Backcountry essentials |

Backcountry essentials

Stephen Regenold

For years, Garmin’s inReach product has been one of the industry’s best-selling communication devices.

Connected to the Iridium satellite network, inReach gives users maps and communication “anywhere in the world,” according to the brand.

The news this month is the inReach Mini, a scaled-down version of the original walk-talkie size device. The Mini weighs 3.5 ounces and is less than 4 inches tall.

It tracks via GPS and has an SOS button that notifies authorities of your location in an emergency. You can also send text messages off-grid.

The unit pairs with smartphones for more features and control. When synced with the free app, a phone can display maps and aerial photography using the Mini’s satellite connection.

One drawback to the Mini is battery life. At half the size, the Mini offers half the charge of the original.

Whereas the first inReach lasted up to 100 hours, the Mini holds enough juice for 50 hours of operation.

In addition to its lightweight and small size, the inReach Mini wins on price. At $350, it’s cheaper than Garmin’s other sat-comm offerings.

Add the company’s $12 monthly subscription and you’re ready to hike and explore the backcountry, connected to the world with a device that fits easily in hand.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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