Garmin inReach

I use the Garmin InReach Explorer+ as one of my satellite based communication device. I also use a Zoleo. (Spot Connect is another)

My primary uses include:

  • Text-based communication with my team
  • Location-based tracking for family/friends (and my team)
  • Safety plan for SOS emergencies


1. What is better between a Freedom and an Annual Plan?

It depends on how much you're going to use the device. However, you can look on the break-even point of each plan. Under both Safety and Recreational plans, the break-even point is about 4 months. This means that if you're not going to use inReach services for more than 4 months per year, then it is cheaper to go for the Freedom plan. On the other hand, the break-even point under Expedition plan is around 3 months. Which, again, means that if you're not going to use your inReach for more than 3 months, then it is cheaper to choose the Freedom plan.

2. What is better between the Safety, Recreational, and Expedition Plans?

It's hard to compare the three plans. However, it is good to know that you can send unlimited SOS messages and Preset Messages under all three plans. So, we would be comparing the break-even point of all three plans in terms of custom messages sent.

The Safety plan has a custom messaging cap of 10 messages per month. The Recreational plan has 40 messages per month. The Expedition plan has unlimited messages per month. Considering the overage fees, it is better to use the Safety plan instead of the Recreational plan when sending no more than 37 custom messages per month under the Annual plan and no more than 51 messages per month under the Freedom plan. On the other hand, it is better to use the Recreational plan rather than the Expedition plan when sending no more than 97 custom messages per month under the Annual plan and no more than 101 messages per month under the Freedom plan.

3. What is a custom message?

All messages that are not Preset messages or SOS messages, be it sent or received using the inReach device, is charged as a custom message.

4. What happens if you go over your plan's monthly cap on custom messages?

If you reached you monthly custom messaging cap, you'll still be able to send and receive messages through your inReach device. However, you'll be charged an overage fee of about $.50 per message sent or received.

5. How to send messages?

Listed below are the four main ways to send a message using a Garmin inReach device:

  • Replying to an inReach Message:

    You can send messages to another inReach device if you've already received a message from the same device before. Simply view the message received, type in the message you want to send in your reply box and hit send.

  • Replying to an inReach E-mail:

    Similarly, you can also send messages through e-mails received in your inReach device. Visit the link of the e-mail you received, type your message and then hit send.

  • Sending a message through the inReach Mapshare:

    First of all, in order to send a message through the inReach Mapshare, the user to be messaged must have enabled the Mapshare feature and set the Mapshare settings so that visitors can send messages directly to the device.

    If these conditions are true, then you can visit the Mapshare page of the device you want to message. Select the device to be messaged, then you can click the Message button and proceed to type your text message. Afterwards, click send and you're done.

  • Using inReach to inReach Communication:

    To send a message to another inReach device using an inReach device, you must know the inReach address of the device you want to send a message to. You can then initiate a message to this address. However, inReach addressess only receives messages from inReach devices. Sending a normal email to an inReach address would not work.

    To find out the inReach address of a device you own, simply log in to the Garmin Explore website. From there, click on the Account tab and find the My Info section where the inReach address would be provided.

To set up your Mapshare link, log in to your Garmin Explore account. From there, go to Socials tab and click the Mapshare Consent checkbox. Click Mapshare:Off to turn it on. You can also edit your Mapshare link directly on the Socials tab.

If you want to allow visitors to message your inReach device through your Mapshare link, go to Socials and find the Options button. There you can change and enable some of the filters including the option to allow visitors to message your inReach device.

7. How do I send messages using my phone through my Garmin inReach device?

You can download the Garmin Earthmate App on your phone. The Earthmate App works on both iOS and Android devices. To use it, open the app and you can either log in your Garmin inReach Account or pair your device manually.

To pair your device, open your inReach device and browse on the menu to find the Setup or Settings option. Under this option, find the Bluetooth menu of your device and select Pair Device, once you click this, the inReach device will start to find another device to pair with.
In your phone, make sure that your bluetooth is on. Then, open the app and select the Connect option and choose the type of inReach device you want to pair with. It will take a short moment but your inReach device should appear in your phone. Select that device when it appears and you would successfully pair your inReach device to your phone.

