Spot Gen 3 or Inreach Mini

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JeffnMar

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Looking at pulling the trigger on a PLB , one with text ( one way or two way) and have narrowed my choices down to a Spot Gen 3 or inreach mini.

For the most part I am leaning toward the Spot for the reasons below..

Pros:

- price , about half the price of the mini ( subscription service for both are extra)
- spot has the SOV vehicle add on , piece of mind when AAA won’t come out to an unapproved road

Cons:

- unsure of how the spots satellite coverage measures up to the minis iridium sat coverage
- heard of messages taking 30+ minutes to send with false positives when sent


Does anyone have real world experience with either , several YouTube videos and threads on both , what’s your opinion or if you own one , what were the reasons for getting yours...
 

kellyp

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Contributor I

Tbh I would wait for starlink from spacex. It is currently projected to “launch” service in North American by years end. I would expect it to be much cheaper and much better, closer to cellular. I believe there are other LEO options on the horizon as well.
 

darjo242

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Following for the comments and looking for advice on the same as well.
 

Traveler I

60
AR, USA
I had a first gen Garmin inReach and did not care for it. I used it backpacking and even in clear skies it would constantly lose signal. It would cause the battery to drain 2-3 times faster than it's listed battery life.

Another make issue was the fact it would continue showing moment even though I wasn't moving. I camped somewhere for two days after hiking 15 miles. Left the inReach hanging on my hammock. After the two days it showed I had moved an additional 45 miles.

Take that as you will. It was great when it had signal and I'm not sure about false positives on messages sent. Mine was also Garmin's first model after buying out the company. It could also be faulty, but I've owned it for a few years now and it's out of warranty.
 

Contributor I

Tbh I would wait for starlink from spacex. It is currently projected to “launch” service in North American by years end. I would expect it to be much cheaper and much better, closer to cellular. I believe there are other LEO options on the horizon as well.
I've been excited about this too. With the antenna design they've shown and the coverage it seems like you should theoretically be able to take your "home" internet connection with you anywhere in the world. All of a sudden instead of paying $.50 for a single text message or weather forecast retrieval you can just use Skype and weather.com. I really hope it pans out that way.
 
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Greg Eigsti

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I've been excited about this too. With the antenna design they've shown and the coverage it seems like you should theoretically be able to take your "home" internet connection with you anywhere in the world. All of a sudden instead of paying $.50 for a single text message or weather forecast retrieval you can just use Skype and weather.com. I really hope it pans out that way.
Do you have a link to the user/ground antenna description? Omni, mechanically steered, software steered? I think that they will significantly bust traditional satcom pricing but size and initial cost are likely going to be a factor. You will be buying/renting/leasing a terminal (modem+antenna) which will add to the initial cost. Surfed around a bit and saw phased array pop-up; while there are newer lower power designs hitting the market phased array antennas are typically power hungry. I have heard of some pretty aggressive pricing on Starlink - we will have to see. We use Iridium because it gives us just enough capability and will not enable anyone to sit around the campfire glued to the phone. :)
 
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Contributor I

Do you have a link to the user/ground antenna description? Omni, mechanically steered, software steered? I think that they will significantly bust traditional satcom pricing but size and initial cost are likely going to be a factor. You will be buying/renting/leasing a terminal (modem+antenna) which will add to the initial cost. Surfed around a bit and saw phased array pop-up; while there are newer lower power designs hitting the market phased array antennas are typically power hungry. I have heard of some pretty aggressive pricing on Starlink - we will have to see. We use Iridium because it gives us just enough capability and will not enable anyone to sit around the campfire glued to the phone. :)
I can't really point you to a single source, as it's mostly just nuggets that Musk has dropped here and there in tweets and interviews. There's really no "concrete" information beyond some patents they've applied for. He's said repeatedly that the antenna would be about the size of a medium pizza box, so pretty portable. He's also said that it would be self aiming and that they've set a cost target at around $200. All of that is pretty damned ambitious, but so were most of the other claims he's made and he's lived up to a lot of them so far. We'll see, but I really hope he pulls it off. Here's a quick article that's sort of the best "summary" I can find at the moment.

As for your comment about sitting around the campfire glued to the phone I completely agree. One of my favorite parts about a trip is putting my phone in airplane mode and ignoring it for the duration.
 
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Greg Eigsti

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All of that is pretty damned ambitious
As for your comment about sitting around the campfire glued to the phone I completely agree. One of my favorite parts about a trip is putting my phone in airplane mode and ignoring it for the duration.
Thanks! Saw the pizza box quote somewhere today; and $200 is _really_ aggressive! Especially if that includes the entire terminal (modem and antenna). My guess is that they hope that large scale deployment will offset the affordability of the system. Hmmm, wonder if mobile scenarios will be supported or if the antenna needs to be sitting still?

We have had a lot of philosophical discussions about the reasons for getting out into the wild, the pervasiveness of cell phones and people's unwillingness/inability to disconnect.
 

ScottE

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I have the Garmin InReach+ and have had nothing but good performance. I have not dropped a signal and the subscription service is very reasonable. I use it with the Garmin Earthmate App on both my Samsung S8+ and my Samsung Tab A (mounted in my Toyota FJ). I have used the text messaging and have the upgraded insurance for up to 100k for emergency extrication for around $17/mo total. Iridium satellite service it bulletproof.
 

JeffnMar

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After much research and having analysis paralysis I am going with Garmin . The one thing with the Spot 3 that kept me intrigued was the option to have the SOV ( save your vehicle) option , but after a talk with my insurance agent I added roadside service to my Subie which will basically cover me when out on the trails ( same as the spot 3) , cost neutral and much prefer working with my agent whom I have been with for 30 yrs rather than 3rd party that is not proven.

So now the decision is Mini or Full size . I already have a Garmin Oregon 600 for my hiking and alike so looking like the mini is on my short list .

I got lost in the weeds when doing my research , I don’t plan on texting when out on the trails ( heck, getting away from the everyday grind is WHY I hit the road) , so having a piece of technology that can

1) send out a quick txt to predetermined contacts that everything is “all good”.

2) send out a quick txt if I run into mechanical issues and provide roadside assistance as needed.

3) help send medical assistance as needed in case of medical emergencies.

The mini hits all these points in a nice “little” package, plus since it uses the iridium satellite network , it’s a proven and near bullet proof technology, this is where the spot 3 falls short .
 

Booker

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I've been using a SPOT gen 2 for several years when I go out on bikepacking trips. I've never had any issues with tracking but it's been strapped to a mountain bike not inside a vehicle.
I recently decide to switch to an inReach for a couple of reasons. 1st, I can pay for service when I need it instead of a yearly contract. 2nd, the inReach is bluetooth capable so I can pair it to my phone and send actual text messages instead of a pre programmed message. 3rd, the inReach is rechargeable.
 
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darjo242

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Have a SPOt I got a killer deal on, but think I may go with the inReach Mini for a lot of the reasons stated by other posters. Plus, can pair my iPad to it if needed.