Garmin Inreach Explorer+
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- 100% global iridium satellite coverage enables 2-way text Messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription required)
- Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center
- Track and share your location with Family and friends
- Pair with mobile devices using the free earthmate app for access to downloadable maps, U.S. Noaa charts, color Aerial imagery and more
- Inreach Explorer+ Device adds preloaded delorme topo maps with onscreen GPS routing Plus built-in digital compass, Barometric altimeter and Accelerometer
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From the manufacturer
Garmin inReach Explorer+
Handheld Satellite Communicator with GPS Navigation
- Explore anywhere. Communicate everywhere. inReach Explorer+ is the satellite communicator and GPS navigator that uses 100% global Iridium coverage for 2-way messaging, tracking and interactive SOS from anywhere in the world.
Garmin inReach Explorer+
Comes with preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps; also includes built-in digital compass, barometric altimete
Handheld Satellite Communicator with Maps and Sensors
- 100% global Iridium satellite coverage enables 2-way text messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription required).
- Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.
- Track and share your location with family and friends.
- Pair with mobile devices using the free Earthmate app for access to downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more.
- inReach Explorer+ device adds preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps with onscreen GPS routing plus built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer.
No Cell Tower? No Phone Service? No Problem.
Explore Anywhere. Communicate Everywhere.
Using the worldwide coverage of the Iridium satellite network, these go-anywhere portable devices let you exchange text messages with any cell phone number or email address anywhere – while using GPS to track and share your journey’s progress.
In case of an at-risk situation, you can also use inReach to trigger an SOS to the 24/7 monitoring center, text back and forth about the nature of your emergency, and receive confirmation when help is on the way.
Track and Share
|100% global satellite coverage with Iridium||✔||✔|
|Two-way global interactive SOS||✔||✔|
|Tracking and location sharing||✔||✔|
|Cloud storage and trip planning||✔||✔|
|Pairs with mobile devices||✔||✔|
|Navigation (includes routes, waypoints, breadcrumb trail)||✔||✔|
|Preloaded topographic maps||✔|
|Built-in navigation sensors (Compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer)||✔|
Pair with Your Mobile Device
For even more capability and convenience, the free Earthmate app syncs your inReach handheld via Bluetooth with your compatible Apple or Android device so you can access unlimited maps, aerial imagery and U.S. NOAA charts. Plus, Earthmate allows you to conveniently use all of the inReach features on your paired mobile device. For easier messaging, you can also sync your inReach device with your phone’s contact list to reach anyone, anywhere – with fewer keystrokes.
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|Battery Average Life||—||—||100 hours||100 hours||—||16 hours|
|Screen Size||2.3 in||2.6||1.8 in||2.31 in||3 in||4 in|
|Item Dimensions||2.7 x 1.5 x 6.5 in||4.2 x 1.4 x 6.3 in||1.02 x 2.44 x 5.87 in||1.5 x 2.7 x 6.5 in||1.6 x 2.6 x 7.9 in||2.9 x 1.4 x 5.7 in|
|Item Weight||0.5 lb||0.58 lb||7 ounces||7.5 ounces||0.8 lb||0.64 lb|
Explore anywhere. Communicate everywhere. In reach Explorer+ is the rugged satellite Communicator and GPS navigator that uses 100% global iridium coverage for 2-way text messaging and tracking, anywhere in the world. Navigate with detailed, preloaded topo maps, follow routes, Mark waypoints and find your way back with a high-detail Bread crumb trail. Using GPS tracking, you can easily share your location with family, friends, social media or emergency responders. In case of emergency, the interactive SOS allows you to communicate back and forth and receive confirmation that help is on the way. For added capability, use the free earthmate app to pair your in reach Explorer+ with mobile devices.
Top customer reviews
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OK, now for the review. In 2016 Garmin bought DeLorme. A year later we see the inReach Explorer+ which merges both the inReach satellite communicator with an on-board GPS including 24K scale maps of the US and Canada (Mexico is also included, but at less resolution). So let's consider what that means. In a single device you have the ability to accurately locate yourself on a topo map, move to any other location on the map and drop a waypoint and the inReach will draw a straight line route to follow via the map or the built in compass. All the while you are aware of the terrain over which you must travel. You can adjust as needed to avoid obstacles by dropping additional waypoints. But wait... there's more. you also have the ability to send and receive texts to anyone (not just other inReach users) via their smartphones or email. So you're never alone. You're also one button away from an international search and rescue service which will send help at once while staying in communication with you. All messages sent from the inReach, both routine and SOS include your exact location. The recipient can click on a link and see exactly where you are on a topo map. So BOTH of my basic needs are met with just this one device.
