- The Garmin InReach Messenger uses satellite communication to give you the ability to text from anywhere.
- The device will automatically pass you through Wi-Fi, cellular, and satellite connections, taking all the guesswork out.
- It starts at $299 and requires a subscription which will control the number of text messages you can send each month.
Garmin InReach products are designed for extreme adventurers. They let you stay connected with SMS messaging, get GPS tracking and navigation, and send an emergency distress signal, all while never needing a cell tower.
However, since these devices do a lot, they are very expensive. Also, what if you’re not an extreme adventurer but would like a way to stay in touch with people when you’re away from a cell tower? Why would you need all the other aspects of an InReach device? Enter Garmin InReach Messenger, which primarily focuses on the messaging aspects of InReach products and cuts the price dramatically.
See also: The Best Garmin Watches You Can Buy
InReach Messenger connects to the constellation of Iridium satellites to enable two-way communication. Essentially, you send a text message from your phone to InReach Messenger, which then sends that message to a satellite. The satellite then sends the message to the recipient. This allows you to text from virtually anywhere in the world.
Garmin InReach Messenger: No Guesswork
Now the other InReach products that Garmin has had for years can also do this. The really cool feature of InReach Messenger, however, is that it takes the guesswork out of when to use the service.
Let’s say you’re vacationing in a secluded cabin. The cabin has its own Wi-Fi and you can sometimes get a cell signal at certain places around the cabin. With another InReach product, you will need to check which connection works best for your situation. Are you on Wi-Fi? Can you get a cell signal? Is satellite connectivity the only option? It’s not a fun process.
The InReach Messenger and Garmin Messenger apps automatically choose the best method of communication.
The new Garmin Messenger app solves this problem. When connected to the Garmin InReach Messenger device and using the Garmin Messenger app, you never need to check which system is better. If you have Wi-Fi, the app uses it. If you don’t, it uses your cell service. Only when these two situations do not work does he use satellite communication.
Note, however, that if you already own an InReach product from Garmin, Messenger support may be coming to your device. Garmin said it was working on bringing support to older products, but didn’t say which ones or when that might happen.
Fortunately, InReach Messenger also retains some of the functionality of other InReach products, including the SOS button. This button acts as a distress signal. It puts you in touch with the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC), which operates 24/7. Once you press the button, an IERCC representative will attempt to contact you to determine what is wrong. If you cannot communicate, the representative will immediately dispatch the emergency services to the GPS coordinates of the InReach messenger, ensuring that you will be safe should anything go wrong during your rustic getaway.
Prices and subscriptions
The Garmin InReach Messenger will retail for $299. However, the device itself will not be of much use to you without a subscription. The subscription fee is what will allow Iridium texting and activating the SOS button.
There are three levels for the subscription:
- Security at $14.95 per month: Unlimited SOS activations and 10 satellite text messages with additional messages costing $0.50 each
- Leisure at $34.95 per month: Unlimited SOS activations and 40 satellite text messages with additional messages costing $0.50 each
- Shipping at $64.95 per month: Unlimited SOS activations and unlimited SMS via satellite
Remember that you only have to pay for satellite SMS. In other words, with the security plan, you can send as many Wi-Fi and cellular texts as you want, but you can only send 10 texts when you have no connectivity.
Also, there is no commitment with these subscriptions. You can sign up for the Security Program one month, cancel, and then sign up for the Shipping Plan months later. You can cancel for a year and then re-enroll in the Leisure plan before canceling again. However, Garmin offers discounts if you subscribe to an annual plan.