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Garmin inReach SE+ Review

Garmin inReach SE+
Price:   $400 List | $350.56 at Amazon
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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
Bottom line:  Same as the Explorer+, but without the preloaded TOPO maps, compass, altimeter, and accelerometer.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

New Garmin Version of the inReach SE — 2017
Garmin bought out DeLorme and released their take on this product, now called the Garmin inReach SE+ (pictured above). Below the product comparison table, we show a side-by-side of the new Garmin and previous DeLorme versions of this product. The Delorme model is no longer in production, and is becoming very scarce at online retailers.

The previous DeLorme inReach SE won our Best Buy award because it delivered most of the features of the new Garmin inReach Explorer+ for less. Now that it has transitioned to the Garmin inReach SE+, its list price is $400, a price too high for a Best Buy Award. However, it is less expensive than the Explorer+ and virtually the same product minus the preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps with GPS routing, as well as the built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer of the Explorer+. If you don't need those features, save $50 and go for the inReach SE+.

This model can be used as a stand-alone device a'la SPOT. You really get what you pay for; less expensive options were far less reliable and much less feature rich in our tests. If you just want an SOS device, consider the ACR ResQlink 406 Personal Locator Beacon, which likely performs better in SOS send mode and does not require a data plan.

RELATED REVIEW: Best Satellite Messengers and Locator Beacons

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
May 25, 2017


The Garmin inReach SE+ vs. the DeLorme inReach SE

With the purchase of DeLorme in 2017, Garmin revamped the inReach SE and released the inReach SE+. Externally, the SE+ is smaller and less boxy than its predecessor, featuring the same shape as the Garmin inReach Explorer+. The SE+ is actually the same as the Explorer+, but it doesn't come preloaded with the DeLorme TOPO maps or the built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer. Here's a quote from the manufacturer on the changes implemented in the inReach SE+:

"The inReach SE+ has several significant improvements over the previous SE.
  • The Garmin inReach SE+ and Explorer+ have a larger screen than their predecessors. This larger screen is now a transflective display, which is much easier to see outdoors and works better in bright sunlight.
  • The SE+ offers a breadcrumb map page like the original DeLorme Explorer. The inReach SE+ uses GPS to provide basic grid navigation and allows the user to drop waypoints, mark key locations, track progress, and follow a breadcrumb trail back to base. The SE+ does not include topo maps like the Explorer+, but a user could navigate their way out of the woods, for example, with the aid of a basic map.
  • The SE+ has navigation features. The original SE didn't provide functions that allowed the user to store waypoints, so the user couldn't use the compass page or the map page mentioned above to navigate to a destination or find their way back to the trailhead or home base.
  • The new SE+ and Explorer+ feature several design improvements over the previous DeLorme models. The SOS trigger on the Garmin inReach SE+ and Explorer+ is protected with a cover, which prevents accidental triggers. This is an improvement over the switch and click-it-to-lock-it feature in the previous DeLorme devices. In addition, the new Garmin models feature overmolding, which makes it easier to hold, and the addition of a spine mount allows for more accessory options."

In the photos below, the new Garmin version is on the left and the discontinued DeLorme is on the right.

Garmin inReach SE+
A satellite communication device that can pair with some DeLorme handheld GPS devices.

Summary of the key differences
  • Larger Screen — The device overall got smaller, yet the screen got bigger. Garmin claims the new display is easier to read in bright sunlight.
  • New Body Design — The smaller, narrower body of the SE+ also has a cover on the SOS trigger, a spine mount for adding accessories, and better in-hand grip, according to the manufacturer.
  • Navigation Features — The SE+ can store waypoints, unlike the DeLorme model, which improves navigation back to specific locations.
  • Price — The inReach SE+ costs $100 more than its predecessor from DeLorme. The list price is now $400.

Until we get our hands on the updated Garmin version of this satellite messenger, the following assessments and analysis still refer to the DeLorme inReach SE.

Hands-On Review of the DeLorme inReach SE

The DeLorme inReach Explorer vs. The inReach SE

The inReach Explorer, $380, has all of the capabilities of the inReach SE, plus built-in navigation capabilities. You can create or view routes (including distance and bearing information), use the built-in digital compass, and access your elevation, speed, and moving average using the barometric altimeter and accelerometer sensors. In addition, you're able to mark important locations with waypoints and navigate a route to your waypoint or back to where you started. The Explorer also lets you view key trip statistics and detailed track logging, as well as plan your route and waypoints ahead of time; you can even share your experiences with your friends and family using a special portal.

DeLorme InReach Explorer
A satellite communication device that can pair with some DeLorme handheld GPS devices.

All that said, in the field, we never used the new features. We feel you should save $80 and get the SE.


Like the SPOT Gen3, the inReach operates on a commercial satellite network and requires a subscription to function. Setting it up was not significantly different from the SPOT Gen3, but the DeLorme website is generally easier to navigate and 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 Standalone

Even without the smartphone pairing, the inReach can still send 160 character messages to your contacts. Instead of just sending an "OK" message as with the SPOT, you can communicate with your contacts. Basically, if you like the "OK message" feature of the SPOT, then you'll love being able to send messages with the inReach.

Both the DeLorme and the SPOT Gen3 allow 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, whereas the SPOT system only allows you to choose up to the last 30 days.

As a Paired Device

This is where the DeLorme really leaves the SPOT Gen3 in the dust. 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, and 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.


The inReach's successful message-send rate was 100 percent. The SPOT Gen3 was also likely 100 percent, but you don't get the same instant feedback to know your message was received. 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, whereas Globalstar (which supports SPOT), is not. I was 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 the ACR ResQlink performs the basic SOS function at a three-year cost of $360 (taking into consideration the five-year $150 battery life). The SPOT costs $550 over three years. Therefore, the inReach is best indicated for those who want messaging and are happy to pay for it.
Chris McNamara

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

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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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)
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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.

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   Jan 6, 2017 - 07:00pm
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

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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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