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PVnRT
member (34)member
 
12/02/2019 08:08PM
I've been given the ultimatum to get a satellite communicator while traveling alone in the BWCA or else, so now need help. Garmin seems like the only choice. Read lots of negative reviews on product pages via REI. Shouldn't one expect a $500 device to work reliably? What am I missing? All suggestions most appreciated.
 
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12/02/2019 08:45PM
I have the DeLorme InReach, which is the older version, now they have been bought out by Garmin. I love it... it's been very reliable, even the battery life is very good. My battery lasts a full week when sending out tracking signals about 6 hours per day. I really like the message feature to send a custom message home... gives family members peace of mind, now that I am over 60. I even think the weather forecast is quite good too.
I don't use the InReach for GPS navigation... I have a standalone GPS for that. Maybe others here can give some feedback on that.
 
Blatz
distinguished member(1343)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/02/2019 08:47PM
My Delorme (now Garmin) Inreach works great. I send a preset text to my wife every morning and evening on my solo trips. That's the number one reason I got it. I can pair it with my phone to more easily send an actual text if I want to. I know they do much more, but I really only use it for my wife's piece of mind. She likes that she can see where I'm at when I send the text. $15 a month and no contract works for me.
 
12/02/2019 08:51PM
I have an inReach (older DeLorme model; now a Garmin company), and I have never had any issues with it. I only use it to send preset messages to my wife. Subscription I get is something like $14/month (the cheapest they offer), and it can be cancelled any time. Can send unlimited preset messages. There are various rate plans available.

Pretty sure you can find one somewhere for far less than $500 if you are ok with an older unit.
 
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1385)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/02/2019 08:52PM
ghamer: "I have the DeLorme InReach, which is the older version, now they have been bought out by Garmin. I love it... it's been very reliable, even the battery life is very good. My battery lasts a full week when sending out tracking signals about 6 hours per day. I really like the message feature to send a custom message home... gives family members peace of mind, now that I am over 60. I even think the weather forecast is quite good too.
I don't use the InReach for GPS navigation... I have a standalone GPS for that. Maybe others here can give some feedback on that."

+1 on ALL points (except the over 60 part).
 
campnfish
distinguished member (259)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/02/2019 09:26PM
I purchased a delorme explorer used and like everyone else i find it works great as a SMS device, the tracking features are great as well. Think I paid 180 used, $24 a year and then buy a monthly plan that can be cancelled and restarted months later.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13160)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
12/02/2019 09:30PM
As far as the reviews on REI, I would take those reviews with a grain of salt. I have also read those reviews and some of them are reviews on the older unit, not the Garmin InReach unit.

I just bought the Garmin InReach unit and so far I really like it. I have tested it out quite a few times and it works flawlessly for sending messages. I can use the unit itself to send messages or use my cell phone paired to send messages. I really like the ability to get a weather report too. I have a Garmin Montana GPS for navigation, but the InReach unit is fine for a GPS in canoe country. You still will be using your map if needed anyway. Garmin also makes another Satellite communication unit called a GPSMAP 66i. The 66i does not have weather at this point but the engineer at Garmin said they will be adding it soon with a software install. I didn’t want to wait so I bought the Garmin Inreach unit.

What ever you decide any Garmin you choose it a fine unit. Many here can give you great advice because they know the industry, they will be helpful. We also have a GPS forum that you can read and join.
 
jillpine
distinguished member (439)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/02/2019 09:41PM
I love the InReach. Like everyone else here, I use it to send messages to my wife that I am safe. While it wasn't an ultimatum, it has eased genuine concerns about safety or delay. It's worth the investment.
Highlights: flexible subscriptions (truly flexible and easy to configure), weather reports that have been very accurate for my locations (ymmv), dual-texting, pre-messaging. Lowlights: I guess I'd say taking this level of technology with me on a backcountry trip that used to be, "see ya' in a couple weeks - maybe!" But I wasn't solo on those trips and now I am. So there's that.

In a nutshell, if I was feeling pressured to make a voluminous decision, I wouldn't hesitate to create balance by purchasing a Garmin InReach in a timely manner. ;)
 
Ohiopikeman
distinguished member (114)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/02/2019 09:56PM
PV,

You can pick up a new Garmin for $384.99 on Amazon.

