Garmin In-Reach Failure

DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
Don't write off the whole system because you happened to get a bad unit. I am part of a Search and Rescue unit and follow the scuttlebutt on Spot and InReach and other such units . Yours is the first I've heard of that simply died.

It's a mechanical gadget and like any other gadget, it can fail. If you go to some other similar gadget, doesn't mean it cannot fail also.
I know of three failures in one weekend in Southern Utah last year. One was a critical ankle injury on the San Juan for an elderly boater. They ended up running the last fifty miles in 25 hours. Exact same weekend we had a failure on our lower Cataract packrafting loop. Battery failure and 50 repeat messages sent to every contact in the device. Garmin rejected any warranty claim. That SAME weekend, a SAR operation in the San Juans was complicated by an inop Inreach. So don't write off the multiple thousands of failures because you haven't experienced one. I've been a power user for five years. It's the best device on the market and it's also an absolute TURD. Tells you how badly we need Starlink to upset our garbage satcoms industry. I've used almost every device on the satcom market and they all are stuck in 1992.

I can fill people in on the various failings of Garmin and their Inreach ecosystem but here's a taste of the top of my head:

- Needlessly confusing text incoming and outgoing protocol. You need to inform people to NOT reply to your "number" but your "thread". People who are not familiar with that fact rarely respond. Your actual contact is username@inreach.garmin.com. Be sure to get all your buddies wierd Inreach addresses so you can to device to device coms in the field (the real magic trick of these devices).

- Earthmate app rarely shows messages on the app that were received on "only" your Inreach device, ie, when you are not connected via Bluetooth. Threads shown in the app can be rendered meaningless and confusing. If you receive a message on your device while it's not connected via Bluetooth the APP DOES NOT SYNC received messages. They just don't show up. Ever.

- Earthmate app is garbage. Maps suck. But do not forget to download the base map or your in the field IR to IR location pings are useless

- Just try to send a custom message on the device only. Go ahead. Try it.

- GPS location acquisition is fully at 1989 speeds.

- Iridium new Next network is already obsolete. Any benefits of the Next constellation were limited to industrial and military applications, which is a huge miss. Absolutely zero benefit to consumers.

I could go on. All that being said it's an absolutely essential piece of Backcountry kit. That's waaaaay superior to Spot. That I hate. New Inreach is supposed to be better on a few points including a post-1990 GPS acquisition speed. Me? I cannot wait until "Cell to Starlink" goes live next year. I'll never be tricked into buying any Iridium, Globalstar et al device again. I'd recommend finding a used one for now. Things are about to get way better.
 
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X-plorenow

Adventurer
I am currently going through the same this with mine. No matter what I do, even through Garmin support, I can't get it to turn on. My last discussion with them this afternoon, try charging it plugged into the wall for several hours and see if that works. I had mentioned to them that my device had gotten hot when charging. They said warm is normal, if it gets hot that is a different problem, which is the case for me it looks like. I am betting a bad battery. I need to send it back now, I am interested to see how it turns out as I believe I am outside a year owned.
Quick update. Mine still won't turn on, and when charging gets very hot. Even though I am past a year Garmin is exchanging it. New one on the way. They must know about this issue.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
I'm not a techy guy but this thread just reinforces my lack of trust in anything IT.

I grew up climbing mountains in the 1980s, I always left the plan with a soul mate and when climbing in the National Parks they had a system to register your plan and notify them when you were back to civilization.

That is the plan I still use today. Someone trusted knows my route and whenever I can I update it by email. The itinerary on paper with a trusted friend is free. Redundancy is leaving the plan with more than one friend.

Anytime I park at a trail head for an extended excursion I leave the basic plan on the dash..... if in trouble and the vehicle is found search and rescue will know where to look for my body.
 

hansk

New member
My inReach Mini also died from a similar experience. Stopped charging and bricked. It was past warranty so I assumed I was going to be a replacement. Note that I had been using the device without issue for many years. Traveling all over the world and not having issues. Then just before a trip ski touring in the Swiss Alps, boom, it dies. Time to contact Garmin support (a typically painful process).

