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Compare the New inReachĀ® Messenger with Best Garmin Satellite Communicators & GPS Handhelds

Buy the inReach Messenger

Stay connected with the inReach Messenger satellite communicator (active satellite subscription required) and new Garmin Messengerā„¢ app!

Buy inReach Mini 2

For hikers, backpackers, and climbers focused on fast and light GPS, compass, and satellite communicationā€”the inReach Mini 2 is the way to go!

Buy Garmin GPSMAPĀ® 66i

Get advanced navigation on a device built for harsh conditions. The Garmin GPSMAP 66i GPS handheld and satellite communicator won't leave you hanging!

Garmin's inReach product line is growingā€”and now with the September 2022 release of the inReach Messenger, you have another option when choosing the satellite communicator that will work best for you.

However you spend your time in the wildā€”hiking, backpacking, kayaking, rafting, hunting, fishing, flying, skiingā€”there's likely an inReach device that's just right for you, your favorite activity, and budget.

The inReach Messenger is a small, rugged device that will keep you in touch while off-grid, using the Garmin messenger app (and satellite subscription).

In this article, we give you all the details on this latest Garmin device plus compare it to the inReach Mini 2 and the popular Garmin GPSMAP 66i, so you can decide which device you want with you when it counts!



inReach Messenger | Home Is Closer Than You Think


What Is the inReach Messenger?

Providing global two-way messaging and interactive SOS (active satellite subscription required), the inReach Messsenger keeps you connected with friends and family even when youā€™re out of cell coverage.

Use the device to check in with contacts, read and reply to their responses with QuickText messages, and even share your GPS location data if you like.

More detailed texting and group messaging are easy when using the Garmin Messenger app. Seamless switching between Wi-FiĀ® wireless networking, cellular, and satellite networks gives you the best connectivity and cost-efficiency for all your communications.

The on-device display gives you the added confidence of knowing that your message has been sent. Youā€™ll even see a response that help is on the way in case of emergency.

The communicatorā€™s internal, rechargeable lithium battery gives up to 28 days of battery lifeā€”and also provides safety charging to help recover a depleted phone.

New Features with the inReach Messenger Satellite Communicator

  • inReach Messenger is tough, durable, impact-resistant and water-rated to IPX7.
  • Improved 2-way messaging with a simple user interface through the Garmin Messenger app on your smartphone.
  • Send two-way messages globally, even when youā€™re out of cellular coverage. The Messensger app supports seamless switching between Wi-Fi wireless networking links, broadband cellular, and the IridiumĀ® satellite network.
  • With the Garmin Messenger app, your inReach connection supports group message threading and distribution.
  • Optimized inReach messaging uses a cellular connection of your compatible smartphone when itā€™s available, then it seamlessly switches to a 100% global Iridium satellite link when you're out of cellular range.
  • Safety charging is a backup option in case your compatible smartphone battery dies. Just connect inReach Messenger to your phone for enough safety charge to send a custom text message from the inReach Messenger device via your phoneā€™s touchscreen.

What Is the Garmin Messenger App?

Never lose touch with friends and family. The Garmin Messenger app brings rich network messaging features to any compatible smartphone.

When paired with your compatible inReach device, it lets you enjoy the security and connectivity of global satellite messaging and interactive SOS thatā€™s not limited to cellphone coverage areas (active satellite subscription required).

This Garmin app supports group message threading and distribution as well as direct communication with other users.

Automatic switching between Wi-Fi wireless networking links, broadband cellular and the global Iridium satellite network gives you the best connectivity and efficiency for all your messaging.

When you have connectivity, the app on your phone will work seamlessly even if your inReach device is turned off.



inReach Mini 2 vs inReach Messenger

The inReach Messenger and inReach Mini 2 are similar in many ways.

Both are compact, lightweight yet rugged devices ideal for a quick pace and explorers who want to travel light.

Each of these inReach Garmin Satellite communicators offers global interactive SOS, the ability to send/receive text messages to SMS and email, to inReach device, as well as share locations with other inReach devices.

Both have BLUETOOTHĀ® and ANT+Ā® technologies.

The inReach Mini 2 and Messenger are MapShareā„¢ page compatible with tracking.

