Reviews, tips, and tricks on using Garmin inReach satellite communicators for hiking and the outdoors.
If you want peace of mind in the backcountry in an emergency, the ACR / Ocean rescueME PLB1 is what you need. It’s the smallest and most compact personal locator beacon (PLB) that you can get. If you get into trouble in an area where you can’t get a cellphone signal to dial 911, hit the red button on the PLB1, and help is on the way. The rescueME PLB1 doesn’t offer two-way satellite communications like a Garmin inReach or ZOLEO, but it doesn’t have any subscription costs. You pay for the unit, and that’s it. I’ll show you how it works, compare it to a satellite communicator, and give you my recommendations.
I get a fair amount of emails and comments asking me what the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator (like inReach and ZOLEO) is. In this short video I’ll explain the difference in plain English, and address the grey area where the two crossover.
In this video I’ll clear up any confusion about how long inReach messages take to send and receive so that you can set your expectations accordingly.
Word on the Macrumors street is that the new iPhone (coming out Sep?) will have capabilities to communicate with LEO satellites, just like inReach units do. Having this built into the iPhone would eliminate the need for a separate device like an inReach. In this video I’ll go over the possibilities, and if the iPhone 13 does indeed have this, I’ll review it as soon as possible.
If you primarily use your smartphone as your outdoor navigation device, and are looking for satellite messaging and SOS when out of cell phone service (like with InReach), the ZOLEO is a great option. It’s a small box that you pair with your phone to send and receive messages over the Iridium satellite network. And the ZOLEO will automatically send over your phone’s data networks if they are available, saving you the cost of a satellite message. If your phone (or Bluetooth connection) dies, the ZOLEO will still function (SOS, check-ins, location sharing) by using buttons on the unit. It’s well thought out, rugged, and an effective tool.
In this video I’ll try out the WX2inReach service where you can request a NWS/NOAA weather report for your location and have it sent to your InReach device via satellite. I’ll also discuss the future of inReach weather briefly.
Almost everyone understands that GPS uses satellites to pinpoint our position on earth. Whether you have a GPS unit or use a smartphone with GPS, understanding some of the principles behind how it works will help you feel confident when using or purchasing one. In this guide, I’ll demystify GPS using plain language and then share some tips to get the most out of your GPS.
I’ve been using and testing the Garmin Montana 750i extensively for a few months, and to sum it up in a few words, it’s a mixed bag that will be great for some folks and not so great for others. The Montana 7×0 series is unlike any other Garmin handheld GPS out there. It’s big, beefy, has a bright touchscreen, more onboard maps than usual, and that elusive beast for Garmin handhelds, the QUERTY keyboard. In this guide I’ll walk you through the Montana, show you what works and what doesn’t, and then give you some recommendations. The good news is, if the Garmin Montana 750i, 700i, or 700 is not for you, there are other great options (like the GPSMAP 66i, but more on that later).
One of the cool features of a Garmin InReach is the ability for friends and family (or strangers if you want) to locate you in the field without much effort. It’s a great way for those concerned about you to easily see where you are or even send you a message. In this guide, I’ll show you how to locate InReach device and how to set it all up. The good news is that it’s all pretty easy.
The popularity of satellite communicators like InReach, PLBs, and SPOT has opened up a never-before realized lifeline from the backcountry to the outside world. For most of us who use these devices, this means sending a text message or track log to a loved one to let them know that we’re okay. But what happens when you get in trouble? How do you know what it’s okay to hit the SOS button? How “in trouble” is “in trouble,” and when is it enough to warrant an SOS?
The GPSMAP 66i is Garmin’s top-of-the-line handheld GPS unit with InReach satellite communications built-in. It’s a solid device built for outdoor use and navigation. I’ve logged months of testing and use for this Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, and while it’s a solid unit, it’s also probably not for everyone. In this review I’ll give you my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, I’ll compare it to devices like the InReach Explorer, I’ll give you my recommendations for the 66i, and I’ll show you how to use the device.
If you need to call for a rescue in the backcountry, the ACR ResQLink View offers a solid, professional-level method to trigger a distress signal using the government-run SARSAT network (more on that later). For those of you familiar with the Garmin InReach, the ACR uses a different set of satellites and frequencies to trigger a search and rescue. It’s the same network used by aviators, military, and other professionals. The ACR ResQLink View doesn’t offer two-way communications like an InReach, but it also doesn’t require a subscription. There are pros and cons to both which I’ll cover in this review.
The Garmin inReach Mini packs some powerful features into s small and reasonably priced package. You can send and receive your GPS location to anyone with a text or email (or another inReach Mini) in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. You can also receive messages, allowing you to communicate with family, friends, and emergency services. Additional features on the inReach Mini allow you to get weather reports, track your trip and share with friends, and perform navigation. There are some limitations, and I’ll cover that later, but all-in-all, the inReach Mini is a solid device that I highly recommend.
The Garmin InReach Explorer (formerly Delorme InReach) is a must-have in your pack. Outside of owning a satellite phone, it’s one of the only ways to have two-way communications with friends, family, and emergency services outside of cell service. Its navigation functions have some flaws, but don’t get the InReach for that; it’s worth the cost just for the messaging and weather features. For a few hundred bucks, the Garmin InReach could save your life. It’s a no-brainer.
The ACR ResQLink is the most important piece of gear you should own. The ACR ResQLink allows you, at the push of a button, to be rescued from anywhere in the world. If you don’t have it in your pack, you need to get it.