Garmin Inreach Explorer+ Review – Handheld GPS Enables Text Messaging

If you’re an avid lover of the great outdoors, then you know that part of the appeal of hiking and exploring is to be able to get away from people and civilization for a while. There’s nothing as exhilarating as finding a quiet spot all to yourself on the mountain or in the forest.

However, while traversing the path less traveled can be a transcendent experience, it also means that you can get lost. Even experienced pathfinders can get turned around when the environment looks the same.

Thankfully, with modern technology at your fingertips, you never have to worry about your next hike turning into an episode of “Man vs. Wild.” With the Garmin Inreach Explorer+, you are never too far away from civilization to call for help.

Although we hope that you’ll never be in a situation where you have to use this device, let’s see how it can come in handy should the worst happen.

Garmin Inreach Explorer

100% Global Coverage

Since this is a Garmin product, you know that it utilizes a variety of satellites to pinpoint your location. It’s GPS system is second to none, which means that you will always be able to find your precise coordinates, no matter what part of the world you’re exploring.

The really cool thing about this particular device is that it also comes with Iridium communication software, which enables you to send and receive messages from anyone at any time. This means that you can text your friends or family (or the ranger station) from this device and let them know your situation. Unfortunately, people won’t be able to contact you unless you message them first, so be sure to establish a text chain before you head out.

The other great feature of the Inreach Explorer is that you can activate an SOS call 24 hours a day. This will go out to any local emergency services and broadcast your precise location so that they can find you in no time. This could potentially save your life if something bad happens out on the trail.

Sync with Mobile Devices

The Inreach Explorer already comes with a suite of features and functions, but you can further enhance its capabilities by pairing it with a mobile device, such as your smartphone. This will enable you to download additional apps, such as satellite imaging of your location. You can sync the apps to both devices, making your Explorer work even harder to keep you safe out in the wild.

Best of all, many of the apps are either free or cost a small one-time fee. We highly recommend that you browse the full suite before you head out, though, so that you can familiarize yourself with how they work and what they cost.

Garmin Inreach Explorer

Maps Preloaded

As with any GPS, you get a bunch of maps already installed on the device. However, if you’re going to explore in an area that isn’t already included, you can always download more online. Fortunately, there are hundreds of maps inside the Inreach, so there’s not much that you would need for your next excursion.

Nonetheless, we suggest that you browse for the location you plan on traveling in beforehand so that you can know if you need to download a new or updated version before you arrive. As with all of these features, it’s better to familiarize yourself with them before you need them so that you aren’t scrambling to figure them out in an emergency situation.

Also Read: Best Fitness Watch With GPS – Top Picks Compared!

Built-In Compass + Barometer

Although having a GPS and a texting service at your fingertips is already more than enough to make the Inreach Explorer worthwhile, it still has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Now, you don’t have to carry a compass with you because there is one built in (although we still suggest bringing one as a backup).

Not only that, but it has other environmental functions such as a barometric altimeter and an accelerometer. These pieces will work together to make your navigation software work even better. Since it will be tracking your movements more precisely, you can read the map easier and determine your location within a much smaller area.

With most other GPS devices, there is a somewhat substantial margin of error. However, with the Inreach Explorer, you will get more accurate readings, which can make a huge difference if you ever need to send out an SOS.

Garmin Inreach Explorer


  • Durable construction
  • Lightweight and portable design
  • 100% global coverage
  • Text anyone around the world
  • Sync with mobile devices to use apps
  • Compass, barometric altimeter built in
  • Large backlit screen for visibility
  • Trigger an SOS any time of day
  • Easy to use menu interface
  • Maps preloaded (and more for download)
  • Color images for better clarity
  • Track movements and share with others
  • Monitor weather in your location
  • Turn by turn navigation
  • Store data in the cloud
  • Trip planning software


  • Some countries cannot respond to texts
  • Customer service may not always be available in case something goes wrong


  • If the Iridium software stops working, does that mean that the GPS is no longer functional?
  • No, that software powers the two-way messaging and SOS feature. You can still use navigation and GPS without it.
  • Does the device offer satellite imagery?
  • Not on the Explorer itself. You will have to sync it with a mobile device (like a smartphone) to enable satellite images. You’ll also have to download the accompanying app to make it work.
  • Can I receive texts from this device?
  • Yes, but only if you reach out first. People will not be able to texts the device directly. They can just reply to your message.

Final Verdict

Exploring the great outdoors can be fun and thrilling, but you never want to find yourself in a life or death situation. You never know what can happen out on the trail, so it’s always better to be prepared. Even if you have wilderness survival training, it doesn’t do much good if you wind up with a substantial injury like a broken arm or leg.

Thus, we highly recommend the Inreach Explorer for all hikers and outdoorsmen out there. It’s much better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Plus, there are so many cool features that you may be surprised by how much it comes in handy.

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David Valle

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!