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Bosterson
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PostMon Nov 25, 2019 10:34 am 
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...because we needed another inReach thread!

I just got an inReach Mini during the big sale that's going on, and now I need to make the executive decision about which subscription to get. My inclination is that the Mini will only be for emergency SAR calls or for possibly letting contact persons know I'm ok on long trips, or running late so they don't get worried. I have a separate Garmin GPS and phone apps if I need actual navigation capabilities. I am not very interested in being "tracked" on the Garmin website so contact people can keep abreast of my progress, and am not sure if I'll even have the unit on all the time in order to save its battery.

I'm trying to decide whether it's worth it to step up from the Safety plan to the Recreation plan, but am not totally sure how some of the features work. It appears that outside of the text message limit, which I don't really think matters (and mathematically, you can incur a lot of message overage fees before you reach the cost of the next subscription tier), the main difference between these 2 lower plans are the tracking and location features:

- "Send/track points": I expect this would be used for tracking you onto the web map for others to see. I assume this also would be when you make the device send your location coordinates with a preset message? Can you just use the inReach for basic GPS navigation ("where am I?") without it incurring any fees for track points?

- "Location requests": It sounds like this is is a feature where others looking at your progress online can force Garmin to ping your device to determine your location? Obviously this would be useful for a SAR scenario, but in ordinary use I can't see why this would be needed, and it doesn't seem worth paying for. Does this feature apply when you have the inReach tell you your location out in the field?

It looks like the pricing structure for a Safety plan is $12/month for an annual + $20 one-time initiation, vs $15/month for Freedom + $25/year. Considering year round outdoor activity (9+ months of utility for the device), and the fact that the inReach can also function as a way to call for a tow truck if you get a flat tire on a back road or something, it seems like the annual plan is the better long term deal. Anyone have other thoughts? I know Garmin tacks on service fees and taxes or something - how much more than the stated plan price does it actually end up costing per month (outside of additional usage charges)?

Final question: in terms of how you actually use the device, do you feel it's useful to be trackable so that if you fell off a cliff the device would still be pingable so SAR could find your body? (In which case, it sounds like you would need the Recreation plan so it would save tracking points?) Or is it good enough to have as a backup emergency call/beacon device for when you need to manually summon help? I am coming at this from having no beacon whatsoever, and so the simple ability to summon help directly to my location seems most prudent, with anything beyond that being extra and maybe unnecessary.

Thx!  smile.gif

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We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
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RandyHiker
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PostMon Nov 25, 2019 11:07 am 
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I have the "Safety" plan with Garmin for $13.97 per month including all taxes   I use the "preset" messages (which are unlimited) for routine stuff like "Back safe at the trailhead",  "Running late, but OK".

I've never needed to use the SOS,  but when I've done multi-day trips in the mountains far away from any cell service (even Verizon)  My wife has really appreciated getting and sending text messages in the evening.   I rarely go above 10 Text messages per month -- the preset messages cover it for all of my routine usage.   

Being able to receive messages was very helpful while I was in the period of time where my wife's and my parents health was failing.   Without being able to receive bad news,  I was reluctant to head out on multi-day trips.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Nov 25, 2019 11:12 am 
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We have also used the safety plan for the past few years. The other more expensive plans are mostly useful if you are into tracking your position. It has worked fine for sending messages to our kids and relatives even in remote parts of South America. Also never used the SOS function, fingers crossed

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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DigitalJanitor
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PostMon Nov 25, 2019 12:35 pm 
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I just pay a yearly subscription for one of the lower tier plans since there's no month I'm not out where I could use it, plus shoulder seasons IMO are more potentially hazardous than main seasons. I don't do the mapping thing although if I was ever out solo on a big multi day trip I might. I have used the text feature a number of times where it's been very handy, and the few times we've used the weather report option over the years we've considered it valuable information.

I find the interface a little clunky and irritating at times but given the unit's capabilities I've been glad to have it. Here's hoping I never have to use the SOS.

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Riverside Laker
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PostMon Nov 25, 2019 12:51 pm 
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We also the most basic plan, $13++ per month with taxes. Three "free" preset messages work great for 99.9% of our needs. I leave it turned off except when sending a message. Batteries can last for weeks that way. It takes just a few button presses to send something like "I'm here and ok", but you have to wait several minutes, typically, for it to figure out where you are and transmit.

Any time you like, you can turn it on, hit the left side down arrow four times, and get coordinates. Again, it takes a few minutes, sometimes many in the trees.

If you use tracking, the Mini battery won't last more than a day trip, from what I've heard. However, for some loved ones, tracking may be worth it. A friend tracked his entire PCT journey from Mexico to Canada. He had the larger unit and probably extra battery energy.

We kinda use the InReach as a "social network" that sends to several friends and family who like to see what we're doing. A couple of them are keeping track and making sure we get home safely, but the rest are lurkers.

We use the annual plan because we are out of cell range nearly year round. Your logic makes sense for the annual plan.

The Mini is poor for navigation. I use a phone app (Gaia, and there are others).

PM me and I'll send you what the Mini produces, if you've not signed up yet.

If we fell off a cliff and were unconscious/dead, with the unit turned off, nobody would know exactly where we were. But we send out messages at the trailhead and a few times during the day, so they know approximately. It's still a big step ahead of having nothing. It's a judgement call.

Not sure about location requests. I thought that worked for any plan. You just have to pay like a regular message from someone??? Never used that. It just has to be turned on, know where it is, and have access to satellites for transmission. That can be difficult in trees and canyons.

Make sure to let people know that it costs to reply. One of our recipients kept texting back, putting us over the "free" number of messages. This happened on a long trip. Had to remove this person from our list.
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Riverside Laker
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PostMon Nov 25, 2019 12:59 pm 
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By the way, some friends had an emergency in a remote area, off trail climbing, a couple years ago. They hit the SOS button, and an InReach person took over as central contact for all rescue operations. She really liked that. InReach coordinated S&R, sheriff, medical, etc. and relayed exact location.

She was able to use the phone app to converse with the contact, explaining the situation and about her busted kneecap, etc.  You can also use messages you've programmed in to save typing, or painfully use the arrow keys. The phone makes a nicer keyboard, assuming batteries are ok.

She explained she was at her tent (she crawled several miles in very rugged terrain), and could stay the night ok.

The helicopter showed up the next day. It was good weather and easy helicopter access, so that part was lucky. It wasn't an easy night but her injury wasn't super critical.
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