Now for the big questions: Does it work? Do I need it? Is there something better for me? YES IT WORKS. The satellite communicator on this newest model works as reliably as the older versions. In other words, if you can find some sky. it will get your messages out and responses back. The time it takes depends on how much sky you can see and how often you set it to look for satellites. As for the new GPS features, they are also reliable as you would expect coming from Garmin. So to be clear, this is a robust, reliable satellite communicator and GPS orienteering device all in one package with the ability to last 100 hours on a charge if used responsibly. That should end the discussion. In my thinking, everyone who drives out of cell coverage should have one of these with a minimum subscription plan if only to be able to summon help if the car brakes down.
What will it cost me? Unlike a simple GPS device that you buy once and then use for years, the InReach is also a satellite communicator that lets you send and receive messages and contact Search & Rescue in an emergency. This is what sets the InReach apart. DON'T COMPARE it to any other GPS unit. That's like apples vs oranges. No other GPS unit will communicate. So don't buy the InReach if you don't want or need the satellite communication features. You will be wasting your money. But if you're like me and are glad that a device exists to allow messages from the trail when there is no cell service the InReach is for you. Here's what to expect for cost. First you buy the InReach itself. Then you have to activate it which is done online to record your information and subscribe to the Iridium Satellite and GEOS Search & Rescue services. Like any utility they cost. Garmon doesn't provide the satellites or the SOS service. They just activate you with Iridium and GEOS. Both of these activations cost Garmin and that cost is passed on to you. So just by activating your InReach you will be charged for these activation service fees which must be renewed yearly. Then you need to choose a subscription plan. These are a set of options that let you choose how you wish to use the InReach. I like an annual subscription so the InReach is always active. I keep it in my car in case of a breakdown outside of cell service to summon road services and notify family. Some will choose a "Freedom" plan which lets you activate and deactivate the InReach on a monthly basis. This saves monthly charges that an annual plan would have for when you don't use the InReach. So please realize that the InReach is PRIMARILY a satellite commicator that uses a service that has both an annual and monthly charge. So do yourself a big favor and throughly read the subscription page on the Garmin website to understand these costs before you buy the InReach. You don't want any surprises later. I'll be a bit subjective here and simply say that it costs me less than $15 each month to have the InReach always available. That's less than I pay for my morning coffee and pastry at the local shop for one day. I think it's a very cheap price to pay for something that can save your life, keep family and friends updated on your hiking or boating progress and let you keep in touch from anywhere on Earth.
Now for the bugs part. Everything that I have already discussed works perfectly and bug free to my knowledge. But the inReach has some other features that are'nt needed for communication and orienteering, but make it easier to get some things done. It can connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet. Then you can have a larger screen and easy keyboard to view the map and send a text home. It also has a website assigned to you alone to set waypoints, create routes, overlay additional types of maps, list your frequent contacts, and often used text messages. These are not necessary features, but using them before setting out will make your time in the back country easier. This is where the bugs are showing up. I've read that syncing with a MAC to download routes, contacts, pre-written messages etc. is having problems. In my experiance, connecting via Bluetooth to my older iPhone using pre iOS 10 software is a problem with the app provided. What I can say with certainty is that the people at Garmin, many who stayed on when it was taken over from DeLorme are dedicated to customer service. I have faith that these bugs will soon be fixed with a new firmware update. In the meantime, the problems don't impact the stand-alone functionality of the inReach Explorer+ so as to be a deal killer. There is NO OTHER OPTION if you want both GPS and two-way satellite communication. If you don't go off the paved roads and don't need the GPS features, you might consider the inReachSE at $150 less. So don't hesitate to buy this great device. As a stand-alone unit it works perfectly. There is no substitute. The bugs are related to unnecessary, but useful features and will be fixed soon. Think of it this way. This can save your life if you're lost in the wilderness, at sea, or just in a ditch along the Interstate out of cell phone range.
UPDATE 3/31/17 - I received a response from Garmin tech support. Unfortunately they have discovered that the inReach Explorer+ (and presumably the SE+) will not communicate with the EarthMate app on iOS devices older than iOS 10. The issue is that the new inReach uses a more advanced Bluetooth protocol. The older Apple devices can't interface with the new hardware in a way that EarthMate needs. So if you have an iPhone 4s or any iPhone or iPad that uses the older wide connector, you're out of luck. BUT TAKE HEART. All is not lost, by any means. EarthMate still runs on the older iPhone which has its own GPS, compass and accelerometer. So even though the inReach is not talking with EarthMate, you still see the same maps, same exact location and direction of travel on the EarthMate app on the phone. EarthMate is just using the iPhone's hardware instead of the inReach. So only two features are lost when the Explorer+ can't connect to an IPhone. The first is the loss of a bigger, and easier to use keyboard, although with a little practice, using the inReach keyboard can be quite fast. The second is the ability to Sync the inReach on the trail with the Garmin site via a phone or tablet if you have cell or WiFi service. This shouldn't be an issue for most people with a computer and WiFi since Syncing is only done after changing your pre-written messages or adding contacts. Most people will do those tasks at home and them Sync with a USB cable.
