Learning how to use the Garmin inReach Mini without a smartphone is an essential skill to learn for device owners.

A smartphone paired to a Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator certainly enhances the experience of using the device. It’s easier to type a message on a smartphone keyboard than on the Mini “keyboard” (sic). In addition, using a smartphone paired to the inReach Mini provides a more robust mapping-navigation experience, since the inReach Mini is not a mapping GPS unit.

However, as I wrote in this week’s Founder’s Journal:

“My phone generally stays off throughout the day unless I need to send a message (which I rarely do while hiking) or I need to consult digital maps on the Gaia GPS app on off-trail routes. I still like a small paper map and a real camera. There’s tactile satisfaction at using a paper map and a camera for photography rather than using a smartphone.

And this brings me to the main point of today’s letter – why I choose to use a Garmin inReach Mini 2 vs. a sat-connected brick like the Zoleo or BivyStick.”

In the video below, I highlight some of the ways I use the Garmin inReach Mini 2 as a standalone device during the day if and when I’m not using my smartphone (e.g., while hiking on trails where I don’t need to refer to my mapping app very often).

These are the features I regularly use when my smartphone is off and packed away and not paired with my Garmin inReach Mini 2:

  1. marking waypoints
  2. sending preset messages
  3. monitoring and reading incoming messages
  4. using the digital compass
  5. requesting and reviewing incoming weather updates
  6. determining location coordinates (I pair this info with my paper map)
  7. starting and stopping tracking

Watch the video:

YouTube video


Questions for discussion in the forum below

  1. Do you keep your smartphone on during the day while hiking? Why or why not?
  2. For Garmin inReach Mini or Mini 2 users: are there other functions you use in addition to the ones outlined above that you use regularly when your inReach is not paired to your smartphone?