Garmin inreach mini vs inreach explorer

KRATOCT

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
31
Looking to get one of these two for an early season elk hunt in Colorado this September. Most reviews I’ve looked into suggest to get the explorer for the added features with the biggest one being the screen of course. I do see this as a benefit but most of us use OnX on our phones so would the gps unit be that big of a deal? Weight isn’t a big concern, both are reasonable. It is only $100 difference but I look at that as $100 towards a nicer frame and pack or something else if it’s just going to be for a feature that may be seldom used. Looking for thoughts from those of you that a.) have more experience than I hunting out west in the mountains and b.) that have experience with one or both of these units. Thanks.
 

yeti14

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2017
Messages
147
Location
The Last Frontier
I went with the explorer because
1. Longer battery life
2. Redundant GPS/map if needed
3. Ability to text/type from the unit without your phone. (Although a huge pain in the ass)

Basically if my phone goes TU, I still have GPS/map and communication ability.
 

Mighty Mouse

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
1,011
Location
Oklahoma
I bought my Explorer before the Mini was available, but I think I would've chosen the Explorer even if the Mini had been an option. I typically navigate and text via my smartphone paired to the Explorer, but I like that the Explorer is fully functional as an independent device in case my phone dies or if I just don't want the hassle of using a touchscreen device in cold/wet weather.
 

actionshooter

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
717
Location
Wa
I have been thinking about the explorer.... anyone comment on the service plans? Which one?
 

Mighty Mouse

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
1,011
Location
Oklahoma
I have been thinking about the explorer.... anyone comment on the service plans? Which one?
I use the Freedom (month-to-month) plan and activate it for the 1-2 months per year I need it. My message count has always been low enough that the "Safety" plan ($14.95/mo + $0.50/message after first 10) has been the cheapest option. I don't use the tracking function, so that doesn't factor in my decision. Below is a chart showing total cost vs. message count for all three Freedom plans. If you anticipate sending/receiving more than 100-110 custom/typed-on-the-fly messages (sending pre-set messages is free) in a month, the Expedition plan with unlimited messaging is the way to go.
Screenshot_20200729-163539.png
 
OP
K

KRATOCT

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
31
Has anyone opted out of the inreach models and jumped to something like tge 66i or 700i that can then accept chips such as an onX chip. I use onX and goHUNT and plot a lot of waypoints, points of interest, on there so how useful would the explorer model gps offerings be to me?

I am leaning towards the explorer if only compared to the mini. The ability to text from the unit if my phone goes down is reason enough. And the higher models like the 66i or 700i certainly won’t fit into my budget this year. So in that case would it make more sense to get the mini for this year and upgrade next year? How’s resale on these things?
 

BBob

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2020
Messages
1,033
Location
Southern AZ
Has anyone opted out of the inreach models and jumped to something like tge 66i or 700i that can then accept chips such as an onX chip. I use onX and goHUNT and plot a lot of waypoints, points of interest, on there so how useful would the explorer model gps offerings be to me?

I am leaning towards the explorer if only compared to the mini. The ability to text from the unit if my phone goes down is reason enough. And the higher models like the 66i or 700i certainly won’t fit into my budget this year. So in that case would it make more sense to get the mini for this year and upgrade next year? How’s resale on these things?
I find onX and Gaia (I use both) on the phone much more useful than any of my previously owned Garmin GPS's. Heck I can't hardly give them away, no one want's them. I for one would never go back to a chipped Garmin GPS for mapping.

I use the mini and it does me fine. Haven't ever had a phone in the back-country die so I'm not worried about that and the mini still has basic easy to send pre-programmed messages I can send if the phone did die.

I'll add that I don't leave the mini on all the time so battery life is not a factor for me. I fire it up when needed to check or send a message. Yes it takes a little bit of time to do it's location finding thing but I just let it sit there while I eat or am glassing or occupied doing someting else. I don't use the tracking or location reporting at all. It's basic messenger and SOS device for me.
 
