12 FAQ’s: inReach SE+ & Explorer+ || Incl, Will old devices be serviced?

My earlier preview of the new Garmin inReach SE+ and Explorer+ prompted as many reader questions as it sought to answer. So I followed up with Garmin to dive deeper into technical matters, clarify product functionality, and discuss future product roll-outs. If you’re not yet familiar with the inReach+ units, read the preview first, then return here.

A special thanks to my readers and r/Ultralight for their questions, and to Maddie from Garmin for getting all the answers.

The new Garmin inReach SE+ (yellow) and Explorer+ (orange) are best described as conventional handheld GPS units with satellite text messaging.

Questions about the inReach SE+ and Explorer+

Does the SOS message function even if the device does not have an active subscription?

Important question! The SOS function will only work if the user has an active subscription! The inReach needs that subscription for the Iridium satellites to pass the message through to the server that connects the user to GEOS Search and Rescue.

Users should read the Quick Start Guide and follow all of the warning messages they will see in our packaging and in our user interface telling them to be sure their device is active. There is a Test page that will do a round-trip test of the system too, a good thing for people to do before they head out into the woods on a trip.

How does satellite reception compare between the current inReach and new inReach+ units? Has the signal strength been improved in this latest generation?

The inReach+ performs the same as the previous generation.

What is the weight of the inReach+ units?

The inReach SE+ and Explorer+ weigh 7.5 ounces (213 grams). This represents an increase of 0.6 ounces (17 grams) over the second-generation units. The increase is due to the larger screen, buttons, and battery.

Besides the TOPO North America maps, what other maps or imagery can be loaded onto the Explorer+? Can you load Garmin maps (which you might already own) onto it? Could this list be expanded in the future with a software update?

The user can view additional maps on their paired Earthmate app, but the inReach Explorer+ will only show the DeLorme Topo North America maps. The Earthmate app will let them view DeLorme Topo North America, USGS 7.5 minute Quads, Color Aerial Imagery, and NOAA Nautical Charts, along with several different hunting map types.

The user can’t load Garmin maps at this time. We are researching how to do this via the Earthmate app for the future but aren’t planning this for the inReach Explorer+. That doesn’t mean I won’t push for it though! Our public answer right now is that the inReach Explorer+ and Earthmate app don’t support the Garmin map engine at this time.

Will the inReach Explore portal and Garmin BaseCamp be merged, so that users do not need to copy their data from one to the other in order to use compatible devices?

We have a few things in the works, but nothing we can comment specifically on now.

Is the battery replaceable? I know it’s not field-replaceable, but over time it starts to lose its charge, and this service would improve the lifespan off the device.

Our battery is rated for 500 full recharges. That means you add up each partial recharge until it totals a full recharge and then you can do that 500 times. We’re estimating 2 years of continuous use but more likely 5 years of normal consumer use.

If the user has a battery that doesn’t keep a charge within the first year, it is covered under warranty and we’ll service it.

Has the operating system from the second-generation inReach units been carried forward to the inReach+ units? Does this O/S offer the same functionality as the Garmin GPSMAP 64, such as the ability to change the log interval, and to import and export data to an online platform?

Yes, the inReach+ units use the same O/S as the second-generation units. Data can be imported to and exported from the device from your account at The inReach+ units offer about ten log intervals, between 1 second and 10 minutes; the default is 1 minute.

Note that the log interval is different than the tracking interval. The latter specifies the frequency at which the inReach sends its GPS location to the Explore web portal and the user’s MapShare page. It defaults at 10 minutes; shorter intervals are available by upgrading to the Extreme service plan.

You may reduce the tracking interval to improve battery performance, using the Extended Tracking Mode. You can track continuously for a month if you reduce the interval to 30 minutes, and for 90 days if you only need to send one location update an hour! That’s a theoretical value, I’ve never been that excited about a one-hour interval… I go with the 2-minute Extreme Plan personally.

In terms of the physical build and components, are the inReach+ units best described as a second-generation inReach inside of a Garmin GPSMAP 64 case, or a GPSMAP 64 that has been tweaked some to get inReach functionality?

While the inReach+ is a handheld GPS like the GPSMAP64, it is definitely a separate model and shouldn’t be described as part of the GPSMAP line. That device uses different maps and has different activity pages. We are exploring ways to incorporate this into future products.


Official product photos for the Garmin inReach SE+ and Explorer+

Questions about older inReach units and other Garmin products

For how long will Garmin offer subscription service (e.g. Freedom or Annual Plan) and product support (e.g. warranty claims and repairs) for the original DeLorme inReach, and the second-generation inReach SE and inReach Explorer?

We have no plans to end subscription support for previous inReach products. All of our hardware devices come with documented warranty claims so I would defer to those for how long they will be honored. No changes there either though.

I’ll have to check on repairs, I think some of that might be driven by availability of parts.

Obviously the inReach+ units will replace the current inReach units. But will they also replace the Garmin 60/62/64 GPS units, or will those continue to be available?

The inReach+ unit is a separate product line from the GPSMAP60 series and will not replace that popular handheld GPS line.

