The most compact satellite communication device just got weeks of battery life, an impressive companion app, the ability to plan and follow routes and courses, and a way to retrace your route and get back home.
Garmin’s inReach Mini has been a staple in my kit since it launched in 2018. I take it with me on travels near and far. From ski touring solo in Vermont’s Green Mountains to bikepacking the length of the country of Jordan, where there’s no cell service, the Mini is how I let my partner know I’ll be home late.
And it’s the device I’ll use if I ever get into a serious bind and need a rescue.
For 2022, Garmin replaces the inReach Mini with the inReach Mini 2, a more powerful satellite communication and navigation device that looks almost exactly the same.
The Mini 2 has 14 continuous days of battery life, a breadcrumbs feature that lets you retrace your steps even if you weren’t recording your track, a digital compass, and full integration with Garmin’s powerful Explore app.
Garmin inReach Mini 2 Review
New processors, sensors and operating system boost the Mini 2’s battery life to 300 hours (about 12.5 days) when the device is set to track every 10 minutes. If you turn your device off at night, that means the battery could last closer to 30 days.
The Mini 2 that we tested came with tracking set to every 10 minutes. For skiing, hiking, and walking, that interval was fine.
But you can get more granular and set the Mini 2 to track more frequently, down to 2 minutes. With the most frequent tracking, the battery should last 4 days — and closer to 8 days if you aren’t running the device while you sleep.
The inReach Mini 2 automatically records your track from the moment you turn it on, passively storing your route so that you can get home if you get lost.
If you do get lost, engage the TracBack feature and an on-device digital path will guide you back to base. But the backtrack doesn’t clutter the map unless you choose it to navigate.
“You don’t need to start it, but the auto-recorded hidden breadcrumb of your route shows you how to get out of the woods when you need it,” inReach Mini product engineer Chip Noble said.
“You used to have to turn tracking off to save battery. Now that’s not the case. Even when your inReach Mini 2 isn’t connected to other devices, you can use it to navigate, you can see a course.”
A new electronic compass displays your heading, even when you’re standing still, unlike a standard GPS. There’s no need to move to get a reading.
And the compact satellite communication device still has two-way texting and SOS capabilities, like the original.
The inReach Mini 2’s new interface includes “quick views” — similar to widget views on a Garmin watch — for easy access to location, weather, and messages. It also pairs with your phone and watch, so you can get a weather report or a text wherever is most convenient for you to read it.
And inReach lets you respond with 20 preset responses. Or you can type a custom message if you prefer.
“The user interface has been redesigned, but it will be very familiar,” Noble told us. “It’s also similar to what we use in the Phoenix and Instinct.”
If your adventures take you to other countries, the inReach Mini 2 will work better there than ever before. It now leverages four additional networks to connect with a satellite signal faster and to give you better coverage than GPS alone.
With Garmin’s Explore Mobile App, you can track, sync, and share adventures from anywhere. Pair your watch and/or phone and you can type messages, get up-to-date weather info, download maps, review trips, and share your track with anyone.
Original Features and More
Like the original inReach Mini, the 4-inch by 2-inch, 3.5-ounce inReach Mini 2 provides two-way text messaging, location tracking, and weather with the global Iridium satellite network. In an emergency, you can trigger an interactive SOS message to the Garmin IERCC, a 24/7 staffed professional emergency response coordination center.
The inReach Mini 2 has an IPX7 water resistance rating. This means you can drop it in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, without worrying about it dying if it gets wet. It charges via USB-C cord.
While that’s a change from the previous inReach Mini, all other accessories are compatible between the Mini and Mini 2. And, if you’re not ready to upgrade to the Mini 2 from the Mini, don’t stress. Garmin will keep the Earthmate App to support older devices.
In the Field Review
Messaging on the Garmin Mini 2
On a ski trip to Silverton Colorado, with no service, I was able to send multiple messages. The 20 preset messages to choose from had a wide range of choices. From single-word messages like “Yes!” to more whimsical messages like “Wish you were here,” I was satisfied with the ease and options.
With the inReach Mini 2 paired with Garmin Explore on my phone, I could type any message as if I was sending a normal text, but from the app.
And while I didn’t get lost, but I did turn on TracBack to see how it works. The resulting map on the inReach Mini 2 screen was rudimentary, but good enough to follow in an emergency. On my phone, I had more detail, and topo lines, trails, roads, points of interest, and an arrow showing the direction I was facing.
On both the InReach screen and also on in the Explore app, TracBack showed me which way was north.
Weather, Waypoints & More
It took the inReach Mini 2 a couple of minutes to pull up a weather report for the mountaintop where I was standing. When it did come through, the premium report told me it was partly sunny, the temperature—and how cold it felt—highs and lows for the day, chance of precipitation, and also wind speed.
A basic report is also available available.
I turned on tracking part way through my ski day. Later, when I sent messages along the way, the map showed me the location where I sent those messages from.
I didn’t make waypoints when I was skiing, but it would have been easy to do so. When I clicked a location on the app map, Explore let me use the inReach Mini 2 to navigate to that point using known roads and trails.
I have not yet attempted to navigate to a point I need to reach without roads and trails—I’ll report back when I do!
Mini inReach 2 Details
It’s possible to do a lot with the inReach Mini 2, but some tasks, like adding contacts not already in your list, and panning and zooming the map are more laborious on the device than on the app.
If my phone is dead, and I need to navigate or communicate, I have options. The inReach Mini 2’s functionality is impressive. Paired with the app, it’s nothing short of awesome.
To communicate using an inReach Mini, an active subscription plan is required. Plans start at $11.95 per month.
There is no other satellite communication device this small and light with so much functionality. Garmin just turned the inReach’s capabilities to 11.