Sat Phone or Inreach

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TeamJenkins17

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So with my big Teton Wilderness Trip coming up in 4 weeks the wife really wants us to carry a sat phone or an Inreach device. I’ve assured her we’ll be ok, but honestly bringing one won’t hurt anything and if it makes the trip more enjoyable for her then it’s a win anyway.

In any event, I was hoping for some input from you guys and before we go any further I’m fully aware that both have costly plans to purchase as well. To me a satellite phone is convenient in that I can simply make a call if needed and speak to someone right away, I don’t need the gps on the Inreach as I’ll be using my phone with topomaps + anyway so the Inreach mini would be fine, but I’ve read the Inreach reviews on REI and they mostly sound terrible. The Inreach according to reviews seems absolutely ridiculous to use and figure out?

Any feedback on this would be super helpful, thanks guys!!
 

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Jackson

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I think you're going to get a lot of recommendations for the InReach on here since so many have them and like them. I've only ever used an InReach, and despite a few bluetooth connectivity issues on one occasion, I've liked the InReach units I've used. I don't actually own one though. I only take them when I go solo, so I just rent them from Skycall Satellite here in SLC. Skycall also ships to wherever though. They rent out satellite phones as well if you don't want to purchase a unit just yet.

I guess it depends on your preference though. I like to be able to send a brief text giving an update, and then it also sends my current coordinates along with the text. My wife can also pull up the map through Garmin and see exactly where I am and that I'm actually moving, which helps allay her fears that I'm dead. Haha. And then you have a button to call SAR as well. Maybe sat phones have some of those features too though. I'm not sure.
 

TeamJenkins17

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I think you're going to get a lot of recommendations for the InReach on here since so many have them and like them. I've only ever used an InReach, and despite a few bluetooth connectivity issues on one occasion, I've liked the InReach units I've used. I don't actually own one though. I only take them when I go solo, so I just rent them from Skycall Satellite here in SLC. Skycall also ships to wherever though. They rent out satellite phones as well if you don't want to purchase a unit just yet.

I guess it depends on your preference though. I like to be able to send a brief text giving an update, and then it also sends my current coordinates along with the text. My wife can also pull up the map through Garmin and see exactly where I am and that I'm actually moving, which helps allay her fears that I'm dead. Haha. And then you have a button to call SAR as well. Maybe sat phones have some of those features too though. I'm not sure.
Thanks buddy, I’ve been researching all morning and watching videos and I’m pretty sure I’m going with the Inreach mini. It seems like once it’s paired with my iPhone it can do almost anything and the weather alerts you can receive to me are priceless.
 

TeamJenkins17

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Thanks buddy, I’ve been researching all morning and watching videos and I’m pretty sure I’m going with the Inreach mini. It seems like once it’s paired with my iPhone it can do almost anything and the weather alerts you can receive to me are priceless.
And lol I hear you on the ‘moving’ part my mom thinks bears will be lurking behind every tree ready to eat us haha. My wife is a detective and deals with craziness literally everyday but she’s more worried about bears and mountain lions than the violent criminals she sees on a daily basis lol.
 

b.stark

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Went with a InReach Mini for my upcoming Alaska trip, and also to use in general since I hike, fish, bike, etc mostly alone in places with sketchy or no cell service. It makes my parents feel better anyway. The phone app does help with some of the interface issues garmin units are famous for, although having been using gaia GPS for my navigation, garmin still falls short in usability. But for what it is, the inreach seems to be right for me in being able to keep communication open and have the emergency button. I'll be honest I plan to mostly use mine for messages only when necessary and to check in at camp each night.
 

Bob

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Neither...... But a Sat phone will cost you... .
 

Outdoor_Fool

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My wife recently used an InReach while working in NW Alaska. She was way out in the middle of nowhere western Brooks Range and I received the messages every day. She said that it was easy to use and it obviously worked very well.
 

Stephanie B

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inReach. Easy to text, worried family members can watch your movement, can have a responsible friend of family monitor your movement if you're in a sketchy area (e.g. on the Mexican border), weather is great to have, SOS button in case of an emergency. Have never looked into a sat phone, but I think they're far more expensive. Oh, and you can download your routes onto the inReach as a backup to your preferred tracking app. One thing I've always wondered about, though, is whether or not the GPS in the inReach is more accurate to those found, say, in an iPhone.
 

DrNed

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Recently went through the same internal debate.

I went with the InReach mini
 

Perry

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I’ve been very happy with my InReach Explorer+ which was an upgrade from my previous InReach Explorer. If the mini had been available at that time I might have gone with it for weight savings but I do like the all-in-one approach for navigation in the Explorer+ in case I were to have problems with my smartphone. Redundancy is welcome where navigation is concerned.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Wanderlust073

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Riggs

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My wife recently used an InReach while working in NW Alaska. She was way out in the middle of nowhere western Brooks Range and I received the messages every day. She said that it was easy to use and it obviously worked very well.
I'm curious, did she use the Mini, or the Explorer +? I'd read this review on REI, and made me wonder if they're right about the antenna:

"I used the Mini for a month in the remote Brooks Range in Alaska and when compared to the Explorer+ (which one of my employees had and was using during the same time period) I'm afraid it fell well short of my high hopes and expectations. While it IS half the size and weight of the Explorer+, which is what made it so attractive to me, it also appeared to have half the battery life and half the antenna power compared tot he Explorer+. While the Explorer+ would send and receive messages almost instantly (with a 3 minute period being a long time to send or receive a message) with the Mini I more than often had to wait 20 minutes to 1 hour to send and receive messages, which was extremely problematic for numerous reason. I checked all the settings and changed the "check intervals" numerous times but regardless of what I did the Mini was just VERY slow to send and/or download messages, regardless of the number being sent or received."
 

