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Garmin InReach subscription plans

Garmin InReach Subscription Plans: Ultimate Guide (2023)

A Garmin InReach Device is a critical piece of safety gear, able to call for help using a satellite signal in areas without normal cell phone service. However, you need a subscription to use the device once you buy one. There are multiple Garmin InReach subscription plans tailored to meet diverse needs, from individual adventurers to large organizations. Understanding the specifics of each plan can assist potential subscribers in making an informed decision. This guide outlines key features, pricing, and suitable use cases for each type of plan, broken down into Consumer and Professional categories. 

Table of Contents

Types of Garmin Subscription Plans

Consumer Plans

Designed for individuals and families, Consumer plans come in three tiers: Safety, Recreation, and Expedition. These are the types of plans we explain in detail below.

Professional Plans

Intended for businesses, teams, and organizations, Professional plans also offer three tiers: Basic, Advanced, and Unlimited. Check out the Garmin Professional Plan guide if you are interested in these plans.

Flex Team Plans

These plans are specialized for high-performance off-road racing teams and are only compatible with Garmin Tread® devices. Check out the Garmin Flex Team Plan guide if you are interested in these plans.

Plan Commitment Types

For each of the Garmin InReach Subscription plans, you can get a month-to-month plan that costs more, but provides flexibility, or an annual contract with a lower price that’s locked in for a year. Here’s a quick comparison:

Freedom Plans

  • Monthly service with a 30-day commitment.
  • Suspend service when it’s not needed.
  • Ideal for single adventures or seasonal use.

Annual Contract Plans

  • Year-round service.
  • Lower monthly cost.
  • Suitable for ongoing adventures.
Garmin InReach Subscription Plans

Consumer Plans: Features and Pricing

Most readers are likely looking for a consumer plan. If you are a hiker, skier, or climber, and you don’t work for search and rescue or ski patrol, this is the right type of Garmin InReach subscription plan for you. Here is an overview of the three Consumer Plan tiers: Safety (Lite), Recreation (Standard), and Expedition (Premium).

Feature / PlanSafetyRecreationExpedition
*Text Messages (160 characters)1040Unlimited
Check-In MessagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Tracking Intervals10 min+10 min+2 min+
Send/Track Points$0.10 eaUnlimitedUnlimited
Location Requests$0.10 eaUnlimitedUnlimited
Basic Weather1 text message each1 text message eachUnlimited
Premium Weather$1.00 ea$1.00 ea$1.00 ea
Premium Marine Weather$1.00 ea$1.00 ea$1.00 ea

There are also a few additional Garmin InReach subscription plan charges you should be aware of:

Additional Costs / PlanSafetyRecreationExpedition
Activation Fee (Annual Contract Plans)$29.95$29.95$29.95
Annual Program Fee (Freedom Plans)$34.95$34.95$34.95
*Overage Charges (Each Message 160 characters)$0.50$0.50N/A

Garmin InReach Subscription Plans: My Recommendation:

When choosing between the three plan tiers, the primary considerations are your expected needs for text messaging, tracking, and weather reports.

  • If you only use your InReach for its SOS feature and GPS navigation, the Safety Plan is your best option.
  • If you plan to use it for some limited communication with family or friends, and you enjoy tracking your hikes, the Recreation Plan might be a better option.
  • If you are engaging in a lot of trips and need lots of communication, weather report, and tracking capabilities, then go with the Expedition plan.

Learn more or sign up for a Garmin InReach subscription plan on their website.

Available Garmin InReach Devices

For those interested in subscribing to Garmin InReach plans, there are three primary device options available:

They all provide GPS mapping and SOS emergency response functionality, but from there, there are a lot of differences. Here is an overview of what they can each accomplish.

FeatureGarmin InReach MessengerGarmin InReach Mini 2Garmin GPSMAP 66i
Weight4.2 ounces3.5 ounces5.6 ounces
Battery Life100 hours (tracking)14 days (tracking)30 hours (tracking)
Features2-way text messaging, SOS, preset messages, weather forecasts2-way text messaging, SOS, preset messages, weather forecasts, trackback, location sharing2-way text messaging, SOS, preset messages, weather forecasts, trackback, location sharing, preloaded maps, GPS navigation
Display1-inch monochrome display1.2-inch monochrome display1.5-inch color display
DurabilityWater resistant to 1 meterWater resistant to 1 meterWater resistant to 1 meter, dustproof, shockproof

Remember, each device requires an active Garmin InReach Subscription plan to use while in the backcountry.

