Garmin inReach Messenger

Garmin inReach Messenger Review

December 12, 2023 – Garmin inReach Messenger is the latest contender in the satellite communicator genre, and offers best-in-class battery life, signal receptivity, and nearly all of the most desirable features, (except a dedicated phone number) for just $300 and four ounces. As such, it takes our top slot award, narrowly beating out ZOLEO and inReach Mini 2. Shop now.

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  • Price: $300
  • Weight: 4.0 oz
  • Average Battery Life: 672 hours (28 days)
  • Pros: Best battery with reverse charging. Best antenna with best signal and messaging reliability. Good price. Lightweight. Basic on-device screen functionality. TracBack feature. Group messaging. Tri-network connectivity. Waterproof.
  • Cons: Not the lightest weight, nor the least expensive. Not dedicated phone number. No on-device navigation. Tiny screen. No carabiner clip.

Compare this to more options in our guide to the best satellite communicators.

Garmin inReach Messenger satellite communicator device

Construction & Features

Starting with the battery, Garmin inReach Messenger gives you a longer lifespan than any other satellite communicator, averaging 28 days on 10 minute tracking intervals. That’s double Mini 2, and more than triple ZOLEO. What’s more, it can even reverse charge, powering your phone back up in an emergency.

Next, we nod to the best-in-class signal receptivity for connection to the Iridium satellite network. Based on our backcountry testing, Garmin inReach Mini 2 previously held the top slot with the most reliable performance. That’s thanks to its 31.8 dBm helical antenna, now bested by Messenger’s 35.9 dBm flat panel antenna, which is also less bulky.

Due to the newly released Garmin Messenger App, the Messenger device (as well as Mini 2) gets tri-network connectivity. That is, the ability to flex between satellite, cellular, and wi-fi. If you are on either of the latter two, custom messages won’t count towards your plan’s limit. It also has a messaging leg up over ZOLEO with better weather forecasting and the ability to group chat.

While any screen is better than no screen (looking at you, ZOLEO), Messenger’s isn’t all that impressive and a step back in size compared to Mini 2. However, it does give operational cues as well as displaying inbound messages, battery %, weather forecast, time/date. You can even pick from a number of preset messages to send. It’s clunky, but does meet the very baseline bar for standalone operations.

Messenger’s screen also allows for use of the TracBack feature. Like Mini 2, it passively records your location, allowing you to retrace your steps should become lost. You can also export your track online so friends and family can follow your progress. But unlike Mini 2, it does not allow you to plug in a route to follow; we repeat, this is not a navigation device.

all sides of device

Garmin inReach Messenger Review Verdict

Factoring in all of the above, Garmin inReach Messenger is the best all-around Satellite Communicator on the market right now with the best combination of desirable features and good stats for a reasonable price.