If you’re looking for a top-rated GPS tracking system to keep tabs on your hunting dogs, the Garmin Alpha series should be at the top of your list. But with the Garmin Alpha 100 and the newer Garmin Alpha 200 to choose from, which model is right for you?
In this in-depth comparison guide, we’ll examine the key differences between the Garmin Alpha 100 and Garmin Alpha 200 dog trackers so you can determine the best option for your needs and budget.
Overview of the Garmin Alpha Dog Tracking Systems
Both the Garmin Alpha 100 and Garmin Alpha 200 are handheld devices designed to track and train hunting dogs in the field. They allow you to monitor your dog’s location, speed, direction and more from up to 9 miles away.
The Alpha 100 was Garmin’s original release in this product line, hitting the market back in 2014. The Alpha 200 is a newer, upgraded version released in 2020.
While the Alpha 100 remains a very capable device, especially considering its lower price point, the Alpha 200 does offer some nice improvements. We’ll take a close look at the distinguishing features momentarily.
First, let’s quickly summarize what these Garmin dog trackers have in common:
- Track up to 20 dogs from a handheld device
- Rugged, waterproof construction
- Highly sensitive GPS/GLONASS tracking
- 2.5 second update rate on dog’s location
- Mapping with preloaded TOPO maps
- Compatible with TT15, TT15 Mini, and TT10 dog collars
- 18 levels of stimulation for training dogs
- Tone and vibration modes
- Compatible with Garmin EXPLORE app
- 15-20 hour battery life
Now let’s dive into the key differences…
Garmin Alpha 100 vs 200: Feature Comparison
Display Size and Quality
- Alpha 100: 3 inch diagonal, 240×400 pixel resolution
- Alpha 200: Larger 3.5 inch diagonal, 282×470 pixel resolution
The Alpha 200 boasts a bigger, higher resolution touchscreen display that makes it easier to view tracking data and maps. The improved brightness and clarity, especially in sunlight, is a nice upgrade.
- Alpha 100: 3 primary buttons
- Alpha 200: 3 primary buttons plus 4 additional quick access buttons
The Alpha 200 adds new physical buttons on the side of the device for quickly switching between screens or dogs without touching the display. This allows for easier operation when wearing gloves.
- Alpha 100: Store up to 20 active dogs
- Alpha 200: Store up to 250 dogs in groups of 20
One handy upgrade is the Alpha 200’s group management function. It allows you to store different sets of dogs and easily switch between groups. No longer do you need to add/remove collars each time.
Mapping & Connectivity
- Alpha 100: Preloaded TOPO maps, Basecamp connectivity
- Alpha 200: Added support for BirdsEye satellite imagery, WiFi for direct downloads
The Alpha 200 provides enhanced mapping capability through its direct WiFi connectivity and ability to view detailed BirdsEye imagery.
- Alpha 100: Up to 20 hours
- Alpha 200: Up to 20 hours
Despite the larger screen and added functions, the Alpha 200 maintains the same excellent battery life as the Alpha 100 of around 20 hours. This can vary based on usage.
- Alpha 100: IPX7 water rating
- Alpha 200: IPX7 water rating
Both models have the same IPX7 rating meaning they can withstand immersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. The Alpha 200 may have a slight edge in ruggedness.
- Alpha 100: Approximately $600 MSRP
- Alpha 200: Approximately $750 MSRP
Due to the extra features and upgrades, the newer Alpha 200 comes at a higher retail cost, about a $150 price premium.
- Alpha 100: None
- Alpha 200i: Built-in inReach connectivity
There is also the Alpha 200i model which has integrated inReach satellite communication features. This allows you to send SOS messages and 2-way text messages via satellite subscription. But this will cost you around $800-900.
Garmin Alpha 100 vs 200: Comparison Chart
|Garmin Alpha 100
|Garmin Alpha 200
|3 primary + 4 quick access
|Maximum Dogs Tracked
|250 stored in groups
|Preloaded TOPO, Basecamp
|Added BirdsEye, WiFi
|Up to 20 hours
|Up to 20 hours
|Shop on Amazon
|Shop on Amazon
Key Factors to Consider in Your Buying Decision
When choosing between the Garmin Alpha 100 vs 200, here are some of the main factors to weigh:
How Many Dogs Do You Need to Track?
If you only need to track a small number of dogs (1-5), the Alpha 100 should suit you fine and save you money.
But if you have a larger hunting pack (6+ dogs), the Alpha 200’s group management feature becomes more useful so you can store multiple dog teams.
What Mapping Functionality Do You Need?
The Alpha 100’s preloaded TOPO maps and Basecamp connectivity will meet most basic mapping needs.
But if you want the enhanced detail of downloading BirdsEye Satellite imagery or viewing maps directly on the device, the Alpha 200 is better equipped.
How Rugged of a Device Do You Need?
Both models meet the IPX7 waterproof standard and are pretty tough. But the Alpha 200 may be slightly more durable and resistant to the elements.
If your hunts take you through extreme terrain and weather, the Alpha 200 gives you a bit more confidence it can survive unscathed.
Is Your Budget Flexible?