When will DeLorme offer an inReach Nano, similar to the original inReach. This screen-less device would be smaller and less expensive than the current units, and rely mostly on the smartphones that most of us already carry into the backcountry (because we use it for navigation and entertainment, and because we don’t want to leave it in the car).

We can’t comment on any specifics now, but stay tuned!

General product questions

What differentiates the inReach from the functionality of a PLB and of a combination smartphone/PLB?

The inReach and a PLB can both be used to signal for help in an emergency, using worldwide satellite coverage. The inReach relies on the Iridium network; a PLB, on the Cospas-Sarsat networ, using a very specific (406Mhz) frequency to broadcast messages.

The functional similarities mostly stop there. An inReach can be used to send customized non-emergency messages (“Hi honey. I’m fine but I took a wrong turn today and will exit a few hours later tomorrow than I expected.”), using the virtual keypad or using the Earthmate app on a smartphone. The inReach can also receive incoming messages, and broadcast a periodic track (e.g. every 10 minutes) so that family, friends, and SAR teams know your location between messages.

A PLB is for emergencies only, and it cannot receive incoming messages. Moreover, it cannot be paired with a smartphone. So, if you carry a smartphone in the backcountry, its usefulness is depending on having cellular reception for phone calls, text messaging, and data.

Can text messages be composed on a smartphone and then sent?

There are three ways to compose text messages on the inReach+. This is unchanged from the current inReach.

First, you can use preset messages, which you create in your online inReach account. To send, navigate to the preset messages in the inReach screen, and select the message.

Second, you can pair a smartphone to the inReach using Bluetooth and the Earthmate app. Essentially, you use the phone like a keyboard and the inReach like a satellite modem.

Third, you can use the inReach’s virtual keyboard. This is relatively tedious, but it’s better than a smartphone in harsh weather conditions like rain and cold, when the touchscreen and battery of a smartphone do not functional as well. We’ve also worked hard to create predictive text and word suggestions so that as you type a possible word will be suggested so you can enter your text faster.

The inReach virtual keyboard is tedious, but does not require a paired smartphone and is more user-friendly in cold and rain than a smartphone screen & battery.

Suggestions for improvement

Fix the character limit. Currently, 10 characters are used to include the recipient, and more characters for the ad at the end. Full use of the character limit by the user would be preferred.

There are options in the Account section of the Explore Web Portal that allow the user to control what is included in their SMS message. From the website:

Add GLONASS support for those in the higher latitudes.

Good request, we don’t have this for the inReach+ but it is something we’re looking at for future products

The screen size and resolution poorly represents the inReach brand. It looks like it has not been updated since the 1990’s.

We chose the best screen we could, given our target BOM and need to keep the cost of the inReach accessible to the consumer outdoor recreation user. Keep in mind that our screens use sunlight-readable transflective displays for easy viewing outdoors, unlike LCD/LED displays (like in an iPhone) that get terrible glares when in direct sunlight.

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24 Responses to 12 FAQ’s: inReach SE+ & Explorer+ || Incl, Will old devices be serviced?

  1. Don February 1, 2017 at 1:31 am #

    Super helpful information here, Andrew. Thank you very much. I especially appreciate the specifics about loading good, detailed topo maps directly to the device. I’m not interested in using my phone for this capability. I’ll gladly buy an Explorer+ when they enable this. Until then, I guess I’ll be replacing my dead Oregon with a 64s.

  2. Dan Durston February 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

    It would be really nice if the GPS functionality of these units still functioned, even if the satellite subscription isn’t active.

    Once I tried to activate my InReach online. It looked like it worked but actually the online process glitched. I didn’t sync directly to the computer because I had to run, so I tried to do it en route. When it wouldn’t activate after an hour in the sun, I realized something was up.

    It wasn’t a big deal, since it wasn’t a crazy trip or anything, but I was skiing into a cabin that is pretty hard to find in the dense bush so I was hoping use get my UTM co-ordinates from the DeLorme to find the cabin.

    Everything turned out fine, but I was disappointed that you’re locked out from using the other functionality if you haven’t paid for the satellite functionality.

    • Andrew Skurka February 1, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

      With the inReach+ devices the GPS nav is always on, even if the subscription is inactive. The device must be activated still, after you purchase it, and you must pay the annual fee if your subscription is inactive, but the GPS functions should work. Per my Garmin contact:

      “The navigation features in the inReach Explorer+ and SE+ will continue to work even if you suspend your subscription. Users will still need to set up their account in order to gain access to the Explore web portal, activate their inReach, and use the Earthmate mobile app. Once they do this they will be free to suspend their subscription and continue to use the device as a handheld GPS. Obviously I’m going to try very hard to entice customers to keep their plan active with exciting Iridium messaging, tracking, and safety features, but the option will be there.”

      Edit: Updated info

      • Dan February 1, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

        Thanks Andrew. It would be great if they updated the software to allow this on the older models also.

    • Andrew Skurka February 2, 2017 at 8:06 am #

      Dan – Updated my original comment with confirmation from Garmin.

