (like “camping here tonight, good day”) and the ability to send out an sos, and doesn’t want the weight of a cell phone on every trip I think this device is outstanding. As for battery, when I just use the device to ping locations and send one off pre set texts I used roughly 3-6% battery a day (temp range 40-75F).
It clearly doesn’t replace a sat phone. And it sounds like it’s reps a different paradigm for search and rescue than a typical becon locator. But I feel safe with it and the bonus of my loved ones (dog included) feeling more comfortable was an intangible benefit that I wouldn’t have expected at this weight range.
And again the benefit over my suunto gps watch is that I can upload a new route from a saved exported Gaia map on my phone at the trail head if cell service directly into the Garmin website and sync to the mini if the rangers switch things up on me pre trip.Oct 29, 2018 at 8:46 am #3561671Hamish MBPL Member
I’d be interested to hear about the accuracy of the maps that Garmin provides in countries around the world through the device and mobile app.
Here in Australia there have been some reports of atrocious errors that have really tarnished their reputation. For instance, their maps show rivers going up and down over phantom ridges! Peak labels are displaced by several kilometres from their true positions. And a range of other serious errors. Wild magazine has an article which you can read by following this shortened URL: <b>https://preview.tinyurl.com/ybxcp6od</b>Oct 29, 2018 at 9:42 am #3561672
My wife and I KNOW those areas very well (Wollemi and W McDonald). The errors in the Garmin maps are almost terrifying. Anyone relying on those maps for anything in those areas would be very quickly dead. Granted, some of the Wollemi maps are not perfect, but they are infinitely better than what Garmin offers.
CheersNov 7, 2018 at 11:56 pm #3563112
What kind of battery life are Garmin inReach Mini users getting in the real-world? I’m debating between the Mini and the full-size inReach. The Mini looks good weight-wise, but if I have to carry an external battery and charging cable to recharge it on a long trip, then the weight savings would be reduced. I would have no reason otherwise to carry an external battery.
I’m pretty sure the full size inReach would be okay, but might the Mini be able to last up to a week for the following:
- On for about 10 hours per day
- No tracking or logging
- Up to 2-3 messages sent and received per day
- Up to 1 weather report per day
- Bluetooth typically turned off
The GPS on my DeLorme inReach has stopped working and Garmin customer service has been unable to consistently get it working again.Nov 8, 2018 at 12:34 am #3563115ArthurBPL Member
Why would you leave it on for 10 hours a day if you are not tracking or logging? if you need a gps position, just turn it on occasionally. Is there some feature that I am missing to have it running all the time? Also, there is a battery saver mode that turns it off between track sending if that is what you are after.Nov 8, 2018 at 1:15 am #3563118
I guess I usually just put the inReach in my pack somewhere and generally forget about it. I could turn the Mini on/off a couple times a day. Seems like it should easily last a week that way then…Nov 8, 2018 at 9:29 pm #3563231Jeffrey ListBPL Member
@jlistLocale: Pacific Northwest
I just used the inReach Mini for a Long Trail thru-hike.
Garmin claims that the battery will last “Up to 20 days” in the mode “Extended tracking mode with 30-minute tracking send interval” and no logging.
That’s exactly how I set it, and the battery life was more like 30 hrs (although I recharged from a powerbrick before it went below 2/3, so this is just an estimate). Maybe it was because the GPS was constantly trying to get a lock under the heavy tree cover — most every time I looked it said something like “waiting for GPS.” But I don’t really know.
Nevertheless, it seemed to send out good tracking points — there were no obvious wild points.Nov 9, 2018 at 2:28 am #3563279
That’s a huge discrepancy. It must have been constantly searching for a GPS signal.
Congratulations on your Long Trail thru hike!Dec 4, 2018 at 2:03 am #3567295LesBPL Member
Cindy, I have the previous version of inReach and the mini. Feel like the mini is better in every way. I have my old inReach sitting on the shelf. I have not found a time when the mini would not connect yet, I have used it inside my tent! True…my tent is dyneema and extremely thin but i lay in my bag in the evening sending messages.Dec 16, 2018 at 7:06 pm #3569147Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
I am very very pleased with my Mini so far, my functionality and reporting reliability are greatly expanded over the SPOT, but am still struggling with the following, can anyone offer any help?:
-The best battery-saving settings for very good tracks, something like 5 minute points that are logged reliably.
-Altitude. When I import my Mini tracks into Gaia, it seems to arrive just X-Y, and I do not get the same nice analysis graph I get with Gaia tracks.
-Funky track interpretations. The Mini tracks sometime define a far-off point as part of a continuous track, leading to strange triangles. This may just be a function of the software used to import and interpret it.
