I have seen the compare online, but I am not really sure what the practical differences might be. It looks like the small one can attach to your smartphone which seems like it would make it comparable to the bigger one with the exception of the altimeter. Is there something the bigger one does other than just have a bigger display? Thanks a lot. Stay safe.
I'm not an REI employee but...
The larger units are self contained GPS mapping devices with the InReach satellite messaging feature. These units are probably more rugged than a phone. They are probably easier to used to send or receive satellite messages because you do not need to pair them with a phone and they have larger screens and better input methods than the mini. Having a standalone unit provides redundancy.
The mini, while it can give you a GPS position has no mapping built in and is really primarily for satellite messaging. You can use it with your phone to do mapping via the Garmin App by most smart phones have GPS mapping available which works with other mapping applications.
The mini is much lighter and if you have a smart phone is probably more than adequate for most people but you do have a bit more setup and you have to remember to install apps and maps on your phone to get the same function and have a way to your phone safe while hiking.
Get this guy a green vest, this is a solid run down of those two products. The only thing I would add, to make this product line even more confusing, There is currently a third choice (there were four for a time) The GPS Map66i is the Garmin version. A couple of years ago Garmin bought DeLorme and the inreach was rebranded as Garmin. It took a while for Garmin to come out with its own incorporation of the tech.
@CaseyLea Thanks for reaching out!
@OldGuyot is spot on in his response: the main difference between the two devices is that the Garmin InReach Explorer 2 Way Satellite Communicator is a stand alone GPS unit, with a basemap included and the ability to upload your own maps to it. The Garmin InReach Mini 2-way Satellite Communicator requires a connection to your phone for maps data. Both units will allow you to connect with your phone to send and receive messages.
Hopefully this helps, let us know if you have any more questions. Thanks!
i think their are 4.
the new garmin gps unit and inreach(2) a gps one and a no gps one and the mini.
new garmin was big and very complicated and not a lot worked.(yet)
garmin claims the inreach/with gps is a garmin unit, but its a delorme based machine(if a track is a route then its delorme). also WOW u can send 10 minute track points to the cloud. wow on a MC that coud be a 20 mile diamater search area. almost as bad for a fast hiker. or even longer if you want(??? an hour).
since all require the sky...i liked a good bread crumb trail, so when i dropped in to a canyon at least they new where i was last seen. this way i could be 1/2 mile from last ping.(no good)
good luck adding "routes to the gps unit(the older one) u need the web, u need it to work and convert tracks to 200 point routes.
my old delorme+gps unit sent a zillion track points up and delorme software let me add 'routes etc' to it
every 10 mins is stupid. (but to solve people from using the old units u can not get them off the could any more)
i bought the new garmin inreach but sent it back
just got the garmin/gps inreach lots of options work(not all)
i would get a garmin gps and the cheaper inreach(not mini if i was not to lazy to send mine back)
10 min is standard but Garmin offers 2 min satellite tracking points in its top tier subscription.
Also the units will log GPS points locally more frequently...the Mini allows up to 1 second logs. The log points upload via WiFi when you get connection. These logs can be viewed with the satellite tracking points from the explore.garmin.com website account associated with your device and downloaded from there if you want to use then with another app like CalTopo. They also appear on the shared map. Oddly they are not shown explicitly in Garmin Earthmate phone app (Android version)