Garmin inReach Mini vs SPOT X

Let’s Compare the Garmin inReach Mini vs SPOT X.

These two satellite messengers are probably in the top 3 or 4 devices on the market but they have some significant differences. Let’s compare each model side by side below.

Note: SPOT has created a new satellite messenger called the “SPOT X Bluetooth.” This new satellite messenger has the SPOT X App, which allows the user to access topo maps, including Geo fencing. More will be written about this new device in the coming weeks.

Satellite Messenger Comparison

  • SizeGarmin inReach Mini
    • Garmin inReach Mini (2.04″ x 3.90″ x 1.03″)
    • SPOT X (6.5″ x 2.9″ x 0.9″)
  • Weight
    • Garmin inReach Mini (3.5 oz.)
    • SPOT X (6.7 oz.)
  • S.O.S. Function
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Yes)
    • SPOT X (Yes)
  • 2-way Messaging
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Yes)
    • SPOT X (Yes)
  • Satellite Coverage
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Global Coverage – Pole to Pole with the Iridium Satellite Network)
    • SPOT X (Virtually all the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia and portions of South American and Africa. Areas of several oceans are not covered)
  • Topo Maps
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Yes)SPOT X
    • SPOT X (No)
  • Weather Forecasting
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Yes)
    • SPOT X (No)
  • Tracking
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Yes)
    • SPOT X (Yes)
  • Pair with Smartphone
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Yes)
    • SPOT X (No)
  • Service Plans
    • Garmin inReach Mini (Required Subscription – Monthly and Annual plans)
    • SPOT X (Required Subscription – Monthly and Annual plans)
  • Battery Life
    • Garmin inReach Mini (90 hours at 10-minute tracking)
    • SPOT X (145 hours at 10-minute tracking, 24 hours per day)

Field Test Results

SPOT X

The SPOT X is one of the best satellite messengers in the market and has two things the Garmin inReach satellite messengers do not have. It has a built-in keyboard, which makes typing out unique messages extremely easy, and it has it’s own U.S. cell phone number, so it messages any smartphone much more easily.

One my favorite things about the SPOT X is the built-in keyboard. This makes creating unique messages extremely easy. The only downside to this is that I need to let my family and friends know to not text me all the time on the trail, and that I don’t have an unlimited amount of texts, before I am charged extra. So far, everyone is listening and not texting me all the time.

I have a few things against the SPOT X (one of which will be corrected by the SPOT X Bluetooth). 1st, not having topo maps included on the device requires you to carry a physical map with you in order to navigate properly (however, it’s a good idea to always carry a physical map with you). 2nd, this is one of the largest and most bulky satellite messenger on the market to date. It’s not too much to carry on your pack, but you’ll need to strap this down or find a way to secure it, because it moves around a lot on my pack, without securing it. Lastly, the SPOT Satellite Messengers do not have Global, Pole to Pole coverage, however, this is not an issue for most people in much of the world. You just need to make sure to check the SPOT coverage areas before heading out on your adventure.

SPOT Satellite Coverage

This version of the SPOT X is more simple than the Garmin inReach Satellite Messengers, as it does not have topo maps, weather forecasting and syncs with your smartphone, but this may be ideal for you if you are overwhelmed by technology.

Garmin inReach Mini

The Garmin inReach Mini was my first Garmin purchase. I was concerned about it having to be synced with my cell phone in order to get all the features it boasts. I was also unsure how well it would work, when my cell phone loses it’s battery life after one day of use. Well, I was wrong to be so concerned.Garmin inReach Mini & Earthmate App

Note: let me say, before I forget, that the Garmin inReach Explorer+ would be the better satellite messenger if you plan on being out for longer outdoor adventures. It’s a true standalone device and has a better battery life.

I love how small the Garmin inReach Mini is, yet how powerful it is when it is synced with my phone. The great thing about it is how easy it is to type out a message on my phone, rather than on the device itself. It’s exactly like typing out a text when you have cell service.

The other awesome feature is that you can use the Earthmate app to view topo maps but what’s even better is that you have the large screen on your phone to view the topo maps, rather than the small screen you would view it through on the Garmin inReach Explorer+.

My concern about the battery life was corrected when I gave up my iPhone 8 for the new iPhone 11X Pro. The 11X Pro has a much better battery life, coupled with the fact that I always carry a portable charger with me that will allow me to re-charge my phone 3 times.

I use to do a lot of multi-day hikes and the Garmin inReach Explorer+ would have been better for longer outdoor adventures like that, but this last year I have gone to only day hikes, which makes my Garmin inReach Mini the best choice for me.

Bottom Line

I have listed a few things against the SPOT X that I don’t like, however this is one excellent satellite messenger and I have felt safer with it on my pack when on the trail.

Garmin inReach Mini & SPOT X

However, it doesn’t stack up against the Garmin inReach Mini. Having my large smartphone synced to the Mini makes sending messages just as easy as typing out a text when within cell coverage, and the topo maps are easy to see on my large screen and even easier when I am navigating on the trail.

I am happy to have either of these satellite messengers with me on the trail, but my vote definitely goes to the Garmin inReach Mini.

Note: The new Spot X Bluetooth has begun to even out this playing field.

Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
Global Satellite Coverage
2-Way Messaging
Navigation
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Garmin InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, Orange
Global Satellite Coverage
2-Way Messaging
Navigation
Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
Global Satellite Coverage
2-Way Messaging
Navigation

Check out this short video of the SPOT X vs the Garmin inReach Mini.

I would love to hear if you have any experience with either one of these, so leave a Comment Below or send me an Email.

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4 thoughts on “Garmin inReach Mini vs SPOT X”

  1. Thank you! 

    As I started searching for the right satellite messenger, I hadn’t considered the battery life! Thanks for the insight on what these can do, to help narrow down based on what we need. The Weather forecasting feature is a good one to have as well!

    I’m going to have to research a little more and appreciate the information you’re providing here!

    Reply
    • You are very welcome and I’m glad I could help you with your research. There are several satellite messengers and there is no “right one” for everyone. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have to help you find the right satellite messenger for you.

      Rick

      Reply
  2. I am an amateur hiker who has decided to start taking some longer hikes so I find myself online trying to figure out the things that I am going to need. I think a satellite messenger is one of the coolest things I have found so far and I mean that in a great way.

    Sometimes in my short walks my cell phone has no service so it would be nice to have that comfort of safety.

    After reading your review I believe either of the Garmins would work for me.  

    Could I ask you how expensive the service plans are for satellite messaging.

    Reply
    • They have several plans, The monthly plan is called the Freedom Plan. It costs more per month but you can pick the months you want to activate the subscription. They also have the annual plan which is less expensive per month but you have to pay all year. I have the annual plan as I use my Garmin inReach Mini all year long. The plans range from $11.95 to $64.95 per month. I have the Annual Recreation Plan which costs me $24.95 per month.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Rick

      Reply

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