I did discover that the InReach will send waypoints created on it to the Garmin site when it gets satellite connectivity at no cost to the user. So family and friends who are following your trip via the Garmin Mapshare site will see your new Weypoints as you create them. The ability for EarthMate on the iPhone to download maps not built into the Explorer+ is still available via cell or WiFi even if it can't connect to the inReach. Map downloads always use the Internet not the satellite system because of their large size. Additional North American maps always reside on the phone, not the InReach. Nothing different here. So users like myself can still get aerial photo maps, NOAA charts etc. and since both devices have GPS there is no difference if the inReach and phone can, or can't connect. So we're back to the fact that the ONLY loss if you have an older iPhone is a larger keyboard and Syncing on the trail. No big deal.
To me, the InReach Explorer+ as a stand alone device is a major breakthrough because it includes a 24k background topo map. Now the always reliable inReach communicator is also a true GPS locator and orienteering device. The fact that it's 100 hour battery will also outlast any phone many times over just seals the deal. So connectivity to a phone or tablet is really outside the primary features set of this device which are satellite communication and GPS location and orienteering with 24k map display. The added advantages of connecting to a phone are at best in the convenience category and after the phone's battery dies, are of no value.
I'll make it a simple decision... If you are day tripping and not leaving the cell network, but want detailed maps with waypoints, routes, and an easy to follow compass. Leave the inReach at home and just use the EarthMate app on your older iPhone. If you need to communicate with someone, use the phone. However, if you think that you may stray beyond the cell network, the inReach is the ONLY reliable way to communicate with family and friends who may help to summon auto club services, police, or ambulance. And even without a phone connection it will lead you safely out of the woods. For under $15 a month that's quite a bargain.
Since the inability to connect with out of date iPhones doesn't have any significant consequence, I will continue to keep my five star rating.
OBSERVATION OF CONSUMER REVIEWS - PLEASE READ THIS
I have been reading various reviews by many people and I've realized that consumer reviews have an inherent problem. They are subjective and limited to the assumptions of the consumer. So I would like to make some observations to help perspective buyers make a good decision.
Reviews should be made by people who have tested the product for its intended use. There are lots of "I just got this today. I'm thrilled" reviews. They are worthless. They only tell us that the customer is excited by what they read in the advertising and no more. They haven't tested to see it it works as advertised. Then there are the "My salesman told me it would do this, but you need a subscription. What a scam." reviews. Sales staff get it wrong sometimes. If you want good information read the manufacture's web site. Call technical support. For Goodness sake ask an expert, not someone who has a bone to pick with a sales agent. Finally, please understand what the main function of a product is. Are there other products that provide the same function? Can I buy it and get a refund if I'm not satisfied in a reasonable time?
As for the inReach, its MAIN function is two-way satillite communications and SOS rescue access. That is a service, like your phone, cell, gas, electricity, or cable at home. It costs each month for these services. You understand that. Why pay attention to a reviewer who is upset if a communication service like inReach expects to be paid and will cut off service after reasonable attempts to contact you if it isn't? When you first setup a new InReach Garmin must open a subscription for you with the Iridium satellite network. This costs Garmin and commits you to a full month of service. If you change your mind and return the InReach and expect a refund only the cost of the InReach can be returned to you, The satellite service has already been pain for with your expressed permission by setting it up and Garmin can't get a refund from Iridium. Consumers who don't take the time to read and understand what they are buying should not complain later when reality sets in. The InReach isn't a self-contained walkie-talkie. It's more like a phone that uses a sophisticated service to send your messages across the World. If you return a phone you don't expect a refund for the service used.
