Is Garmin InReach Explorer Plus Right For Your Next Solo Adventure?

How do you plan to stay in touch with family and friends during that solo trek you have planned? A good satellite GPS is much better than a mobile device. But, some can be too complex, expensive, or cumbersome for your application. The Garmin InReach Explorer Plus looks like it could be the better option for novice users.

Whether you are hunting deer in California or Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the Garmin InReach Explorer is able to find you, alert emergency personnel, and allow two way communications.

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garmin inreach gps

What We Like

  • Brightly Color and Ergonomic Design
  • Two Way Communication System
  • Apps And Data Compatible
  • 75 Hour Battery Life
  • Reliable and Durable

What We Don’t Like

  • Lacks Internal Memory
  • Not Recommended for Professional Services

Key Features

There are some nice communication features on this Garmin InReach Explorer Plus that should help many hikers or hunters stay in touch.

Let’s start with the main reason for getting this Garmin system – the communication features. This model uses a 2-way texting system vis the global Iridium satellite network. This means a reliable way to stay in touch without worrying about your signal – something enhanced by the ability to share your location. Just be aware that this does require a subscription. There is also a program that sends emergency SMS to a 24/7 response center.

It also helps that this Garmin emergency GPS unit is built for easy use outdoors.

It isn’t just the internal features of this device that are so beneficial to users. Garmin has taken the time to consider some helpful details in the hardware too. A good example of this is the size of this ergonomic system. It is pretty small, measuring 6.8 by 16.4 by 3.8 cm. 5.9cm of the front is taken up with the display. It also weighs just 213g.

Then there are the features for better use on long trips – potentially in bad weather or as it gets dark. The bright color should make this more visible than some other system. The IPX7 waterproofing rating offers peace of mind if this ends up in a puddle or stream. You also get a carabiner clip in the box for safety.

The length of the trip and device performance during this time also depends on the battery life. Thankfully, there is a strong rechargeable Lithium-ion battery with a life of 75hrs when using both tracking and logging software.

You can also get some nice extra features on this handheld GPS system, but only with some caveats.  

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There are some nice promises in the description of this device about the different tools and app-based features on offer. There are benefits here to those that can use them correctly. For example, there are some built-in features with the digital compass, the barometric altimeter, and the accelerometer that seem to work well enough.

However, the additional Earthmate app is a little more problematic. Some users try and make the most of the maps and ariel imagery that struggle. There are issues with the clarity of the image – even when synced to a good device – and questions over the accuracy.

There is also the potential issue of the memory on this device. The internal memory is just 2GB, which isn’t going to be great for logging lots of data from text threads, maps, or much else. There is a micro USB slot, but this could add to the expense and hassle when setting it up.

Final thoughts: Should you get a Garmin InReach Explorer Plus for your next adventure?

There are definitely more pros here than there are cons to this emergency GPS unit. The memory issue is something that you can fix in advance of your trip, and ditching the Earthmate maps and images isn’t the end of the world. Some users say that this is great for basic and occasional use to stay in touch with family and friends. This sounds about right. It is a good user-friendly way to keep in touch and alert rescue teams if needed, but don’t expect it to do a lot else.