Garmin InReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator with GPS Navigation, Maps, and Sensors 010-01735-10 and Wearable4U Ultimate Power Pack Bundle.

You will need to sign up for a subscription service to actually use the system. There are many plans, but the one that I use is called the "freedom plan" and runs $34.95 for a 12 month subscription. The benefit of this plan is that you can use it for a month and then freeze the plan. I figure it will take me 12 years to go through this plan taking one annual BWCA trip per year.

The device works excellent and allows one to communicate via text very similar to using texting on a cell phone. It's a pain to actually type in text on the Garmin, but you can pair it to a cell phone using Bluetooth and then actually type on your cell phone. The primary differences are that there may be a 5 minute lag on sending and receiving, limited to something like 256 characters per text, and no attachments are possible (text only). For communicating location and daily check-ups with home, it more than enough. The plan also allows for unlimited "basic" weather updates which proved to be very nice.

I've used my device once for two week remote Alaska trip, and then again a year later for our standard 10 day BWCA trip. The Garmin worked flawlessly both times.

I highly recommend the Garmin InReach Explorer+.

Dave
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13160)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
12/02/2019 10:41PM
I forgot to mention about the service plans. I chose to get the Recreation plan at $24.99 a month. My wife and I travel a lot with our camper and go to remote out of the way spots with zero cell service. I think I could use this unit in one way or another year round.
 
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2578)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/03/2019 07:07AM
(my input deleted. OP wanted info on satellite communicator, not a GPS. )
 
AmarilloJim
distinguished member(2087)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/03/2019 08:14AM
I like my In-Reach as well.
 
mike2019
member (20)member
 
12/03/2019 09:38AM
As others have said, the garmin InReach works perfectly, I wouldn't trip without it (I go solo). For GPS, I use my iphone and Gaia app. You can download campsites and portages from this site. Download offline maps on Gaia and it works without cell service. There are modest subscription costs for both InReach and Gaia, but well worth it IMO
 
12/03/2019 10:01AM
PVnRT: "I've been given the ultimatum to get a sat communicator while traveling alone in the BWCA or else, so now need help. Garmin seems like the only choice. Read lots of negative reviews on product pages via REI. Shouldn't one expect a $500 device to work reliably? What am I missing? All suggestions most appreciated."

May want to edit your title to be more accurate. Reads GPS, but you are looking primarily at a sat-communicator (and there are more makers than Garmin). 2 different items available singly or with the Inreach 2 in 1.
Sat-Com can also be subdivided into 2 categories, communicator and personal locator beacon (only transmits an emergency signal. no 2 way).

The GPS forum has a bunch of followers and experience.

The other thing is a reliance on internet sales reviews. They aren't worth a so called "tinkers damn". Disappointed folks who cannot read a manual, or item specification, bitching to the world at large. Much better source of product info is available from actual users and user groups. Even REI review are often laugh-able, and more entertaining than informative.

butthead
 
PVnRT
member (34)member
 
12/03/2019 07:15PM
Thanks for input. Much appreciated! Learning from knowledgeable members. I am a complete luddite...barely can use my cell phone...a purely theoretical scientist.
 
TipsyPaddler
distinguished member (200)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/03/2019 08:32PM
mike2019: "As others have said, the garmin InReach works perfectly, I wouldn't trip without it (I go solo). For GPS, I use my iphone and Gaia app. You can download campsites and portages from this site. Download offline maps on Gaia and it works without cell service. There are modest subscription costs for both InReach and Gaia, but well worth it IMO"

+1

I am very happy with an InReach Mini paired with an IPhone running the Gaia app.
 
brulu
member (27)member
 
12/03/2019 11:01PM
I've been happy with my inReach, but for some reason texts occasionally won't make it through to my phone. I think the issue might be with my cell carrier (Net10) rather than with the inReach. Based on that experience I always send emails as well as texts, the emails have always gone through.
 
