Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

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longri
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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by longri » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:35 am

The analysis doesn't include the up front cost of the device.

When I did a comparison of Inreach/Spot/PLB a year and a half ago I thought I'd probably go with the Recreation plan on a monthly basis for 6 months per year. Over a 7 year period (the lifespan of a typical PLB) the total cost of the Inreach with that plan would be 5-6 times as much as a PLB ($1500 vs $250-300), assuming the cost of Garmin's plans don't increase over that time, which is unlikely.

While having two-way communication in the event of a serious problem is not to be understated I hope mightily to never need the device at all. And for me, texting my friends for non-emergency purposes falls into a different category. But I can see the appeal. And compared to what most of us spend on mobile phone plans, cable TV, and donuts, it's not really that much money.








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AlmostThere
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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:16 am

I am moving away from an ACR PLB. The ACR is nearing the end of its battery life, and replacing the battery costs nearly as much as buying a new beacon. You have to replace the battery every five years. Over a 10 year span the actual cost for the ACR is 500 - 1000 depending on how much you pay to take the beacon to the certified contractor that replaces the beacon battery. The math is not so simple as buying a beacon.

If I disable the subscription half the year, the price of the InReach drops significantly. I use it only on specific trips.

And, after the idiotic episode a couple years ago where my data was screwed up in their database resulting in EMAILS from Chile about my beacon going off somewhere in the ocean near Easter Island? I have less faith in the system than I used to... If I am sitting with a dead car at a trailhead I'd rather text a friend.

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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:12 am

How do the different devices stack up with respect to sturdiness? What if you fell in a stream, are they waterproof? What if you fell down a slope, I wrecked a camera doing this once. If you wear it then it would seem it would get some beating up. It seems to me if you carried the device inside your pack, you may not be able to get to it or what if when crossing a stream you fell in and then had to jettison the pack? What if you simply stupidly dropped it on a rock? Is the mini less sturdy than the regular Inreach? I am sort of hell on electronics, so this would make a difference to me. I have also lost a camera by setting it on a rock and then forgetting it.

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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by bobby49 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:26 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:12 am
How do the different devices stack up with respect to sturdiness? What if you fell in a stream, are they waterproof? What if you fell down a slope, I wrecked a camera doing this once. If you wear it then it would seem it would get some beating up. It seems to me if you carried the device inside your pack, you may not be able to get to it or what if when crossing a stream you fell in and then had to jettison the pack? What if you simply stupidly dropped it on a rock? Is the mini less sturdy than the regular Inreach? I am sort of hell on electronics, so this would make a difference to me. I have also lost a camera by setting it on a rock and then forgetting it.
My inReach SE is supposed to be waterproof, and the data port/charging port connector is sealed to water. As long as the control buttons are undamaged, then they are sealed also. If I fell in while crossing a stream and got out within a matter of seconds, then I think mine would be perfectly good. Just to be on the safe side, I store mine inside a Ziplock bag inside an orange mesh bag, and there is a thin bright orange cord on it with a carabiner. Therefore, it probably won't be ruined by water or bump, and if I keep the carabiner clipped onto the pack, then it probably won't be lost. If I need, I can move the carabiner over to a belt loop. I normally keep it in the same place at my pack on an outside pocket. If I turn it on and leave tracking on, it will transmit OK from inside the pack. Now, I suppose that I could also forget my pack, but that is unlikely.

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AlmostThere
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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:14 am

The Mini is usually clipped to my shoulder strap. It's fairly durable and has taken some knocks without visible damage. Still would not want to submerge it but it is constructed of sturdier material than my ACR.

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longri
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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by longri » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:18 am

AlmostThere wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:16 am
Over a 10 year span the actual cost for the ACR is 500 - 1000 depending on how much you pay to take the beacon to the certified contractor that replaces the beacon battery. The math is not so simple as buying a beacon.
I can buy two brand new PLBs for under $500 and each will have a battery life greater than 5 years. One device on the market has a 10 year battery. So how would it cost as much as $1000 for two devices over a ten year period?

Maybe you can try and explain the math?

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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:21 am

longri wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:18 am
AlmostThere wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:16 am
Over a 10 year span the actual cost for the ACR is 500 - 1000 depending on how much you pay to take the beacon to the certified contractor that replaces the beacon battery. The math is not so simple as buying a beacon.
I can buy two brand new PLBs for under $500 and each will have a battery life greater than 5 years. One device on the market has a 10 year battery. So how would it cost as much as $1000 for two devices over a ten year period?

