The 8 Best GPS Trackers to Buy in 2017 for Hiking, Cars and More

Best GPS Trackers for people, pets and possessions

Whether it’s for Google Maps and navigating to dinner on a Saturday night or hiking through the woods, utilizing GPS has become a staple in our everyday lives. In fact, it’s become such a daily occurrence that we often forget it’s there, but its uses go far beyond navigating to the nearest coffee shop while traveling out of town. Tracking people, pets or automobiles via GPS has vastly improved in recent years, so let us help you find the tracker that's right for your needs.

The Spot Gen3 is a hiker’s dream GPS tracker and it has a rugged outer shell that’s more than capable of withstanding harsh environments. The rubber edge wraps around the plastic exterior guarding against shocks and impacts and even seals the body for waterproofing. While the build quality is notable, it’s the support of a satellite phone system that truly makes the Spot stand out. Unlike most GPS trackers that rely on a cellular signal, the Spot works on a satellite phone line that allows it to broadcast location data in places that most cellular GPS trackers cannot reach.

Preserving battery life while on-the-go in the wild isn’t just a good idea, it’s downright essential. The Spot hits on this with tracking motion that sends updates while you’re on the move and stops sending updates when you’re not. Setting up the Spot is a snap and GPS updates are able to go out every 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. If you’re in extreme conditions, you can even set adjust the update frequency down to as low as every 2.5 minutes to stay in touch with the outside world. Battery life varies by use frequency, but can go anywhere from seven days on four AAA batteries or as long as 156 days if used on 60-minute intervals with a 100 percent clear view of the sky. For the adventurer who likes to take to the trails, the Spot Gen3 is a must-own.

Simple, tough and highly accurate properly describe the Trax Play Kids' GPS tracker. Capable of working in over 33 countries, the one-ounce Trax allows parents to be notified whenever a child leaves a designated safe zone. The Android and iOS smartphone apps allow location tracking directly to the Trax unit, as well as augmented reality and on-demand notifications. The Trax unit itself is well-built and capable of withstanding extreme temperatures (it's also water and dust resistant). Trax Play also holds the title of being the world’s smallest and lightest GPS live tracker.

The built-in SIM card connects to T-Mobile’s 2G network requiring the purchase of a data plan directly from the smartphone app or via Trax’s web store. Plans start as little as $4 a month for 24 months of prepaid GPS monitoring. Through the data connection, GPS location updates can take place as often as every 10 seconds or up to one minute for better battery life. Trax lists the current battery life of up to 24 hours, so given its critical function, charging it nightly is recommended. Small, reliable and incredible easy to use, the Trax Play is a fantastic choice for parents looking to keep tabs on their little ones. 

There’s a good chance you or someone you know has a lost a bag while traveling. It happens to the best of us and makes for another reason why GPS trackers are invaluable. The Amcrest AM-GL300 isn’t a dedicated luggage tracker, but its water-resistant matchbox-sized case easily fits into any kind of checked luggage. Add in two weeks of battery life and you’re turning the tide by locating your lost luggage without waiting for the airline to call. The Amcrest works off a quad-band 2G GSM network powered by both AT&T and T-Mobile offering GPS location wherever cellular signal is available.

You can’t put a price on peace of mind, which makes the monthly service plan more than worth the cost considering it can easily double as a GPS tracker for a car or inside a teenager’s backpack when not tracking luggage. Accessing your GPS location is accessible remotely via a smartphone or computer offering real-time location with updates as quickly as every 60 seconds. Adding geo-fencing alerts will help you quickly identify if a piece of luggage hasn’t made it to the required destination instantly via e-mail or text message.

Keeping track of your elderly loved ones is super important, and the Yepzon One Personal GPS locator is a very tiny wearable that feels more like a pendant. It works off AT&T and T-Mobile 2G networks and there is no distance limitation. It can track the location of any elderly person by refreshing the GPS signal every 10 seconds. The works- anywhere approach is matched by nearly unrivaled battery life that can last several weeks to even several months depending on use. The location tracking intervals can be set via the downloadable smartphone app that offers room for multiple caregivers to follow any Yepzon One GPS unit.

