- Feb 9, 2019 at 5:55 pm #3577655
I’ve been seriously contemplating the inReach Mini… and using it in conjunction with Earthmate and my iPhone 5s for emergency texting.
I don’t have an iPhone plan therefore I don’t use it for anything other than a camera, calculator, and light. (may seem strange to some of you. The phone was given to me and I have no interest in using it for conventional use).
I have no interest at all in using the Mini for weather, maps, or anything else outside of emergency texting use such as: “Twisted ankle. Will be a day late”…. or, “Motorcycle broke down. Come get me” (to save me from having to walk 50 miles through the desert)……or, simply pushing the SOS button due to being trapped under a boulder, having broken my leg, back, etc.
Three questions: 1) Is the Mini, when paired with Earthmate, easy to figure out for a Luddite like myself? In case it’s not already obvious, I have a strong distaste for learning technological stuff like this ;-)
2) Charging… or spare batteries: Can one take a spare battery? Or, can the Mini be plugged in to a USB port and charged that way? The motorcycle I use for multi-day backcountry touring has a USB port that I can use to charge my phone. Hoping I could utilize it somehow for the Mini too. (I see that there’s a USB cable for downloading stuff… but I don’t know if it can be used for charging)
3) Given my flexibility, I often times come up with trips on the spur of the moment… like within a couple days of departure. Is the Mini owner just a few computer clicks away from being able to activate it… or is it more involved and complicated?Feb 9, 2019 at 8:18 pm #3577679
I don’t know if anyone can answer your first question, yes it’s dependent on the user’s competence and comfort level with technology in general, but the interface is pretty straightforward. The Min has a built-in battery and is recharged via a micro-USB port, and to activate the on-off plan is easy and quick, just a few clicks on the computer.Feb 9, 2019 at 9:38 pm #3577689
Be aware that you can turn your subscription on and off for the 30 day billing cycle. So not on and off per trip.
Use is simple with the 5S. I have the same phone.
And yes to either battery pack or usb for charging.Feb 9, 2019 at 11:04 pm #3577700
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
If you do not need a smart phone for telephony or internet, or tracking your route on the Garmin map, you might be better off with just getting a Garmin Inreach. The Inreach has a longer battery life and a larger full screen display than the mini.
In terms of ease of use, I recommend that you read the Garmin manuals which are posted on the Garmin Inreach website and see whether the instruction steps make sense. Also go to your nearest retail store that carries the Inreach and get a demo.
Note that you can set the Garmin up to send three different pre-paid, pre-written messages. Other custom messages that you type into device during the trip can cost extra depending on which plan you sign up for. I have the plan where I can sign up or drop off for any 30 day billing cycle.
Here are three default messages which are part of my written trip plan left with my emergency contacts. Mapshare is the map of my trip created on the web during my trip. I give my emergency contacts the URL and password before I leave.
Message 1: “Starting my trip.”
Meaning/context: This is a free message. I will send this message out when I start the trip and at the beginning of each day when I start hiking. No acknowledgement or response needed.
Sent to: emails of emergency trip contacts, MapShare
Message 2: “Delayed, but everything is OK.”
Meaning/context: This is a free message. Something up. No rescue required for now. Examples: weather delay, minor injury/illness, route change. Monitor map closely. Acknowledgment/response optional
Sent to: emails of emergency trip contacts, MapShare
Message 3: “Ready to be picked up here.”
Meaning context: This is a free message. I am ready to be picked up. Linked Mapshare map will show exact location.
Sent to: Spouse/Pick up person
Alan Dixon a former contributor to BPL wrote an excellent user guide to the Inreach on his website AdventureAlan.comFeb 10, 2019 at 12:18 am #3577708
Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
Just think of your iphone as an additional larger screen that also happens to have a useful keyboard and that has pre-loaded Garmin vector maps. No, I would not recommend getting a Garmin Inreach as you have need of the iphone for other reasons. You did not ask this, but the mini is fully capable of creating and receiving text messages by itself, it is just more awkward than using the iPhone keyboard.Feb 10, 2019 at 1:53 am #3577716
Thank you all for the replies. Very helpful.
I’ll address a couple things then ask a question.
Bruce – The primary reason I was wanting the Mini is due to it being lighter and smaller. I’m going to be carrying the phone anyway… for pics,video, etc… so figured I might as well save some weight. Good call though on reading the on-line manual. Thanks. Wish they offered a simplified version of the Mini: Just give me a device that has an SOS button on it that will also allow me to send and receive texts through my iPhone if I don’t need the full-on cavalry. Simpler. Less money. I don’t need or want all those other features or capabilities. Just fluff for me… though I know I’m in the minority. But I digress….
