I took my Garmin inReach Mini out for a hike at the Roaring Creek trail, for the 1st time. Let’s see how it did, or how well-prepared I was to use it.
Garmin inReach Mini Review | Field Test
I had done my research and testing of the Garmin inReach Mini at home, so I thought.
We reached the Roaring Creek trailhead, about 1 hour west of Fort Collins, Colorado, and put our packs on. I turned on the Garmin Mini and checked to see if my iPhone was synced.
All looked great at this point.
Next, I turned on my tracking function and checked the map on my Earthmate app on my phone.
Everything looked good…
until I took a closer look at the map. I laid down a pin to see if I was in the right location but all I saw was a pretty, but blank screen. There was no trail, no contours, nothing that a map should offer, however, I knew that several maps came free with each Garmin when you purchase one.
I quickly came to realize I had not fully tested my inReach Mini back at the house. I knew at that point that I had failed to download one of several maps that were available to me.
We headed off on the trail and I could see my tracks were being set down every 10 minutes. We continued our hike but I had to use my AllTrails app to see if I was on the right trail, which wasn’t hard, because it was the only trail in this area.
Additional Map Research at Home
Once at home, I quickly logged onto my computer and took a better look at the Earthmate app, both on my phone and what it shows through my Garmin account.
It was easy to see I had 5 maps to download plus an additional hybrid map selection.
I downloaded all the maps available to me in North America, and wouldn’t you know it. The terrain, contours, trail, and much more lined up perfectly with the tracks my Garmin Mini had set down on the trail.
The maps showed up and I selected the North American topo maps.
The yellow circles are the tracking pins set down during the hike by my Garmin inReach Mini at 10 minute intervals.
I started looking at all the features and how to add way points and I was pleased that it was easy to figure out and you could add different icons for things like, great viewing points, camp sites, trailheads, mountain peaks, etc.
Next, I created a collection with the trail name and started laying out a route on the map. It’s easy to do and then easy to add to the collection.
After I finished with the collection, map selection, waypoints and route, the map looked like this.
There are many more things I have yet to learn about my new Garmin inReach Mini, but I am off to a good start.
Take a look at this short YouTube video on my first time out with the Garmin inReach Mini.
I would like to hear about your experience with the inReach Mini. Please leave a Comment Below or send me an Email.
You can check out the Garmin inReach Mini at Amazon below.
- Small, rugged, lightweight satellite communicator enables 2 way text messaging using the 100 percentage global Iridium network (satellite subscription required)
- Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center (satellite subscription required). Display size-0.9 x 0.9 inch
- Access downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more by using the free Garmin Earthmate app and compatible devices
- Optional inReach weather forecast service provides detailed updates directly to your inReach Mini or paired device, basic and premium weather packages available
- Send and receive inReach messages through compatible Garmin devices, including connected wearables and handhelds. Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
- NOTICE: Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communications devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow all applicable laws in the jurisdictions where the device is intended to be used
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Garmin inReach Mini
World Wide Coverage5.0/5
Tracking & Sharing5.0/5
Initial Cost & Subscription Plan4.0/5
- Small & Lightweight
- Easy to Setup
- Easy to Use on the Trail
- Accurate Tracking
- Incredible Features
- Initial Purchase Price
- Subscription Plan
- Must be Synced to Use All Features
12 thoughts on “Garmin inReach Mini Reviews | 1st Field Test”
Hello Rick. Thank you for taking out your time to share your helpful review of Garmin inReach Mini based on your first field test and experience with the device. Your first experience was really exciting and was a good one indeed. I love the fact that it is light weighted and easy to use. The accurate tracking is what really gives me goosebumps. This is truly exciting.
Hoping to hear more from you about it soon.
