We get this question from our customers all of the time, “Which system is better, the Dogtra or the Garmin?” Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer to this question. Both of these systems are GREAT, it all just depends on your hunting needs.
Tracking systems are like boots and chaps. I may think a boot is comfortable and the chap is light weight and another person may feel like they are walking on nails and the chap is too hot. Everyone has a preference of comfort and workability when it comes to boots and chaps, the same goes for a tracking system. Finding a tracking system that makes you comfortable while allowing you to track and train your dog is important. We may not be able tell you “which system is better” but here is a breakdown of what each system has to offer. In this blog we will be comparing the Dogtra Pathfinder 2 and the Garmin Alpha 200 systems.
Ease of use
The Garmin systems have been around for a long time. Everything is done on the handheld device including tracking, training, marking locations and a bunch of other features. The learning curve can be a little tough, but going from an older model to the new Alpha 200 isn’t anything to fear. Once you have set up your map, menu and training commands the system will make your life a lot easier while hunting. Garmin handhelds have training keys (buttons at the top of the device) that can be programmed to shock, vibrate, tone and adjust the collar light. The handheld also has buttons on the side to switch dogs so you never have to take your eye off the map. There are thousands of documents and videos online that show exactly what you need to do in order to get your hunt started.
If you are comfortable on your I-Phone or Android, the Dogtra system is no problem. Everything is done within the Pathfinder 2 application. The app walks you through how to set up your handheld and how to add your collars (which is almost identical to the Garmin system). The app has tabs at the bottom that allow you to select which dog you want then you can tap the shock, tone or vibrate. The connector (yellow handheld like device) also has a button that you can press, allowing you to recall the last command used. The app is simple to use and has many features to make your hunting experience enjoyable.
Everything on the Garmin Alpha 200 system is right on your handheld. You can see the track your dog is moving along, the distance they are from you and other info about your hunt. The maps can be downloaded, but Garmin has also designed Huntview Plus cards that slide in the back of your Garmin system bringing satellite maps to your entire state. You can see property lines, roads and much more helping keep your dog safe at all times and knowing exactly where they are.
The Pathfinder 2 has satellite maps available when you start the app (some may need downloaded beforehand in poor service areas). Like the Garmin system, maps are clear and you can see exactly where your dog is going. Just like if you are zooming in on a picture on your phone, you can move the map around and zoom in as far as needed. You can sometimes can see the specific tree your dog is on. The distance, speed and other info is also listed on the tracking screen and can be seen at all times on each dog.
The Garmin Alpha 200 makes training easy! With the training keys built in and the up and down buttons on the side, a dog can be corrected quickly. It also allows you to train several dogs in just seconds. The groups feature allows you to select which dogs you want active if you hunt with several different people. For people who hunt deer with dogs or other types of hunting where several dogs are hunting at once, we recommend the Garmin.
The Pathfinder 2 system has all training commands built into the app. The button on the yellow connector allows you to recall the last command used. For example, if your last command was toning a specific dog, by pressing the button it would repeat that command. Training multiple dogs at once is done through the app, by selecting the dog and then whether you want to shock, tone or vibrate. We recommend the Dogtra to users hunting a fewer amount of dogs such as in coon hunting.
Range & Durability
The Alpha 200 paired with TT15 (mini, X or standard collars) offers up to 9 miles of range. We have never gotten 9 miles, however this all depends on your hunting location and the terrain. The handhelds are built tough, you may have seen us walking through waist deep water with the handheld taking a dip in some of our videos even. There are also several cases and holsters to help protect your handheld that we sell. The collars are made tough as well, unbothered by deeper water and can take a beating as the dogs fly through the woods. We are also able to offer a 1 year warranty on all new Garmin equipment and we have a repairman who can fix certain broken components of the collars as well.
The Pathfinder 2 offers the same range as the Garmin system, however it all depends on your hunting conditions as well. We have tested the range on both systems and they seem to be equally reliable. The yellow connector can be kept out of harms way and out of sight most of the hunt so it’s nothing to worry about as far as breaking it. The collars are very well built with a strong rubber material giving maximum protection to the GPS Antenna. Many peoples’ concern is breaking your cellphone in the woods, which can be more expensive than a Garmin system by itself. We insist on having a reliable case, insurance or even getting a cheaper compatible phone (doesn’t have to have service) to use for your hunts.
The price of a new Garmin system will cost north of $1000. This includes the handheld and collar. Additional collars are around $300-$350. This will give you everything you need for a hunt. The price tag is much more expensive than Dogtra systems, however you get the 1 year warranty. If something breaks or isn’t working, just contact us and we will get you a new one quick! A warranty can go a long way! Like mentioned before, with the exception of the mini collars, repairs can be done to fix the GPS antenna as well.
The Pathfinder 2 system is much cheaper and will run you about $430. Additional Collars are around $260-280. You will also need a compatible smart phone as well, which can be pricey. When something breaks, all issues are handled by Dogtra. If you aren’t very rough on equipment, the Dogtra system can save you a lot of money.