Garmin inReach Mini 2: Your Lifeline in Remote Locations

Garmin inReach Mini 2: Your Lifeline in Remote Locations

BLUF - This incredible device simply works incredibly well and is dependable. The battery life and performance are beyond expectations. It has the power to bring peace of mind to loved ones or may even save your life.


When it comes to venturing into the great outdoors, staying connected is crucial for safety and peace of mind. Enter the Garmin inReach Mini 2, a remarkable satellite communication device that enables seamless connectivity even in remote areas devoid of cellular coverage. The device has proven itself to be a reliable companion that does what it says it will, whether you are an outdoor adventurer, hunter, or simply have a remote commute without cell phone service.

Satellite Communication in Remote Locations: One of the standout features of the Garmin inReach 2 is its ability to utilize satellites for communication in areas where traditional cellphone service is unavailable. Users can send and receive messages. Out in the wild, this works very well. The author has used it extensively in varied terrain, from thick forests to valleys, and it works. There can sometimes be a several-minute delay in sending and receiving, but most of the time, the author was very impressed with the speed at which the device worked.

The benefit of this is nearly limitless. It could be used to send messages to another hunting partner, perhaps in a separate location from you. It could be used to message loved ones wondering how the trip is going. It could be used to have a prearranged dependable person in your life either send a wrecker if you're stuck somewhere or head out there themselves to help you out.

The device integrates with the Garmin Explore app (the author only tested the iPhone version), which allows text messages to be sent and received in the app. Some gripe that the device can only use the app for messaging and it does not integrate with the standard cell messaging area. The author, however, sees this as an advantage. The service has various plans that range in price and can include a certain number of text messages before being charged an extra fee for each. It may be good to limit who you want to talk to and how often to keep track of this. The author has decided not to bring up how much the plans cost due to the high likelihood that they could change (for better or for worse) in the future. Currently, they range for consumers from $15 a month for bare-bones service up to $65 for consumer expedition. There are a ton of pro plans available, but at this time, the author has no need to read into them. If you think you fit that category, good on you and check it out.

Emergency Function: One of the big features the Garmin inReach 2 truly shines is its SOS button. This is the reason the author was initially interested in the device. How this works is simple. There is a protected button with a plastic flap on it that can trigger an SOS that will immediately alert a response center. The alert center receives the user's location, emergency contact information, emergency notes (if the user provided them), and battery life. The user can also send messages during the alert. For the first 10 minutes, the user's location is sent every minute. After the first 10 minutes, the user's location is sent every 10 minutes.

The author has never tested or used this function but can attest that it has been used extensively with much success. It should be noted that the SOS function can be tested by contacting the Garmin response center FIRST and prearranging the test fire. Of course, this feature offers some peace of mind, but it also comes with some responsibility. The user of this device should still understand that it can be a long time before help may actually arrive. First and foremost, you are your first responder, and if you are not carrying a medical kit or know how to use one and sever an artery, you're probably not going to make it. Second, this device should not be an excuse to push a trip closer (or beyond) a reasonable safety envelope due to having this device.

Exceptional Performance: Keeping loved ones informed about your whereabouts and well-being is made effortless with the Garmin inReach 2. By sharing your location information with trusted contacts, they can follow your journey in real-time through a web-based map interface. This feature provides an added layer of security, as friends and family can monitor your progress. When in this mode, Garmin advertises that when it’s on 10-minute tracking mode, the battery can last up to 14 days. The author can attest that this is likely very close to accurate. It is impressive. The bottom line on this one, with most trips averaging around 7-10 days, it is feasible you may not need to charge it at all. With any electronic device, though, the author recommends, when feasible, always topping off the device regularly and turning it on and testing it regularly to ensure it’s there for you when you need it.

One thing to note about the device is that it is small and lightweight. This, of course, is a significant advantage. With that being said, it would be interesting to see how many of these devices are repurchased by prior Garmin inReach users who are out there losing the device on a trip. This is day one stuff in the Army, but the author's advice is to ALWAYS securely tie down this device to something that will never leave your body under any circumstance. That way, you will always have it when you need it. The device is very rugged and generally waterproof (rated for such), but with that being said, think about what activity you are doing and how you may potentially be falling. Put it in a spot that is least likely to take a hit.

Garmin produces a dive case for this device. It is pricey, but it does provide the waterproofness and adds the ability to take it with you scuba diving to recreational diving depths of 130 feet. It can help eliminate the author's (and many others') worst fear of getting left behind on a diving tour in the literal middle of nowhere. As an added bonus, use it on your land trips. It is a substantial extra layer of protection at not much cost to weight that can armor up the device further, ensuring that you will have it when you need it.

Another note is that this device could and should be added as a layer of safety to every activity (not just adventures). For example, on a long road trip, bring the device. If a loved one has a long commute and may not have cell service, throw it in the glove box. Plane trip? Why not throw it in your go-to travel bag? In the author's opinion, this device should be a part of everyone's go bag (a bag that you take with you everywhere), right alongside a medical kit and a headlamp.

Another note - if you’re flying internationally, there are some countries that prohibit these devices. In the author's opinion, it’s really only the shitty ones that you may expect to do this (Russia), but this absolutely needs to be a planning consideration no matter where you go.

Conclusion: The Garmin inReach 2 is a game-changer for adventurers seeking reliable communication in remote locations. Its ability to utilize satellite communication, coupled with an SOS function, ensures that help is never far away. With impressive performance in messaging and location sharing, as well as exceptional battery life, this device proves itself as an invaluable tool for both safety and peace of mind during outdoor escapades. Stay connected, and stay safe.

The Garmin InReach 2 in Black. Get it in black because everything looks better in black (or dont, I dont care). 

The Garmin InReach 2 dive case. Makes it truly waterproof and adds a nice layer of armor (without much bulk, weight, or reduction of functionality) to an expensive device. 

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