I’m glad you like the inReach Mini. I have found that keeping your pack light and having great dependable gear is extremely important. The Garmin inReach Mini does all of that.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
This thing is tiny because it doesn’t waste room with battery space. The Explore holds a charge for a week, definitely has a bigger battery / longer life. User can just turn the Mini on and off to send messages and it will lasts forever. Not much benefit in keeping it on if not tracking / using the GPS. For some, a non-replaceable battery is a deal breaker.
Both the Garmin inReach Explorer and the Mini have a rechargeable battery and have similar usable battery lives. I have 3 satellite messengers, 1 with batteries you have to replace and the other two have rechargeable batteries. I personally like a device that has rechargeable batteries, as it is more convenient and cost less, compared to buying batteries often.
What a great review of the Garmin inreach Mini product. I had never heard of it before. From your review it seems like a cool and handy piece of equipment to have Especially if you go hiking regulary.
Excelent tips to remember to make sure you download the correct maps onto the device before you head out on your adventures. I love the fact that it is lightweight and allows you to do two way text messaging.
Does the Garmin inreach mini require require you to do constant updates on it?
Nice work on this review
take care my friend
Hi Matt. I was impressed by how small the Garmin inReach Mini really is. It’s amazing that it can offer so many functions at that size and still give you great battery life.
I’m not sure how often the Garmin Mini has to be updated. If it’s anything like the other satellite messengers I have, it seems like an update is required every month or two.
Thanks for the question and for stopping by.
Many thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful article .You just wrote it pretty well about Garmin inReach mini device, which deserves a lot of praise .Personally I have used this device and it is a very nice device .So when I travel to the jungle with our friends then I use this device. This device has a lot of nice functionality and I like the GPS option piece here. And this device is easy to carry and I was looking for a device like this .
Finally I say this is a wonderful device and I hope that after reading your article many people will want to take this device and share their experiences with you very soon.
Thank you for sharing your experience with the Garmin inReach Mini. I started out with the SPOT X and the SPOT Gen 3, but I am slowly working my way to the Garmin inReach Explorer, but I wanted to see what this small Garmin Mini was all about and if it really could stand up to the others.
I love the accuracy of it and it does everything the Garmin inReach Explorer does, when it is synced with your smartphone.
I appreciate you sharing your actual experience with the inReach Mini.
I really like this Garmin inReach Mini and the Earthmate app! I never knew this even existed and I am an avid hiker here in the mountains of northern New Jersey and southern New York. You mentioned that you were not getting the topography on the iPhone because you did not download all of the maps.
Questions… Do these maps get downloaded by the Garmin or by the Earthmate app? Also, I am assuming or hoping that these maps would update depending on where you are within North America. Meaning, if you were to come here to the NJ/NY area and hike this section of the Appalachian Trail, the appropriate map would show up on the Earthmate app?
You can download specific regions of the North America. I started with a download of only Colorado, but then added North America. You can get maps that cover the entire world and waterways also.
I believe Garmin uses the Delorme maps, which do cover every section of the U.S. As far as your question about how often they update; I’m not sure about that, other then the trails and roads have always been accurate for me and Garmin is a reputable company that millions of people rely on, so I’m confident they update regularly.
Your 1st question was about if the maps are downloaded by Garmin or Earthmate. Earthmate is owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc and you get the Earthmate app for free when you buy the Garmin inReach products. The instructions direct you to download the Earthmate app as part of the Garmin setup instructions. It’s a really simple process that syncs your Garmin account to the Earthmate app and what ever you do on one, shows up on the other.
I’m not sure about who owns who or what their relationship is. All I know is that it works seamlessly.
Thanks for the great questions. These Garmin products are incredible and I don’t go out on any outdoor adventure without them anymore.
Hey, I enjoy while reading your article on Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator. Your review is very awesome for everyone like me. While reading I know that Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center (satellite subscription required). I personally like a device that has rechargeable batteries, as it is more convenient and cost less, compared to buying batteries often.
Thank you for great comments. I always like to hear what other people think and what’s important to them.
The Garmin inReach Mini really is an awesome emergency satellite messenger.