Right out of the gate, Yepzon includes six months of free usage followed by a monthly recurring charge of just $4.95 per month. The versatility of the Yepzon makes it more than ideal for elderly owners who can wear it around the neck without worrying about recharging. The waterproof casing makes it equally ideal in case it’s worn in a pool or shower (falls in the shower are all too common with elderly). Simple and easy to use, the Yepzon is perfect for those who want to look after their parents and grandparents without feeling overbearing.

Discovering your car missing might cause sudden panic, but if you’re the proud owner of the Vectu portable vehicle tracker you’re in good hands. The worldwide GPS tracker works anywhere a 2G GSM signal is available and costs just $15 per quarter or $50 annually without any activation fee. Once you’ve locked in the plan, you can receive location updates every 60 seconds while the vehicle is in motion. Additionally, the Vectu can provide up to 90 days of tracking history to help you identify where your vehicle has been in the event it is stolen or if a teenager takes the car out on a Saturday night.

With the available Android and iPhone smartphone app, you have all the tools you need to securely control and monitor wherever your GPS tracker is located. Unfortunately, the Vectu doesn’t connect directly to the vehicle for endless power, but offers a battery that can last for several days if left powered on before needing to be changed. The good news is that you can hide the Vectu anywhere in the vehicle so it’s not easily discovered by both teenagers and criminals alike. As an extra bonus, the Vectu also offers geofence alerts, notifications for up to four separate phones, over the speed alerts and instant notification for unauthorized movement.

The Pod 2 GPS + WiFi pet tracker is one of the smallest and lightest GPS trackers on the market for pets. At just one ounce, and two inches long, the Pod 2 is designed to fit any size collar and measure both GPS location and your pet’s activity level. Right off the bat, the price might scare a few people off, but it’s less expensive than most pet trackers in the long run, thanks to lower subscription fees. In fact, the initial cost includes a one-year free subscription. 

Beyond cost, the Pod 2 locates your pet both indoors and outdoors at the push of a button on the downloadable smartphone app for both iPhone and Android. Locating your pet takes place over a cellular 2G network while WiFi is included to help better pinpoint an exact GPS location. Setting up a geo-fence via the smartphone app can help immediately notify you if your pet tries to wander out of the predetermined “safe” zone. Additionally, the Pod 2 will monitor activity level like resting, walking and running to help monitor the health of your four-legged friend. With location refreshing every few minutes, the interchangeable battery life can last anywhere from six hours up to six days depending on how frequently the Pod 2 is active.

Providing location updates as often as every five seconds, the STI_GL300 is perfect for tracking fast-moving vehicles like motorcycles. It weights just eight ounces and measures three inches in length, so it’s easily attached to the bottom of your bike, though it’d be wise to purchase a waterproof case to protect it. As with other devices on this list, it lets you designate a geofence and set alerts when your motorcycle strays beyond its limits.

While battery life will depend on the interval settings, a motion-detecting accelerometer helps extend its life to about two weeks. When the device is on-the-go, the battery automatically powers on; when it’s stationary, it powers down to save juice and prevent it from dying at a crucial time. It’s yours for $25 per month, with no activation or cancellation fees.

Though bulkier and more expensive than other trackers on this list, this rugged SPOT tracker uses satellite technology to track beyond the reach of traditional cellular coverage. You can set it to receive updates every 2.5, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes and follow it along on Google Maps. You can also set it to receive alerts via text message or email if the device has a low battery or has been powered off. (The four included AAA batteries will last you a good six months.)

SPOT is waterproof rated at IPX7, which means it’s protected against splashes, rain, showering and incidental exposure of water of up to one meter for 30 minutes. Even so, you’re probably best off buying a waterproof case for it. The required service plan starts at $10 per month, but despite the cost, it’s a must-have for your expensive toys.

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