The Dogtra Pathfinder 2 is one of the most advanced GPS dog collars on the market. With features like app-based tracking, geofencing, and remote training, it aims to be the ultimate solution for hunters, field trainers, and active pet owners.
But with a premium price tag, is the Pathfinder 2 worth the investment? I’ve tested and used the Pathfinder 2 extensively with my dogs. In this hands-on review, I’ll share my experiences to help you decide if it’s the right GPS collar for you.
Overview of the Dogtra Pathfinder 2
The Pathfinder 2 system includes two main components:
- GPS tracking collar – Fully waterproof collar with integrated GPS and e-collar module. Available in 5 sizes to fit dogs from 15-130 lbs.
- GPS Link – Pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth to communicate with the collar. Has one programmable button.
The collar and link connect via advanced radio communication with a range of up to 9 miles line-of-sight.
You control everything via the Dogtra Pathfinder app on your iOS or Android device. The app provides GPS tracking, geofencing, training customization, map views, and more.
What’s New in the Pathfinder 2?
The Pathfinder 2 improves upon the original Pathfinder in a few key ways:
- Longer battery life – up to 12 hours tracking runtime
- Redesigned GPS antenna for more consistent connections
- Improved radio communication between collar and link
- Enhanced app with new training and geofencing options
Hands-On Review: How the Pathfinder 2 Performs
I’ve tested the Pathfinder 2 extensively with my Labrador Retriever and German Shorthaired Pointer. Here are my experiences with the major features:
GPS Tracking & Mapping
The Pathfinder 2 tracking performance is excellent. The updated collar design provides more consistent satellite connections to deliver accurate, real-time location data.
The Pathfinder app maps make it easy to monitor your dog’s movements and see their current position. You can toggle between standard street maps, satellite images, and USGS topographical map views.
Tracking updates occur every 2 seconds when connected via radio link. If outside of link range, the collar logs positions and transmits history when back in range.
The collar stores up to 12 hours of detailed tracking history internally, which syncs to the app for record keeping. Very useful for analyzing hunts, walks, or training sessions.
I’ve found the Pathfinder 2 radio communication to be very reliable in most terrain. It provides several miles of range as long as you avoid mountains and dense vegetation blocking line-of-sight.
When outside of radio range, the collar switches to standalone GPS tracking mode to log data to its internal memory.
The Pathfinder 2 app provides virtual geofencing options to contain your dog or receive alerts when they leave designated areas.
You can set circular geofences based on a radius from your location. Or draw custom polygons on the map to define irregular boundaries.
Geofences can be set as boundary alerts only or paired with automatic collar corrections. This is useful for enforcing property lines or restricting your dog from unsafe zones.
I don’t use the automated corrections often but the alerts are helpful for keeping my dog from wandering too far when exploring new areas off leash.
In additional to the tracking functions, the Pathfinder 2 serves as a full-featured e-collar trainer.
The app provides complete control over stimulation levels and modes. You can deliver momentary “nick” or continuous stimulations paired with audible tones.
Intensity is adjustable from levels 1-100 for a range of dog dispositions and situations. I appreciate that you can customize the stimulation strength for each individual dog.
The GPS Link has one programmable button to deliver stim corrections. However, I’ve found that accessing the precise collar controls via the phone app works better than relying on the Link button alone.
The e-collar functions combined with the geofencing provides effective options for reinforcing obedience boundaries. And being able to review the location data and correlate it with training interactions is extremely helpful.
Battery life is arguably the weakest aspect of the Pathfinder 2 system. Dogtra states up to 12 hours of tracking but I find that actual usage is lower, especially when actively using the stimulation.
The GPS collar and Link both use built-in lithium polymer batteries. From full charge, I get about 8-10 hours of runtime per the status indicator.
This is decent for full day hunting or field training trips. But you’ll need to monitor the battery level and have the USB charger handy for longer excursions. I recommend bringing a portable charger on extended outings.
The collar and Link both charge quickly – about 2 hours for a full charge. But needing to charge them daily is the main inconvenience.
In terms of durability, the Pathfinder 2 collar and Link are both waterproof and seem ruggedly built to withstand heavy field use.
I’ve had my dogs swim and run through dense brush with the collar many times without issue. The collar strap is Made from durable nylon webbing.
The collar case seems durable but I don’t love how it protrudes from the strap – I worry that branches or brush could potentially catch on it when running through cover.
After 6 months of steady use, the collar components all look mint with no wear or damage visible. Overall construction seems very solid.
I do wish the Link handset was a bit more ergonomic. The boxy shape isn’t as comfortable or intuitive to hold as some other e-collar remotes. But it also rides securely in a pouch or pack without worrying about buttons pressing.