Last edited:

bunnysmoocher

Newbie
Joined
Jul 30, 2021
Messages
1
I have 6 explores+ and a mini. if going light and small is your deal than get the mini and use your phone- otherwise the larger explorer is more useful as stand-alone true survival tool independent of a phone
 

rkramer

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
44
I just used the explorer+ for a week long bear hunt and never had to worry about charging the battery. The explorer+ has a few more features and the weight is negligible. I recently just posted it for sale if you're interested.
 

Dalen88

Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
90
Location
East Kootaneys B.C
i agree with the above, i got the explorer+ because the weight diff is small and added batt life doing long hunts, also like others said gps and easier to text off if i dont want to bring my phone out
 

hunterjmj

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2019
Messages
217
I picked up the explorer a while back and set it up last weekend. They charge you $34.95 initial yearly fee then whatever plan you use. I payed for the safety plan so I could send a few messages and learn how it works. After explaining to my wife what it is and how it works she wants to pay for yearly service. So, I'll be upgrading to yearly service since we do spend quite a bit of time in the breaks with no cell service.
 

TheBootBowhunting

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2019
Messages
543
Location
The Boot
I have had both. Currently have the mini. Wish I kept the Explorer.

I do a good bit of hiking so I keep the safety plan year round and bump up to expedition for September so it’s unlimited and back to safety afterwards.
 

Travis Bertrand

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2012
Messages
3,470
Location
Reno,NV
One thing about the mini is you cant change settings to check messages at different intervals other than 30 minutes. At least that is the way they were a year ago.
 

kcm2

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Messages
269
I have a Mini. It works well and charges very quickly with a solar panel. Paired with your phone, it is easy to send messages. Money well spent.
 
OP
K

KRATOCT

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
31
I find onX and Gaia (I use both) on the phone much more useful than any of my previously owned Garmin GPS's. Heck I can't hardly give them away, no one want's them. I for one would never go back to a chipped Garmin GPS for mapping.

I use the mini and it does me fine. Haven't ever had a phone in the back-country die so I'm not worried about that and the mini still has basic easy to send pre-programmed messages I can send if the phone did die.

I'll add that I don't leave the mini on all the time so battery life is not a factor for me. I fire it up when needed to check or send a message. Yes it takes a little bit of time to do it's location finding thing but I just let it sit there while I eat or am glassing or occupied doing someting else. I don't use the tracking or location reporting at all. It's basic messenger and SOS device for me.
Appreciate the input. Exactly what I was looking for. I’ve never had a dedicated gps unit so not sure if the capabilities or lack there of. Good to know I can save some money by going with the mini or explorer and use my phone for gps. Thanks
 

Marbles

Senior Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
1,220
Location
AK
I have both. There are a couple threads on this already, just because I don't feel like retyping things.



ACR has an option out now too.

I got the mini first, just added the explorer, primarily for near real time tracking when backpacking with my toddler without other adults.
 

Voyageur

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
631
I preface these observations with the qualifier that my tech skills are minimal. Consequently my use of technology is during a hunt is minimal. Because of this I really appreciate what others have shared in this thread.
I went with the Explorer+. My main reason for doing so is because the weight difference was negligible. I purchased mine to take the place of a sat phone on my annual AK hunts. I've ended up keeping it activated year round (cheapest plan) and use it to occasionally check in on my solo outings throughout the year. I also like the weather feature. I don't use it for navigation. I use a combination of maps, compass, and dead reckoning for that purpose.
When I synced the inreach yesterday in prep for heading north I also did a quick cost comparison on the different plans and came to the conclusion it makes sense for me to just keep the base plan rather than upgrade as I did last year at this time for my AK trip.
As far as battery life is concerned, I only use between 2-4% of the battery life during a 2 week wilderness hunt.
Hope this helps.
 
OP
K

KRATOCT

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
31
I just used the explorer+ for a week long bear hunt and never had to worry about charging the battery. The explorer+ has a few more features and the weight is negligible. I recently just posted it for sale if you're interested.
I’ve got a few more days before I can post in the classifieds or pm anyone, but if you want to pm me your contact information we could discuss this
 

mtnbiker208

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
485
Location
north idaho
my issue with the mini is this. When i will need it and need to send something besides a premade text. the weather will suck and my phone will go bonkers when a water droplet hits it. or my hands are soaked because of rain or snow.
 
Top