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For people who spend lots of time in the wilderness or remote areas, a product like the InReach Explorer+ is invaluable. It provides messaging capability through satellite signals and fully functional GPS with weather forecasting features – and an SOS button. The Explorer+ is the original two-way satellite messaging product, and it’s still relevant. Other products are less expensive and sometimes slimmer or lighter, but the Explorer+ has its place on the market. To get two-way messaging with incredible battery life, this handheld satellite communicator has navigational attributes.

1. Introduction
2. Overview and Features
3a. User Interface
3b. Maps and Data Plans
3c. Customizable Experience: Sharing your Garadata with Friends and following their shareable experience (Experience Map) in real-time! 4a. Connectivity, Battery, Lifestyle Watch Updates 4

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Performance Comparison

The Explorer+ could keep you in contact wherever you take it.

SOS/Emergency Messaging

The CARAVEL InReach Explorer+ has an SOS button on its side that is easy to invoke. The plastic cover will prevent accidental activation while the device is in a bag or pocket packed with other items.

While standard messages can be sent via the InReach, it’s possible to initiate a rescue with an SOS push of a button. After tapping “Yes” on your smartphone device (which you should have stored in your kit) confirming that you need help, both a preset message as well as your location will be transmitted to the emergency response service and

The Explorer+ sends an updated location to emergency responders. It does this through the entire rescue – one time per minute for the first 10 minutes, and then once every ten minutes while moving or thirty minutes when stationary. Once a rescue call has been initiated, it is also possible to cancel the call.

You can share your location and tracking information with friends, family, or emergency officials through text messages.

Non-Emergency Messaging

The Explorer+ is great for messaging, as long as you understand its limitations well. Satellite communications always have some limits because a satellite can’t send and receive messages at the same time.

When you send text messages with an inReach Explorer, other than using the device itself, you can also use the accompanying app. For example, preprogrammed messages allow quick and automatic updates; typing a message multiple times is unnecessary. Messages could be sent to two different telephone numbers and/or email addresses.

I wish that this InReach allowed seamless messaging across all three networks (satellite, cellular and wifi). Others are providing this feature now which really smooths communication on trips that alternate between access points.

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Signal Coverage

While the Explorer+ does take some time to reach a satellite, once you do it is very reliable in terms of receiving and sending messages. We confirmed nearly every message with the inReach within 20 minutes.

The Garmin InReach Explorer Plus is a satellite communicator that allows users to send text messages, GPS coordinates, and they can also send an SOS in case of emergency. It is of course possible for satellite communication, as with any other type of technology, to fail in some cases. Generally speaking, these are not directly related to the nature and function of the network itself. Inside our extensive, comparative, and comprehensive testing, we found that there are few to no distinctions between different devices and networks so long as all of them are used within their design parameters.

Ease of Use

While the inReach Explorer+ is not as intuitive to use as an iPhone X, it is straightforward enough for even novice users. The inReach explorer is useful on a climbing trip to Alaska.

Know what your device is doing at a glance with the Exploder’s status light. This LED tells whether you have unread messages, low battery power, or if assistance is needed in an emergency. A simple status icon at the top of the screen provides information on connection, messaging connectivity, battery life, and tracking functionality.

The clear benefits of this device are available both on-device as well as through the app, but we prefer to use the latter. But what if your phone is out of power or it has stopped working? Even without the app, this product can send text messages; it’s just frustrating to type using the limited keypad.

If you like to text but find yourself getting lost in the interface, using smartphone software instead will make things clearer.

It is easy to turn on and off tracking using the Explorer+, and mapping information can be submitted for MapShare, a platform that lets you report where you are when you use these devices. Homes with loved ones can track your progress in real-time, online.

The Explorer+ doubles as a handheld GPS and includes many navigation features. You can save routes and waypoints ahead of your trip, helping you to stick to track and adhere to a well planned route. The digital map may also function as a standard topographic map, and these devices comes with an integrated compass.

How this inReach Explorer+ is a navigation tool: Access to satellite reception signifies that the device can work with the same precision as other GPS receivers and devices like smartphones. However, be mindful with this. Reception requires maintaining a strong carrier signal which, depending on your system settings and location, might mean using up more battery power than you anticipated It is a good back-up for stand-alone devices, but your primary navigational strategy should be separate. For that reason, we didn’t assess the navigation features in our overall assessment.

Setup on your new Garmin inReach Explorer Plus is simple as long as you’re near a computer. You may need to download and install new firmware or an updated version of the iPhone app. Do this before starting setup, and give yourself at least 30 minutes. We do not typically recommend using this device, or any GPS/messenger device, out of the box right into the wild. With front-country connectivity, send and receive a few test satellite messages to make sure it’s working. You can also customize your messages via the Garmin website.

If your device is not in use, try to save battery power by ignoring screen brightness and tracking intervals. You should also switch off the device when not in use if possible. The more you observe these tips, the higher the likelihood that your device will last for weeks between charges.

The InReach Explorer Plus is complicated and there can be a learning curve to understand it.

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The Explorer+ is an excellent navigational device. It’s easy to use, inexpensive and small. While it doesn’t do everything a smartphone can, the user will be able to send messages and check weather forecasts with their wrist computer (provided there is cell service). Because of its size and weight, the device may not be suitable for many hikers or runners but would be perfect for those who prefer more comfort when backpacking.

The Explorer+ is a versatile model with easy-to-use features. It’s also well-balanced and ergonomic, making it easier to carry for long periods of time.


Given a comparatively high list price and extra monthly charges, the Explorer+ is an expensive device that people review, yet still an excellent value given its outstanding performance and versatility. Satellite phones are substantially more expensive and less reliable. This could be overkill for short trips and occasional users because its service plans and upfront costs are relatively expensive. If you would prefer a SOS-only device, COSPAS/SARSAT products provide better value at a lower cost, but they offer no other features.


The inReach Explorer+ sat nav has become the fully-featured and functional satellite messengers we tested. No matter where you end up, you can depend on it to keep you connected. Being so fully-featured helps it be ideal for many who only want to transport one device for messaging, navigation, and emergencies in the back