Which Satellite Messenger Should I Get

Comparing the location X, Identify Gen3, Garmin inReach Mini and Garmin inReach Explorer+

With the recent start of two new satellite messengers, the Garmin inReach Mini and the SPOT X, backcountry enthusiasts have significantly more options than ever for staying linked when venturing off the grid. You might be pondering, ‘Which satellite messenger is best for me?’

We’re here to help you produce that decision with a good rundown of the key differences around four of the very most popular satellite messengers we hold in REI-the Garmin inReach Mini, Garmin inReach Explorer+, Place X and Location Gen3.

What is a Satellite Messenger?

All four of the devices have numerous basic functions in common. When activated with a satellite registration, all of them allow you do the following in (most) spots without cellphone reception:

  • Track your voyage (default of 10 min. intervals; could be customized as needed)
  • Send text-based text messages to your individual contacts
  • Create shareable over the internet maps of your adventure so others can carry out along in (near) real time
  • Automatically post improvements, including GPS site, to your Facebook or Twitter accounts
  • In case of a non-life-threatening emergency, alert your individual contacts that you’ll require help
  • In case of a life-threatening emergency, activate an SOS button (protected against accidental activation in your pack) that directly notifies emergency responders of your distress signal, plus your GPS coordinates

Notably, all devices will be impact-resistant and rated IPX7 waterproof, signifying they’re protected from normal water submersion up to at least one 1 meter deep for at least thirty minutes (i.e., They’ll definitely have the desired effect hanging off the trunk of your pack in a rainstorm.) Additionally, Place X can be considered dustproof (IP67 rating).

Beyond having these baseline capabilities in keeping, each device offers a definite set of features. Read on to understand the differences between these essential features:

  • Messaging Capabilities
  • Navigation Aids
  • Size/Weight
  • Device and Satellite Registration Plan Costs
  • Coverage
  • Battery Lifestyle, Type and Performance

Comparing Messaging Capabilities

Three of the four devices-the Garmin inReach Mini, inReach Explorer+ and Location X-possess 2-way messaging capabilities, meaning you can both send and receive messages-to cellphones, email addresses and, regarding Garmin, to other inReach equipment. In case of a life-threatening emergency, you’ll also have the ability to text immediately with rescue staff to make clear your emergency and receive confirmation if so when help is along the way.

The Location Gen3 can only just send messages. (And it’s priced accordingly; additional on that shortly.) Aside from the device’s SOS function, you have three message options to select from-a check-in message, an added preprogrammed custom communication (composed in the home, not on the device) and a obtain help in non-life-threatening situations. Messages can be sent to up to 10 contacts predetermined before your trip. A green light confirms that your message has been sent.

The two Garmin devices allow you to send a multitude of preset texts, including messages customized ahead of time in the home, or custom texts typed on these devices itself. Neither includes a built-in keyboard; typing messages is moderately time-consuming on the inReach Explorer+ (using predictive text message and arrow buttons to get around an on-display screen keyboard), and remarkably time-eating on the inReach Mini (employing arrow buttons and a vertically scrolling alphabet to choose letters one at a time). In both circumstances, if you’re likely to message frequently, you might be best away pairing your inReach with a Bluetooth-in a position smartphone and instead composing texts in Garmin’s Earthmate software (free with the order of an inReach device).

The SPOT X will not integrate directly with smartphones, but instead, has its built-in, lit QWERTY keyboard, letting you easily and quickly compose messages from these devices itself. The compact key pad is similar to certain early on smartphone keyboards; typing onto it might take some practice. Much like both Garmin gadgets, you can even compose preset communications at home (e.g., “I’m feeling incredibly wonderful!” or “I love you, honey” or “Are we there however?”, and then send them with the press of a good button once you’re found in the backcountry, stopping you from needing to type long text messages on the device itself.

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ has a panoply of features. It’s the only one of the four devices that also acts as a handheld Navigation unit with built-in topo maps and sensors, incorporating a barometric altimeter and accelerometer offering specific metrics on your journey. Also you can create a breadcrumb trail as you go, and make make use of it to navigate the right path back the same manner you came.