Cameron – Yes, thank you. Those were my thoughts…except I’m not interested in the maps. And I was aware of the Mini being capable of sending texts… but, like you said, doing it on the phone sounds way, way easier. And for me personally, I’m thinking if I’m in enough of a pickle to even have the true need to send a text, the last thing I want is more frustration.
Now for my question. I looked at the on-line manual. Not sure if it’s there or I just overlooked it but…..does the Mini come with a cord that plugs into a USB port for charging…. or does Garmin sell it as an extra?
Feb 10, 2019 at 2:44 am #3577725Feb 10, 2019 at 3:29 am #3577727
- This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by Rusty Beaver.
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
OK, you’re gonna face-plant…
Hopefully you mean facepalm, or did you have a premonition? :-)Feb 10, 2019 at 4:03 am #3577732
Maybe we’ll hear back about response time.Feb 10, 2019 at 4:19 am #3577733
Haha……oh man, I thought that might happen. Well, thanks! :-)Feb 10, 2019 at 12:24 pm #3577745
Hopefully you mean facepalm, or did you have a premonition? :-)
I don’t believe in premonitions, but I have a strange feeling that I will one day in the future…Feb 10, 2019 at 3:38 pm #3577759
Ray JBPL Member
Just to clarify on the plans. It sort of depends on how much you plan to use the item. You can get online with Garmin and change your plan UP at anytime. So you have one of the lesser priced plans and decide a week out, you are heading out for 2 weeks. You can get online that day and increase the plan. They bill you. and it is immediately in effect. BUT, to then DOWN LEVEL the plan (you return from the trip), it goes into effect with the next billing cycle. So if you increase it, get charged, go on trip. Come back 2 days AFTER the next billing cycle has started, and down level the plan. You still pay for the increased plan for that entire bill cycle. But on the next cycle, it goes back to the plan you’d picked.
I have an DeLorme InReach Se( Garmin bought DeLorme). If I was now in the market for one, I’d pick the Mini.Feb 10, 2019 at 4:28 pm #3577765
I have had the other Delorme products and now the Mini. i would buy it again. it is compact and light for sure. The battery is 1/2 the InReach. The ease of general use superseeds the Inreach. I use the 3 preset messages a lot, and some of the pre saved message texts. After that, it is hopeless without a damn phone and extra battery combination which I hate. My wife had a mechanical issue with our house, sends me a panic text. Try explaining a technical issue via text on the mini without a phone keypad! The house practically burned down by the time i sent a 2 sentence text on that little thing. So, if you get one, just bite the weight bullet and bring your phone and a battery. UGG.Feb 12, 2019 at 7:27 pm #3578098
Thanks for the additional replies, guys.
When I take the Mini on motorcycle trips, I don’t think I’d have to worry about the battery as I could just plug it into to my cycle to charge. When backpacking however…being the “tracking mode” would not be important to me, to save battery life, couldn’t I just leave the Mini turned off…unless I had an emergency at which point I turn it on and either hit the SOS button or send texts?Feb 21, 2019 at 11:31 pm #3579822
@joephishLocale: SF Bay Area
Yep, I leave mine off most of the time to save the battery. Recording my tracks isn’t really important to me so I have little reason to leave the mini on during the day. I do like to leave it on during the early evening, while setting up camp and making dinner, but turn it off when I’m asleep.. I send my wife a “camping here” note and she’ll usually respond with a goodnight message.Feb 23, 2019 at 6:15 pm #3580095
Thanks, Joe. I’m going to bite the bullet here some time within the next month or so and get the Mini… and, as much as I dread it, learn how to use it.Feb 23, 2019 at 9:38 pm #3580109
same here, I got one recently
not that difficult to figure out how to use it
I just turn it on for an hour at end of day, long enough for it to find satellites and send/receive message, at that rate the battery will last for weeks
I use smartphone to make track
When I send a message to my wife, it shows up as an email. She clicks on it to see a map of exactly where i am. There’s a link for her to click on to send a message back
I can send one of the 3 preset messages for free. If I compose a message it costs $0.50 if it goes over my limit. I can read her message back on just the mini. That is, the first few characters of it but there must be some way to see the rest of the characters on just the mini. I just used my phone which shows all characters easily. When she sends a message back that’s another $0.50.
I can redefine what the 3 preset messages are when I’m at home. I find if I send the exact same message it seems inauthentic. Better to mix it up, worth the $0.50. “I love you”, “I love you very much”, “xxx-ooo-xxx”, etc.
Right now I have the $25 per month plan which includes 40 messages. I’ll probably switch to the $12 plan which includes only 10 messages. It costs another $25 to switch from the 40 message plan to the 10 message plan. Switching from 10 message to 40 message plan is free.
If you only use it a time or two per year you could get the plan that costs twice as much, but then you can turn it off when you’re not using it.
