Garmin 66i vs inreach mini for elk hunt

KRATOCT

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
34
An odd comparison so thought it was worthy of its own post and didn’t see anything like it but it is my current dilemma. Inreach explorers seem to be unattainable right now. That was probably going to be my choice. I plan to primarily use my phone for gps and want a satellite device for SOS in a true emergency and to utilize the texting as well. It looks like i can get a new inreach mini no problem and some used 66i’s are available for about the price of the explorer.
The battery life of the explorer was a big draw to me as well as being able to use the unit if for whatever reason my phone goes down or in cold/rainy/snowy weather. Even though the Delorme gps maps are pretty poor, it would also be a last resort back up if needed, would not be a primary gps. I would now be sacrificing battery life if I chose the 66i. Maps would still be available as a last resort backup and they would be much nicer with the option to add a chip but I would still gravitate to my phone as primary gps. The 66i also functions as a stand alone unit in poor weather or if the phone is compromised. I would still be saving about $50-100 by going with the mini and it does the two main things I want it to; the explorer and 66i just have a big advantage in my eyes as a stand alone unit and as a backup gps. Wondering what you guys who have had experience think? Thanks.
 

Hunt_Jefferson

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2020
Messages
205
Location
El Dorado County, CA
I have a 66i and occasionally use an Inreach Mini, in addition to OnX and CalTopo apps. For hunting, the phone apps are lightyears ahead of Garmin. But as a backup nav device and communications the 66i isn't bad. If you keep it off until you need it or at least turn it off at night it will last a decent while. If you are going to be texting on it all day, have the bluetooth/wifi on, and using the screen on 100% brightness it will drain pretty quick.

I do still need to get a chip for the 66i, but havent decided between a 1:24k map or the hunt specific ones. 66i also lets you download free satellite images but they aren't as good as the phone app maps. It's definitely bigger/heavier than the Mini, and the 66i has a rechargeable/non-removable battery.
 
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KRATOCT

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
34
I have a 66i and occasionally use an Inreach Mini, in addition to OnX and CalTopo apps. For hunting, the phone apps are lightyears ahead of Garmin. But as a backup nav device and communications the 66i isn't bad. If you keep it off until you need it or at least turn it off at night it will last a decent while. If you are going to be texting on it all day, have the bluetooth/wifi on, and using the screen on 100% brightness it will drain pretty quick.

I do still need to get a chip for the 66i, but havent decided between a 1:24k map or the hunt specific ones. 66i also lets you download free satellite images but they aren't as good as the phone app maps. It's definitely bigger/heavier than the Mini, and the 66i has a rechargeable/non-removable battery.
How is that comparable to use of the mini? Do you need to turn the mini off most of the day to last a 5-6 day hunt in the backcountry? Or are you able to leave the mini on? My only concern about turning it off would be not getting urgent messages for an emergency. I don’t expect this happen and there would not be much I could do immediately but I prefer to have the opportunity to get the messages of urgent ASAP.
I do have 2 power packs to recharge devices. I typically get 4-5 iPhone charges out of the one. I’m not sure how charging the 66i or the mini would compare in amount of charges per battery pack.
 

Bearwhisky

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
196
I have a 66i and enjoy it as a backup nav device and safety net with the beacon. I do not run it as my primary source of nav because the battery would only last a day or so. Im sure theres a way to turn off certain features to extend battery life, but I havent worried about it. I basically drop a pin at the truck, camp sites, and kill sites and turn it off in between. I like the piece of mind in case my phone goes down, paper maps get wet, or too dark/rainy to fool with paper maps, I have nice unit to guide me back. So now that I think of it, I have 3 forms of nav...phone, paper maps, and 66i (used in that order). Kind of redundant I guess but whatever floats your boat.


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Hunt_Jefferson

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2020
Messages
205
Location
El Dorado County, CA
How is that comparable to use of the mini? Do you need to turn the mini off most of the day to last a 5-6 day hunt in the backcountry? Or are you able to leave the mini on? My only concern about turning it off would be not getting urgent messages for an emergency. I don’t expect this happen and there would not be much I could do immediately but I prefer to have the opportunity to get the messages of urgent ASAP.
I do have 2 power packs to recharge devices. I typically get 4-5 iPhone charges out of the one. I’m not sure how charging the 66i or the mini would compare in amount of charges per battery pack.
Well it depends how you want to use it. For me, I would keep the mini on while actively hunting/away from camp or even just turn it on periodically to check if something came through. I would probably just tell whoever in advance that I was going to turn it off at night and would check for messages in the morning/evening. I don't/wouldn't keep either on at night.

Garmin 66i battery is 3100 MaH, so consider it like having another cell phone to charge (my iphone is 2650 MaH). Mini is 1250 MaH but you won't have to charge it nearly as frequently as the 66i under heavy use.
 
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