The 8 Best GPS Trackers to Buy in 2018 for Hiking, Cars and More

Best GPS Trackers for people, pets and possessions

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best for Hiking: Spot Gen3 at Amazon, “The Spot works on a satellite phone line that allows it to broadcast location data in places that most cellular GPS trackers cannot reach.”
  • Best for Kids: Trax Play Kids’ GPS at Amazon, “Simple, tough and highly accurate.”
  • Best for Luggage: Amcrest AM-GL300 at Amazon, “Accessible remotely via a smartphone or computer offering a real-time location with updates as quickly as every 60 seconds.”
  • Best for Elderly: Yepzon Freedom at Amazon, “The Yepzon Freedom GPS tracker is a very tiny pendant-shaped wearable with superior tracking accuracy and a built-in SOS alert.”
  • Best for Pets: Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker at Amazon, “Uses cellular technology to pinpoint your pet’s location at any moment and tracks their movements from the last 24 hours.”
  • Best for Cars: MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker at Amazon, “Connects directly to Google Maps for extreme accuracy on location, speed, and traffic conditions.”
  • Best for Motorcycles: Spy Tex STI_GL300 Mini at Walmart, “Providing location updates as often as every five seconds, the STI_GL300 is perfect for tracking fast-moving vehicles like motorcycles.”
  • Best for Boats: SPOT Trace Anti-Theft at Amazon, “This rugged SPOT tracker uses satellite technology to track beyond the reach of traditional cellular coverage.”

Our Top Picks

Best for Hiking: Spot Gen3

Spot 3
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

Check out our other reviews of the best hiking GPS​ trackers available on the market today.

Best for Kids: Trax Play Kids' GPS

Trax Kids' Play GPS
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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. 

Best for Luggage: Amcrest AM-GL300

Amcrest AM-GL300
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

Best for Elderly: Yepzon Freedom

Keeping track of your elderly loved ones is super important, and the Yepzon Freedom GPS tracker is a very tiny pendant-shaped wearable with superior tracking accuracy and a built-in SOS alert. It uses GPS, 3G cellular networks (via a built-in SIM card), and Wi-Fi to pinpoint your loved one's location, meaning it tracks more accurately both indoors and out. The works-anywhere approach is matched by a lengthy battery life that can be monitored via a downloadable app so it never runs out unexpectedly. The app also allows multiple caregivers to follow any Yepzon One GPS unit.

Yepzon trackers don't require an advance subscription or contract — you just pay for the service as you use it and cancel whenever you wish. (This service also includes the cost of the 3G data your tracker uses so you don't have to pay for it out-of-pocket.) The versatility of the Yepzon makes it ideal for older adults who can wear it around the neck and have instant access to the SOS function, allowing them to send an alert to loved ones' phones whenever they need help. 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.

Best for Pets: Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor

If your furry friends tend to roam — perhaps a bit farther than they should — then you need a plan B to keep them safe. The Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker gets high praise from multiple pet owners and reviewers. The device uses cellular technology to pinpoint your pet’s location at any moment and tracks their movements from the last 24 hours. You can also set automatic alerts on your phone, so you'll be notified if your pet leaves their designated “safe zone.” That can give you some much-needed lead time to catch up before they run too far away.

The Whistle 3 is a lightweight tracker that fits comfortably on your dog’s collar (recommended weight: at least 8 pounds). It boasts a seven-day battery life and is both waterproof and highly durable. The device itself isn’t cheap, but the subscription plan is only $6.95 per month, and the companion app is compatible with the latest iPhone and Android software. The only downside is that it’s only compatible with AT&T’s cellular network.

Best for Cars: MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker

Whether you’re the parent of a teen driver or simply want additional security for your vehicle, the MOTOsafety GPS is an excellent choice. The device connects directly to Google Maps for extreme accuracy on location, speed, and traffic conditions. Monitor your car’s comings and goings in real time using the free mobile app, which updates your car’s location every sixty seconds. In addition, the customizable geo-fencing feature allows you to set perimeters around key locations and will send text or email alerts whenever your vehicle enters or exits that specific area.

What sets MOTOsafety apart from the competition are its unique features tailored specifically for parents of teen drivers. Daily Report Cards keep your teen in check, monitoring driving habits like speed, braking, and acceleration. The software also tracks the amount of gas in the tank, so your car will never be running on empty. For this level of reassurance for your teen and your car, the MOTOsafety tracker offers a convenient, flexible payment plan, with no activation or cancellations fees, no contracts, and just a $19.99 monthly charge.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best car GPS trackers. 

Best for Motorcycles: Spy Tec STI_GL300 Mini Portable Real Time GPS Tracker

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.

Best for Boats: SPOT Trace Anti-Theft Tracking Device

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.