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Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator

Updated: Jan 30

4 Stars

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator

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My GPS device was the Garmin Inreach Explorer+. It has several features which I describe here:

WAYPOINTS- This Device allows me to mark waypoints on a map, which makes it easy to know how far things are, and there is a variety of symbols for things like campsites, boat ramps, lighthouses, etc.

TRACKING - The device tracks my movements and sends the data to the Inreach website where others can see where I am. It is possible to set the tracking interval from every second to every 10 minutes, and the data transmission interval to between once every 10 minutes to every 4 hours. I prefer to set the tracking to once every 10 minutes and the transmission to once every 4 hours to save up on battery. However, if someone wants to know where I am at any time, I can grant them permission to go on the Inreach website and ping my device for my current location.

WEATHER - The device gets weather forecasts for the nearest weather station including marine weather, but to be honest, it’s very basic. With phone reception, any weather app will do a better job.

MESSAGING - It is possible to send messages to cell phones or to social media through the device, however, they are limited to 160 characters, and depending on the rate plan, lnreach charges per message sent, or received. My plan allowed for up to 30 messages per month before charges kicked in, but I had phone reception most of the time.

BLUETOOTH - by far the best feature of the device is being able to pair it with the cell phone which allows for use of all the device features through their app. It is infinitely easier to use the map through the touchscreen on the phone and typing with a keyboard than having to use the arrow keys to select every letter individually. It also cuts down on battery use significantly.

BATTERY LIFE- I only used the device through my phone. That meant that the device screen stayed turned off for most of the day, and I would only use about 10% of the battery per day. I would also turn the device off during the night, so I would say that if it is used frugally, it can last for about a week or more before it needs to be recharged.

RATE PLANS - This is where I think Inreach is a little greedy. They really like to nickel and dime their customers. There is an activation fee for initiating service, and if buying one of the monthly plans, there is a yearly subscription fee and a fee for reactivating the device (on top of what you would pay per month to use the device). I would recommend selecting a plan over the phone with a person on the line, rather than through the website. The reason being that I asked if the phone operator would be kind enough to waive the initial activation since it was Black Friday, and she did.

DEVICE - I would recommend buying a refurbished device rather than a brand new one. That saved me about $100. You can also get the mini version which is $100 cheaper and has all the functionality as the standard device, except that you have to use it through your phone's Bluetooth connection, rather than doing it out of choice.

Garmin Inreach Mini

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The video below from Homemade Wanderlust gives a good review of both the in reach Explorer+ and the Inreach Mini.

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