The 8 Best GPS Trackers for Hiking, Cars and More in 2020

Best GPS Trackers for people, pets and possessions

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Best for Hiking: Spot Gen3

Spot Gen3
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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.

Best for Kids: Wonbo Kid Smart Watch

Providing ample peace of mind for parents, the Wonbo kids' smartwatch and GPS tracker is a great choice. Just download the Wonbo app to your phone or other mobile device and you can track the watch's location from anywhere using a GSM cellular connection. Parents can also utilize text messaging and Wonbo's website to track their child's location if they don't have the app on hand.

As an additional layer of security, kids can use the Wonbo to call their parents right from their wrist. A child can hold down the “SOS” button to dial the first reserved telephone number or press the number “2” to call an additional speed dial number. Parents also have the option to create a “security fence,” which designates a specific geographic area as safe. If a child leaves that area, an alert is automatically sent to the parent's phone.

And, unlike many other GPS trackers made for children, the Wonbo is actually one they'll want to wear. It looks just like a cool, high-tech watch and comes in three kid-friendly colors: pink, lime green, and turquoise blue.  

Best for Luggage: Amcrest AM-GL300

Amcrest AM-GL300
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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 Go Explore 100-04203-00

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 car GPS 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.

Best for Motorcycles: Spytec 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.

What to Look for in a GPS Tracker

Use - How you’ll use a standalone GPS tracker is pretty much the most important consideration for which device you’ll choose. There are trackers that are optimized for keeping up with kids or elderly loved ones and models designed for tracking luggage or pets. You should definitely think about how you want to use a GPS tracker before you plunge into buying one.

Type of GPS Tracking - If you’re planning on using a GPS tracker to keep track of a car or motorcycle, then purchasing one that operates on a cellular network will probably work just fine. But if you’re a hiker who enjoys getting off the beaten path, or you want to track a boat, then you may want to look into a unit that operates via satellite.

Connection speed - Another issue with GPS trackers is how you actually track them. Most can link up with a smartphone, but how often do they provide location updates? If you’re trying to track a person or want to make sure your car isn’t stolen, you may want to pay extra for a unit that updates more frequently to make sure the location is as accurate as possible.