Tracking devices can provide peace of mind for both pilots and family members, and, like most electronic devices, these portable units have become smaller as technology has progressed. Garmin recently introduced the inReach Mini, a pocket-size satellite communicator that is small enough to fit in a pocket and weighs only 3.5 ounces.
The inReach Mini connects to the Iridium satellite network, providing position tracking, SOS services and the ability to communicate via two-way text messaging, even when far outside areas of regular cell phone service. The unit also provides access to maps, aerial imagery and NOAA charts, as well as some weather services.
The device provides communication capabilities through a wide range of compatible products, including Garmin’s Pilot app and a variety of Garmin smartwatches including the aviation-specific D2 Charlie. In addition to being a terrific addition to any pilot bag, the device is also useful for hiking, hunting, trail running, mountain biking, camping and other outdoor activities.
The inReach Mini has an internal rechargeable lithium battery, which lasts about two days with the default 10-minute tracking mode and up to 20 days with the extended 30-minute tracking mode. While small, the inReach Mini is tough. Garmin claims the unit is capable of withstanding extreme conditions, and is impact and water-resistant.
The inReach Mini will be available in the next few weeks and is priced at $349.99. A satellite subscription plan is also required for the unit to work, with pricing starting at around $15 per month.