      • Dan February 2, 2017 at 8:48 am #

        Thanks. Helpful.

  3. spelt February 3, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    Suggestion: create customizable or adaptive predictive text. If I always end “ca” with “r,” I should be able to program the unit to suggest “r” instead of “ll,” whether by the software itself keeping track, or having the predictive dictionary on the web portal so users can edit it.

  4. Bob S. February 3, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    Do you know if both the Garmin SE+ and Explorer+ have on-board GPS chips now? In the previous versions, I believe only the Explorer had a GPS chip.

    • Andrew Skurka February 3, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

      Both of the inReach+ devices have GPS chips.

      The primary hardware difference between the SE+ and Explorer+ is that the latter has a barometer, accelerometer, and digital compass. This makes it more accurate than the SE+, because it’s getting data from multiple instruments instead of just the GPS chip.

  5. Dirk Ellsworth February 22, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

    Andrew – thank you for both of the reviews on the new Garmin version of the Inreach Explorer + – Great job!!

    My understanding of any of the service plans – annual or freedom is they all support unlimited preset messages and you can create as many of these as you like on line – are those 2 understandings correct?

    Thank you,
    Dirk Ellsworth

    • Andrew Skurka February 22, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

      Yes, unlimited sending of preset messages. You can have 3 of them, I think. Mine: I’m fine. I’m at camp. And a forecast request to WX2inReach (which is no longer needed now that the new inReach units have built-in forecasting).

      You can also pre-program a bunch of messages, but those do not count as preset.

  6. Clayton Cammack March 14, 2017 at 7:47 am #

    Thank you for all the information. I just got mine yesterday mostly for trips photographing mustangs, where there is rarely cell phone service. The information allowed me to be confident enough to make the purchase.

    • Andrew Skurka March 14, 2017 at 8:11 am #

      Sure thing. Thanks for leaving a message.

  7. PC March 28, 2017 at 5:39 am #

    Can’t subscribe an Explorer in Australia. Garmin US won’t allow an Australian user to subscribe, it points to a dead web link Disappointing start with the new toy.

  8. Wendel March 28, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    I see that with all plans there is unlimited preset text messages. I assume that means that you can send unlimited SMS messages as long as the messages are preset/already existing in the device. Is it really that simple? I feel like there is a catch. What if someone responds to a preset message? Does that count as a regular message?

    • Andrew Skurka March 28, 2017 at 11:20 am #

      You can preset 3 messages and send them as often as you want.

      If someone responds to a preset, that counts as a regular message.

  9. Todor Tihomirov April 2, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    Your articles are great,but i think Garmin havent done enough,probably most people will not buy it(rhe older one is abkut the same),but when its embeded in 64 for example it will be great

  10. mikus May 8, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    I really hoped to see the full GPS functionality in this device, so I could replace 2 devices in one. Yet, until the maps cover basically only The North America it doesnt really make any sense. Given growing competition, Garmin may need to speed up the development here a bit to keep up.

  11. Hunter May 21, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    I have an older orange inreach explorer – in service for 2 years mostly during hunting season. It quit working with an error message of invalid IMEI number. From settings I can view the IMEI number and it’s all zeros – not the number printed on the back of the device. I would guess if that number could just be edited then I would have a working device again but Delormne (and now Garmin) refuse to service it. It makes me very reluctant to purchase a new one both from a device service standpoint as well as from a reliability standpoint. Anyone have a similar experience?

  12. J Thompson July 27, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    Although Garmin still honors the old inreach units and plans, it has dropped all updates and syncing of old units. This applies to the older inreach units and the PN60w SE. I have confirmed this through emails with their tech people.

  13. Josh August 6, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    Suggestion; allow functionality with small stand alone blue tooth key boards. I would rather not bring my phone along (fragile, don’t want to lose, and it’s a power hog) but typing messages through the device is exceedingly tedious. A small keyboard (perhaps powered by an aaa battery) would be better. Maybe a keyboard could be offered as an accessory?

  14. Jemmy Otis September 4, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    Thanks for the site, I’ve learned and enjoyed for years.

    What’s troubling is the increasing number of complaints and bad reviews at sites like Amazon since Garmin’s purchase. I understand you have to sift these reviews carefully but many of the negative reviews are long and detailed. The complaints are occasionally about the inReach itself–coverage, etc.–but the more troubling ones are about support and service plan “scams”. I appreciate these FAQ / info posts but too often they stay away from reputation and community feedback. Giving Garmin a voice here is useful, I would have loved to see respond to some of the dissatisfaction. I realize that’s asking for journalism versus blog posts. This isn’t idle criticism–I was prepared to buy an inReach but I’m a hyper-researcher and couldn’t help but notice the uptick in unhappy customers for what had been a very well-reviewed product for many years. I don’t doubt the product but I’m starting to wonder about the service.

    • Andrew Skurka September 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

      I think it’s probably like your cable company. Everything is good until you want cancel or modify your service, or you want to be credited for service that was promised (so you thought) but not delivered.

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