Update: I finally had to use one!
I borrowed a friends InReach mini and went into the Kgalagadi, and eventually onto the Nossob 4x4 Eco trail, in total we were 6 days out of mobile reception. I sent out the tracking link to a handful of everyone who knows me and set off.
From about 3 km outside Tweeriveren there is no mobile coverage and the Radios are sketchy at best.
I had a problem with the Air-conditioning pump bearing which eventually seized and I ended up routing the windscreen washer fluid directly onto the bearing case to keep it cool so as not to melt the fan belt (its one belt for Power steering, Fan, Water pump, and AC.) Sensing that this was potentially actually quite a problem, I communicated with the owner who coordinated parts necessary for me to replace the unit. all whilst out in the middle of the Kgalagadi - We were most surprised when the new AC unit arrived at the camp site at 08:00 the morning after we arrived back in TweeRivieren.
Bottom line its an awesome comms tool for those that are going out of communication coverage. I am absolutely sold on the concept and with 3 x 6 days hikes this year two Kruger off trail and a Fish River as well as two more trips to the Kgalagadi
At this stage all I know is that I am getting an InReach device.
Back to my original question mini or 700i or 66i? Im swaying towards the 700i
On the motorbike if you crash you’d want it in your jacket pocket - mini (but 700i’s perfect for navigation)
In the Landy all three are perfect. The big screen wins
On foot the 66i with better battery life and basic text wins closely followed by the mini
I use a Montana 680 currently so am used to the format, Ive had the 62 in the past, and feel that the benefit of the Montana is the reduced connectivity requirements. If you break your phone the mini is not great.
On the other hand if you break the Montana you loose your GPS comms as well as satellite SMS device.
Keeping these all charged whilst on the foot trail is a schlep hence keen to go with one device and just leave the phone switched off.
For this still curious or interested that conducts multi day hikes and travel out of coverage, these are an awesome option. if you’ve got guests its a no-brainer.
Im still in a quandry as to which one!
Tarriff wise its pretty simple, most of us dont need an annual subscription and only use the 30 day freedom plan, its R1070 for unlimited messaging and R500 wish for 40 sms’s and unlimited 10min tracking interval points.
All I can say is that the system works so well provided you have a good coordinator on the other end unless you have unlimited SMS’s