The Lowdown: The Mini combines the best of a GPS unit and satellite messenger into a tiny, dental floss-size package with an LCD screen. It doesn’t require a phone to operate, and offers the best offline maps of the bunch.
User Interface: The inReach’s Earthmate app is a bit more cluttered than the other apps here, but not difficult to use. We found that texts sometimes did not present themselves in the correct order. You can also use the device without a phone, but its small size makes texting slow.
Satellite System: Iridium. A privately owned network, its best-in-test reliability ensures voice and data connectivity across the globe. One tester reports that the Mini and its network saved him from flash flooding in Mexico’s Río La Venta canyon thanks to its weather report access and ability to text friends outside the area.
Weather Reports: Yes
Battery Life: 90 hours (3.8 days) in 10-minute tracking mode
Subscription Cost: Starting at $12/month for 10 custom messages (preset messages are unlimited) plus $20 for activation (yearly), or $15/month plus a $25 activation cost (monthly).