The two-way communication has been very useful for more pedestrian needs, like coordinating a shuttle driver when my exit trailhead changes, the occasional important business or family decision needed back home, etc. I can imagine many types of distress situations like communicating the degree of urgency, details about location and visibility, etc as being valuable.Dec 17, 2018 at 9:34 am #3569203
The Mini tracks sometime define a far-off point as part of a continuous track, leading to strange triangles.
This is a well-known problem with GPS units. Just sometimes the receiver picks up a reflection and misinterprets it as a real signal. The reflection has an extra time delay due to the extra path length, and that causes the erroneous result. The SPOT I was notorious for this.
A more sophisticated unit would be alert to this problem and continuously check for other satellite signals, but such units presumably cost more. At home, just delete the obviously stupid data point; in the field … use your common sense and do not rely entirely on the GPS.
CheersDec 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm #3569462Dan YBPL Member
In useMay 9, 2020 at 10:49 am #3645964Albert NBPL Member
Fantastic review. The cost charts are especially helpful.May 10, 2020 at 10:00 pm #3646244Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I’d get a Garmin Mini In-Reach but I have a SOPT Gen 3 and for the US it’s “good enough”.
My GPS is an old Garmin Colorado so yeah, an In-Reach Mini and my Apple 10 cell phone would actually be less weight.May 16, 2020 at 7:16 pm #3647637ThomasBPL Member
@thomas51Locale: Rainy Pacific Northwest
My InReach Mini is very slow to find my position, compared to my Garmin Etrex 30x, which is very fast and accurate, because it uses both GPS and Glonass satellites. Why didn’t Garmin put the sensor technology of the Etrex 30x into the Mini? It makes no sense to me. The Mini gets a position fix only from the Iridium satellites. I backpack mostly in the North Cascades, surrounded by tall Doug Fir trees. If I needed the SOS, it would take the Mini 10 minutes or longer to get my position, only after which it would send off an SOS message, or any other message with position coordinates. If I need to find out how far it is to the next junction on the trail, I resort to my Etrex and my paper map. Sometimes my iPhone has coverage, sometimes not.Sep 13, 2020 at 7:50 pm #3675992DirtNapBPL Member
Early adopter here. My mini is hammered. Probably has over 3,000 miles on it. I recommend the screen cover and silicone case. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I never ever track. Just use it for coms in a pinch back to home or (the real magic) when you con all of your friends to get one. The mini to mini coms are priceless. Things:
Download a base map into Earthmate and test it to make sure you got the right one before you leave. Good lord do not rely on Garmin’s crappy db maps for your normal navigation, that’s where lots of people go awry. The GPS functionality on these is diffidently not its strong suit. Download USGS quad based maps. I like the shaded relief ones and I use a separate app for real navigation. The background maps for use with the mini (via bluetooth to your phone) is amazing when your buddy gets into a pocket of fish at 10k feet, you are back at camp after a bath and sends you a message and you have his location. Grab that Tenkara and go get some pissed off cutties with your buddies! Also helps with day hikes and group moral when you are late or went a little too far. Or obviously if you get separated etc. Amazing and I think the min-to-mini is the real magic of these devices.
I leave the device on to receive messages on trail. Saw some commentary wondering why you have the device on except to track, well I never ever track and leave it on without tracking so that I have coms. As in: coms is the real purpose of these little wonders. Use other things to track and navigate. I can get almost a week with six hours of wake time on trail. easy as hell to recharge via usb.
Unlike others, I don’t think the messaging is really reliable and the app interface is really dumb in some ways. Many times I get messages that are just some sort of hieroglyphic square. People get really confused replying they try to reply to you “phone number” which isn’t the proper way. They need to reply to the message and the number will change. So it’s thread dependent. You need to tell your contacts this. Also, the device gets all the messgaes and the app only gets some. Really stupid. No satellite constellation screen or really forceful confirmation of successful transmission. These issues plague almost all of these 2 way devices.
General gripe: I am overall super disappointed in all satellite coms. The game was so limited it seems they are all resting on their laurels. Globalstar hasn’t released a new device in a decade. The modem in the mini is now very long in the tooth and Iridium has devoted all of their new super duper high bandwidth “Next” constellation to industrial and military apps only, not consumer level. Thuraya, which has some really interesting form factors, isn’t in North America. I had a Spot. I’ll just say NO THANK YOU. Elon Musk is about to take everybody’s pants off in front of the world with Starlink, which I think will be one of the biggest communications companies in the world some day very soon. This whole conversation gets really interesting within a year or two with ubiquitous data all over the planet. Until then, enjoy your decade old, super slow satellite tech.
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