Who wins in the Garmin inReach Mini 2 vs GPSMAP 66i head-to-head competition? The Garmin GPSMAP 66i has all the power and many more functions so you may think that it’s a no brainer, but wait! You may be wrong.
Prior to writing this article, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 was my number one, “go to” satellite messenger that I always carried when out on an adventure in Colorado. It’s a powerful device while also being one of the smallest satellite messengers on the market.
When I first heard about the Garmin GPSMAP 66i, I thought that the 66i would be my new “go to” satellite messenger, but after testing them both in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, I’m torn between the two and for good reason.
First of all, the 66i is about twice as large and twice as heavy as the Mini 2. Second, the GPSMAP 66i has many more functions then the inReach Mini 2. Third, the problem comes down to the battery life. Lastly, sometimes simple is better. It is possibly to have too much information at your fingertips.
Also, my first reaction to the 66i on my first field test was that it is possibly too much tech for me. There are so many menus and functions that it honestly was overwhelming at first to learn and try to become proficient with, however, after talking with Garmin Customer Service a few times, the GPSMAP 66i became more manageable for me.
Lets start with the easy stuff. Size definitely does matter, and by that I mean, in my opinion and based on how I use a satellite messenger, smaller is better. I prefer a powerful satellite messenger that is lightweight and basically unnoticeable when I’m wearing it on my pack.
There are a few smaller satellite messengers then the inReach Mini 2, but that’s slightly debatable and it’s so small, who’s really counting between really small, and slightly smaller?
In the battle of size, the Mini 2 beats out the 66i.
Size as a Matter of Functions
The GPSMAP 66i wins this battle hands down with so many additional functions and built-in topo maps. The Mini 2 has all the functions I need and the question I’ve been asking my self is if I really need everything that Garmin built into the 66i?
One item to note is that you can move items around on the screen so the things you use the most will be at the top, and then it’s easier to ignore the other 30 to 40 things.
Initially, after two field tests, to be completely honest, I was really overwhelmed with the GPSMAP 66i. There are so many functions on this powerful device that it was making my head swim, and that’s saying something as I review a lot of satellite messengers and have some familiarity with them.
I have field tested the 66i for about two months here in Colorado, and it has gotten easier to use. There are many functions I still haven’t tried to use, but everything I use, I understand now and the technology is manageable.
The big question for me now is, do I need all that the Garmin GPSMAP 66i offers or is there a different device that works better for how I use a satellite messenger?
Battery Life…Does it Really Matter?
Let’s make this really clear. THE BATTERY LIFE ON THE 66I SUCKS! Sorry, was I to blunt?
The first real, and I mean long all day hike, had my 66i battery dropping by at least half by the end of the first day. Honestly, I did not check the battery life in the specifications when I bought it, so I was shocked at how fast the battery life dropped. There are things you can do to get the battery to last around one week, so let me know if you have any questions about how to do this or you can dig into the manual yourself or call customer service.
On the other hand, the tiny but powerful inReach Mini 2’s battery will last 14 to 30 days and longer, depending on how you use it. See the specs below.
Minimalist or Tech Junky?
Do you like simplicity or are you a tech junky? If you’re a tech junky, you will love the GPSMAP 66i. Minimalists will like the inReach Mini 2 better, but it’s really not a minimalist device with all the powerful functions at your fingertips, especially if you sync it to your smartphone.
As I mentioned earlier, I started to get overwhelmed with the 66i, so just research this satellite messenger well before taking the plunge in buying it, especially at the initial purchase price.
I originally thought the Garmin GPSMAP 66i would be my new “go-to” satellite messenger, but to give away my secret, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 is still my favorite satellite messenger and my “go-to” messenger.
We’re all different and have certain things that are a priority for us. You may like a lot of functions, or you may take ATV adventures or kayaking trips, or communication may be your highest priority. Based on your preferences and how you use a satellite messenger, one of these may not be the right one for you, so leave me a comment or question below and I will be happy to help direct you to the perfect satellite messenger for you.
Check out the YouTube video below where I go into a detailed comparison between the Garmin GPSMAP 66i and the Garmin inReach Mini 2.
- 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.
- Large 3 inch Sunlight-readable color display for easy viewing
- Trigger an interactive SOS to the geos 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center, two-way messaging via the 100% Global Iridium satellite network (satellite subscription required)
- Preloaded Garmin TOPO mapping with direct-to-device Birdseye satellite imagery downloads (no annual subscription), includes multiple global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) support and navigation sensors
- Cellular connectivity lets you access active weather forecasts and geocaching live
- Compatible with the Garmin explore website and app to help you manage waypoints, routes, activities and collections, use tracks and review trip data from the field
- Internal, rechargeable lithium battery provides up to 35 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode and 1-minute tracking mode (display off), 200 hours in Expedition mode with 30-minute tracking
This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.
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