What Should I Buy – Dogtra Pathfinder or Garmin Alpha 100?
If you’re in the market for a GPS tracking collar, then you’ve probably come across both the Garmin Alpha 100 and Dogtra Pathfinder. Both products are popular choices among dog owners and especially hunters, but it can be hard to decide which one is right for you and your dog. One on the reasons to choose Dogtra is its price, which is more than twice less for the bundle in comparison with the Alpha 100. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at both products and compare their features side by side to help you make a more informed decision.
How does Dogtra Pathfinder Stand Against Alpha 100?
First of all, let’s clear it all, that the difference begins at the units the systems consist of.
- With Garmin Alpha 100 tracking and training bundle you get an e-collar (dog device) and handheld device, which you use for operating the dog.
- With Dogtra Pathfinder you get an e-collar, a GPS connector (which may look like a handheld device for some people, but it is not!!), and you will need your smartphone to be used instead of the handheld. In fact, this is the main reason why Dogtra Pathfinder is twice cheaper.
So, in fact, if you have an Alpha, you carry with you only one convenient to use handheld device, but with Pathfinder you have a GPS connector and a smartphone. And the convenience and easy of use depends on the phone as well.
|Alpha 100||Dogtra Pathfinder|
|2.5 x 6.5 x 1.5”||your smartphone|
|WEIGHT (with antenna & battery)|
|8.8 oz||your smartphone|
|up to 20 hours life||your smartphone|
|9 miles (with TT 15 & T5), 4 miles (with Mini)||9 miles|
|18 ( continuous and momentary stimulation, tone and vibration)||100 modes: nick/continuous stimulation and tone|
|E-COLLAR WATERPROOF RATING|
|DOGS OPERATED SIMULTANEOUSLY|
|1.53″W x 2.55″H, 3″ diag||your smartphone|
|240 x 400 pixels resolution||your smartphone|
|ON DISPLAY At-a-GLANCE|
|your dogs moving or on-point, distance from the device, total distance traveled, speed and update rate||your dogs moving or on-point, distance from the device, total distance traveled, speed and update rate|
|2,5 sec – 2 min (slows down after 25 % of battery life)||2,0 sec|
|GOOGLE MAPS COMPATIBLE|
|No||Yes, Off-line as well|
|Hunter-to-hunter position reporting with preset messaging capability||Beacon and locate LED light|
|Preloaded TOPO Maps||Memory and history|
|Optional BirdsEye Satellite Imagery||Compass|
|Memory and history||Apple Watch 5 compatible|
|Hunt anf fish calendar||No Subscription Fee|
|Sun and Moon information||Free Unlimited Satellite Maps|
|Bio-metric altimeter, compass||Only tracking mode available|
Verified Users’ Feedback
We have tested both devices and had discussions with experienced hunters, with their real not-one-day experience in the field, forest, mountains and lakes. Some of them used both devices, some – only one, and they explain why in short.
Dogtra Pathfinder (SE). I had the chance to use the Dogtra Pathfinder for the first time on a recent hunting trip. I was really impressed with how well it worked for tracking. The geofencing feature was very useful in keeping my dogs safe. But I would say that it shows best results with tracking only. If your intention is to use it also for training and sending instant signals to a dog, it is not as quick with the phone than with a handheld like the one from Garmin. You will feel like loosing time all the way. Unfortunately the antenna is much longer than any other collar has.It’s not very convenient in bushy areas.
Garmin Alpha 100 has some neat features and a lot more range. If you hunt private and need land ownership info it may be beneficial to get the Alpha 100 system. For some hunters it is useful to know how many hours their dogs ran, how many miles, how fast. They like that at the end of the day they can easily plot the day on a map on a big computer screen. This also helps to see the missed areas and can give an idea of how thoroughly the terrain was covered. GPS in the woods helps to instantly mark a covey, to show quickly how to get back to the car. Or even to advise how to get back to the car without working the same path. Alpha functions perfectly as a training device with one dog, but goes slow to switch between dogs. It has a much more sophisticated screen, but it’s hard to see what’s on it with if wearing polarised sunglasses. By the way, Garmin have improved this in it new Alpha 200i.
Here we would like to make stress on the most distinctive features we liked while testing the gadgets.
