Breadcrumbs and Safety – Backcountry Garmin InReach and Instinct
Let’s face it, the wilderness is an unpredictable place, and in remote areas of the country, can be a killer. As described earlier in this roundup, the Hook & Barrel testing grounds are no place to fool around. It is remote, wild, and with seven miles of rugged secondary roads to get in, crossing over 14 river crossings that flash flood on a regular basis, it’s a not a place to be in trouble. Due to the remoteness, the area is full of great free-range deer, lumbering 450-pound black bears, roosts of countless turkey, and miles of streams for fly-fishing that captivate the imagination of outdoorsmen universally. But, along with all of that, comes danger. Whether it be snakebites, bear attacks, tree stand falls, or ATV accidents, the perils are plenty. Safety is key, but in the case of an emergency, where there is no cell service, there is only one device I carry—the Garmin inReach. With inReach satellite technology and an active satellite subscription, you can stay in touch globally. You can send and receive messages, navigate your route, track and share your journey, and, if necessary, trigger an SOS to get help from a 24/7 global emergency response coordination center via the 100% global Iridium® satellite network.
In the Palm of your Hand: Weighing in at just 7.5 oz. and 2.7″ x 6.5″ x 1.5″ in size, the inReach is unnoticeable spacewise in your bag. Small but powerful, it gives me the peace of mind that help is only a satellite away. In addition to that, I can send texts back home, checking in with my wife and our newborn son or to tell buddies, lagging behind on the road, to pick up forgotten supplies. Simply pair the device to your mobile phone, use the Garmin Earthmate app, and get messages out. There is a cost ranging from $11.95 to $64.95 per month depending on your desired service plan, but with contract pricing and contactless “freedom” plans, satellite communication has never been so cheap or easy.
There’s a Storm Brewing: One of my favorite features, beyond custom text messages, is the weather report service. There are two levels of weather reports available to inReach users: a basic weather report and an in-depth report. Generally opting for the basic forecast, I can always have reliable predictions to let me know of stormfronts on the way, temperature swings, or torrential downpours that will flood the creeks and rivers.
X Marks the Spot: Standard with the unit comes the ability to determine your exact latitude and longitude, create trails of breadcrumb locations (tracking) to assist you in navigation and finding your way home, waypoint land navigation, and the ability to pin drop locations to mark points of interest. Connecting this tool with the Garmin Earthmate app allows me to keep a record of these points, save and edit maps, as well as share this information with fellow users and friends.
SOS: Finally, if the worst-case scenario occurs, the inReach allows you to easily call for help to GEOS, a professional 24/7 global monitoring and response center. A simple safety flap covers the SOS button. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, open the flap and hold in the button. Local first responders will be notified, and help will be on the way. With the device, you will be able to communicate with the rescuers or in the case of unconsciousness, it will act as a satellite beacon, leading responders to your location.
Watch Out: Taking it a huge step further, the inReach pairs with the Garmin Instinct, a smart watch that does everything from tell time to determining elevation, barometric pressure, and temperature. It too can determine your location, track your travel, and guide you home (with or without pairing to the inReach) and acts as a secondary compass as well.
First impressions of the watch were solid. It is lightweight, stylish, and functional. After a brief read through the user’s manual, I quickly realized there was more than meets the eye. There are so many functions, it would be hard to fit them all in this review. But, key functions for outdoorsmen would be: barometric pressure gauges to alert you to approaching fronts, sunrise and sunset times to ensure proper shooting hours, and navigation tracking features for scouting and blood tracking. Simply tell the watch to track your route and once done, select TracBack for step-by-step directions to your starting point.
Another great feature, when paired with you inReach, the Instinct watch can remotely activate an SOS if your inReach is out of reach, as well as send preset messages directly from your watch rather than your satellite device. Finally, pairing your watch back to Garmin’s Connect app, users can, at a glance, access advanced features like heart rate monitoring, step counters, and even estimated calories burned.
Final Thoughts: The Garmin inReach ($350) and the Garmin Instinct ($200) are two of the most powerful items of technology you can pack into your remote deer camp. A bit spendy, but well worth the data they provide, the connectivity they deliver, and the peace of mind they offer to you and your loved ones back at home.
For more details, specs, and service plans, visit garmin.com.