Once paired, you can send messages using your phone through your inReach device by using the Earthmate App. Simply go to the Messages section, allow the Earthmate app to access your contacts and proceed to sending messages as usual.

8. How does someone send you a text message?

If you want someone to be able to send you a message in your inReach device, you could either send them a message first and have them reply to that message or give them your inReach address or Mapshare link.

However, remember that the inReach address only works for inReach to inReach communication and the Mapshare link will only work if you set your Mapshare account so that visitors can send message to your device directly.

9. Where do I find my inReach address?

You need to log in to your Garmin Explore account. Then, find the Account tab and select it. You can find your inReach address on the My Info section.

Note: Keep in mind that you can only use this address for inReach-to-inReach messaging.

10. How do I allow others to track my location using my inReach device?

First, you need to check your Mapshare settings if the "Allow map viewers to locate you" option is checked (if it's not, click the checkbox to check it). Then, you can go ahead and share your Mapshare link to the third party of your choosing.

On the left side of your Mapshare page, viewers will be given the option "Locate". If they select this option, they will be requesting a location track and your location should appear on the Mapshare page.

Your inReach device and the Tracking feature must both be on to accomplish a location request. Additionally, each request migh cost money depending on your plan.

11. Does inReach work anywhere?

Generally speaking, yes. However, there are countries who prohibit the satellite communication. Such countries are:

  • Taliban controlled Afghanistan
  • Crimea region of the Ukraine
  • Cuba
  • Georgia (prohibits text-based satellite communication)
  • India
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Myanmar
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • China
  • Russia

12. Why does it take so long to send/receive a text message out?

There's a handful of factors that go into how long it takes for text messages to get sent out/received. Some of these factors include:

  • View of Garmin to available satellites
  • Satellite loads and prioritizing
  • Heavy tree and mountain coverage in the surrounding area

Additionally, it is to be expected that text messages will take an extra long time to be sent when: * Tracking is not being actively used * The device is being used inside a vehicle or inside a house * The device does not have a clear view of the sky

13. Does the antenna have to be facing up?

Yes, as Garmin suggests.

14. If my text messages take so long to go out, will my SOS messages take a long time?

Negative, SOS messages are prioritized above normal messages.

15. Do you need to have an active subscription for the SOS feature to work?

Yes, the SOS feature requires an active subscription. If you stop paying, you won't be able to use SOS functionality.

16. What happens when you activate the SOS button?

Once you press the SOS button, the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) will receive your request and a trained responder will communicate with you through the inReach device. If you can't respond, the IERCC will automatically send help in your location and send a message to your emergency contact informing them about the situation. Should you want to cancel your SOS request, you can do so by communicating with the IERCC directly from your inReach device and by following the steps they will provide. You can also specify an SOS for a guest during this exchange.

17. How do I verify if I have an active subscription?

There are several ways to verify if you have an active inReach subscription. The first one is to visit Garmin Explore website, log in, select Account on the top page, and click Test. The second way is to use the Test feature in the device itself. The instructions on how to use the Test feature on different devices can be found here. The last step is to conduct a test message which is no different than sending a normal message.

Remember to test the subscription outdoors and not indoors.

18. How do I send a test message?

It is recommended that you send test messages every now and then to ensure that your subscription is active. To send a test message, make sure that you are outside and the device has a clear view of the sky. Then, use a preset message and add yourself as the recepient. If you receive the message, you can be assured that your subscription is active and the area you're in accommodates inReach messaging.

19. How can I get the longest battery life?

Turn it on only when needed. Also, it would help to turn off Bluetooth and Tracking. Note: if there is the possibility of calling for an SOS, it is advised to leave the device on so it is contact with satellites. It may take longer to initiate an SOS immediately after powering on.

20. Why does the battery life only last half a day?

There are several factors and features that might affect the battery life of your device. These includes

  • Backlight

    Allowing the backlight to stay on drains a lot of battery charge.

  • View of Sky

    Without a clear view of the sky, the device will have a hard time trying to locate signal for sending/receiving of messages and thus consume more power.