The Alpha 100 delivers excellent performance and value at around $600.
The Alpha 200 costs roughly $150 more. For some buyers, that extra cost is easily justified by the upgrades. For others on a tighter budget, it may not be.
Prioritize what features matter most before deciding if it’s worth spending extra.
Do You Want Satellite Communication?
The standard Alpha 200 does not have built-in inReach capability.
If emergency messaging via satellite is important to you, you’ll need to get the Alpha 200i model with inReach built-in. This adds another $100+ to the price tag.
Garmin Alpha 200 vs 200i: Key Differences
We’ve covered the main distinctions between the Garmin Alpha 100 vs 200. Now let’s briefly compare the Alpha 200 vs 200i.
The Garmin Alpha 200i has all of the same features as the standard Alpha 200, but with the added benefit of inReach integration.
With the Alpha 200i’s inReach technology you get:
- 2-way text messaging via satellite
- Trigger SOS alerts for emergency assistance
- Share GPS location data and tracking
- 100% global coverage even without cell service
- inReach requires an additional subscription plan
Aside from those inReach capabilities, the Alpha 200 and Alpha 200i are essentially the same device. So the choice comes down to deciding if you need emergency satellite communication or not.
For most hunters, the standard Alpha 200 will be sufficient. But for those venturing deep into the backcountry, the extra peace of mind of the 200i may be worthwhile.Shop Garmin Alpha 200i on Amazon
Conclusion: Which Garmin Alpha Model Is Right for You?
When comparing the Garmin Alpha 100 vs 200, the newer Alpha 200 comes out on top in terms of features and functionality. But the Alpha 100 remains a solid choice, especially if you’re on a budget or only need to track a small number of dogs.
For hunters with larger packs who want the latest tracking technology and connectivity, the Alpha 200 is likely the better investment if you can afford the higher price tag. The premium upgrades like improved mapping, easier controls, and group management perks justify the added cost for serious hunters.
The Alpha 200i with inReach takes it another step further for those who prioritize emergency satellite communication and want to stay connected beyond the boundaries of cell service. But that comes at a steeper price.
Think carefully about your specific needs and which device aligns best. Hopefully this detailed feature comparison of the Garmin Alpha 100 vs Garmin Alpha 200 vs Garmin Alpha 200i has provided helpful insight to inform your buying decision. Let us know if you have any other questions!
Frequently Asked Questions About the Garmin Alpha Dog Trackers
What types of hunting dogs are the Garmin Alphas designed for?
The Garmin Alpha systems are optimized for sporting dogs like hounds, gun dogs, and retrievers. They provide the level of tracking precision and stimulation needed for maintaining control during a fast-paced hunt.
How many dogs can each model track at once?
All three models – the Alpha 100, Alpha 200, and Alpha 200i – can actively track and train up to 20 dogs at the same time.
What is the range of these devices?
You can track your dogs from up to 9 miles away with the Alpha handhelds when paired with a TT15 collar. The exact maximum range depends on terrain.
Do I need to buy mapping cards separately?
No, the Alpha devices come preloaded with TOPO topographic mapping. Additional map products like BirdsEye satellite imagery can be purchased optionally.
Can I add the inReach feature to the Alpha 100 or 200?
No, only the Alpha 200i comes equipped with built-in inReach connectivity. The standard Alpha 100 and 200 do not have this emergency satellite communication capability.
How long does the battery last?
The handheld units have a battery life up to 20 hours per charge. The collars can last up to 80 hours depending on model.
What dog collars are compatible?
You’ll want to use the Garmin TT15, TT15 Mini or TT10 collars to get full functionality. Other Garmin ASTRO collars are compatible for basic tracking.
Can I track the handheld’s location from my smartphone?
Yes, when paired with the Garmin Explore app on your smartphone you can view the real-time location of the handheld as well as your dogs.
Putting It All Together in the Field
Whichever Alpha model you choose, using the system out in the field is straightforward.
You’ll strap the TT15 or TT15 Mini tracking collar onto your dog. The collar’s GPS receiver will communicate with satellites to determine the dog’s location.
That location data is transmitted over radio frequencies back to the Alpha handheld device.
As you carry the handheld while hunting, you’ll be able to see key information like:
- Direction your dog is heading
- Speed and distance traveled
- Whether your dog is on-point or treed
- Location relative to your position
- Any alerts you’ve set up for your dog leaving a boundary
The Alpha’s mapping will show you geographical contours, topography and landscape features to help you navigate the terrain.
When it’s time to issue a training correction, you can use the stimulation, tone, or vibration modes to reinforce commands.
And if you have any questions or concerns throughout your hunt, the Explore app and inReach connectivity gives you extra support.
Having this detailed tracking data and training capability in the palm of your hand lets you hunt confidently knowing your dogs’ positions and that you can guide them safely and effectively.
While both the Alpha 100 and Alpha 200 offer industry-leading performance, the Alpha 200’s upgrades make it the top choice if budget allows. But either model paired with a TT15 collar will serve an avid hunter extremely well.
We hope this detailed Garmin Alpha comparison has helped you determine which system fits your specific needs. Now get out there, explore the terrain, and enjoy the hunt!