It says all this on the website but it’s a bit unclearFeb 24, 2019 at 4:22 am #3580165
Question for you… or anyone else who wants to answer: I’m looking at the different “personal” subscription plans available. https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/ Under the “safety” plan for instance, it allows for 10 text messages. Let’s say that’s the plan I get… and I find myself in trouble. Not enough trouble to hit the SOS button… but enough that I need to communicate with my wife that I need her and a friend to come get me (if I swam & lost my kayak… or if my motorcycle broke down). Now… when it says 10 text messages, does that mean I can send out 10 and receive as many messages back? Or, does it mean I can send 5 and receive 5 back?
What ever the case above, once I’ve reached the 10 text messages, is that it? In other words, if I wasn’t able to convey my needs and location in 10 messages… am I poop out of luck? Or…. can my wife and I keep communicating as long as needed at 50 cents per message after that initial 10? (as I understood your post, this latter is the case…but want to make sure)Feb 24, 2019 at 5:01 am #3580168
Each send and receive is counted as a message (except for sending the preset messages).
You can send and receive as many messages as you like, you’ll simply get charged for any that are over your allotted free number.Feb 24, 2019 at 5:29 am #3580170
yeah, what Doug said
safety plan – you get 10 messages
above that, each message is $0.50
preset messages that you send are free
composed messages that you send count as one message
replies from wife count as another message
you set it up to bill automatically your credit card. At the beginning of the next month they’ll charge you the plan fee plus $0.50 for each over message for that last month
after seeing Doug’s I had to get one for myself. The wife really appreciates it.Feb 24, 2019 at 5:50 am #3580171
initially, my great idea was to have one preset message that I would send several times per day, just to let her know where I was as I went along. Don’t send back a reply.
But all these emails was confusing and overly complicated, so I just send one message per day when I get to a campsite
I also give her an itinerary so that, plus the daily message will let SAR know pretty closely where to find my body in case of that eventuality
I’m not sure exactly what happens if I push the SOS button. I assume I need my cell phone in order to get messages from them and responses telling them what my problem is. With just the mini they will know there’s an emergency and I believe they send someone. I wonder if I can test that.Feb 24, 2019 at 6:41 am #3580173
Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
I travel in the wilderness alone, and leaving the Mini on to leave breadcrumb tracks is an important safety practice for me. One can imagine plenty of scenarios where it is not possible to hit the SOS button. Traveling with another person, sure, turn it off, but alone, it would be foolish to not have it sending tracks.Feb 24, 2019 at 3:33 pm #3580192
tracks are free, that’s a good idea, keep an eye on your battery and quit doing it when battery starts getting discharged
freedom plan $12 a month + $0.50 per message over 10 + $0.10 per tracking point
recreation plan $25 a month + $0.50 per message over 40
if you don’t do tracking points, up to 35 messages, freedom plan is cheaper. 36 messages freedom and recreation are the same. 40 messages and above – recreation plan saves $2 per month compared to freedom.
ignoring tracking points, freedom plan is much better, especially because based on my limited usage, 10 messages should be plenty, maybe a few more than that.
I’ll have to play with tracking points a little. Even 1 per hour would be really useful for SAR to find my body. Even with freedom plan, I do maybe 6 hours per day, so that would be $0.60.
for anyone that doesn’t enjoy analyzing things to death, the cost difference between freedom and recreation is unimportant so you could just choose randomlyFeb 24, 2019 at 4:16 pm #3580198
does it mean I can send 5 and receive 5 back?
To clarify, it doesn’t have to be the same number in each direction — maybe you send 7 and get back 3, that’s still 10.
I wouldn’t worry about getting the recreation plan so that you’ve pre-paid for more messages just in case of an emergency, in that case you’ll be glad to pay 50¢ per message over the limit. I suggest thinking about the plan that best accommodates your non-emergency use. Also think about who will be on your contact list and if they understand that messages cost money, on some trips I have several people on my list (family back home, local people providing rides, etc) and some of them, even after explaining before the trip about the limited number of free messages, sent extraneous messages. I remember sending one message about a change to my itinerary and receiving back more than a half dozen with suggestions to be sure to camp here or there, climb that ridge for the view, etc.Feb 24, 2019 at 5:11 pm #3580202
Thank you all! Very helpful! I really like this community here.
“I’m not sure exactly what happens if I push the SOS button. I assume I need my cell phone in order to get messages from them and responses telling them what my problem is. With just the mini they will know there’s an emergency and I believe they send someone.”
Jerry – Not knowing you, I can’t be certain if you’re being facetious or not. :-) If you break a leg, or your back… and you push the SOS, the cavalry is coming. Right? They surely wouldn’t just ignore an SOS because it wasn’t accompanied by a text or email describing why the SOS was sent…. would they????
If my life depends on that sort of discretion by the people on the receiving end of the SOS signal, I’d have little faith in a PLB of any kind.
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