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Garmin inReach Mini Review: Divers’ Satellite Communicator




The Importance of Visibility for Divers

Mark Evans: There can be few things worse than returning to the surface from a dive and there being no sign of your surface support. Thankfully, incidents of divers being left at sea are few and far between, but it can happen – and with potential fatal consequences, as seen in the case in April 2022 when four divers were left by their dive boat in Malaysia and sadly a teenager did not make it.

Garmin inReach Mini: A Compact Satellite Communicator

So, anything you can do to make yourself more visible is essential, hence why we always bang on about carrying a DSMB and spool, a small torch, maybe even an old CD or DVD for flashing to attract attention. However, all these rely on your boat – or anybody else looking for you – being reasonably close at hand. That is where PLBs, EPIRBs and the like come into their own. And now Garmin have got in on the action, with the inReach Mini, a lightweight and compact satellite communicator.

Features and Functionality

Features and Functionality
Features and Functionality

The inReach Mini is a seriously dinky piece of kit – it is only 1.9 inches by 3.9 inches and weighs just 3.5oz – but it is packed full of functionality. In the case of emergency, you can trigger an interactive SOS message to GEOS, the Garmin-powered International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) with its professional 24/7 global monitoring and response centre. When the proverbial hits the fan, you can press the SOS button and it sends an emergency message to IERCC. Trained staff are available to respond to your messages, track your device and notify emergency responders in your area. They will attempt to send you a message back, but if you are unable to respond for whatever reason, they will then initiate rescue efforts to your location. The Garmin IERCC will stay in touch with you and your emergency contacts until your situation is resolved.

Additional Uses and Connectivity

However, as well as this SOS function, the inReach Mini also has more day-to-day uses when you are out in the field. You can use it to send text messages to your family and friends wherever they are in the world, you can communicate to another inReach Mini device – you can even post to social media! Via the cloud-powered Garmin Explore website, you can even set up preset messages and quick texts, manage your device settings, and much more.

Weather Forecasts and Satellite Network

Not so much use while you are diving, but handy pre-dive, you can even get weather forecasts on your inReach Mini, either for where you are, or at a location you are heading to.

The inReach Mini uses a 100 percent global iridium satellite network, so no relying on sketchy mobile phone coverage. You pay $14.95 monthly, or $11.95 each month with a 12-month commitment.

Battery Life and Dive Case

Battery Life and Dive Case
Battery Life and Dive Case

However, choose the right scheme, and you can put that monthly payment on-hold for when you aren’t using it – perfect for the traveling diver who might only need the unit for one or two trips a year.

The internal rechargeable lithium battery gives up to 90 hours use at the default 10-minute tracking mode, and up to 20 days in power-saving mode. The one inch by one inch sunlight-readable, monochrome, transreflective memory-inpixel (MIP) display is very clear and easy to read.

'Warning! Device does not transmit underwater’
‘Warning! Device does not transmit underwater’

With divers in mind, Garmin also make a housing, the inReach Mini Dive Case ($79.99), that is depth-rated to 330ft – more than deep enough for the vast majority of divers. It comes with a handy karabiner for clipping on a D-ring on your BCD – as in the photo – although I tended to tuck it into one of the pockets on my Apeks Tech Shorts, and seals with two O-rings and dual clips. The inReach Mini itself is depth-rated to 3ft for 30 minutes, so if you have it in-hand on the surface, you don’t have to worry about getting it splashed or even semi-submerged as you are bobbing about. It even states ‘Warning! Device does not transmit underwater’ for those who might forget that important piece of information!

Device Compatibility and Control

In a great display of Garmin connectability, the inReach Mini can even be remotely controlled for certain functions, such as triggering an SOS, by your Descent G1 series, Descent MK1, or Descent MK2 series dive computers.

Scuba diver wearing GARMIN INREACH MINI
Scuba diver wearing GARMIN INREACH MINI

Design and Accessories

The inReach Mini comes in either distinctive black-andred, or an all-black color scheme. It comes with a charging/ data cable, carabiner clip, spine mount adapter, and instructions. Visit GARMIN Website for more details.

This article was originally published in Scuba Diver UK #72 out on April 10th 2023. Subscribe digitally and read more great stories like this from anywhere in the world in a mobile-friendly format. Link to the article

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Picture of Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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