I went through the normal support routes. Ended up using the Chat feature which appeared to be a faster route to success. Went through all the questions and hoops tossed out by the tech person. All the multi-finger/button gestures and twists to reset in all manners. Etc. Etc.. Nothing worked. Then there were questions, almost accusatory,
about what charger I used, was I using the original Garmin USB cable, and was the device updated. The only option after multiple chats was to pay a fee for a replacement unit.

When I received that unit, it lasted a short bit and then died the same death! Argh. Another set of chats with Garmin support. This time the person was more helpful and quickly sent an exchange for the exchange.

This unit has been working so far (knock on wood).

Btw, web searching on this issue turneds up similar stories which point to bad versions of the firmware. But my unit had been working just fine for years. So I find it odd that something that's been working would suddenly fail from a firmware problem. Oh well. Let's see how this one lasts.
 

ChasingOurTrunks

Well-known member
I'm not a techy guy but this thread just reinforces my lack of trust in anything IT.

I grew up climbing mountains in the 1980s, I always left the plan with a soul mate and when climbing in the National Parks they had a system to register your plan and notify them when you were back to civilization.

That is the plan I still use today. Someone trusted knows my route and whenever I can I update it by email. The itinerary on paper with a trusted friend is free. Redundancy is leaving the plan with more than one friend.

Anytime I park at a trail head for an extended excursion I leave the basic plan on the dash..... if in trouble and the vehicle is found search and rescue will know where to look for my body.
I do the same, Billiebob. But the “plan with a friend” doesn’t do you much good if you are stuck on a mountain facing a medical emergency - by the time you are noticed as overdue, you are dead. I prefer to not be dead, but I’m picky like that :D Jokes aside, your point is well taken - relying on tech exclusively is not a good idea and redundancy is key. On our longer adventures we always call or text with a friend every few days (whenever we get gas) to update our plans and ETA which are ever-evolving; that way if something goes wrong someone knows we are late. On extended trips, this is an easy step to skip out of laziness, but it’s well worth trying to do consistently. The InReach allows us the freedom to adjust that plan on the fly, and keep communicating with our emergency contact so they Know what our new “late” is. But what originally attracted me to devices like these is for emergencies; the two way comms is fantastic but rarely is it life-safety critical In my experience; that being said I’ve never had to activate SAR, so perhaps in that situation a 2-way link can make a huge difference in getting out in one piece. Or in many pieces, but only non-critical ones severed!

My inReach Mini also died from a similar experience. Stopped charging and bricked. It was past warranty so I assumed I was going to be a replacement. Note that I had been using the device without issue for many years. Traveling all over the world and not having issues. Then just before a trip ski touring in the Swiss Alps, boom, it dies. Time to contact Garmin support (a typically painful process).

I went through the normal support routes. Ended up using the Chat feature which appeared to be a faster route to success. Went through all the questions and hoops tossed out by the tech person. All the multi-finger/button gestures and twists to reset in all manners. Etc. Etc.. Nothing worked. Then there were questions, almost accusatory,
about what charger I used, was I using the original Garmin USB cable, and was the device updated. The only option after multiple chats was to pay a fee for a replacement unit.

When I received that unit, it lasted a short bit and then died the same death! Argh. Another set of chats with Garmin support. This time the person was more helpful and quickly sent an exchange for the exchange.

This unit has been working so far (knock on wood).

Btw, web searching on this issue turneds up similar stories which point to bad versions of the firmware. But my unit had been working just fine for years. So I find it odd that something that's been working would suddenly fail from a firmware problem. Oh well. Let's see how this one lasts.
That was my confiusion too — a device that worked great for years “suddenly” gave up the ghost due to Firmware. I’m not a programmer so I don’t pretend to understand why that might be, but it was a surprise. I just finished a 2,000 km bike trip though and the new unit worked flawlessly, even in temperatures cold enough to shut my phone and iPad down, so credit where it’s due!
 

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