Garmin inReach Mini

I have really been interested in satellite communications since I saw at talk at 31c3 Iridium Pager Hacking (and the follow up talk the next year) along with my interest in RTL-SDRs.

Another passion is Hillwalking but I usually only get out by myself and this does leave me concerned if something happened, as not only mobile signal pretty poor but it seems Three is really bad as a network in some parts.

The solution? The Garmin Inreach Mini.

Stock photo of a inReach Mini 1

I was able to pick up a second hand one for about £150. This is most likely cheaper as the inReach Mini 2 is out. The main benefit with the 2 is better battery life for longer trips. Easy to change the battery in the future as well if needed.

The main 3 uses for me as follows - 

1. Being able to message loved ones to let them know I'm heading off or back at the car.

2. Let people track me, so they know my progress and last known location.

3. A SHTF SOS button if I get in to trouble.

Once you get an inReach Mini, you also have to get a subscription to subscribe to the Iridium network.

The subscription table on the Garmin website 

As I wanted tracking for loved ones - I opted for the 'Recreation' tier. The 40 messages included was also of interest but I will get in to that later. I went for the 12 month contract option. My cost breakdown is as follows -

Activation fee £30 (Once a year) and Recreation package is £25 a month.

This does seem pricey - however I pay less than £20 for my mobile phone contract (with unlimited everything) so I pay under £50 a month for both phone and inReach contract. That's lower than some of the latest 24 month mobile phone contracts.

"Why not get a new iPhone 14 with the sat comms?!"

I did look in to this but there are a few issues -

  1. iOS user is needed to view my location, after I manually send it.
  2. How much is the service after the 2 years runs out on the phone?
  3. I am an Android user, I'm not swapping ecosystems because of one feature.

It's a good thing to have - the iPhone 14 just didn't fit in to my needs.

So to get the contract setup, the device will display is IMEI number and 'Activation Code'. This is on the screen when first turned on or can be accessed via the system menu.

Using these details on the Garmin Explore site you can setup the contract and once this is done you should get -

inReach Mini showing setup is complete and ready to go.

I will now break down some of the features I use.


So you get 2 tiers of messaging -

Check in messages and everything else messages.

Check in messages allows unlimited messages however the catch is that they are 3 preset messages. Here are my 3 and they can be set to go to a Phone or Email address (I have blanked out contact details as they are shown here) -

Preset messages that can be edited but you can only have 3.

These can be changed to what you like and then synced with the inReach Mini via Bluetooth on your phone (if you install the 'Earthmate' app).

These are great as most car parks have been out the range of signal so letting my other half when I get there/starting is so handy.

Now, the everything else messages -

I have 40 per month and this allowance is used when you want to send something else other than a preset message. This allowance is also used when you receive a message from a contact.

List of default quick messages that you have

You can type on the inReach Mini but its Up/Down and OK to enter text. If you want to enter a custom message, it would be better to use the mobile phone app.

If you ask for a basic weather update for your current location then this costs a message from your allowance.


The next feature allows a message to be sent to my contacts to allow them to get 10 minute updates to where I am. If I want it to be shorter intervals it would cost more money and also battery life. Here is the map of a recent hike with 10 minite tracking enabled -

My inReach plotted path
Zoomed in showing the 10 minute detail of the tracking 

A Mapshare link is sent to my contacts and they are able to check via this link where I am at any given time.

On the Garmin Explore site it also keeps the tracks so I can take a look at them later.


This is a button that hides under a flap on the device or can be activated via my watch (My Fenix 7X is paired to it via ANT+)

This is the button you hit when you are in trouble.

I will link to the Garmin site as I believe it would be better for people have accurate information on this feature than my hot take.


Overall I feel this is worthwhile have for being out and about in the wilderness. Is phone coverage getting better? Maybe, however I'd rather not be the one to find out the hard way. As someone who ends up being solo quite a few times, It's a welcome addition to my toolkit and I am sure I can find many uses for it.