  • Tracking and Message Check Interval

    The higher the frequency of Tracking Interval and Listen Interval, the more power the device consumes.

  • Log Interval

    The more often the device is set to log your location and update the track line, the more battery life it consumes.

  • Temperature

    Cold temperatures reduces the battery run time of the device.

21. Why does my battery drain even when my device is off?

There is an internal clock on the Garmin that can consume a little bit of battery each day. Be sure and update firmware to the latest version to ensure your battery life is as great as it can be.

22. Can I see the Iridium satellites?

Yes, you can see the satellites here.

23. I want to ensure that messages go out as fast as possible and are reliable, what can I do?

Instead of sending a text message to a phone number, send a text message to an email address of the phone number you want to communicate with. For example, is Verizon’s email. Garmin has a poor track record of having issues with certain carriers and phone numbers.

24. Can I change frequency of checking for messages?

For inReach Mini devices, the interval for checking messages cannot be modified. It checks for new messages 10 minutes after you've sent a message and then once every hour. However, you can force a new message check by manually checking a message, sending a message, or sending a track point.

On the other hand, other inReach devices allows for changing the checking interval. Simply go to Settings and then select Messages. There you can modify the message-checking frequency under Listen Interval. Keep in mind that a more frequent interval would consume more battery life.

25. Where’s the best place to put your Garmin inReach Device?

Garmin inReach are mostly handheld devices. They are small, portable, and are designed to be kept on pockets. That said, you should be able to keep such devices with your person at all times. However, if circumstances does not permit, put it in a safe and accessible location.

26. Can Garmin be shared?

Aside from when using an inReach Professional Account, Garmin advices that you do not share an inReach handheld device to others since all charges associated with the subscription of that device is tied to the account of the original owner. Additionally, all GEOS benefits only covers the owner's account. Lastly, when connected to Iridium Satellites, all user data will sync up to the subscription owner's account only.

On the other hand, you can share your device using the Garmin Earthmate App since an inReach device can be paired with multiple devices using Earthmate. However, keep in mind that you can't use more than one device at a time for the same account. Also, logging in the Earthmate app and syncing in to the Garmin Explore website will require internet or data connection.

27. What is an inReach Professional Account?

An inReach Professional Account is a group account plan for when you need more than one inReach device to be active.

28. How can I share my routes to others in GPX?

You can either plan your route in any Garmin extensions or plan your route using other GPS tools and download the map file. Then, you can import it on Garmin Connect or Garmin Express as a GPX file and share the link to others.

29. How do I share my Mapshare Page to others using my inReach device?

First, go to Tracking from the menu and make sure that it is on. Then, select Send Mapshare and it will prompt you to select contacts to whom you want to share your Mapshare page. After you're done selecting contacts, hit Done and select Send Mapshare. Your inReach device would then send your Mapshare link to those you've selected.

30. Can I export a route from from my map, to another app that uses kml or gpx files?

Yes. To do this, all you need to do is enter the Maps tab on your account and use the map filters so that only the tracks that you want to export would be showing. Then, click Export on the upper right corner of the map and it will give you the option to choose if you're going to export it as a .kml file or as a .gpx file. Choose the file type that best suits your needs and plug the downloaded file into whatever mapping software you're using.

Use Cases

Always Run Tracking

As a rule of thumb, I always start tracking when I hit dirt (similar to what I do with Gaia). This serves me in a handful of different ways, including:

  • Being able to find my way out of a maze of trails
  • Keeping my family/friends/team up-to-date with where I’m at (accurate to ~10 minutes to the webshare, 1 min saved locally to device)


One of the primary actions I do with my Garmin is send messages. Depending on the situations I’m in, I sometimes enable the Garmin setting to “ring until read” so that every message I receive gets my attention. General types of messages I may send include:

  • Arrived
  • Leaving vehicle (to hike or mountain bike)
  • Something questionable (wildlife or human activity)
  • Weather (what I’m expecting or seeing)
  • Communication channel if I'm altering between SMS, iMessage or Garmin messages. For example, I may be in an area with reception and be stationary. When I leave that area, I send a message saying, “Moving comms to Garmin” and my team knows that that means I am entering an area with questionable reception. I also generally inform my team that should a message be time sensitive and important, always default to the Garmin device.
  • Recovery request (should I need fuel, a recovery because my vehicle is stuck, etc.)