Dogtra Pathfinder SE
The Dogtra Pathfinder is a GPS tracking device that can be used for hunting or training purposes. It is perfect for any type of situation and can be used with your smartphone. You can also use it in offline mode without using cellular data. It is also suitable for most competitions and field trials. You can easily disable the e-collar tab for competitive trials, where tone and stimulation is prohibited. You may choose to use old unactivated smartphones with the Pathfinder app in offline mode. So you don’t have to use your current phones in the field.
Dogtra Pathfinder is a new GPS Dog Tracking System that gives dog owners full access to Google Maps with the best terrain and satellite views. The Dogtra Pathfinder app can be used without the use of data, and the cell phone can be in “offline” mode and still be able to track the canine. The Dogtra Pathfinder app also gives dog owners the ability to track up to 21 dogs, share any location, reproduce data and create customizable geofence alerts. Some of the key features of Dogtra Pathfinder include:
- The ability to track up to 21 dogs
- Share any location
- Reproduce data
- Create customizable geofence alerts
- Access to Google Maps with the best terrain and satellite views
The Dogtra Pathfinder’s geofencing feature is perfect for anyone who wants to be able to define where their dogs can and cannot go. This feature allows you to set boundaries around private property or other undesirable locations. You can also configure the geofencing alerts to notify you when your dog has entered or left the boundary. This makes it easier to hunt safely in any situation.
The Dogtra Pathfinder has an easy-to-use geofencing feature that allows you to define where your dogs can and cannot go. By long pressing on the screen you can set boundaries to avoid entering private property or undesirable locations. The geofencing alerts can be configured to alert you when your dog has entered or left the boundary. The geofencing feature makes it easier to hunt safely in any situation.
The Dogtra Pathfinder is also suitable for most competitions and field trials. You can easily disable the e-collar tab for competitive trials, where tone and stimulation is prohibited. To verify that training functions were not used during competition as an extra layer of precaution you have the option to cover the collar nodes. You can use the plastic contact covers included free with your Dogtra Pathfinder.
Garmin Alpha 100
- Measure each dog’s speed, distance and the direction being traveled
- Combines GPS dog tracking with Tri-Tronics® electronic dog training technology
- Helps you train and control your dogs to stop chasing unwanted game
Together with our German Shorthaired Pointer Freya, we have tested the Garmin Alpha 100 and despite bad weather tough bushy terrain, the device and its touch function have worked excellently.
The touch screen, which is the first of its kind, turned out to be user-friendly, so you can easily navigate through the menus. When it was snowy we wore thin leather gloves and the screen worked well even then. The ease of grip also gives a good first impression and the good ergonomics are important because you use the handheld so much out in the woods. Freya also seemed happy to wear the collar, Garmin T5, which we also took the opportunity to test. Something we both appreciated was that the antenna is smartly mounted in the collar, which means that the dog does not get stuck in grass and branches that lie on the ground.
The Garmin Alpha 100 updates every few seconds and there is also the option to configure so-called geofence areas. This means that you can avoid places and situations that can be dangerous for the dogs while hunting; such as busy roads or steep precipices. If they are near danger, it is much easier to locate them and bring back to safety.
Another function is the emergency light, which can be good, for example, when searching, or in other situations where the dogs still come close to roads. One more thing that is good from safety point of view is that hunters can also see where each of them is. Our personal impression it’s the biggest upgrade compared to its predecessors. The device comes with a rechargeable battery. But despite the low temperature, there was never any cause for concern. It turned out to be a powerful battery that was enough for the whole hunting day, and certainly more for that.
Tracking Dogs or Buddies
The system provides the opportunity to track up to 20 dogs or other hunters and through vibration and tone we were able to easily communicate with Freya during the hunting occasions. With Garmin Alpha 100 you also avoid paying for any subscription. Once you have bought the product, just go out into the woods to hunt. The overall impression is that it is a user-friendly and reliable dog guide that can really be recommended.
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Conclusion paragraph: If you are looking for a system that gives you more freedom in terms of what device you want to use, Garmin Alpha 100 is the better option. However, if you want to save some money and do not mind using your smartphone as the handheld device, Dogtra Pathfinder is a great choice. Whichever system you choose, make sure to consult with an experienced trainer to get the most out of your investment!