Garmin inReach Messenger Field Test

Here’s an in-depth Garmin inReach Messenger field test to show you exactly what the Garmin Messenger can and can’t do.

I tested the Garmin Messenger here in Colorado at an open space trail. I did have some cell service there but that will not affect any results of the field tests as this Messenger is an inReach satellite messenger that works the same way the Explorer+, Mini, Mini 2 and the GPSMAP 66i, which I have tested extensively outside of cell service deep in the Rocky Mountains.

Garmin Messenger Features

  • Compact & Light-weight Satellite Messenger
  • Rugged Design
  • Two-way Text MessagingGarmin inReach Messenger
  • Pair the inReach Messenger with Your Smartphone
  • Uses Cellular or Satellite Networks (Switches Automatically)
  • Send SOS Interactive Alert
  • On-Device Display
  • Check-in with Preset Messages
  • Extra Long Battery Life (28 Days)
  • Supports Group Messaging
  • Location Sharing with MapShare
  • Flexible Satellite Airtime Plans
  • Safety Charging if your Smartphone Runs out of Battery
  • Sync with Your Contact List
  • Pairs with Other Garmin Devices
  • InReach Weather Forecasts
  • TracBack Routing if Your Lost with On-Device Directions
  • Transitions automatically from cell service, when provided, to satellite service when outside cell service coverage.

What I Tested in the Field

  • Two-way Messaging [on the device]
  • Two-way Messaging [on a paired phone]
  • On-Device Display Information and Settings
  • Check-in with Preset Message
  • InReach Weather Forecasts [on the device]
  • InReach Weather Forecasts [on a paired phone]
  • Tracking out on Hike
  • TracBack when Lost
  • Off-course Alerts if Going the Wrong Direction

Field Test Results

I found that the Garmin inReach Messenger is ideal for carrying with you in your pocket or on your pack and it does a fantastic job of sending and receiving messages, viewing weather forecasts and I suspect the SOS emergency call, even though I did not test to see if SOS worked.

The 2-way messaging was easier than I imagined on the device but is still longer then when I messaged on my iPhone. Messaging on the paired iPhone is much more convenient. See a few screen shots below.

Garmin Messenger 2-way Messaging

Requesting a weather forecast was easy and quick on both the device and on my phone. It’ just much easier to see the information on a larger phone screen.

Garmin inReach Messenger Weather Forecasts

One of the last things I checked was how well the Garmin messenger performed with tracking and TracBack on a short hike. It performed well, and even showed by the direction and distance when I went the wrong way when tracking back to where I started my hike.

Garmin inReach Messenger Tracking & TracBack

The Garmin inReach Messenger’s tracking and TracBack features are not as good as the Garmin inReach Mini and especially not compared to the Mini 2, but it will do well enough to help you find your way back to safety.

Final Thoughts

The Garmin inReach Messenger is an important piece of gear to carry with you if you don’t have a way to call for Search and Rescue or 2-way message with family and friends if the need arises.
This messenger is extremely small, rugged, portable and lightweight and you’ll be happy you have it on your pack if the need arises for you to call for help.

I strongly recommend everyone carries some type of satellite messenger on them when traveling outside of cell service on an outdoor adventure.

Check out the YouTube video below of the Garmin inReach Messenger field test.

Garmin inReach® Messenger Handheld Satellite Communicator, Global Two-Way Messaging
  • Small, rugged, lightweight satellite communicator enables two-way text messaging even in areas with no cell coverage (Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices)
  • Send two-way messages globally; easily text back and forth directly with friends via the Garmin Messenger app, even when you’re out of cellular coverage. (Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices.)
  • Group messaging via the Garmin Messenger smartphone app lets you share your adventures with multiple contacts simultaneously — and have group text chats with friends and family
  • Check in with contacts directly by using preset messages that do not count toward your allotted text messages (Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices)
  • Share your GPS location (Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices)
  • Trigger an interactive SOS to the Garmin IERCC 24/7-staffed monitoring and coordination center for help in an emergency (Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices)

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

Garmin inReach Mini 2, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Hiking Handheld, Orange
  • Compact, lightweight satellite communicator enables two-way messaging and interactive SOS globally (Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices.)
  • Navigate back to where you started by using TracBack routing
  • Share your location with loved ones back home at any time (active satellite subscription required) by using your MapShare page or with your coordinates embedded in your messages
  • Get accurate heading information using the digital compass — even when you’re not moving
  • Sync with the Garmin Explore app and website on your compatible smartphone for trip planning and topographical mapping, and create waypoints, courses, activities and collections you can sync to your device
  • Pair with Garmin devices, such as wearables and handhelds, and use them to send and receive messages and trigger an SOS (active satellite subscription required)

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

Garmin GPSMAP 66i, GPS Handheld and Satellite Communicator, Featuring TopoActive mapping and inReach Technology
910 Reviews
Garmin GPSMAP 66i, GPS Handheld and Satellite Communicator, Featuring TopoActive mapping and inReach Technology
  • Large 3 inch Sunlight-readable color display for easy viewing
  • Trigger an interactive SOS to the geos 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center, two-way messaging via the 100% Global Iridium satellite network (satellite subscription required)
  • Preloaded Garmin TOPO mapping with direct-to-device Birdseye satellite imagery downloads (no annual subscription), includes multiple global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) support and navigation sensors
  • Cellular connectivity lets you access active weather forecasts and geocaching live
  • Compatible with the Garmin explore website and app to help you manage waypoints, routes, activities and collections, use tracks and review trip data from the field
  • Internal, rechargeable lithium battery provides up to 35 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode and 1-minute tracking mode (display off), 200 hours in Expedition mode with 30-minute tracking

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

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Garmin inReach Messenger

3.5

World Wide Coverage

5.0/5

2-Way Messaging

5.0/5

Navigation

0.0/5

Tracking & Sharing

3.5/5

Initial Cost & Subscription Plan

4.0/5

Pros

  • SOS Interactive Alerts
  • Two-way Messaging
  • Global Satellite Network
  • inReach Weather Forecasts
  • Compact & Lightweight

Cons

  • No Maps

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