NOTE: Your Garmin phone number that others see when you text them remains consistent and does not change. You must initiate the message first from your Garmin device.

SOS for Someone Else

Having a satellite-based device can not only be life saving for yourself but also for others. With Garmin and GEOS, you are able to activate an SOS request for someone other than yourself (including a stranger) possibly saving their life in a life-threatening situation.
Note: the individual who requires support will be responsible for financial costs.

Share Page

Garmin allows users to share a webpage with others that includes location, recorded tracks, ability to send messages and more. I advise password protecting this due to security.

Always be charging. Sorta.

I always suggest charging your Garmin if you’re able. I used to wait until my Garmin hit 20% or such and then recharge. The reason to always be recharging is because one may never know when they encounter an emergency. Example, I might not know exactly when I’m going to leave my vehicle, go on a hike, and have my Garmin with me. In that case, I would want a full battery charge on my device before I leave.

SOS Plan

Requesting an SOS in the event of a life saving emergency can be one of the primary reasons individuals get a satellite-based communication device. As I understand it, if you get the S&R insurance, you’re covered for up to $50,000 per incident. 2 per year. An average helicopter ride is usually around $15,000 - $20,000 thus ensuring you’re covered. If I’m out with a family member or a friend I let them know they’re able to add themselves to my SOS plan should they be interested.

Add Another Person

Although users can easily be added to your emergency insurance, the Earthmate app can only be paired to a single device at a time via Bluetooth.

Garmin to Garmin communication

What if you and a friend are both off-the-grid and need to communicate with one another? This is where Garmin to Garmin communication comes in handy. Garmin provides a Garmin-specific email address that you can use to send messages and locations back and forth between Garmin devices. You can find your Garmin email on the account page.

Check weather

One of the first things I do when arriving at a campsite is check the weather to ensure I’m prepared. Some inReach devices such as the SE+ and Explorer+ allows you to send a message to request basic, premium, or marine weather forecasts.

Other Tips

Problem: New waypoints are not visible when adding waypoints at

Solution: To make your waypoints visible when adding waypoints on, you need to make sure the eyeball symbol in "Unorganized" does not have a line through the symbol. If the eyeball does have a line through it, click on the eyeball symbol to make your waypoints visible.

Same thing goes for the actual waypoints you've added. Make sure the waypoints eyeball doesn't have a line through it.

Problem: Too many waypoints created when learning inReach. You want to delete some or many.

Solution: Start your Earthmate app and click on a waypoint that you want to delete. You will see a selection called Delete. Delete the waypoint. Do this for all the way points you want to delete.

Problem: Your inReach device is unresponsive.

Solution: First, try and do a soft reset on your inReach device. If that doesn't work, you have to check if your inReach software is up to date. If it's not, then do an update. If it still is unresponsive after that, you might need to go do a factory reset of the device.

Problem: Your inReach device is unable to connect to a GPS satellite.

Solution: Make sure that you are clear of any obstruction. Take note that car roofs, trees, and even inclement weather may obstruct the satellite connection.

Problem: Your inReach device is unable to pair with your smartphone through Bluetooth.

Solution: If this happens, you need to ensure that your inReach software is in its latest version. If it is and it still does not pair with your phone, do a soft restart on the inReach device to reboot the Bluetooth system. Or try to force close the Earthmate app on your iPhone or Android device.

Problem: Your inReach device is unable to update.

Solution: There are few possible causes as to why your inReach device is unable to update. The first cause is it might be unable to connect to the internet. To fix this, the device must be plugged into a computer and updated directly from Garmin.

The second reason, could be an Operating System malfunction. There is not much you can do but a factory reset if this is the case. Lastly, a damaged antenna could prevent your device from establishing connection to a satellite, which would prevent it from updating. To fix this, replace the damaged antenna.