Garmin Inreach + goTenna Mesh a match made in Prepper heaven

If anyone is interested in a long range device that works similar to the goTenna (2 way text and location sharing) then you may want to check out the Garmin Inreach. (Currently on sale)

These two devices complement each other. I was on a week long business trip in Parma Italy and was able to use both devices. I used the goTenna Mesh (4 of them) to communicate between my co-workers (3 people and one located at the hotel as a node). This was great because it reduced my international data usage. I used the Garmin Inreach to send text and email to my wife at home and a few friends in Philadelphia.

I’m always looking for ways to “link-up” distance Mesh networks whether it be by Ham Radio using the WinLink system (Email over HF radio) or Satellite using the Garmin Inreach. So to recap the goTenna excels in local area communication and the Garmin is for the long haul.

The Garmin Inreach is not cheap and does require a monthly plan. I’m on the “Safety Plan” which is about $15 a month. It’s the cheapest “Satellite communication” you will find.

goTenna Mesh (Pro’s / Con’s)

low initial cost
no monthly fees
outstanding inter group communication and location sharing
Strength in numbers
Small size

Requires line of sight (as does any VHF / UHF radio system)
low power (limited by FCC)
iPhone app MUST be down loaded before hand (if no internet connection is available)
phones are needed to complete the system.
limited users in the area limit the overall Mesh size

Garmin Inreach (Pro’s / Con’s)

Global reach using the Iridium Satellite network
SOS feature for remote rescue and communication to/from rescue service
Has an internal GPS receiver
can communicate to almost any phone number or email
can work as a stand alone unit or be paired with a phone

High initial cost
Monthly fees (lowest around $15 / month - Highest $100+)
Explorer + model has maps but it is the old Delorm map set and is not very good.
Local Inter group communication and location sharing cost money (how much depends on the selected plan)
Unit must initiate the first contact, then 2 way communication can start. i.e. Garmin must reach out first, then users can respond.
More units do not help as they could over load the Satellite network.
Communication could be shut off if your monthly bill is not paid
Requires a good view of the sky (still line of sight but straight up)
a bit bulky to carry around

1 Like

Don’t mind the pun but, is it possible to mesh the networks together?

1 Like

I wish! It would awesome to have a goTenna mesh integrated into the Inreach unit.

1 Like

Well there is an SDK but…There really needs to be a way to integrate the thing into routers so Nomads could borrow people’s WIFI signal…as well as the device you mention. I’m not a developer myself (too many projects of my own) but I know this is the direction we need to take.

1 Like

I see what you were trying to do here, however, you could have saved even more with a local sim card. Voice, text and data in Italy is dirt cheap. VOIP is cheap and effective while travelling as well.

I travel a lot so having the goTenna spares me the trouble of buying a sim card for each area / country. Keep in mind not all areas sell phones as you travel. The other plus is the added insurance of not having to rely on the local infrastructure if it were to fail or if it even exists. Both the Garmin Inreach and goTenna mesh are good anywhere on the planet.

My motorcycle trip to Mexico had very spotty cell service. Hell even my Sat phone had a difficult time connecting.




Again, I see what you were trying to do. I see the merit in it and hope to employ a similar set up to your second example (Road trip, etc). The example you first gave just seemed like overkill in an urban area of a developed country.

The goTenna was developed because a “developed urban area” lost it’s cellular network. Check out the history of the goTenna.

“The idea for goTenna came to siblings Daniela and Jorge Perdomo in November 2012 after Hurricane Sandy knocked out 25 percent of cell towers, and caused outages for 25 percent of Internet services, across 10 states on the East Coast.”


Great article, thanks for reposting it!

In the past I have owned a Satellite phone and now I have a Spot Connect as well as 2 Gotenna Mesh units. I used to do a lot of back country hiking and XC Skiing in the Canadian Rockie I felt that satellite communication was a must in the event of an Emergency.

My wife and I were on a trip on the Amazon River in March. Cellular was non-existant and while we were generally in close proximity there were a few times that a couple of Gotenna units could have been helpful. I did not purchase my Gotenna pair until we got back to Canada.

We usually spend a month or more in a country and will pick up a couple of local Sim cards for day to day communication with each other as well as friends and family back home.

Thanks for sharing your experience with Gotenna and Delorme. I have considered upgrading to that Delorme unit in the past. I have always been leary of the monthly cost of Satellite phone, Spot and Delorme. I guess it is like any type of insurance (fire, theft, health, etc) The best time to have insurance is when you need it…if only I had a crystal ball.

We are going to Vietnam for two months in the next to near future. We’ll grab a couple of local Sim cards and will definitely have our Gotenna units along as well.

I’ll also bring the Spot Connect for emergency communication and will consider upgrading to a Delorme unit instead. I agree with you that Iridium has a superior satellite product.


I had two Iridium phones (rented a 9505a for one trip and then bought a 9555 for another) but I since sold the 9555 due to the monthly cost. I had a good plan but they eliminated it and were pushing me into a higher bracket. The Inreach plan I’m on now is only 15 a month (Safety Plan) it’s limited with the number of text you can send. It comes with 10 as part of the plan)

I can see how the SIM cards can be a good option, it would have work well in Italy and would have been the most cost effective. I’m a big proponent of the “One is none and two is one” philosophy so I’m always looking for ways to keep communication open. Satellite, Ham radio, cell phones, smoke signals etc. etc


The cool thing about the Garmin InReach + is that it is bluetooth… so the gotenna and the garmin are both paired to the same device. PR Reconnects was looking into doing just this to bridge local meshes. I believe they had a good start with the Gotenna SDK and some python scripting. Not sure where they got with it… but it may be a good place to start.

1 Like

May want to check out Spot-X using GlobalStar satellite constellations… only $14 a month, works with Bluetooth so may be prime to SDK gateway with Gotenna device to satellite sms backhaul with the $9 a year Gotenna plus sms relay. Match made in heaven. Spot X is only half the price of the Garmin inreach explorer plus and no contract needed, with cheaper monthly!

I found one of those Spot Connect Bluetooth devices for only $60 on ebay! How do you like yours. Are you able to Bluetooth your phone to the Spot and the Gotenna simultaneously? Does Gotenna plus subscription work relaying sms via Spot?

Hey Franklin

I haven’t used the GoTenna and the spot in tandem yet. For health reasons, I haven’t been in the back country for the last five years and have let my spot subscription lapse.

Keep in mind the GlobalStar network is not 100% coverage and their satellites work differently than Iridium. This may or may not affect the common user but it’s good to understand where and how the satellites work and what is covered. Iridium is 100% global coverage. The GlobalStar SPOT network has varying coverage and varying functional support.

1 Like


One more, interested in GoteNNa messages (mine and from nearby friends), relayed throught my Garmin Inreach.