Garmin inReach Mini | Stand Alone Navigation

Can the Garmin inReach Mini be used as a standalone device, without being synced to your smartphone?

Absolutely…YES!

Standalone Navigation

The question came from Kris, one of my subscribers on the YouTube channel, and he asked if the Garmin inReach Mini could be used to navigate without syncing to your smartphone, so I headed out to a trail to test it.

Garmin inReach Mini - Stand Alone Navigation

1. Navigating via. Waypoints

I knew the first way to navigate on the Garmin inReach Mini was by waypoints, but this was not the one I wanted to use, as you always need to navigate around obstacles as you make your way to the waypoint.

2. Navigating via Routes

What I was hoping for was to be able to navigate by the route, and that the arrow would keep me on the trail and not point to a waypoint. Initially, it looked like it was navigating to the first waypoint, but I quickly realized that was not correct.

Navigating via Routes

My first indication that it was navigating via. the route was when I looked at the map on my smartphone. I was not navigating by it, but checked it regularly to see if it was working. See the map below from my phone on the trail.

Garmin inReach Mini Navigation

You can see in the image above that the route is highlighted in orange and looked to be navigating to each point I laid down when creating the route at home.

Note: One thing to be aware of is the navigating via. route requires you to have created the route in the map section of your Garmin page while at home. If you don’t have a route, then you would have to create multiple waypoints that would approximately define the trail while in the field.

As I started hiking, I noticed that the arrow was always pointing down the trail and not to a waypoint. I tested this on several switch backs in the trail when the waypoint was nearly directly off my left or right shoulder and not even close to the direction of the trail. See the image below where I the trail was heading almost due east, yet the waypoint was nearly due north and the arrow was pointing in the direction of the trail or route.

Garmin inReach Mini | Stand Alone Navigation

The other thing I noticed was that the trail was orange before me, and the correct color of my route I created at home, behind me.

Garmin inReach Mini | Stand Alone Navigation

Watching my location on the map, while constantly following the arrow on my Garmin inReach Mini, proved what I hoped for, and that was for the arrow to point in the direction of the trail and not the waypoint.

Note: You can follow a trail in reverse order if you select “Reverse Navigation” on the Garmin Mini.

Navigating via. Waypoint

After making sure that I was able to navigate via routes, only using my satellite messenger, I stopped the route navigation and started navigating via. Waypoint.

I could immediately see the arrow was not pointing down the path, but was pointing directly at the waypoint.

Garmin Mini | Waypoint Navigation

You can then see from the map that it was pointing cross-country, through open fields and forests, instead of following the trail.

Garmin Mini | Waypoint Navigation

You will be forced to use waypoint navigation at some point in your future, as you can only use Route Navigation, if you previously setup the route at home before heading into the mountains.

It would be better to set up multiple waypoints to get to your final destination, rather than one waypoint many miles away that would for sure, take you through some impassable areas.

Final Thoughts

This was truly a great day for a hike, that was made better when I understood how accurate the route navigation was when only using the Garmin inReach Mini as a standalone device.

Garmin inReach Mini | Stand Alone Navigation

You can get a lot better feel of the test on the hike if you watch the YouTube video below of the navigation field test.

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Garmin inReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Handheld Satellite Communicator, Orange Bundle with Garmin Backpack Tether Accessory for Garmin Devices
16 Reviews
Garmin inReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Handheld Satellite Communicator, Orange Bundle with Garmin Backpack Tether Accessory for Garmin Devices
  • Product 1: Small, rugged, lightweight satellite communicator enables two way text messaging using the 100 percentage global Iridium network (satellite subscription required)
  • Product 1: Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center (satellite subscription required)
  • Product 1: Access downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more by using the free Garmin Earthmate app and compatible devices
  • Product 1: Optional inReach weather forecast service provides detailed updates directly to your inReach Mini or paired device; basic and premium weather packages available
  • Product 2: Backpack Tether
  • Product 2: Durable nylon harness wrap

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

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