When paired with a smartphone and the Earthmate app, the inReach Mini offers most of the same operation. On its own, with out a paired mobile, it still lets you follow routes (pre-uploaded to the device) and drop waypoints as you go. Additionally, one unique characteristic is that it really is synced up applying ANT+ cellular technology to compatible wearables just like the Garmin Forerunner 935 or Fenix 5 series watches, in order to receive and send inReach messages, as well as trigger an SOS, on your own watch.

Also you can request basic or perhaps premium weather updates anytime on both Garmin gadgets. Based on your subscription method, additional costs may apply.

Though the SPOT X does not include maps, sensors or weather updates, it has several built-in navigation tools, including a compass and programmable waypoints. Each SPOT X as well comes with a unique U.S. mobile amount to make it possible for friends and liked ones to send your machine text messages from their cellphones. (In comparison, messages are delivered to the Garmin units with a customized inReach email or through the Earthmate app.)

The SPOT Gen3 doesn’t have any navigational features.

Size/Weight

The Garmin inReach Mini may be the tiniest of all the unit, with the SPOT Gen3 not too much behind.

Both SPOT X and Garmin inReach Explorer+ are larger and heavier compared to the other devices by a few ounces. Compared to one another, they’re in the same ballpark-though the location X is slightly lighter.

Listed below are each device’s major dimensions, starting with the tiniest and lightest weight.

  • Garmin inReach Mini: 3.9 x 2 x 1 in. (3.5 oz.*)
  • SPOT Gen3: 3.4 x 2.5 x 1 in. (4 oz.*)
  • SPOT X: 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.9 in. (6.7 oz.*)
  • Garmin inReach Explorer+: 6.5 x 2.7 x 1.5 in. (7.5 oz.*)

*All given merchandise weights include battery excess weight, whether batteries are included or removable.

Device and Satellite Registration Plan Costs

Choosing what you want to spend is determined by which features matter many to you. Each gadget is costed to reflect the level of features it offers.

  • SPOT Gen3: $149.95
  • SPOT X: $249.95
  • Garmin inReach Mini: $350
  • Garmin inReach Explorer+: $450

However, evaluating the price tag on a satellite messenger is not as simple as looking at the device price tag. Each one as well requires investing in a satellite membership from Garmin or SPOT.

SPOT plans require a 12-month contract, billed every month or annually, and also a $19.99 activation fee. The essential SPOT plan ($199.99/time) provides tracking alternatives of 5-, 10-, 30- or perhaps 60-minute intervals. Upgrading to 2.5-minute tracking intervals costs yet another $99.99/season. Notably, unlike Garmin, SPOT also offers a Gen3 system rental program for one-period uses, or if you wish to try the merchandise out before buying.

Coverage

The Garmin devices operate on the Iridium satellite network, which provides completely pole-to-pole coverage, without gaps or fringe areas. (Yes, this implies that if you want to venture south Pole, or the center of the Pacific Ocean, your inReach device will keep you connected.)

The SPOT devices operate on the Globalstar satellite network, which gives SPOT messenger equipment with coverage for almost each of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, portions of SOUTH USA, portions of North and South Africa, Northeast Asia, and a huge selection of miles offshore of those areas. An in depth coverage map can be found at that moment website.

Battery Existence, Type and Performance

Battery life of the devices will depend on many factors, including:

  • Frequency of monitoring intervals-the more often your machine logs or reports GPS navigation coordinates, the more quickly it’ll eat through its battery life
  • Temperature-extreme hot or chilly can decrease battery life
  • Whether the device has a clear line of view to the sky-the electric battery may drain quicker in remarkably dense tree cover, or if you make an effort to send text messages from indoors or in the cave
  • Whether it’s connected to ANT+ or Bluetooth cellular technology-using each one can decrease battery life
  • Frequency of message-examining intervals-a higher regularity can decrease battery life

For comparison, here’s the vendor-provided information on battery life of each device, assuming a full charge in optimal operating circumstances, with continuous 10-minute tracking intervals:

  • Garmin inReach Mini: 50 hrs. (2 days)
  • Garmin inReach Explorer+: 100 hrs. (4 days)
  • SPOT X: 240 hrs. (10 days)
  • SPOT Gen3: 17 days

With less frequent tracking intervals, battery life capacity boosts significantly. For instance, both Garmin gadgets have a protracted tracking option-30-minute monitoring intervals, with messaging, detailed monitor lines and Bluetooth disabled-that lengthens their battery existence by weeks. (Total battery life as high as 20 days for the inReach Mini, or more to thirty days for the inReach Explorer.)

Similarly, the location devices can last practically three times as long when they’re set to 60-minute tracking intervals (vs. the default 10-minute intervals).

Three of the four devices-the Garmin inReach Mini, Garmin inReach Explorer+ and Area X-operate on a, rechargeable lithium ion battery that recharges via an included micro USB charger.

The SPOT Gen3, on the other hand, operates on 4 AAA lithium batteries, 4 AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries or 5-volt USB series power. This enables you to very easily carry external power packs or back up batteries to swap out on the go if need be. Be aware: AAA alkaline batteries will work, too, but aren’t recommended for optimal performance.

The Bottom Series: Which Satellite Messenger Must I Get?

As you’ve probably determined, your answer will be based upon your unique needs. Consider the following problems, and then read on for our high-level summary of each device:

  • What exactly are your major priorities? Easy, rapid messaging? Battery lifestyle? Cost benefits? Compact size and excess weight? Navigational tools?
  • Do you desire a device first or two major adventures each year, or are you looking for something to use on a regular basis year-round?
  • How important to you is 2-method messaging, and how sometimes do you intend to use this feature?
  • Will primarily preset messages (incorporating custom kinds you create in the home before leaving for your trip) suffice, or would you like the flexibility to easily type messages in the backcountry?
  • Do you intend to also bring a smartphone and make usage of it together with your satellite messenger, or would you like a standalone device?

Pick the Garmin inReach Explorer+ if you’re seeking a full-featured 2-way messenger, handheld Navigation tool, tracker and SOS system that can be utilised anywhere on the planet. It’s great if you’re preparing deep backcountry explorations and benefit robust navigational assistance, info tracking and a user-friendly interface. Though it’s the heaviest & most expensive of most four devices reviewed right here, it provides plenty of value for your money as a standalone, do-it-all unit or when paired with a Bluetooth-capable smartphone.

Pick the SPOT X if you adventure year-round and want a good value not merely for baseline monitoring and SOS capability, also for receiving and sending custom messages easily. Its battery lifestyle is two-and-a-half to five instances as long as the various other 2-method messengers discussed below, and it doesn’t require pairing with a smartphone for relatively fast composition of text messages, making it a great standalone messaging gadget. Plus, its built-in compass and programmable waypoints happen to be ideal for pursuits like hiking and backpacking.

Choose the Garmin inReach Mini if you’re trying to find an impressively compact, forget-it’s-right now there satellite television lifeline with 2-approach messaging capabilities. It’s ideal for gram-counting adventurers (backpackers and thru-hikers, trail runners, etc.). Though it accomplishes each of the basic capabilities of a standalone unit, typing custom text messages on these devices itself is time-eating. Its operation and user-friendliness soar when paired with a Bluetooth-capable smartphone-thus if you’re already likely to carry your cellphone, it’s a particularly great choice. But also without, it provides sound tracking and SOS capacities all over the globe. Plus, if you private a compatible Garmin wearable, the check out integration is a huge boon.

Choose the SPOT Gen3 if you wish just the essentials of a satellite communication device: GPS monitoring, SOS capacities and 1-way satellite messaging to let your friends and loved types know whether you’re carrying out OK or need support. It’s compact, compact and by far the most budget-friendly alternative for individuals who adventure regularly but don’t need fancy bells and whistles. It offers set-it-and-forget-it tracking and satisfaction that you’ll be in a position to call for assist in case of emergency.