You get a virtual keyboard for custom messaging with both of these Garmin inReach handhelds.

Also, with both you get inReach Weather, compatibility with the Garmin Exploreā„¢ website, and the TracBackĀ® feature to help you find your way back to where you started.

Here are the differences between the inReach Mini 2 and the Messenger that might help determine which one is best for your journeys:

The inReach Mini 2 has a slightly larger display of 0.9" x 0.9" (23 x 23 mm) vs the Messenger's 1" x 0.43" (2.53 x 1.1 cm).

The inReach Mini 2 has a digital compass.

The inReach Messenger battery life is greater with:

  • up to 28 days with a message or location sent every 10 minutes with full sky view.

The inReach Mini 2 batter life is:

  • up to 14 days at 10-minute tracking send interval with standard activity recording with full sky view

Currently, the inReach Messenger is the only device that is compatible with the Garmin Messenger app, which can streamline your messaging.

The inReach Mini 2 can send waypoints and route selection to MapShare during a trip; the Messenger cannot.

The inReach Mini 2 also has a breadcrumb map and is compatible with the Garmin Explore app.

And finally, the inReach Mini 2 price is a little more than the Messenger at $300 vs $400.


Garmin GPSMAP 66i vs inReach Messenger

The Garmin GPSMAP 66i GPS handheld and inReach Messenger are two vastly different satellite communicator experiences. To start, here's how they are the same:

Each of these Garmin Satellite communicators offers global interactive SOS, the ability to send/receive text messages to SMS and email, to inReach device, as well as share locations with other inReach devices.

The inReach Messenger and Garmin GPSMAP 66i are MapShareā„¢ page compatible with tracking and have a virtual keyboard for custom messaging.

Also, with both you get inReach Weather, compatibility with the Garmin Exploreā„¢ website, and the TracBackĀ® feature to help you find your way back to where you started.

But here's where these two Garmin inReach devices part ways in terms of features:

The GPSMAP 66i has a much larger display of 1.5" x 2.5" (3.8 x 6.3 cm) vs the inReach Messenger's 1" x 0.43" (2.53 x 1.1 cm). And it has this larger display because, unlike the inReach Messenger and Mini 2, it features advanced mapping and navigation.

The GPSMAP has a digital compass and breadcrumb map (like the Mini 2), but goes beyond these nav features to include preloaded TOPO maps for U.S. and Canada, worldwide basemap, and direct-to-device BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.

This Garmin GPS handheld also has a built-in LED flashlight and beacon and is compatible with the Garmin Explore app. And like the inReach Mini 2, it can send waypoints and route selection to MapShare during a trip; the Messenger cannot.

Like the other two inReach devices, GPSMAP 66i has BLUETOOTHĀ® and ANT+Ā® technologiesā€”with a bonus of Wi-Fi connectivity.

Wins for the inReach Messenger include:

It's the only inReach device compatible with the Garmin Messenger app, which can streamline your messaging.

The inReach Messenger has more battery oomph, offering:

  • up to 28 days with a message or location sent every 10 minutes with full sky view.

Battery life in the GPSMAP 66i looks like:

  • up to 35 hours at 10-minute tracking.
  • up to 200 hours at 30-minute tracking (power save mode).

Of all the satellite communicators in this article, the GPSMAP 66i is the only one that is military rated to standard 810 for thermal, shock, and water.

Of course, budget plays a big part in the difference between these devices. The inReach Messenger costs $300 while the Garmin GPSMAP 66i costs $600.


Which inReach Satellite Communicator Is Right for You?

If budget-friendly 2-way or group messaging is important to you, as well as a smaller satellite communicator that can last many days without a chargeā€”and you like the most affordable optionā€”the inReach Messenger might be the device for you.

If you want days and days of battery life and a lightweight satellite communicator with a larger screen, digital compass, and a breadcrumb navigation, you'll probably be interested in the mid-range priced inReach Mini 2.

If the most rugged satellite communicator with the best navigation is what you're looking for, but don't need more than a few days of battery life at a time and don't mind a larger handheld, the more expensve Garmin GPSMAP 66i is probably your speed.

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