Good news for hikers – Garmin may soon release a new satellite communicator

Camper holding Garmin InReach Mini device
(Image credit: Garmin)

New documents published by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggest that Garmin may be about to release a new handheld inReach satellite communicator – just in time for the summer hiking season.

Before any device capable of transmitting wireless signals can be sold in the US, it must first be tested and approved by the FCC to make sure it meets the necessary standards. The FCC publishes a database of recently approved devices, including test results. These documents are heavily redacted to protect intellectual property, but can still give us an insight into future releases.

On May 11, the FCC gave the green light to a device with the reference IPH-04659. 'IPH' is the FCC's own ID code for Garmin, and the remaining digits were chosen by the company itself to identify this particular product.

As usual, early details are scant (any reference to the device's name has been purged), but it is described as a 'portable transceiver', and the compliance label that will be included on the packaging states that it is a "handheld with rechargeable Li-ion battery pack, belt clip, AC adaptor, USB cable [and] documentation."

Most interestingly, there is also a disclaimer that "some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow laws in the jurisdiction where the device is intended to be used."

Get connected

Satellite communicators can be life-savers for hikers, climbers, and other explorers in an emergency, allowing them to send an SOS anywhere in the world, even in places without cellular connectivity. Garmin's inReach service is one of the best known, and can connect users to a central communications center that works with emergency response services to get users the help they need.

The company has released several new inReach devices in recent months, including the tiny inReach Mini 2 and inReach Messenger, the latter of which connects to your phone and allows you to send text messages.

Unlike these two devices, the IPH-04659 will also have Wi-Fi connectivity, which would allow users to download maps through Garmin's Map Manager. This suggests it will likely be a larger device with a screen.

Back in March, Garmin launched two new handheld GPS navigators, including the GPSMAP 67 and 67i, both of which have inReach technology built in. It would be strange for the company to release another similar device so soon.

It's possible that this may in fact be a marine navigator to follow the GPSMAP 86i, which launched back in 2019. We'll just have to wait and see. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more details, and bring you further information as soon as I have it.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.