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Garmin inReach vs. Iridium GO vs. Bivy Stick: Pros & Cons and Final Verdict 2024

Garmin inReach vs. Iridium GO vs. Bivy Stick: Pros & Cons and Final Verdict 2024

    Do you travel a lot and find yourself regularly "off the grid," or you are the sort of person who likes to go on adventures but still needs to stay in touch? If so, you need a satellite communicator. This is a small but powerful tool that allows you to stay connected in areas without cellular reception. Specifically designed for outdoor adventurers, it works alone or pair with your smartphone to send and receive messages, dispatch SOS alerts and location coordinates, transmit live tracks, get the latest weather forecast, and more. There are many satellite communicators on the market, the most poupular three are Garmin inReach, Iridium GO and Bivy Stick. So which one should I choose? What's the difference bewteen them? In this guide, I will make a detailed comparasion bewteen inReach Mini 2, Iridium GOand Bivy Stick to help you make a right decision.

Cover Photo:garmin.com

Garmin inReach Mini 2 vs. Iridium GO  vs. Bivy Stick: Overview

| #1  Garmin inReach Mini 2

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The InReach family of devices has been growing over the past few years. Originally manufactured by Dulorme, the company was bought out by Garmin in February 2016. With inReach satellite technology from Garmin and an active satellite subscription, you can stay in touch globally. You can send and receive messages, navigate your route, track and share your journey and, if necessary, trigger an SOS to a 24/7 staffed global emergency response coordination center via the 100% global Iridium® satellite network.

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Source:garmin.com

The gold standard for all things satellite, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 is an ultralight, rugged, and extremely capable backcountry messenger. Other than more detailed GPS navigation, there is literally nothing the inReach Mini 2 can’t do that other backcountry satellite devices can. It allows for SOS with interval tracking, message received confirmation, texting while paired with a smart phone or through the inReach device itself. And, with TracBack routing, find your way back if you happen to get lost. It’s rated IPX7 waterproof. Meaning, it can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes without damage. In addition, you can stay  on adventures longer with up to 14 days of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode.

PROSCONS
Lightest and smallestHigh price — double the price of the competition
Can text from phone and deviceNo seamless messaging
Excellent trackingOne of the more expensive monthly data plans
Downloadable waypoints and GPS trackNo dedicated phone number
A large number of custom pre-set messages that reduce typing
Impact resistant & IPX7 waterproof
Great battery life 

| #2  Iridium GO! Satellite Hotspot

First released in 2014, the Iridium GO! hasn’t changed much at all since its debut. Even the firmware – software that controls the GO! – has only been updated 4 times. That in itself is a statement of how robust and reliable the device is.  It is lightweight and small enough to fit in your pocket, yet versatile enough to mount in a cabin, recreational vehicle or boat. As with all Iridium devices, Iridium GO! offers 100% global coverage on land, at sea or in the sky.

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Source:bluecosmo.com

The Iridium GO! is also easy to set up and combines dedicated IOS (Apple) and Android apps that will make connecting using your smart phone a breeze leaving you with instant data, internet, voice and text capabilities at a touch of a button. Stop worrying about cellular coverage gaps.  You can get enough data bandwidth to check emails, use Twitter, pull up weather forecasts, and limited web browsing. You can connect up to five devices to the Iridium GO! hotspot. It offers up to 15.5 hours of standby battery life and up to 5.5 hours of talk time.

PROSCONS

Lightweight , dust proof, shock and water 

resistant

Expensive
Military-grade (MIL-STD 810F) durabilityOnly Iridium’s email service can be used
Connects up to five devices at once
SOS button and tracker function

Third party apps including social media and 

weather


Android & iOS compatible
Good battery life

| #3  ACR Bivy Stick Two-Way Satellite Communicator

As a leader in life-saving products for both professional and recreational use, ACR’s Bivy Stick brings the safety and peace of mind of affordable and reliable satellite communication to everyone. You can use the Bivy Stick to turn your cell phone into a satellite communication device. With global satellite coverage via the Iridium satellite network, anywhere you have a view of the sky, you can communicate through the Bivy Stick. As for the hardware, there are major improvements compared to the first-generation device. The Bivy Stick added check-in and SOS buttons and chopped the weight in half by reducing the size of the battery from 5,200 mAh to 1,400 mAh.

