In the world of emergency personal location devices, the inReach products by Garmin are game changers. The Mini 2 is quite an improvement over the previous model but not as capable, or as expensive, as the more advanced inReach products. This is more focused on short two-way messages via satellite between the user and their contacts.
You can pair the device to your phone via Bluetooth and add your desired contacts to the device. You can also use your phone to create your messages and once you hit send, the Mini 2 will send the message. The neat thing about the system, unlike SPOT devices or EPIRB devices, the inReach Mini 2 is two-way, so whomever you reach out to can reply. You can send messages to a specific person, or you can use one of the Quick Messages that sends out a pre-made message to a list of people that is predetermined via the web portal. There is a huge amount of customization with pre-made messages, recipient lists, sending locations or not, updates to Twitter, and a Facebook page that you manage. It can also send updates to a map interface showing the location where your last message was sent from or a nearly real-time track of where you are and have been along your route.
This can be especially handy if you are on a back country hiking or canoe trip and something go wrong. And it’s when things go wrong when devices like this are really needed. Up until now, I’ve been talking about adding some piece of mind to friends and family, staying in contact with them and sharing your location online. Although it’s also a device that you really want to have in an emergency when someone is seriously injured or ill. It has a well protected SOS button tucked away from being accidentally pressed, but once it is pressed, a signal goes out to emergency responders and help is on the way almost anywhere in the world. Keep in mind that the more remote you are, the longer it will take for help to reach you but they are coming.
Now that level of insurance needs to be paid for prior to being needed but it’s worth it.
Garmin offers a number of packages ranging from just a few messages a month up to an unlimited package that includes weather. Depending on how remote you’re going to be, for how long, and how many messages you want to send back and forth, must all be considered when choosing a package and for how long. You can choose a yearly plan or a more costly monthly plan which can be cancelled once your trip is over. So if you’re only going to use the device for a couple trips a year, I would suggest the monthly plan because it will be cheaper overall. If you are a ongoing traveller, the annual package is probably a better choice.
I decided that this would be a wise choice for me for the 3C Expedition Road Trip around Canada and I went with the Expedition package on a monthly plan and the GEOS membership should I need to call in emergency services while I’m really remote in Northern Canada.
Hopefully I won’t need the SOS button, but the two-way messaging will come in very handy when mobile phone services become absent in remote areas, of which there will be many.