12/04/2019 09:53AM
PVnRT: "Thanks for input. Much appreciated! Learning from knowledgeable members. I am a complete luddite...barely can use my cell phone...a purely theoretical scientist."
Hence your screen name! Gotta love it!
 
singlebladecanoe
distinguished member (143)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/04/2019 06:17PM
I'm glad I saw this get posted and all the responses. I wound up canceling my 2 week solo trip the night before I was supposed to leave. My wife was uneasy about me going away without being able to get a hold of me or me check in with her. I was involved in a pretty bad fire/explosion where I was life flighted to Duke Burn center in 2018 and ever since she has been a wreck anytime I plan on leaving even for a day without being able to call her to check in. Maybe this will be an option I can talk to her about in order to get back out in the woods and on the waer
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13160)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
12/04/2019 09:55PM
singlebladecanoe: "I'm glad I saw this get posted and all the responses. I wound up canceling my 2 week solo trip the night before I was supposed to leave. My wife was uneasy about me going away without being able to get a hold of me or me check in with her. I was involved in a pretty bad fire/explosion where I was life flighted to Duke Burn center in 2018 and ever since she has been a wreck anytime I plan on leaving even for a day without being able to call her to check in. Maybe this will be an option I can talk to her about in order to get back out in the woods and on the waer"

I bought the middle of the road service plan with my InReach unit. I can have up to 40 free messages a month. If I need more messages in the billing period it is $.50 a message. Your wife can view a map link that you set up before hand. Your InReach will send out a update location every 10 minutes so she can see your location. Then every night you could send her a text message or two to reassure her.
 
mpeebles
distinguished member (247)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/05/2019 10:53AM
I bought the InReach Explorer+ last year. I used it on two canoe trips last year, one in Q and one in WCPP. The unit works very well and had no problems with texting at all. However, I do pair it with my iPhone which makes it a little easier to see with these old eyes.

OT.....As far as the rest of the device goes, the GPS functions well (being a map and compass guy I'm weak in that department), the preloaded maps are great and the battery life is as advertised...100 hrs. at normal usage. I also like the weather function. I used it for three weeks in WCPP and the battery only went down to something like 70% +/-. I also like the Earthmate app that comes with it and have used it while traveling to other parts of the country.

Full disclosure.....this unit was bought mainly for the communication aspect. I had previously rented a sat phone for that purpose. That being said, the Garmin has more than paid for itself already.

So far, so good.
 
joewildlife
distinguished member (487)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/25/2019 09:55PM
If you want a GPS with satellite TWO WAY texting, get a Garmin 66i or 86i. The InReach, on the other hand, is a great satellite two way texting device but not a great GPS.

If all you need is a ONE WAY messaging device, to tell the wife you are okay, get a SPOT3. They are much cheaper, you can get one for $50 used, and they use lithium AA batteries that last for weeks when always on, tracking your position and you can send I'm Okay messages and custom messages all you want. You can send SOS messages as well. There are actually 4 message types. If you only need one way messaging save yourself some money, get a SPOT3, pay the annual subscription fee and activate it only for the months you are needing it.

I bought an InReach and very soon after realized the 66i and 86i were available and I regret buying the InReach!

Of course, if all you need is an "I'm in deep shit, send in the calvary" rescue device, buy a single use PLB, like an ACR. They are a much more robust system. If the shit really hits the fan and you need rescue, the PLB is the way to go.

I do the Everglades Challenge 300 mile canoe/kayak race in Florida now and then. You are required to have a PLB as a rescue beacon, and a SPOT for tracking. They MIGHT get the InReach system supported by the race tracking software at some point, but I think I will still use my SPOT3 for that based on battery life alone. The InReach uses internal lithium rechargeable batteries and probably will not last the entire race when tracking your position. I bought the InReach for my Quetico/WCPP trips when it would be really nice to two-way text the wife, and get weather reports. No matter where I go, I use a Garmin 78 GPS for navigation.

After several years of wilderness trips sending I'm Okay messages to the wife (because I was taking her daughter, too), I came to realize I'd kinda like to know things are okay at home too! Also, I think that I'm more likely to find someone else in trouble than to get in trouble myself...sending a SOS for somebody else would really freak out my wife, because she wouldn't know the problem wasn't with ME.

Joe

 
muddyfeet
distinguished member(747)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/06/2020 04:13PM
Some good info here, PVnRT.

There might be a law for an ideal gas, but is seems there is still good debate on an ideal gps.
 
01/06/2020 04:28PM
Not contradicting, joewildlife, just a clarification. The 66i and 86i use Inreach. Both are top line GPSR's with the added Inreach communications capability.

I can not address much other than anecdotally on Find Me Spot, past troubles with Globalstar Comm and Spot billing cycles. Inreach uses Iridium Global Network and debatably more easily manipulated service plans.

