Somewear Iridium satellite tracker/messenger and Garmin InReach Mini

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

7 Responses

  1. This stuff is getting so simple & (relatively) inexpensive, even an olde HF-SSB guy like me may have to invest 🙂

  2. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    It would seem Garmin has undercut the case for the Somewear a bit. At $349 and 3.5oz with a display I think Somewear may have a more difficult case to make on the value proposition. The good news is with Somewear’s approach of relying entirely on linking to a mobile application they have lots of options for additional functionality. An arms race of features and capabilities would likely benefit us, the consumers of these technologies.

  3. Personally, I see these devices as a two way emergency communications tool with tracking and as an extra, a way to post to the Internet via Mapshare so family and friends can get a charge out of seeing your progress. What I was hoping for in a redesign of the inReach Explorer + was a touch screen that allowed easy typing just like on an iPhone. In an emergency, I want to be able to grab the Explorer and push the SOS button and at the same time not worrying about if I have my cellphone with me. When things go wrong out on the ocean you don’t have time to collect every gadget to make for a party in the life raft. I just hoped to see touchscreen typing on the next generation Explorer+ which would have been a big nice.

    Also on my wish list was for an increase in the number of characters allowed in a message. The 160 character barrier makes for some very cryptic shorthand. Expanding this to 250 characters would improved the functionality of inReach immensely. Just think of what you can do with a message from or to home while in mid ocean using more characters. Will Somewear also have a character limit on message length? Where does the character limit originate, is it with Iridium or the device modem or is it just business policy? Twitter made the jump to a higher character count per message why not the Explorer + Mini?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Rich,

      As I understand it, Twitter message length is an arbitrary decision, but Iridium SBD message lengths are baked into how the modem works with the satellite and ground system, as in:

      “Mobile Originated messages: up to 340 bytes
      Mobile Terminated messages: up to 270 bytes”

      By the way, I believe that the “mobile originated” (inReach) messages use their extra length to include email addresses/phone numbers and location/time info. And I think you get more characters if you use contacts already entered/synched to your inReach cloud account.

      Maybe a touchscreen inReach will happen. I have no idea what they’re working on, but new models will surely include ANT, which does make touchscreen messaging possible with a Garmin ANT touchscreen display.

      • Rich Cassano says:

        Ben, Thanks for explaining the technical background to message length. I do want to upgrade my older InReach Explorer to a newer model but might just delay some to see where the Mini and Somewear settle in. If I were a full time cruiser I would get the IridiumGo but for my needs now the InReach Explorer has served me well.

  4. I firmly believe every boater, and for that matter, anyone doing anything outdoors, should have a device like this. Last year, I got into a really bad situation in the deep woods along with a friend (, and without the inReach, I believe we would have been in a much worse situation, potentially even deadly.

    I think the newer inReach that Garmin released last year is pretty portable, but I love that they’re going even smaller, and that there is more competition in this part of the market!

  5. Rick R says:

    And now there is SPOT X. I haven’t bought one yet, so can’t comment on how well it works. Ben and Ben, will you be testing one?

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