The inReach also has GPS location and tracking features. But these are NOT its main purpose. There are great GPS units available that are cheaper and have more GPS features... but they won't communicate from the backcountry. The InReach can't pack all of the latest features found in more specialized GPS devices into one small unit without sacrificing battery life or power, not to mention the cost increase. If you're not going to communicate, don't buy the inReach. If you don't need GPS navigation get the InReach SE+ at a lower cost. If you need special features like deep ocean charts, a card slot, or both US and Russian GPS access get the SE+ along with another Garmin GPS unit designed for that purpose. Please consider your circumstances first. Do you need the peace of mind that the inReach offers? If you are hiking, injured and otherwise lost to the outside world would you be satisfied with a PLB (Personal Location Beacon) that will notify authorities of your location but not of your specific injuries, medications, medical conditions and other factors that may be crucial for first responders to understand. The inReach is the ONLY way to have a two-way conversation with rescue services unless you wish to pay thousands of dollars for a satillite phone.
I was set up by Dick Tracey and the Jetsons to expect face to face chats from my watch and flying to work from my driveway. But I'm still waiting in a long line at the airport with a phone in my hand. To paraphrase the Rolling Stones... You don't always get what you want, but with the full range of great Garmin options you CAN get what you need. You just may need two devices. But PLEASE take what you read here and in other consumer reviews with a grain of salt. Is it a review, or just a person bragging about their newest toy? Is the review relevant to your requirements? Did you ask the experts by reading advertising from the manufacturer, downloading the manual, or calling technical support? Consumer reviews are nice, but they have their limits. Be a wise consumer and do your homework. Thanks for reading my observation.
But first, let me briefly go over what's *not* included in the purchase: you need a subscription from Garmin to even boot this thing up. They have annual plans that (as of this writing) start from $144 a year, as well as more flexible "freedom" subscriptions - a bit more costly, but with the ability to suspend service during off-season months.
Even at the lowest tier, you can define up to three predefined messages (e.g., "I'm OK", "doing fine but going to be late", or "please come and pick me up") and keep sending them for free to an e-mail addresses, a cell phone number, or another inReach device of your choice. This is actually more useful than it sounds, because each message automatically includes your precise location (which can be viewed on a map), as well as some other details about your trip. The only caveat is that you can't change the predefined messages or the recipients in the field - you need to log onto their website for that. But if all you really need is to periodically let your friends or family know where you are, this is a pretty good deal.
Of course, free-form two-way texting is also available (again, supporting e-mail, text messages, and other inReach devices), but you only get 10 of these every month before you're charged $0.50 a pop. The limit is marginally higher for the $300 plan, but if you want unlimited free-form messaging, you better have some serious disposable income: that plan is currently about $600 a year.
You can also have the device publish your location at regular intervals; the price is $0.10 per data point at the lowest tier, making this a pretty expensive deal - but you get unlimited tracking with the $300 plan. For people who do a lot of high-risk travel, this may be a good choice.
You get a couple other satellite-related features, such as the ability to request weather forecasts for your location (at normal messaging rates) or to locate any device associated with your account via the web app. Finally, you can request emergency help. This service is operated by GEOS, a third-party firm; they get your location, the details of the incident, call the authorities, and keep you updated on the progress. GEOS also offers some optional SAR / medevac benefits, but you need to pay separately for that.
All in all, while it's certainly not a drop-in replacement for your mobile phone, inReach is fairly affordable if you can stay within the constraints of the platform - and it is dramatically cheaper than any other satellite phone subscription out there. The costs are comparable to SPOT GEN3, but this only gives you one-way messaging.
As for the device itself: the satellite bits aside, it has all the features you'd expect in a hiking GPS. The higher-end (orange) device has topo maps and several extra sensors, so it can show you more accurate compass data without requiring you to walk in a straight line for a while. Both can plot your route, capture all the usual trip stats, etc. You can also define routes and waypoints via the web app and sync them to the device.
Assuming you're turning it for the night and not making a heavy use of tracking features, the battery should probably last a week without recharging. The unit seems pretty rugged; basically no different from any other Garmin GPS. It is not particularly small, in part because of its thick rubberized shell. I think it's actually a bit bigger than the previous (DeLorme-branded) model, but it is very lightweight. It also has a nice color screen and the UI is very responsive and easy to figure out. Typing is relatively cumbersome, since you need to navigate an on-screen keyboard using arrow keys - but it ain't too bad.
There are several other small annoyances; for example, if you add a waypoint on the device and then attempt to turn it off before syncing to a PC, you get a warning saying that your waypoints will be lost. You also need to go through some extra hops if you have multiple devices tied to a single billing account and way to update preset messages or waypoints on both. But again, not a big deal.
The Iridium network works globally, although you'd be lucky to get reception indoors (especially in multi-story buildings). Also keep in mind that transmission rates are fairly slow, and the device only checks with the satellite every 10 minutes or so. This is configurable and an extra check can be forced manually, but if you're longing for low-latency chats, be sure to also carry your phone.