Garmin inReach Explorer+

Despite the fact that many of today’s phones can be used be used as a GPS device, many of them do of course have one major holdback, and that is because not all phones have a GPS chip in them, in which case they won’t be any good to you in you are unable to get online. Also, GPS services on mobile phones are notoriously slow, and you also don’t get all the useful features which you tend to get with even lost GPS devices.

If you have ever owned a dedicated GPS device, I can’t imagine that you would ever again try to substitute it with a mobile phone. In short, there is simply absolutely no comparison. Anyway, this post is meant to be a review of the Garmin inReach Explorer+ GPS device, so let’s take a look at this baby.

Garmin inReach Explorer+

Garmin inReach Explorer+

Garmin inReach Explorer+ : What Do You Get For Your Money?

In short, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ is a conventional handheld GPS device with satellite enabled text messaging. It is a 3rd generation Inreach. The first two generations were manufactured by a company called DeLorme which was bought by Garmin in 2016, making the inReach Explorer+ the first one in this line to be manufactured under Garmin ownership.

Functionality and Specifications

In order to avoid any possibly confusion, it is probably best to try and forget anything and everything you know about the first two models.

As has already been mentioned, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ can send and receive text messages, both when used as a standalone device, and also when paired with a smartphone. To pair it with your phone, you will need to download the Earthmate app. Of course, in order for you to use this function, you will need to have sufficient satellite coverage, as well as an active service plan.

In terms of weight, size, and build, I would say that the Inreach Explorer+ is very similar to the incredibly popular Garmin GPSMAP 64. The Explorer+ weighs 7.5 ounces, it has a full color 2.3 inch screen, and an IPX7 water resistance rating. With a battery life of up to 100 hours and 10-minute tracking, Garmin has left very little room for consumers to complain about battery life.

When it comes to maps, the inReach Explorer+ has been pre-loaded with DeLorme’s Topo North America. This is something you may want to consider if you are considering buying one of the Inreach models because the SE+ model does not come with Topo North America pre-loaded.

The unit comes with 2GB of internal memory which allows you to store more maps. While 2GB may not sound like much, it is enough for storing maps for about six different countries. However, it should be noted that the Explore+ is not compatible with all map data. For example, it is not compatible with USGS Quads.

Routes and waypoints have to be imported via your online Inreach account using a mini USB cable. If you are out trekking or whatever, the device does allow you to create waypoints and breadcrumb trails, and it also allows you to navigate your way to any saved features. All in all, if you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for a reliable handheld GPS device which is also very easy and straightforward to use, then I think the Garmin inReach Explorer+ could be a great choice. Okay, let’s end off with a short list of the main pros and cons:


  • Easy to use
  • Makes 2-way text messaging via satellite very affordable
  • Comes with useful and practical features pre-loaded
  • Can be used/paired with a really good smartphone app


  • At around $400, it will inevitably be beyond the reach of many people
  • It is somewhat bigger and heavier than many other text messengers