Outdoor tech brand Garmin this week launched an incredibly functional satellite communicator for everyday adventurers and wilderness wanderers that’s lightweight, easy to use and is small and cheap enough to pop in your pocket without burning a hole in it.
A nifty little device (measuring 7.9 x 6.4cm/3.1 x 2.5in, and weighing just 114g / 4oz) the Garmin inReach Messenger (opens in new tab) easily fits in the palm of your hand, the pocket of a waterproof jacket or hiking backpack, and it has been released with a suggested RRP of £249.99 in the UK, and $299.99 in the US. It has the capability, however, of many far more expensive emergency beacons used by professional explorers, enabling global two-way texting, location sharing, and S.O.S. signalling.
The inReach Messenger can be used as a stand-alone emergency beacon, or it can be paired with one of 80 compatible devices - which include several smartwatches and handheld GPS devices - for lots of extra functionality. Garmin say it enables you to tigger an interactive S.O.S. if you run, hike, bike, climb or paddle into trouble while out on backcountry adventure, even if you’re far beyond the reach of any network coverage. As a result, you can both send and receive messages, find out when help is on its way, and let people back home know that the situation is under control.
The inReach Messenger has a dedicated SOS button, easy to find and press in the event of an emergency, which will send a distress message to the Garmin International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC), an all-hours Garmin-staffed professional emergency response coordination centre that will then co-ordinate a rescue response and continue to monitor the incident until it’s resolved. In this situation, the IERCC can communicate with you too, confirming that help is coming, and also reach out to your designated emergency contacts.
The device can also be synced to the new Garmin Messenger companion app for smartphones, which taps into all available methods of connectivity to facilitate two-way texting and group messaging even in super remote locations. The Messenger companion app automatically chooses between Wi-Fi, cellular or satellite connectivity, to make sure each message is sent. And, in a genuine emergency, the inReach Messenger and Messenger App2 can send an SOS message to the IERCC, which is staffed all day, every day of the year.
Used with the companion app, you can sync your smartphone contacts list, which makes general non-emergency messaging easy and efficient - you can send updates or pre-set messages to friends, family and fellow explorers, and even add posts to social media sites. Mobile, cellular or Wi-Fi connection is used when available, but if things go wrong and you are somewhere remote, beyond the standard coverage range, it will automatically switch to the 100% global Iridium satellite network. So you’re not left in any doubt, the on-device display confirms that your message has been sent.
The InReach Messenger is tough and impact-resistant, is waterproof (rated to IPX7, so it can survive being submerged in 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes) and has a battery life of 28 days when used with default settings. It also has Garmin’s new ‘Safety Charging’ feature, so if your smartphone runs out of juice, you can connect inReach Messenger to the phone and get enough charge to send custom text messages from the Garmin Messenger app.
“Garmin inReach devices are trusted by hundreds of thousands of users globally for communication and peace of mind,’ says Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales. “The new inReach Messenger is no exception, but with its multiple communication networks, ease-of-use, and smartphone compatibility, it is a perfect device for those who want to easily keep in touch when outside of cell coverage. Like all inReach devices, inReach Messenger has the ability to send an SOS message to the Garmin IERCC, which has responded to almost 10,000 inReach SOS incidents.”