a Garmin inReach Mini 2 against a map of SOS incidents
(Photo/Garmin)

10,000 SOS Calls: Garmin Reveals Data From Milestone Rescues

Hiking, backpacking, driving, and motorcycling lead the pack for activities that produced the most SOS incidents.

Garmin’s inReach satellite messengers are ubiquitous, must-have pieces of kit. The little lifesavers are so prevalent in the outdoor community that the company just fielded its 10,000th inReach SOS call.

To mark the occasion, Garmin released a slew of interesting data drawn from the incidents, records of which date back to 2011.

A Garmin inReach SOS incident map
A Garmin inReach SOS incident map. Simmer down, New Zealand; (photo/Garmin)

Digging into the data provides a fascinating portrait of who is triggering rescues and why. SOS incidents occurred all over the globe, in 150 countries, and on all seven continents.

Garmin SOS Data

Perhaps unsurprisingly, hikers and backpackers initiated the largest percentage of all SOS calls Garmin received, at an overwhelming 39%.

Mountainous regions were particularly likely to trigger SOS incidents. Garmin singled out the Pacific Crest Trail, the European Alps and, in an amusingly worded little tidbit, “nearly all of New Zealand.”

In a shock, driving was the second-most-likely SOS-triggering activity, at 12%.

a pie chart describing which activities caused Garmin inReach SOS incidents
Hiking/backpacking accounted for the bulk of inReach SOS incidents; (photo/Garmin)

“SOS needs don’t only occur in high-risk situations. Many driving SOS incidents involve people simply needing help while on the road and outside of cellphone service,” noted Garmin in its analysis.

That being said, injuries such as broken bones or blunt force trauma accounted for nearly 30% of all SOS incidents. Medical issues such as heart problems and altitude sickness caused an additional 17% of calls.

a pie chart describing why users initiated an inReach SOS incident
Injuries accounted for most of the inReach SOS incidents; (photo/Garmin)

Who Triggers Most SOS Incidents?

Interestingly, most inReach users don’t trigger SOS incidents for themselves. According to Garmin, nearly two-thirds of incidents are “for the subscriber’s party member or an unknown third party individual.”

In fact, good Samaritans account for nearly one-fifth of all inReach SOS calls.

a pie chart describing who triggered garmin SOS incidents
Many inReach SOS incidents were triggered by third parties on behalf of non-Garmin users; (photo/Garmin)

A Banner Year for Garmin

The 10,000 SOS incidents milestone comes on the heels of a banner year for Garmin. The company’s Garmin inReach Mini 2 garnered positive feedback by significantly increasing battery life over the original model.

And in September, Garmin released the Garmin Messenger satellite communicator and companion app in a bid to streamline two-way messaging within the Garmin ecosystem.

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Andrew Marshall
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Andrew Marshall is a writer, painter, and photographer with work in publications across the web. Andrew lives, runs, bikes, paddles, and skis in the Tahoe basin on the California/Nevada state line. He's one of the few unapologetic cat people in the outdoor industry. You can find him on Instagram (@andrewmarshallimages) or Twitter (@pawn_andrew).