Outdoor_Fool

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I'm curious, did she use the Mini, or the Explorer +? I'd read this review on REI, and made me wonder if they're right about the antenna:

"I used the Mini for a month in the remote Brooks Range in Alaska and when compared to the Explorer+ (which one of my employees had and was using during the same time period) I'm afraid it fell well short of my high hopes and expectations. While it IS half the size and weight of the Explorer+, which is what made it so attractive to me, it also appeared to have half the battery life and half the antenna power compared tot he Explorer+. While the Explorer+ would send and receive messages almost instantly (with a 3 minute period being a long time to send or receive a message) with the Mini I more than often had to wait 20 minutes to 1 hour to send and receive messages, which was extremely problematic for numerous reason. I checked all the settings and changed the "check intervals" numerous times but regardless of what I did the Mini was just VERY slow to send and/or download messages, regardless of the number being sent or received."
@Riggs It definitely is not the mini. I think, after talking to her, that it is the inReach SE+ (not the Explorer +). she is going to check tomorrow at work so I can give a more definitive answer tomorrow.
 

Perry

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@Riggs It definitely is not the mini. I think, after talking to her, that it is the inReach SE+ (not the Explorer +). she is going to check tomorrow at work so I can give a more definitive answer tomorrow.
I’m betting the radio section is the same on the SE+ as the Explorer+ so I would expect similar performance.


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Riggs

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I’m betting the radio section is the same on the SE+ as the Explorer+ so I would expect similar performance.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Yeah, that's what I think I'd read somebody else thought too. It's interesting that the reviewer had both together and the Mini didn't work as well. If anybody else has ever had that chance to compare, it'd be great to hear about. Always hard to tell with reviews if they're accurate, or maybe it was a defective device. It does seem logical the physical antenna on the Mini would be shorter since it's smaller. Or is that faulty logic?
 

Perry

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Yeah, that's what I think I'd read somebody else thought too. It's interesting that the reviewer had both together and the Mini didn't work as well. If anybody else has ever had that chance to compare, it'd be great to hear about. Always hard to tell with reviews if they're accurate, or maybe it was a defective device. It does seem logical the physical antenna on the Mini would be shorter since it's smaller. Or is that faulty logic?
One other thought.... Text message delivery and retrieval scheduling is quite variable. Its not like SMS on a smart phone where it happens immediately. It can often take several minutes for a new message to finally transmit. Having a clear connection to the satellites is only part of it. I'm sure the Iridium satellites have limited bandwidth and sometimes you have "wait your turn". I know they recently launched some more satellites I'm sure in response to demand. If you are having an interactive conversation with someone you both have to be very patient and wait for a response before sending another message or the messages can get rather mixed up.
 

Brendan S

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One other thought.... Text message delivery and retrieval scheduling is quite variable. Its not like SMS on a smart phone where it happens immediately. It can often take several minutes for a new message to finally transmit. Having a clear connection to the satellites is only part of it. I'm sure the Iridium satellites have limited bandwidth and sometimes you have "wait your turn". I know they recently launched some more satellites I'm sure in response to demand. If you are having an interactive conversation with someone you both have to be very patient and wait for a response before sending another message or the messages can get rather mixed up.
This is my thought as well. I often have to wait a while for a message is sent or received and I doubt even with two identical units you would have messages sent and received at the exact same time.

Ryan Jordan over at BPL has a great in-depth review of the mini over an extended period of use (as opposed to many REI type reviews that are from one trip or whatever). Review here.

In the forum thread below the review there is some discussion of the antenna. RJ says he hasn't experienced any difference in sending/receiving messages compared to the other units.
 

DuneElliot

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Another one here for the InReach. I have had both the SE and Explorer (older DeLorme version) and have been extremely happy with both, not to mention that I only need to pay a month at a time if I choose. What sold me on the InReach was the confirmation of message sent and the two way communication (which is easy with using the app). I know nothing about the mini but I also wouldn't want to HAVE to rely on my phone to be able to type a message.
 

Riggs

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This is my thought as well. I often have to wait a while for a message is sent or received and I doubt even with two identical units you would have messages sent and received at the exact same time.

Ryan Jordan over at BPL has a great in-depth review of the mini over an extended period of use (as opposed to many REI type reviews that are from one trip or whatever). Review here.

In the forum thread below the review there is some discussion of the antenna. RJ says he hasn't experienced any difference in sending/receiving messages compared to the other units.
That's a really great review, thanks for the link, and suggestion to read the comments!
 

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