Garmin Inreach Explorer or 66i

Elkwithastick

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May 29, 2016
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I've been using the Inreach's for many years, it is a device that is on the top of my gear list, way above high tech clothing, packs or boots, I'm an older fella that primarily hunts solo in the backcountry and the Inreach has proven it's worth time and again, I use it for communication with my family, checking in, showing them where I am at all times, we've had emergencies at home I wouldn't have known about without it and also to let friends and family know I've got that bull down or whatever, also works for some lesser navigation if needed. I use my phone paired to it and texting and the basic maps are easy. For actual mapping I use my phone with Basemap and Onx which works well enough except that I have to keep the location on for them to work. Yesterday, in the backcountry bear hunting, my oldest trusty Inreach gave up the ghost, no power up, tried all the reset tricks, contacted Garmin etc, My question is for all you Garmin users is I'm trying to choose between the Inreach Explorer, or the Garmin 66i, which comes with true navigation, much better maps an SD card slot for other mapping such as Onx and so on. Anyone have experience with both, or at least the 66i? Any input would be awesome, my wife and I have an agreement, NO Inreach, no solo hunting. So you can see my situation, it's bear season haha. Thank you.
 

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AlaskaHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
750
Location
interior Alaska
I take an InReach with me all year round....and I use Gaia GPS on a smart phone for maps/navigation.

Up here in Alaska I can download maps for when there is no cell phone coverage..
ownership, wildfire perimeters, imagery, topos, etc.
Plus routes, tracks, waypoints, etc.
Gaia GPS is free and their premium version is inexpensive.
https://www.gaiagps.com/membership/

I do recharge my phone each night using an Anker Powercore charger.
 

BrokenChicken

Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
99
Location
Denver, CO
I personally use InReach Mini. And just watch battery usage on my phone on multi day trips.
if i had to pick between Explorer and 66i id go with Explorer. Its battery in same settings seems to be 3x longer than rhe 66i. To me navigation is not as important as just like you i use my phone for that, But battery life is. Explorer gets my vote.

edit: both Explorer and 66 have navigation. Sure 66 has a nicer screen and more user friendly/easier navigation. But out in the backcountry are you really in need for turn by turn navigation? Explorer has topo and navigation and for my needs it would be just fine. And on multi day trips battery is most important.
 
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BRI

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Sep 30, 2005
Messages
431
Location
Anduhconduh, Montana
In my opinion, it comes down to if you want map features or not. If you want to use the GPS for navigating and mapping, the 66i is the way to go. If you don't care about the mapping, the mini is way to go. The map feature on the explorer isn't very useful. I have the 66i and battery life is good. I use in conjunction with OnX but will never rely solely on that and will always carry a GPS as a backup. So far I've been very happy with the 66i.
 

Bombguy83

Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2019
Messages
17
Location
Where I-25 and the Arkansas River Meet
From looking at some of the current issues being had with OnX chips on the 66i and Explorer and the fact they say outright that they aren’t supported on their website I am inclined to go with the InReach mini bundle at Costco.com and a Dark energy battery pack to run maps on the phone. Imagery is invaluable to me and the chips are state locked and I travel quite a bit. (2 state Turkey hunt coming up before I get busy with spring bear)

In other news, ADFG site still down on draw results day 🤦🏻‍♂️
 

BRI

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
431
Location
Anduhconduh, Montana
If you have an older OnX chip, chances are it might not work. If you have a newer chip it likely will work. I had a chip I'd purchased two years ago and it worked just fine.
 
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