Additional Pathfinder 2 Review Pros & Cons
Here are some additional positives and negatives I’ve experienced using the Pathfinder 2 tracking system:
Pathfinder 2 Pros
- Excellent GPS tracking accuracy and range
- Useful geofencing options via app
- Fully customizable e-collar stim levels
- Durable, waterproof construction
- Helpful activity insights from stored data
- No subscription required beyond initial purchase
Pathfinder 2 Cons
- Below average battery life
- App functionality requires smartphone access
- Collar case protrusion may snag
- Link remote provides limited quick access
- Premium pricing – $429 for starter kit
Who is the Pathfinder 2 Best Suited For?
The Pathfinder 2 really shines for hunters who want to track and train multiple sporting dogs in the field.
Being able to monitor 12+ dogs simultaneously and deliver corrections reinforces it as a versatile professional training tool.
The Pathfinder 2 is also a great option for very active pet owners. The GPS tracking provides peace of mind if your dogs tend to roam or explore off-leash.
And being able to set wireless boundaries and reinforce training from a distance adds control.
I would not recommend the Pathfinder 2 for basic pet tracking needs. The premium pricing only makes sense if you will actually utilize the integrated e-collar and tracking capabilities fully. There are more cost-effective basic GPS collars otherwise.
Dogtra Pathfinder 2 Review Verdict
The Dogtra Pathfinder 2 offers one of the most advanced all-in-one GPS tracking and training collars for dogs. The performance and features justify the premium price for serious hunters and trainers.
However, the battery life leaves something to be desired. And smartphone dependence for the app integration provides pros and cons versus separate handheld units.
I would still recommend the Pathfinder 2 as the top premium GPS dog collar. But there are competitive alternative options that may better suit more casual users.
To recap my experiences:
Tracking Accuracy – 5/5 stars – excellent GPS performance
Smartphone App – 4/5 stars – full-featured but requires phone access
Battery Life – 3/5 stars – decent but requires frequent charging
E-Collar Functionality – 5/5 stars – expansive training customization
Durability – 5/5 stars – waterproof and rugged construction
Overall Value – 4/5 stars – justified pricing for serious field use
So if you’re looking for the most advanced combination of GPS tracking, geofencing, and integrated e-collar capabilities, the Dogtra Pathfinder 2 should top your list.
Just be prepared to keep your smartphone and portable charger handy!Shop Dogtra Pathfinder 2 on Amazon
Top GPS Dog Collar Alternatives
The Pathfinder 2 stands out as a top-tier GPS dog collar but there are competitive options with unique advantages to also consider:
- Garmin Astro 430 – Simple handheld unit, no smartphone required. More ergonomic transmitter with longer battery life up to 40 hours.
- Whistle FIT – Basic health tracking. Best budget-friendly option at $100. Good for casual pet owners.
- Halo Collar – Unique training course integrations. Leader in virtual fencing options and automatic corrections.
- SportDOG TEK 2.0 – Excellent value at $299. 900 yard remote range but only 12 hour battery life.
I recommend taking a close look at these alternatives to see if they better match your specific needs and preferences. All provide capable GPS dog tracking at different price points.
The Garmin Astro 430 offers a dedicated handheld compared to the Pathfinder 2’s smartphone dependence. See how the Astro compares to the Alpha series in Garmin Astro vs Alpha.
For hunters, examine options like Garmin or consider the best GPS collars for hunting dogs. Let me know if you need any other advice!
Pathfinder 2 FAQs
Here are answers to some common questions about the Dogtra Pathfinder 2 based on my experience:
How long does the battery last?
Dogtra states up to 12 hours of use per charge. I typically get 8-10 hours of real world use before needing to recharge.
What is the range of the handheld link?
Approximately 1-2 miles over open terrain. Heavy vegetation or terrain can reduce effective range.
Can you use the collar without the smartphone app?
No – the app is required to sync with the collar and view tracking info. The Link only functions when paired to app.
Is the collar fully waterproof?
Yes, the collar and Link both have IPX9K waterproof ratings for submersion up to 10 feet.
Does the collar work worldwide?
Yes, the collar has integrated worldwide GPS positioning capability.
What maps does the app use?
The app uses Google Maps for standard street view and terrain/satellite map options.
How old does a puppy need to be?
Dogtra recommends waiting until 6 months for e-collar training. The collar can fit dogs as small as 15 lbs.
What is the collar correction range?
Collar stimulation is adjustable from 1-100 intensity levels to suit each dog’s temperament.
How long does the battery take to charge?
Both the collar and Link require about 2 hours for a full charge from empty.
Get Started With the Pathfinder 2
Hopefully this provides a comprehensive look at how the Dogtra Pathfinder 2 performs and what it offers compared to alternatives!
The Pathfinder 2 starter bundle retails for $429 but you can often find it discounted to around $399 online. Additional collars cost $279 each.
There’s a lot to like about the Pathfinder 2 if you need an advanced GPS tracking and training system for active dogs. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to provide advice from my experience using it.