Hands-on Gear Review

DeLorme InReach SE Review

A satellite communication device that can pair with some DeLorme handheld GPS devices.
Price:  $300 List | $279.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy one-handed (and gloved, if not mittened) SOS operation, awesome two-way messaging, smartphone interface works well, pairs automatically on startup
Cons:  Expensive, largest of the devices we tested, some issues with activation
Bottom line:  Has the same app and connectivity as the new Garmin models, for almost $200 less.
Editors' Rating:   
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Dimensions (in./cm):  4.8 x 2.8 x 1.7 inches, 12 x 7 x 4.3 cm
Weight w/ batts oz/g:  8.18oz / 232g
Battery Life (hours):  100 hrs (lithium batteries)
Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

The InReach SE offers a solid value because it delivers most of the features of the new Garmin InReach Explorer+ for less. That said, it might not be available for long as Garmin phases out the DeLorme line. It can be used as a stand-alone device, and you really get what you pay for. Less expensive options were far less reliable and much less feature rich in our tests.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Satellite Messengers and Locator Beacons

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 25, 2017

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Setup


The InReach operates on a commercial satellite network and requires a subscription to function. Setting it up isn't particularly challenging, and the DeLorme website is generally easier to navigate. The user account space is more intuitive. The InReach paired with our phone immediately the first time, and automatically every time after that. This may sound trivial, but in the world of satellite phones, hubs and messengers, it's very rare and enjoyable to have a device that connects so well.

The one issue we ran into was when starting and restarting the Freedom plan. It took some time and activation was not instant. It's a minor headache, but do allow some extra time to activate. Don't try to activate the hour before you leave cell phone range and keep your laptop and connector cable handy.

As A Standalone


Even without the smartphone pairing, the InReach can still send 160 character messages to your contacts. The DeLorme allows tracking and shared maps (the DeLorme allows you to adjust the tracking interval via the Eartmate app but the shortest interval possible is only 10 minutes). It's a small thing, but the DeLorme shared-map url is cool and personalized - check it out

Screen shot of locating someone using the InReach. The message bubbles are when we sent a location when we got to camp. The connected dots are when the tracking feature is turned on.
Screen shot of locating someone using the InReach. The message bubbles are when we sent a location when we got to camp. The connected dots are when the tracking feature is turned on.

Also, the DeLorme page allows you to view waypoints across a custom date range.

As a Paired Device


This is where the DeLorme really shines. The features are many and the two standouts are the ability to send and receive(!) custom messages via your phone to any contacts you choose, and being able to view your location on downloadable DeLorme maps. The free Earthmate app is simple and intuitive to use. Each time I opened the app in a new location, it prompted me to download the maps for that area. It's also simple to download maps in advance for the region you plan to travel in (much smarter, since downloading 200mb of maps once you're already "there" is easier said than done). The map function shows your location, and also the most basic functions of a GPS: heading, elevation, speed and coordinates.

Messaging


The InReach's successful message-send rate was 100 percent. The InReach provided a small reassurance that if we did need the SOS function, it was very likely to work. In addition to that, not only could we watch the message successfully depart via smartphone, we could also receive messages in reply.

Example of the InReach messaging when paired with a smart phone.
Example of the InReach messaging when paired with a smart phone.

Satellite Network


The InReach operates on the Iridium network, which is global. We were not able to find reliable reports on the coverage of Iridium vs. Globalstar for the areas in which they overlap, but satellite phone retailers and reviewers almost unanimously favor Iridium.

The inReach is not cheap to operate depending on which plan you choose. To buy the unit and use it with the average subscription plan over the next three years will run between $950 and $1200. If you just use it for a month or two, the costs would be around $500-600 over 3 years. Obviously, the cost of this service is nothing compared to the value of having it possibly save your life, but there are likely some less expensive options.
Chris McNamara

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Most recent review: May 25, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (4.0)

67% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 25%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Person Icon

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Nov 1, 2014 - 06:40pm
Suzanne Connely · Camper · Taft
The author is dead-on about DeLorme's functionality. They simply take their solution to a higher level than their competitors.

I've used all the devices as well in the back country for years; each product has its own perks & advantages, but pound for pound, I'll take the inReach SE any day of the week.

The Sales Rep at REI in Boulder showed me a live inReach SE demo and we sent and received a couple of messages from the device.

I never really thought about the advantages of 2-way technology, until I was able to experience it.

I've always been fine using the SPOT2, but failed to realize how handy it would be to have real 2-way communications (like on your cell phone) and "converse"..

In a nutshell, getting delivery confirmation that my SOS & text messages got out is huge for me, not to mention how beneficial it is to my family to be able to contact me when I am out in the boonies.

The built in keyboard on the inReach SE finally gives me the flexibiuliy to text what I want, to whom I want.

I'm sure REI could have sold me about anything, but I'm glad they showed me the 2-way inReach. I'm sold on it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Person Icon

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   Jan 6, 2017 - 07:00pm
Bud2017
I just received my Delorme Inreach Explorer! I scan the QR code for the setup video… URL does not work. I enter the URL from the user manual in my web browser… No setup videos just a message saying Garmin has purchased Delorme. Searched YouTube to find setup videos… found this one GREAT! Go through all the steps and I’m SUPER excited to start planning. I chose the Freedom Plan ($24.95 yearly) and the monthly Recreation Plan ($34.95). I get a confirmation email that the plan has been setup. I login to explore.delorme.com and a page comes up saying “Enter Your Billing Information”. I tried clicking on the Home tab, the Map tab, the Inbox tab, the Contacts tab, the Messages tab, the Social tab, and the Account tab. Nothing changes… I logged out and logged back in… same thing. I cleared my browser data… same thing.
I went to my confirmation email to get a customer service number. There were no USA phone numbers so I called the Canada phone number in the email. The customer service agent told me that I needed to call the USA number so I explained that the information was not provided. He gave me the phone number so I called the USA customer service number. After 40 minutes, I still cannot use the planning, contact, social, or any other service provided through the explore.delorme.com. The agent told me that it was an error in their system. It was Friday so no one would be able to work on a solution until Monday… great! I’ve invested about $60.00 in the plan… I asked for a refund. Response: “We can give you a refund but you will have to pay a reactivation fee of $24.95”… to reactivate WHAT??? The service I paid for is not working properly and you’ve already told me that it’s a GARMIN issue!
I HATE GARMIN!!! I DO NOT RECOMMEND ANY GARMIN PRODUCT AND THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE IS TERRIBLE!!! The hours for the customer service department: M-Th 8am to 6pm and F 8am to 5pm. Let’s think about this… most people that can afford to buy a Garmin product have a job. Most jobs are from 8am to 5pm, the SAME time the customer service department is open! Great thinking Garmin… you never have to deal with customer issues if your closed when customers can call you! YOU SUCK!

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
Oh Canada

Feb 4, 2016 - 11:29am
 
Ducati · Other · Commerce Michigan
Please Take Note:

I think there is a valuable feature missing in ALL of these devices. Given the processing power they must contain I would include an option to select a time at which a message is automatically sent out unless the message is suppressed. Example: every evening at 7:00 (local) an SOS would be sent unless it was told to skip. I would also include an alert, preferably audible, that starts 5 or 10 minutes prior to the send time. The reasons for this feature are many & obvious. IMHO
Climber

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   Sep 10, 2015 - 06:09pm
Dangalla · Climber · Eau Claire, WI
The guide service I work for has one of these and it makes communicating to the inside world a lot easier. I love that I can type customized messages and send them to select people with my location. Makes a lot of clients families comfortable being able to chat with each other. Battery is great lasts along time when used only a few times a day.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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