Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator Review


Made by one of the most reputable GPS brands in the global market, it is unsurprising that the Inreach Explorer is packed with exceptional features. Yes, it is a bit expensive, but between its rugged construction and global coverage, it has a plethora of features that will make it worth every dollar. Below are some of the most prominent features of this satellite communicator: 

  • Two-way messaging through a global iridium network 
  • Round-the-clock search and rescue through the integrated SOS function 
  • Connects to MapShare
  • Trans-reflective color TFT display 
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery for dependable power on the go 
  • Built-in digital compass and pressure-based altimeter
  • Pre-loaded with 1:24,000 scale North American maps 
  • Free access to EarthMate App 


SpecificationDimensions: 1.50 x 2.70 x 6.50 inches

Screen Diameter: 2.31 inches 

Screen Dimensions: 1.4 x 1.9 inches 

Display Resolution: 200 x 265 pixels 

Battery Type: Rechargeable lithium-ion 

Messaging Capability: 2-way messaging 

Item Weight: .5 pound 

Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth 

Water-Resistance Rating: IPX7 

User Experience



One of the reasons why it can deliver incredible experiences is the battery. Imagine being in the middle of the woods needing help, ending up with a device that ran out of battery! That will hardly be the case when you are using this product. It comes with a powerful battery that delivers up to 100 hours of continuous use under a 10-minute tracking mode. Meanwhile, if you choose the power saving mode, it will run up to 30 days! 


This Garmin inReach Explorer+ review highlights the product’s incredible design! It is chunky and heavy, but we love how there are strategically positioned buttons. The seamless interface will make it a breeze to operate. It is also ergonomic since it comes with a non-slip material. The GPS device will be easy to grip and operate with just a single hand. Plus, you do not need to hide it in your dry bag or jacket since it has IPX7, which means that it will withstand splashes. However, you should never submerge it in water. 


The color display is small but good enough to easily see maps. When you open the map, there will be a triangular cursor, which will show your current location. There is also a map scale at the bottom part of the display. Plus, you have the option to view elevation if you want to know how high you are. Furthermore, the display will estimate your distance to a certain location. 

While the display provides a good way to navigate through terrains, we suggest that you still bring a printed topographical map with you. This is better if you want a more accurate guide to your destination. 

Even when the display is not on, there is a status light for ease of monitoring. It will show if you have unread messages, poor connection, and low battery, among other things. This is a great way to check certain notifications without the need to look at the display. 


The Garmin InReach Explorer offers multiple options for connectivity. Even if you are deep in the woods or in the middle of the water in your fishing kayak, you can stay connected. As we earlier mentioned, there is no need for cell reception. Through the global iridium coverage, you can send and receive messages as long as you have an active subscription. They have monthly or annual subscriptions depending ion what suits your preferences. 

To add, you can also create a Garmin MapShare page. This will make it easier for others to track your location. This is a fun and interactive way to stay connected with your loved ones even when you are thousands of miles apart. 

You can use this device to post on your social media pages! It isn’t as full-featured as a smartphone, but this communicator makes it possible to connect to Facebook and Twitter. 


One of the reasons why we love the Garmin inReach Explorer is the SOS function, which will be useful when you need someone to be to the rescue. On the side, there is a dedicated button. Press this button and a notification will be immediately sent to the Garmin emergency center. You will be connected to your specified emergency contact. The SOS button has a flap, which will prevent you from having it accidentally pressed. You can also use the SOS icon on the home screen to ask for help. 

Another emergency feature that we love is the weather forecast. This way, you will know the latest weather news. It includes hour-by-hour breakdowns with anticipated temperatures. Details like cloud coverage and wind speed will also be provided. If you want to be more updated about weather announcements, however, you need an emergency radio


  • Durable and waterproof construction 
  • Offers reliable coverage in over 140 countries even without reception 
  • Easy to initiate SOS when you need help 
  • Has lots of pre-loaded maps 


  • High initial cost and expensive subscription plans 
  • Large and heavy 
  • Compass can be difficult to calibrate 

Overall Rating


  • Price: 85% – If there is one thing that might give us second thoughts in buying this handheld GPS, it would be its price. It is one of the most expensive options available. This is in no way designed for those looking for an affordable marine GPS or any kind of GPS device. Nonetheless, it is from a popular brand and loaded with advanced features, which can justify the cost. 
  • Ease of Use: 95% – Even if it is your first time using a two-way satellite communicator, you will not be intimidated. It comes with a straightforward interface, so navigating will be a seamless experience. This is unlike others that can be a nightmare to use. 
  • Material: 100% – The overall construction is impressive as it is made using rugged materials. You will be happy to know that it can withstand many years of use. It can also endure outdoor elements, such as rain and snow as it has an IPX7 water-resistance rating. 
  • Features: 100% – Another reason to love this product is that it is feature-rich. It has almost anything that you will need, including two-way communication, pre-loaded maps, mobile app compatibility, SOS function, and weather forecasting, among other things. 
  • Overall: 95% – The Garmin inReach Explorer is hard to match. The price is the biggest issue. Nonetheless, if you do not mind the splurge, it will deliver exceptional performance. You can easily communicate even if you are out in the wild and it will be easy to ask for help when you need rescue. 

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In sum, the Garmin InReach Explorer is a feature-packed, durable, and reliable hand-held GPS. Exploring the outdoors does not have to be scary when you have a device that allows you to share information and easily ask for help through the device’s SOS button. It also comes with rugged construction, making it great for the tough outdoors. 

As a two-way communicator, you can send and receive messages, even without cell reception. Before doing this, however, you need to sign-up for a paid subscription plan, which some people might find to be quite expensive. Nonetheless, it will be worth every dollar as it allows you to stay connected off the grid. 

With the things mentioned in this Garmin inReach Explorer+ review, it is clear that this product is a great choice. Yes, it is expensive, but do not let its price discourage you from choosing it over others.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!