For the truly adventurous, a satellite-based communications system isn’t just a fancy piece of specialty tech they’d love to add to their loadout – it’s a critical, must have, lifeline piece of technology that could mean the difference (quite literally) between life and death when wandering off the beat path.

And while a whole host of new options have flooded into the market in just the last few years, it’s hard to argue with the success that Garmin has had with their inReach set up.

Considered by many to be the gold standard of the satellite messaging systems available for civilians, Garmin has further expanded on their inReach lineup with Explorer+ and Mini models. All of which are built off of the same underlying architecture, software, and GPS/satellite transmission services – with different bells and whistles or form factors differentiating them from one another.

Other companies have recognized the gigantic head start the Garmin inReach has had on this industry, but few of them have been able to put together a quality piece of technology that can really go toe to toe with that lineup.

DeLorme is poised to change all of that.

To learn a little bit more about these amazing satellite messaging system, and to figure out which one is perfect for your needs, we’ve put together this quick comparison guide.

Let’s dive right in!

Garmin inReach Review

As we’ve already highlighted above, the Garmin inReach is far and away the most impressive of all of the satellite messaging system on the market today – but it also happens to be one of the most expensive.

The system itself is almost $100 more than the DeLorme inReach unit, and when you combine that with an activated satellite subscription (necessary to use all of the features the Garmin inReach includes) of that price continues to look a little daunting to some.

Of course, at the same time, there aren’t a lot of other units out there that can:

  • Automatically track your journey every 10 minutes and plot it with GPS coordinates that can be accessed by anyone you give advance notice or permission to
  • Send text messages to your personal contact list outside of cell phone reception using satellite services
    Instantly post updates, including your GPS location, to the internet
  • Alert your personal contacts that you need assistance in a non-life-threatening emergency
  • Contact emergency services in a life-threatening emergency with the help of a dedicated SOS button that not only contacts all local emergency services but also shares your exact GPS location with them

… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Of course, the Garmin inReach also happens to be about as close to indestructible as you can get and has a 100% IPX7 waterproof rating. It’s effortless to use, simple and straightforward to manipulate even with a single hand, and has the kind of battery life and longevity you need from a device you might use to save your own life.

There aren’t too terribly many people out there that will shy away from the slightly higher price tag of the Garmin inReach when they know that they are getting their hands on a top-tier piece of tech that they cannot have let them down when things go sideways in the woods.

Delorme inReach Review

When it comes to the DeLorme inReach, however, you’re getting a lot of the same capabilities that the Garmin inReach features at a discount of anywhere between $100 and even $200 off that top-of-the-line piece of technology.

It was only a $50 difference or so it would be hard to imagine people not ponying up a little bit of extra money to go with the premium Garmin inReach, but when you’re talking about saving anywhere between twice and four times as much as that was still getting most of the same capabilities people really need to take a closer look at everything the DeLorme inReach has to offer.

For starters, it’s important to understand that the DeLorme inReach is actually made by the folks at Garmin and is intended to be the streamlined, simplified, and “not so fancy” iteration of the inReach platform.

This means that it remains easy to use with a single hand (even if you have gloves on), includes advanced satellite-based two-way text messaging, can partner with your smart phone and has a similar user interface to most mobile devices, and works well right out of the box.

It also has the capabilities necessary to share your maps that include active and always on 10 minute tracking, the ability to contact emergency services with a single SOS button press, and a lot of other nifty features that the Garmin inReach itself includes.

On the flip side of things, this unit really only shines after it has been paired with a smart phone.

 

After pairing your mobile device you will be able to use the free and included Earth Mate mapping application in partnership with your DeLorme inReach, a mobile app that dramatically extends the features and functionality of the GPS messaging system itself.

Unfortunately, if you do not have active cell phone service or the batteries in your mobile device get low while you are out adventuring you’re not going to have access to any of those paired device features. This is a little bit of a hitch in the giddyup of the DeLorme inReach.

The estimated cost of using this device over the first three years sits at anywhere between $950 and $1200, though more sporadic use and occasional use of this device and the necessary satellite plan can help cut savings in half or more.

You’ll spend almost the same amount of money making use of the Garmin inReach – though that device does necessitate a larger upfront cost.

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, the real differentiating factor between the Garmin inReach and the DeLorme inReach has to be the fact that the folks at Garmin have definitely spent more time designing, developing, and nurturing their own Garmin brand compared to the DeLorme brand that they produce at a lower price point.

A number of the DeLorme inReach sub models have already been discontinued, but at the same time the Garmin lineup of inReach models continues to be expanded on almost annual basis. It’s easy to see where this company is focusing their developments and their support, and when you’re talking about a potentially life-saving device like this you want to make sure that you are purchasing something as future proof as possible.

Both of these inReach devices are fantastic, but if you’re only going to invest in one of them the Garmin inReach has to attract more of your attention.

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
  • 100% global Iridium satellite coverage enables two-way text messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription required)
  • Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center
  • Track and share your location with family and friends. Water rating : IPX7. Battery : Rechargeable internal lithium ion

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