Maybe you can try and explain the math?
Perhaps part of the problem is that they are making better and better devices, because mine has a functional life span of five years, and if they are now making them better than that the math changes?

This is the same issue as with computers - the life span for computers changes for the worse as tech advances tho.

Still, not everyone has the same needs, and needs change. Which also changes the math. Five years ago the ACR was exactly what I thought I needed. My trips have changed, my needs have changed, and there are reasons for moving to something else. So my personal math has changed. Which is why, as with so many things backpacking, personal math will always trump the numbers.

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longri
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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by longri » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:24 am

So does that mean you paid $500 for an ACR nearly five years ago?

Even if that were true you still could get a replacement with more than five years of battery life for about half that now. So the 10 year estimate for a PLB, for you personally, would still be quite a bit less than $1000, and certainly a lot less than what it could cost to use a Garmin for 10 years.

But you're right, a PLB and satellite messenger aren't equivalent devices.



You cannot make another post so soon after your last.
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:12 am
What if you fell in a stream, are they waterproof?...
...What if you simply stupidly dropped it on a rock? Is the mini less sturdy than the regular Inreach? I am sort of hell on electronics, so this would make a difference to me. I have also lost a camera by setting it on a rock and then forgetting it.

The PLBs I looked at as well as the one I bought are waterproof. But you could break it, lose it, or be unable to get to it in an emergency. That's true of any device.

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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:11 am

To de-complexify hopefully, to anyone who doesn't pay much attention to me....

My reasoning for the ACR used to be that all I needed was that button to signal in an emergency - come now, fast, and pull someone out. Then I joined trail crew. Then I was made a trail crew leader.

Then, I figured out there are problems with satellite phones as well, and sometimes the ACR, and since I am never going to have answers to my question re the ACR and my needs have evolved anyway... it's better to go with something else.

Volunteers who are not as proficient/experienced with tools + sharp tools + liability complexities with the nonprofit and the Forest Service + personal backpacking outings with folks I may not know much, or people I care about a whole lot, who don't have the ability to justify the cost of any device = I need something else.

SPOT has problems that are obvious if you're in touch with the SAR community - just saw another instance of not one but two SPOT devices failing on the same trip to trigger an SOS roll up in my Facebook feed. InReach may have similar problems at times but I don't see those as often. I have it as a backup to a high band radio and as a convenience. We summoned a helo with the radio, we managed the extraction of the rest of the crew on the InReach, had someone hike in to get the evac'd person's gear. If we are pulling from churches and other such entities for volunteers and Dad and his teenager are on a trip, and teenager has a mishap with a saw, the decision tree may result in helicopter extraction and then, Dad is having to break camp, hike out, all the while worrying about son -- and my ability to give him my phone and let him text his son to reassure himself is an extra layer of volunteer retention. People are more important than the work.

I do recommend something, and if you have a couple trips a year and don't need all the rest of the features the ACR is a great bargain. If you have sufficiently paranoid folks or just need to keep in touch -- it was nice to let someone with a hospitalized friend check in, on a longer trip she so desperately wanted to take, for example - the InReach is a nice thing to have.

But I am still pushing reconn.org on everyone who comes on my trips.
Last edited by AlmostThere on Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Garmin Inreach subscription plan analysis

Post by LMBSGV » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:16 am

The SPOT 3 and SPOT X claim to be waterproof. I’m not about to test their claim. I carry the SPOT X in my Think Tank camera case in the slot where a third lens would go so it is always with me and easily accessible if I had to send an SOS.

I haven’t had any problems with sending or receiving messages with the SPOT X except when I was camped at Sentinel Campground and Junction Meadow in Kings Canyon in the trees when the Check-in/OK was not received by my wife. A clear view of the sky seems a necessity for getting a message sent. Once you understand all the symbols on the messages, you can figure out if the message was received. The location shown is always accurate within a few feet.

If one reads the reviews of the SPOT X, there are many people who have had problems with it. It’s hard to tell if the problems are due to user errors or lousy quality control in the manufacturing or both. As an older person who hates smart phones, I don’t have any problem with the somewhat retro user interface of the SPOT X, but some people definitely do. SPOT now has monthly subscription plans, but since I use mine year-round hiking in West Marin, I get the cheapest ($144) yearly plan.

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