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Source:bluecosmo.com

 While conveniently compact, the Bivy Stick still offers a comprehensive feature set including two-way text messaging, SOS, location sharing, one-touch Check-in, and detailed weather reports sent straight to your cell phone via satellite. Additionally, offering a feature not provided with many other satellite communicators, the Bivy Stick provides users with a dedicated phone number and email. This important feature allows unsolicited incoming messages, meaning that those that are most important to you can reach you at any time, without the need for you to initiate contact. But you’ll need to bring a power supply for anything longer. 

PROSCONS

Small and Light Weight

Lack the ability to make phone calls and the ability to send and receive email
No Activation or Mandatory Annual FeesRelatively short battery life
Global Satellite Coverage  (Iridium)
Location Tracking & Sharing

Pay-as-you-go service plan


Dedicated phone number and email
Impact resistant & IPX7 waterproof
Afforable price

Garmin inReach Mini 2 vs. Iridium GO  vs. Bivy Stick: Full Comparison

Specs


Garmin inReach Mini 2 Iridium GO  Bivy Stick
Dimensions 2.04” x 3.90” x 1.03” (5.17 x 9.90 x 2.61 cm)4.5" x 3.25" x 1.25" (11.4 cm x 8.3 cm x 3.2 cm)4.4″ x 1.85″ x 0.83″
Weight  3.5 oz/100 g

 10.75 oz (305 g)

3.35 oz/95 g
Satellite Network IridiumIridium Iridium

Messaging 

Capability

2-Way Messaging2-Way Messaging2-Way Messaging
Battery Life

Up to 14 days (10 min. tracking intervals)

7 hours talk, 16 hours standby Up to 120 hours in default operation settings
Weather ForecastYes (detailed/marine weather is an add-on)Yes (detailed/marine weather is an add-on)Yes (detailed/marine weather is add-on)

SOS Function/

Tracking

YesYesYes
Location SharingYesYesYes
Full KeyboardNoNoNo
Ingress ProtectionIPX7IP65IPX7

Operating 

Temperature Range

 -4°F to 140°F14°F to 122°F (-10°C to 50°C)-25°C (-13°F) to +55°C (131°F)

Features

All the three  satellite devices use the Iridium Satellite Network. As of writing, the Iridium Network is the largest satellite network available to the public.  All of them are two-way messenger which can both send and receive nuanced information, akin to the texting capabilities of a cell phone. But the Iridium GO! also has the ability to make phone calls and the ability to send and receive email- features that the Bivy Stick and Garmin inReach Mini 2 lack.

In addition, the  Iridium GO! is configured and accessed via an app. But unlike the InReach Mini 2 and Bivy Stick, the app is the only means of controlling the Iridium GO! Limited information is available via the Iridium GO!’s tiny LCD panel. Email, social media, tracking, satellite phone functions, etc can only be accessed through the app. This means you need to carry a smartphone (or an iPod Touch/tablet) to be able effectively use the Iridium GO!

Service Plans

Garmin inReach Mini 2:

Garmin subscriptions are among the most costly of all satellite messengers. They do however offer 3-tiered pricing options as well as their “Freedom” plan.The Basic, Recreation, and Expedition plans are annual plans that all require a $29.95 activation fee and are billed monthly.

Safety – $14.95 ($11.95 annual) – 10 messages; Send/track points and location requests – $0.10 each).

Recreation – $34.95 ($24.95 annual) – 40 messages.

Expedition – $64.95 ($49.95 annual) – Unlimited messages.

Enrollment in Freedom (monthly) plans requires a $34.94 annual fee.

