Garmin inReach Explorer vs Mini

Why is the Garmin inReach Explorer more popular than the Garmin inReach Mini? That’s a great question and I believe I have the answer for you so let’s jump in and look at the differences between the Garmin inReach Explorer vs Mini.

Let’s consider the differences first.

Garmin inReach Explorer+ (What is Different?)

Garmin inReach Explorer vs Mini

  • Built-In Navigation
  • Longer Battery Life
  • Pre-Loaded DeLorme TOPO Maps
  • On-Screen GPS Routing
  • Built-In Digital Compass
  • Built-In Barometric Altimeter and Accelerometer
  • (Does NOT Need to be Synced to Your Smartphone)
  • $449.99 Initial Price

Garmin inReach Mini (What is Different?)

Garmin inReach Explorer vs Mini

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • (Must Be Linked to Your Smartphone to Have Many of the Services that the Explorer Has Built-In)
  • $349.99 Initial Price

What Do They Have in Common?

  • Global Iridium Satellite Network
  • SOS Distress Call
  • 2-Way Messaging
  • Pair with Mobile Device
  • Optional Weather Forecasting
  • Pair with Garmin Pilot
  • The Same Flexible Satellite Airtime Plans

What’s The Bottom Line

What is the primary difference between the two besides the $100 initial purchase price?

  • The Garmin inReach Explorer comes with everything built-in and the inReach Mini MUST HAVE your smartphone synced.
  • The Garmin inReach Explorer has a significant longer battery life.

Here’s my problem with the Garmin inReach Mini. You have to carry a portable charger on multi-day adventures because your smartphone will (almost) always lose it’s power before you finish your trip. This means you have to spend more money on a portable charger, that takes up space and adds more weight to your pack. So what, the Explorer is bigger and heavier. You will add the additional size and weight when you have to bring the portable charger when you use the Garmin inReach Mini.

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
-
Built-In Topo Maps
Topo Maps When Synced with Cell Phone
Built-In Altimeter & Barometer
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
-
Built-In Topo Maps
Topo Maps When Synced with Cell Phone
Built-In Altimeter & Barometer
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Built-In Topo Maps
Topo Maps When Synced with Cell Phone
Built-In Altimeter & Barometer

Why Not Have the Garmin inReach Mini?

That’s another great question.

I will be buying the Garmin inReach Mini soon for day hikes and overnight backpacking trips when I am already familiar with the area so the Garmin inReach Mini does have it’s place, but in my opinion, it’s for shorter hikes and backpacking trips.

Keep It SimpleGarmin inReach Explorer vs Mini

The Garmin inReach Explorer is the complete package. You can use it on day hikes, short overnight backpacking trips and also for longer adventures when the battery and navigational features will become a must.

The bottom line, is that you can have them both and there is a place for both, but if I have to choose one, it’s obviously going to be the Garmin inReach Explorer+.

If you have any questions or comments, you can Leave Your Comments Below or Email Me if you have a more complicated question.

For those of you who love history, you can learn more about the History of Garmin Here.

 

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8 thoughts on “Garmin inReach Explorer vs Mini”

  1. I think both Garmin inReach mini and explorer are great but I agree with you, the explorer is the real deal. I’m a hiker myself but I don’t really travel far and at most, my hiking journeys would only take about 5 to 6 hours as I only go to beginner and intermediate level distances, do you think the mini would suffice for me?

    Reply
    • Absolutely, the Garmin inReach Mini would be ideal for you. As I said in the article, the Mini is great for day hikes and short over night trips, especially if you are familiar with the area, plus you’re smartphone battery will probably hold up so you could sync it with the Mini and have most of the functions that comes with the Explorer. 

      Great question.

      Rick

      Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing this informative post, not only is the Mini half the size and weight of the older Garmin InReach, I think the Mini will be a successful new product for Garmin. It retains the core InReach functionality two-way messaging, location tracking, weather updates in a package that is more portable than older InReach devices and provides a wider functionality. Great post! 

    Reply
    • You are right and some reviews place the Garmin inReach Mini above the inReach Explorer, but as I like to go against the prevailing judgement, plus this is based a lot on my personal preferences and hiking experiences, I would pick the Explorer; but these are both great Emergency Satellite Messengers and each of us has to decide on which one is right for ourselves.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Rick

      Reply
  3. For a $100 difference, I am betting the lack of the need to pair with a smartphone alone is a boon for the Explorer version. If a cell phone is out of its service area pairing is simply not a great feature set. I have not used Garmin InReach yet but have used mobile GPS in the past. Now that we are on larger waters and out in the dessert more it may be time to look into one of these units. Thanks for a great resource.

    Reply
    • You are welcome Andy. I personally like what the Explorer offers and it’s all in one package plus I can rest assured that the battery will be sufficient for my hiking trips.

      Rick

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the comparison between Garmin inReach Explorer+ and Mini. Personally I love the mini but after reading your review I also think that the plus will be better. It is easier to use and I do not have to pull up my phone just to see the screen. I am surprised that it has a longer battery life, I thought the mini one might last longer since it is tiny, battery is everything for me. I hate the thought of getting lost and my device is out of battery, I am the worst with direction. Now I know which one to buy. Thanks!

    Reply
    • You may think that the battery is longer with the Mini but here is what Garmin has to say on their website.

      Garmin inReach Explorer+

      Up to 100 hours of battery life at the 10-minute tracking mode (extra 10 hours).

      Up to 30 days in the 30-minute interval power save mode (extra 6 days).

      Up to 3 years when powered off (extra 2 years).

      Garmin inReach Mini

      Up to 90 hours of battery life at the 10-minute tracking mode

      Up to 24 days in the 30-minute interval power save mode.

      Up to 1 year when powered off.

      These aren’t make or break decisions but the Explorer has the advantage.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Rick

      Reply

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