Design And Ruggedness Specs Breakdown – Garmin inReach Messenger vs ZOLEO

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In our series of comparison posts between the ZOLEO satellite communicator and Garmin inReach Messenger, I’ll be going over some of the design and specification aspects that might interest you based on the outdoor activities you may be undertaking where having a satellite communicator is useful.

Before we get going, I will acknowledge two points where Garmin inReach messenger wins over ZOLEO: smaller size & battery life. Now, onto areas where I think it matters more to consider.

Using Gloves

I have to say trying to use the inReach messenger with one hand, with gloves is not the best experience. The button and screen location makes it hard to operate and see the screen. Using gloves makes it harder to feel which button you are pressing and if you were using thicker winter gloves, good luck. ZOLEO keeps it simple by having a single Check-in button to press. Both can be powered on/off easy enough with gloves.

Also accessing the SOS button is easy with gloves using ZOLEO, inReach messenger may be difficult since you need to dig in your finger nail to pull up the cover.


Since both devices are so small and portable, they are made to be clipped onto your body, pack or mounted on a vehicle.ZOLEO comes with a webbed loop integrated to the device body and a carabiner clip.

Garmin inReach Messenger has no such loop and only provides the lanyard loop that you see with their outdoor devices for like the last 10 years. Unfortunately Garmin does not prodige a lanyard in the box and sells one for 40$. The port is too small that you cannot get a key ring in there. Your only option is to make a toggle with string and hope for the best.

Also ZOLEO provides mounting accessories for different situations while Garmin doesn’t provide any other useful accessories at this other than very expensive lanyards.

IP Rating and MIL 810 Spec

Unless you lookup what IP68 vs IPX7 means, you think they would be close in terms of water & dust resistance.

ZOLEO – IP68, means that it is dust tight and ca be immersed in water.
inReach Messenger – IPX7, means that there is no dust rating and can be in 6 in to 3 feet of water for 30 min.

ZOLEO has in addition to MIL-810 Shock rating, meaning that the ZOLEO is more rugged than the messenger. This is an important factor based on your outdoor activities.

ZOLEO Better Suited For Rugged Outdoor Activities

ZOLEO design, availability of mounting accessories and ruggedness makes it, at least to me the choice for the types of outdoor activities I undertake up here along the coast of Nova Scotia Where water, mud, snow, dust and vibrations are present.

Being able to simply clip the ZOLEO onto your pack or belt loop out of the box is a big plus, rather than me digging into a bin to find an old Motorola Razr case.

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