Who Would Win?
Which satellite messenger would win the top prize between the Garmin inReach Mini vs Explorer?
This is a great question and I will compare the Garmin inReach Mini to the Garmin inReach Explorer+ side by side to see how the stack up against each other. So let’s start the battle and see if one of them wins.
Mini: 2.04” x 3.90” x 1.03”
Explorer: 2.7″ x 6.5″ x 1.5″
If size matters than the Explorer wins, but in the world of hiking and backpacking, less is better, so ignoring all else, the Mini wins this battle.
Mini: 0.9″W x 0.9″H
Explorer: 1.4″W x 1.9″H
The older I get the worse my eyes get so size definitely matters her so give the Explorer the advantage on this one.
Mini: 128 x 128 pixels
Explorer: 200 x 265 pixels
Again, I have to give the advantage to the inReach Explorer
Mini: 3.5 oz
Explorer: 7.5 oz
The mini wins this battle by over twice the weight loss, so the biggest loser is the Mini, meaning it wins for this category.
Mini: Up to 90 hours at 10-minute tracking (default); up to 35 hours at 10-minute tracking with 1-second logging; up to 24 days at 30-minute tracking power save mode; and up to 1 year when powered off
Explorer:Up to 100 hours at 10-minute tracking mode (default); up to 75 hours at 10-minute tracking with 1-second logging; up to 30 days at the 30-minute interval power save mode; and up to 3 years when powered off
The Garmin inReach Explorer wins this hands down.
Explorer: 2 GB
Well, this one wasn’t even a fight.
Explorer: yes. The North America SKU of the inReach Explorer+ comes preloaded with a 1:24k map of Garmin Yarmouth (Former DeLorme) North America data of the U.S. and Canada. Mexico also is included at a 1:125k scale (derived from Garmin Yarmouth’s Digital Atlas of the Earth).
Another round goes to the Explorer.
The Explorer has it.
Explorer: Yes (tilt-compensated 3-axis)
This battle is beginning to look lopsided.
Wireless Compatible (Bluetooth)
SOS Search 24/7
Send & Receive Text Messages
Track & Share Location
Request Weather Forecasts
Mini: Access downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more by using the free Garmin Earthmate® app and compatible devices.
Explorer: Pair with compatible mobile devices using the free Earthmate® app for access to downloadable maps¹, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more. inReach Explorer+ device adds preloaded DeLorme® TOPO maps with onscreen GPS routing plus built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer.
The Explorer wins this hands down as it’s navigation is built into the unit and the Mini has to be synced with your smartphone to get similar options.
Pair with Mobile Device
Pair with Garmin Pilot
I’m not convinced on this one yet but the website for the Explorer makes no mention of this so I have to give the edge to the Mini in this category.
You get more with the Explorer, including the initial price.
There are no winners here as they have the exact same service plans
So, What’s the Verdict?
Who won the battle between the Garmin inReach Mini vs Explorer? Let’s start by adding up how many categories were won by the Mini and the Explorer (we’ll leave out the ones where there were no winners).
Categories won by the Garmin inReach Mini = 4
Categories won by the Garmin inReach Explorer = 8
There you have it! The Explorer wins running away!
…or so you think.
What we haven’t done here is add a weighted scale to what is important to each category and even though I could do that I would lose most of you at this point.
The Bottom Line
The winner depends on you.
If you need navigation and a longer battery life than the Garmin inReach Explorer wins.
If you need to save some money and need lighter and more compact than the Garmin inReach Mini wins.
I hate to say it but it’s most likely a tie.
Do you Want My Opinion?
Probably not but here it is anyway. I love the idea of the Mini and I may end up buying it but on my last hike, I found myself wanting a reliable navigation unit and I would have chosen the Explorer then. The price difference really is not an issue. Yes, you’re going to spend $99 more with your initial purchase but your monthly or yearly expenses are identical so that is not a decision maker for me.
The size really isn’t even a big issue. Unless you are an extreme sport athlete, who cares about 4.0 ounces or even that the Explorer is about twice the size. When I want navigation I will gladly pack in the Explorer and be happy about it.
After writing these final thoughts, I have to give my vote to the Garmin inReach Explorer?
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