All plans include unlimited preset messages (3 different customizable). Basic weather is 1 message for Safety and Recreation plans. Premium weather is $1.00 each.Tracking maximum is every 10 mins for Safety and Recreation plans, every 2 mins for Expedition plan. Overage charges is $0.50 each for Safety and Recreation plans.

Iridium GO:

Iridium GO! has five service Plans: GO! Basic plan, GO! Extra plan, GO! Plus plan, GO! Unlimited plan and GO! Unlimited Plus plan. All need $50 activation fee.

GO! Basic - $59.95/ Month

  • 5 GO! data minutes included each month;

  • Prices for minutes or SMS beyond those included: GO! Data: $.0.95 (other data $1.29), Voice to PSTN: $1.29, SMS: $0.30;

  • OneMessage messaging Service;

  • Plan Standby available.

GO! Extra - $84.95/ Month

  • 75 Voice or GO! data minutes included each month;

  • Prices for minutes or SMS beyond those included: GO! Data: $.0.69 (other data $1.29), Voice to PSTN: $1.29, SMS: $0.20;

  • OneMessage messaging Service;

  • Plan Standby available.

GO! Plus - $119.95/ Month

  • 150 Voice or GO! data minutes included each month;

  • Unlimited SMS text messages;

  • Prices for minutes or SMS beyond those included: GO! Data: $.0.35 (other data: $1.29), Voice to PSTN: $1.29;

  • OneMessage messaging Service;

  • Plan Standby available.

GO! Unlimited - $144.95/ Month

  • 150 Voice minutes included each month;

  • Prices for voice minutes beyond those included: Voice to PSTN: $1.29;

  • Unlimited GO! Data minutes;

  • Unlimited SMS text messages;

  • OneMessage messaging Service;

  • Plan Standby available.

GO! Unlimited Plus - $219.95/ Month

  • 250 Voice minutes included each month;

  • Prices for voice minutes beyond those included: Voice to PSTN: $1.29;

  • Unlimited GO! Data minutes;

  • Unlimited SMS text messages;

  • OneMessage messaging Service;

  • SnapTrack Tracking Services;

  • Plan Standby available.

Bivy Stick:

ACR is one of the only satellite communicator manufacturers to offer commitment free subscription plans with zero activation fees. You pay per credit (one credit is equal to one transmission, such as one message sent or received, one weather forecast, one location share, one hour of tracking, etc.) on a monthly basis, with no activation fees, flex plan fees, or multi-month commitments.

But all this savings does come at a price: ACR now requires that you subscribe to a Plus or Unlimited data plan for the first four months after purchasing the device, which will run you $34.99 or $59.99 monthly. 

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Source:bivy.com

Battery Life

The internal, rechargeable lithium battery  of Garmin inReach Mini 2 gives you up to 14 days use at the default 10-minute tracking mode and up to 30 days in power saving mode.

The Iridium GO!'s standby time is up to 15.5 hours and the talk time is up to 5.5 hours.

Bivy Stick's battery lasts up to 120 hrs with standard operation at default setting.

Bottom Line 

Here are the key points you’ll need to think about before choosing which of these devices you want to take on your travels:

1. The Iridium GO! has phone functionality. The InReach Mini 2 and Bivy Stick do not.

2. Email functionality is only available on the GO!. The InReach Mini 2 and Bivy Stick only  provide SMS and social media posting only.

3. The  Iridium GO! is most expensive, the price is $795, the InReach Mini 2 is $400 cheaper than the GO! The Bivy Stick is cheapest among the three, which only priced at $249.95. 

4. The service plans of Bivy Stick is cheapest and the most flexible. Service plans for the InReach Mini 2 cost less than the  Iridium GO! 

Final Thoughts: If you need voice communications, then you should opt for the Iridium GO!  If SMS and social media, as well as price, are your main concerns then the Garmin inReach Mini 2 or Bivy Stick is your option. With flexible and  affordable monthly service plans, the Bivy Stick is best for those who get out only a few times a year.

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2022-09-20 20:081456