Garmin inReach Mini 2 Subscription Needed?

Do you need a subscription to use the Garmin inReach Mini 2, Mini, or Explorer+? The short answer is…that it depends.

Garmin inReach Mini 2

It Depends

The bottom line is there are several things you can do with a Garmin inReach satellite messenger without a subscription but you don’t have access to a few important things. Here is a short list of some things you can use and then others you can’t if you don’t have a subscription.

Things You Can Do Without a Subscription

  1. Sync your Smartphone
  2. View maps on the device, if supported, or on your phone
  3. Tracking
  4. TracBack to starting point
  5. Off course Alerts
  6. Navigate by route

Note: There may be other things you can do but these are the things I personally found that work without a subscription plan.

Things You Need a Subscription for

  • S.O.S.
  • 2-Way Messaging
  • Weather Forecasts

Note: Again, there may be more items to add to this list but this is what I have found to be true.

Garmin inReach Mini 2

View Topo Maps?

Note: I have a subscription plan but I am using it currently on my Garmin GPSMAP 66i. My Mini 2 subscription is paused or in use by my 66i so I was able to complete the these tests to show you what can be done and can’t be done without a subscription.

The first thing I tested was seeing if I could see a topo map and if it showed my location. You can see from the two images below that it worked. I actually completed this test with my Garmin inReach Mini 2 sitting in the back seat of my truck without a perfect view of the sky.

Garmin inReach Mini 2 | Subscription Needed for Maps?


As soon as I started hiking, I started tracking to see if it would lay down tracks without having a subscription. You can see this also was a success.

Garmin inReach Mini Tracking without a Subscription

The trail route is in blue so it’s a little hard to see the thicker blue line that shows my tracks heading out, but you can also see three blue circles which are the tracks it laid down as I have my tracking set at 5 minute intervals.

Garmin Backpack Tether Accessory for Garmin Devices, Black
  • Compatible with multiple Oregon, Alpha, inReach, GPSMAP, and eTrex devices.
  • Durable nylon harness wrap
  • 2-Inch - 14-Inch adjustable strap

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.


Yes, TracBack also works. After hiking about 1/2 mile, I stopped tracking and used TracBack back to start. You can see here that both on my device and on the Explore app on my phone that the TracBack worked and brought me right back to where I started.

Garmin inReach Mini 2 TracBack without a Subscription?

Off Course Alerts?

During TracBack on my way back to my starting point, I decided to do another test, and that was to see if I would get visual and audible alerts if I headed off my course. It worked perfectly without the subscription as you can see in these two images below.

Garmin inReach Mini 2 Off Course Alerts?

Navigation by Route?

My last successful test was navigating by route. This also turned out to be a success as you can see on both the image on the device and on the Explore app on my phone.

Garmin inReach Mini 2 Navigate by Route without a Subscription?

Weather Forecasts?

I had already talked to Garmin Customer Service and was told that you could not use 2-way messaging or the SOS function without a subscription, but that is also mentioned when you first set up your Garmin account. So, the last test I attempted was requesting a weather forecast. I did not think this would work but I wasn’t sure.

Again, to get to the bottom line quickly, I could not get a weather forecast. I requested a basic weather forecast and let it try to fetch it for over an hour. It normally only takes 3 to 5 minutes but I could never get this to work. See the images below.

Garmin inReach Mini 2 Weather Forecast without a Subscription?

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you can’t communicate or get weather without a subscription plan but there are many things you can do, as I have just shown.

If you don’t care about communicating, there are other Garmin devices out there that will give you information about your location for less money, however, if you want to communicate, you need to pay for a Garmin subscription.

Check out the video below of the field test to see if the Mini 2 worked without a subscription.

Garmin inReach Mini 2, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Hiking Handheld, Black
  • 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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