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First Trip with Garmin InReach Mini

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    First Trip with Garmin InReach Mini

    I've got to say upfront that I had absolutely NO need of a GPS to navigate on this trip -- I was on the lower Au Sable river and was almost constantly near (too much!) civilization. However, the device met or exceeded my hopes for how I actually intend to use it -- showing my speed over ground and true direction of travel. I was able to prop the screen up on the thwart just forward of the seat so I could always see the daylight-visible screen. I found I used two screens, the first shows current speed (with the slight GPS lag, of course) and actual direction of travel -- not necessarily the direction the bow is pointing. The second screen showed how far I had gone and how long I'd been going. There is a navigation capability, of course, but what I really wanted was the real-time speed and distance measurement.

    The other function that was a major selling point was the ability to send and receive text messages and that worked very well. I was a bit concerned that it would take minutes (or more) to send a message, but the actual time was always less than a minute. My wife received the texts via email and the email included a link to Garmin's map website showing exactly where I was when the message was sent.

    The part that exceeded my expectations was the "basic weather" report. I had linked the InReach to my iPhone via Bluetooth and got an extremely helpful, albeit short, updated weather forecast for the next 24 hours plus. That took a couple of minutes to download, but the update was very nice to get since I was in a relatively narrow window of pleasant weather.

    The device does require a monthly subscription for the communications part. I went with the cheapest annual plan at $11.95/month and don't expect to need anything more than that. Very pleased with this purchase despite the annoying subscription cost.

    #2
    Thanx for this report jm. As I get out on the water more by myself I'm Thinking one of these emergency locators/ communicators are a prudent investment.
    The misses does worry when I go out in the wilds and I'm at that tender age when the brain still says
    "you can do it!" ... but the body complains sometimes when I listen to that voice
    Have been looking at the mini for the same reasons you stated

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      #3
      Second guessing myself. I bought a Garmin 660st GPS, very expensive at about $450, plus a SPOT, the cheap one having an exorbitant annual subscription cost. The more expensive model allows a monthly subscription and turns out to be cheaper if you only use it a portion of the year. Not that I'm going to swap out any time soon, but do you get to send those texts without the need for a phone? I ask because my last trip took me away from any sort of cell service for a very long time.

      I also still find my compass indispensable since it has a mirror and I can keep track of my growth of whiskers. About all it's good for these days up north where the declination is swinging tens of degrees all over the place.

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        #4
        I bought one this spring to replace my SPOT so I could hear that things were OK at home. Nice and lite, but initially I was disappointed with poor reception of texts. I contacted them and did the update they recommended. Much better, but seems to need more sky to receive than to send.

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          #5
          The ability to send and receive satellite texts and get current weather reports anywhere in the world is amazing. The Garmin InReach family of products provide that, with different options. We purchased an InReach Explorer+ before our Allagash trip last June and have the base subscription of 11.95/month. We have it so that kids and siblings are able to contact us only in the event of a TRUE EMERGENCY. A nice additional benefit was the ability to get updated weather reports, especially handy after you've been out a few days. The Explorer+ also has preloaded topographical maps of Canada, the US and Mexico. This feature proved handy when I botched a lake crossing and was confused about our location. We would have figured it out but the InReach definitely saved us a few paddle strokes on a very windy day. It seemed like cheating, and I guess it was! Also, in the event that we experienced a TRUE EMERGENCY while out (medical, accident, etc.) we could request help via the SOS button. We don't link the InReach to our cell phones, whose batteries always seem to need charging. InReach battery life is amazing. After an 8 day trip we were at 93% power, just using it for weather reports and message checks.

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