Garmin Device Recommendations:

Garmin InReach Messenger

This device is the most affordable option but has the fewest features. It offers basic communication and safety features without mapping or navigation capabilities. It is best for casual hikers who do not need GPS features.

Garmin InReach Mini 2

This is the best overall option, featuring a longer battery life and a smaller, lighter design. Suitable for a variety of outdoor activities, from hiking to fishing. It is ideal for climbers, skiers, and hikers who spend much time outdoors and want communication and mapping capabilities, too. Buy it now at REI

Garmin GPSMAP 66i

This is the most feature-rich and most expensive option. It offers advanced features such as preloaded maps and GPS navigation, in addition to a color display. It is the best choice for professionals, guides, backpackers, and those going deep into the wilderness for extended periods of time (we recommend pairing it with a powerful battery pack).

Garmin Device Price Comparison

Garmin InReach Messenger


Garmin InReach Mini 2


Garmin GPSMAP 66i


Tips for using your Garmin InReach Subscription & Device

Once you get a Garmin InReach and activate it with a subscription plan, keep these tips and advice in mind to make the most of the technology.

1. Thoroughly Test Features Upon Activation

Once you’ve activated your device and subscription, it’s crucial to thoroughly test all features—SOS, two-way messaging, tracking, and weather forecasts—before setting out on your adventure. This ensures that you are familiar with the device’s functionalities and that they are working as expected.

2. Customize Preset Messages

Most Garmin InReach devices allow you to create preset messages. These are pre-written texts that you can send quickly in everyday situations. Customize these messages to reflect the types of activities you will be engaged in and the kind of updates you’ll likely need to send. It’s a time-saving feature that can be invaluable when quick communication is essential.

3. Optimize Battery Life

Although Garmin InReach devices generally offer excellent battery life, the duration can vary based on settings and usage. Adjust the tracking intervals and other power-consuming features to match the length and nature of your trip. Some devices offer a power-saving mode, which can also be a helpful option to extend battery life.

4. Leverage Weather Forecasting Features

Some subscription plans offer basic or premium weather forecasting. Utilize this feature to stay updated about any sudden weather changes that might impact your activity or safety. Being forewarned allows you to take necessary precautions, whether that means seeking shelter or changing your route.

5. Plan and Share Your Itinerary

Many Garmin InReach devices and subscription plans offer features like ‘trackback’ and ‘location sharing.’ Use these to create and share your itinerary with friends, family, or emergency contacts before you embark on your adventure. This provides an additional layer of security, as those at home can track your progress and have a better idea of where to look should they lose contact with you.

Garmin InReach Subscription Plans: Get Out & Explore!

Your choice of Garmin InReach device and subscription plan will depend on your individual needs, the type of activities you frequently engage in, and your budget. The Messenger caters to users looking for affordability and basic features, the Mini 2 is geared towards versatility and longevity, and the GPSMAP 66i is designed for users seeking comprehensive functionality and feature-richness. By considering these aspects, you can make a well-informed decision best tailored to your requirements.

Garmin InReach Subscription Plans - FAQs

Q: Can you use Garmin inReach without subscription?

A: No, you cannot use a Garmin inReach without a subscription. The inReach device uses the Iridium satellite network to communicate, and this requires a subscription. The subscription provides you with a monthly data allowance, which you can use for messaging, tracking, and other features.

A: The inReach subscription works by connecting your device to the Iridium satellite network. When you send a message or track your location, the data is sent to the Iridium network and then routed to your recipient or the Garmin Explore website.

A: Yes, you need a plan for inReach. The subscription plan you choose will determine how much data you have each month and what features you can use. The plans are as follows:

  • Safety: Unlimited SOS messages, 24/7 monitoring, and basic tracking.
  • Recreation: Unlimited messaging, tracking, and basic weather.
  • Expedition: Unlimited messaging, tracking, weather, and more advanced features.

A: You can pay for your Garmin inReach subscription through the Garmin Explore website or the Garmin app. You can also set up automatic payments so that your subscription is renewed each month.

A: Without a subscription, the inReach device can still be used to send and receive SOS messages. However, you will not be able to use the device for messaging, tracking, or other features.

A: Yes, Garmin offers a payment plan for the inReach device and subscription. You can choose to pay for the device upfront or finance it over a period of time. The payment plan is available through Affirm, and you can apply for it on the Garmin website.

A: The activation fee for the inReach device is $19.95. This fee is charged once when you activate your device.

A: No, inReach does not charge for incoming messages. However, you will be charged for outgoing messages, depending on the plan you choose.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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