Personaly I use a dedicated ACR Electronics PLB, a more robust but less functional emergency transmitter. And dedicated GPSR for trip tracking use at home post trip. Navigate with maps and compass.

butthead
 
keth0601
distinguished member(1048)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2020 10:22AM
butthead: "
Personaly I use a dedicated ACR Electronics PLB, a more robust but less functional emergency transmitter.
butthead"


By less functional I'm guessing you're just referring to the lack of messaging?

The SARSAT beacons are far more reliable in terms of actually sending an SOS. Most people seem to think the SOS functional on all of these devices work the same, but with SARSAT you broadcast to a much more reliable network of satellites (as opposed to iridium, and especially globalstar) with a stronger signal, the message goes more directly to SAR (since it doesn't get triaged by a private company), and it also emits a radio homing signal which SAR can use to get your exact location (as opposed to a larger area if your GPS signal isn't great which is a real possibility). Something to consider as the OP specifically called out something working "reliably".

Good info about it here.

It would be nice if someone could come out with a device that has both on board (satellite messaging and COSPAS-SARSAT SOS). When that happens I'll upgrade, but I'm waiting until then...
 
02/14/2020 10:38AM
Yes an emergency signaling device vs a satellite messenger.

Sat Messenger use satellite phone connections and power is limited to .4 watt transitions by the FCC The system is a pay for service company that monitors, receives, and relays, emergency notifications to the relevant authorities. The only limitation to the build is what the maker deems marketable, Thus commercial batteries rechargeable and or disposable over the counter for power. System is capable of 2 way text messaging. This is a pay for use subscription service added on to the cost of the unit.

PLB or rescue beacon is a Gov. regulated signaling device built to international standards including battery life, sealed units with a 1/2 life span of 5 years still able to continuously power transmission for 24 hours at -4 degrees F. Transmission frequencies and power specified with 4 watts of transmitting power (10x better that sat phone. The signal is monitored by Cospas-Sarsat with emergency info distributed to local SAR as needed (no 3rd party involved). Emergency response only no communication. No subscription , service is provided by Gov. emergency agencies. So only the cost of the unit.

Both systems have good history and records. Just different approaches with different capabilities. The only thing they have to do with GPS is to send a location signal they do not receive a GPS signal at all. That requires a separate GPS receiver, either alongside the signaling device or in a separate unit.
Whichever device chosen a registration is required and transmitting false and or unregistered emergency signals is against several laws, and the user will be held accountable.

butthead
 
martian
member (34)member
 
02/15/2020 10:07PM
I caved to the worry warts at my house and bought a Spot X for my solo in June. After reading some reviews it seemed a good budget minded option at $200. With Garmin here in town I kinda felt bad. Did I make the wrong call?
 
billconner
distinguished member(7278)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/16/2020 06:17AM
I like my Spot gen 2 just fine. It's been reliable and does just what I want - sends a message to whomever I have selected that I'm fine and where I am within a few yards. I'm not interested in a conversation and not much I can do in a timely fashion anyways. I don't know your model but many users have interpreted the "message sending" indicator as "message sent". I let it sit until that light goes off. I also program one of the messages as a "I'm ok but can't move" so a way to get help but without the urgency of the SOS.
 
moose
member (9)member
 
02/25/2020 12:07PM
I'm wondering if the Garmin 66i will get another major hardware update this year. It wasn't worth buying in 2018, 2019 release is very good but will it get even better this year? What could make it better?
Better battery life.
Solar power mode.
 
jdoutdoors
senior member (97)senior membersenior member
 
02/25/2020 12:33PM
moose: "I'm wondering if the Garmin 66i will get another major hardware update this year. It wasn't worth buying in 2018, 2019 release is very good but will it get even better this year? What could make it better?
Better battery life.
Solar power mode.
"


Don't forget USB-C. I can't believe Garmin put microUSB in a 2019 device. Personally I hope they don't release an update this year since I just bought one over Black Friday, but it also wouldn't make sense for them to release a new one a year later. They seem to have a slower release cadence for their GPSMAP units from what I can tell.
 
moose
member (9)member
 
02/25/2020 06:50PM
Agree about USB-C and that it's just a hope for new hardware features for when I get one. Was it a good deal on black Friday? I've seen a good firmware release but I'm purposefully a late adopter waiting for the kinks to be worked out.
 
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