Here’s an in-depth Garmin inReach Mini 2 field test, with an extensive look at navigating by Tracback if you find yourself lost.
Garmin inReach Mini 2 Setup
I already owned the Garmin inReach Mini so I had to go to “Plans and Devices” and then select “Add inReach Device,” in the top left corner, followed by selecting “I am switching.”
This process was extremely simple to complete. I synced my new Garmin inReach Mini 2 and checked to see what changed with the Explore Map.
Garmin inReach Explore Map
This one is simple. Nothing has changed on the Garmin Explore Map page.
All I needed to do was to verify everything was the same and synced to my new Garmin inReach Mini 2. Then it was time to head to the trail.
Garmin inReach Mini 2 Messaging
I sent two messages out to make sure the two-way messaging worked. The first message was sent to my cell phone and you can see from the image below that it worked perfectly. It only took about 1 minute for the message to be sent from my Garmin inReach Mini 2 to my smartphone.
The second test was sent from my satellite messenger to my email. The message never went through and this is a good time for me to tell you to always test your Garmin inReach Mini 2 before you head out on your adventure so you’ll know how it works and doesn’t work.
Alright, on to the next thing.
Garmin offers a Basic and Premium weather forecast and there are different costs for each. See the information below that can help you decide what plan is best for you.
You can see the basic weather can cost you a text message or be unlimited with the Expedition plan. The Premium weather costs $1.00 for all three plans. You can see more about the subscriptions HERE.
You can see an example of the weather below that you can view from your smartphone.
You can see that Dark Sky provides a pretty good weather forecast, that should give you everything you need when on your outdoor adventure.
TracBack After Following Route
The first TracBack test was to select navigate by route. I chose to follow the trail in reverse order to see how well it worked.
You can see that the route turns pink when tracking by it, but as you hike, the trail turns blue behind you. You can also see the trail on the Garmin inReach Mini 2 screen, plus you can see the tracks or breadcrumbs being left behind me.
After hiking about 0.4 miles, I took a hard left off the trail to see if I would be alerted both audibly and visually when lost.
This is such a great improvement by Garmin. You can see the visual alert on the left image above, that I am off course with an X through the course. What you can’t hear is the audible alert I received at the same time. Check out the video below to hear and see the off course alerts.
Next, on my smartphone you can see how I turned off the course, but then when I started back to the course, I received another audible and visual alert that I was “On Course.”
This is a powerful feature that you can use when your smartphone is synced and when it is not synced.
TracBack when Tracking Selected
On the next test, all I did was start tracking on my Mini 2 and started hiking. You could see the tracks being laid down behind me on the device itself. I hiked about 0.3 miles then turned around and navigated by Tracback.
You can see in the image above when tracking is set, the path behind me was blue. After I stopped and set navigate back by Tracback, the path turned pink. You can also see on the Mini 2 screen the breadcrumb trail it was following back.
Kris, one of my subscribers, asked me a question on the YouTube channel while I was writing this article. His question was if navigating by Tracback, would the device point you back along the trail you came in on or send you directly back to the starting point the most direct route possible. You can see here that if I had continued around this loop trail, that in some cases it would be better to Tracback a shorter, more direct route.
There are two ways to handle this. You can navigate back by waypoint, which would send you in the most direct route back, regardless of potential obstacles. The second way would be to use your smartphone, if synced, and create a route while in the field, which the new Garmin inReach Mini 2 allows you to do. You can also select satellite mode, which would allow you to see obstacles, such as rivers or lakes, and then select a route that keeps you away from those.
Thanks, Kris for the question.
Next, I went off trail again to see if I would get audible and visual alerts that I was going the wrong way.
You can see the route back was highlighted in pink, and my tracks were highlighted in blue. After going about 50 feet off the trail, while in Tracback mode, I received an audible and visual alert that I was going the wrong direction. You can see the breadcrumbs on the device as I was tracking back.
The Mini 2 took be back to the trail, as you can see in the image on the right above, and I was able to navigate back to safety with ease.
TracBack when Tracking was Not Set
The last Tracback test I completed was if I headed out on an adventure without setting a thing. I had read that the Garmin inReach Mini 2 will keep breadcrumbs, invisible to you, that will let you navigate back to safety. These temporary points will be automatically deleted after 24 hours or so.
Actually, even though these breadcrumbs are temporary, you can still see them on the device in the left image above. You can also see the bath behind me was in blue.
I finally stopped hiking, then navigated back by Tracback. This test worked perfectly as it followed the temporary breadcrumbs put down. I tested the device again by leaving the Tracback trail and went off trail and was immediately alerted that I was going the wrong way. I turned around, followed the breadcrumbs back out to the trail and found my way back to the trailhead.
Garmin really made some incredible changes to the Garmin inReach Mini 2. The buttons seem easier to depress. There is more information available on the device, but it was easy to navigate around in the satellite messenger and it was intuitive.
These improved Tracback features, with the on-device tracks and routes, really makes it much easier than the older Garmin inReach Mini, to find your way back to safety if you ever find yourself lost.
Check out the YouTube video below of the actual field test
Here’s Another TracBack Video When No Tracking Was Set
- 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.
If you would like to see ALL the Satellite Messengers in another review, see my Emergency Radio Reviews.
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