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Jack-in-the-Bob: Garmin inReach and Garmin Earthmate App

Posted on June 26 2018

A reminder that Angling Trade’s intern extraordinaire, Jack Nickens, is working away in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, guiding foremost… but also doing some product reviews for us on the side. We have a pretty full slate lined up for him already, so please stay tuned for more reviews.
These days, when going off the grid, most people want to still have a pinky clinging on to the outside world. The Garmin inReach Mini is smaller than a tippet spool and skinnier than a 5 weight reel and allows me to call in some emergency cash when I spend money I don’t have on flies I don’t really need. But more importantly, it gives me the ability to call in medical help when I am deep into the backcountry.
What I liked:
With the ability to create preset messages, it is quick and easy to let your friends know you are going to be on the river late. The most important, and my favorite, feature on this device is the SOS button. It is under a hard plastic cover that needs to be flipped up to reveal the button to trigger the SOS signal. This feature ensures that no unintended SOS calls are made, thus saving potential time and a $40,000 helicopter bill from backcountry EMTs. The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to use your phone to type out longer messages with more ease. While this is possible on the device itself, it is a long process, even with word suggestions. When sending a message via Bluetooth using the Garmin Earthmate app, your location is sent along with it, which helps a friend easily find you when coming for a visit, or share a honey hole holding monster bull trout with your fellow guides.
What I would like to see:
While being able to connect to Garmin Earthmate via Bluetooth was great, I wish that you were notified on your phone if you received a new message. Even when the device is on and paired, this still does not occur.
Who is it for:
The Garmin inReach Mini is a great communication device for those headed into the backcountry for a week or less. While the battery life is 20 days in battery saving mode, when I used this device, it died after 6 days of use, sending about 4 texts a day. This made me realize that the inReach should be used for emergency purposes and to try and limit yourself on the texts you send. If you’re going off the grid for any longer with this device, just be careful of how often you use it. Now that I have more experience with the device, I know I need to charge the device more often since I will be using it for the next 8 weeks.

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