If you hunt with dogs, having a quality GPS tracking system like the Garmin Alpha 200 or 200i can take your hunting to the next level. But with two great options to choose from, it can be tough to decide which model is right for your needs.
This in-depth guide compares the key features and capabilities of the Garmin Alpha 200 and 200i multi-dog GPS trackers. I’ll go over the similarities and differences between these two top dog trackers so you can determine which is the better fit for you and your hunting dogs.
Overview of Garmin Alpha Dog Tracking Systems
Garmin Alpha systems allow you to monitor and train multiple dogs from one handheld device. The Alpha trackers use GPS and GLONASS satellite networks to pinpoint each dog’s location using special collars.
The Alpha handhelds can track up to 20 dogs from a range of up to 9 miles with the full size collar, or 4 miles with the mini collar. You can monitor their positions, distances, speed, and more.
The Alpha 200 and 200i also let you deliver tone, vibration, or electrical stimulation for training dogs in the field. With 18 levels, you can customize training for each dog’s temperament.
Both systems are tough, fully weatherproof, and can run for up to 20 hours per charge. They also share wireless connectivity like WiFi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ to pair with Garmin devices.
But while the Alpha 200 and 200i share many features, the 200i adds inReach satellite communication abilities for increased safety and peace of mind when out of cell range.
Below I’ll go through these systems’ key capabilities, pros and cons, and how to decide which model is better suited for your needs.
Key Features of the Garmin Alpha 200 and 200i
Track Dogs from Up to 9 Miles Away
The top benefit of the Garmin Alpha systems is being able to monitor your pack from miles away. Both the 200 and 200i use GPS and GLONASS satellite connectivity to track each dog in your party.
They are compatible with Garmin’s TT 15, TT 15 mini, T 5 and T 5 mini collar devices. The full size TT 15 and T 5 collars provide a 9 mile max range. The mini versions offer tracking up to 4 miles.
You can track up to 20 dogs at once and the handheld updates each dog’s location every 2.5 seconds. This near real-time monitoring lets you closely follow your dog’s movements no matter the terrain or distance.
Customizable Stimulation for Training
When paired with the TT 15 series collars, the Alpha 200 and 200i allow you to deliver customized tone, vibration, or stimulations for training dogs in the field.
You get a wide range of 18 stimulation levels so you can tailor the intensity for each dog’s unique temperament and response. The handheld makes it easy to switch between levels on the fly as needed.
The Alpha systems also let you set up momentary or continuous stimulations. For quick training cues, momentary stimuli are ideal. The continuous option is better for reinforcing commands or deterring unwanted behaviors.
Between the range of intensity and the stimulation types, you have the versatile training capabilities to work with all types of sporting dogs.
Durable, Waterproof Design
Hunting dogs and their handlers often wind up off trail in rough terrain and bad weather. The Alpha 200 and 200i are designed to handle these grueling conditions.
The handheld device is waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. This IPX7 rating means it can withstand rain, snow, falling in the water, and extreme humidity. Dogs can even jump in a lake and you won’t have to worry about damage.
The systems are also impact resistant and the capacitive touchscreen works with gloves or when wet. A high sensitivity receiver keeps tracking dogs even when they’re miles away in heavy cover. Overall, the Alphas provide reliable performance in tough outdoor environments.
Long Battery Life
Running out of power while out with your dogs would make for a frustrating day. Thankfully, the Alpha 200 and 200i deliver excellent battery life of up to 20 hours per charge.
This gives you enough continuous runtime for multi-day hunting trips. The lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and you can top off between outings by plugging in the handheld.
For even more convenience, the handheld displays the collar and handheld battery levels so you know if anything needs recharging. With these long-running systems, you can focus on the hunt rather than worrying about losing power.
Unique Features of the Garmin Alpha 200
Now that we’ve covered the main shared features, let’s look at what sets the Garmin Alpha 200 apart:
Larger, High Visibility Display
The Alpha 200 handheld has a 3.5 inch color touchscreen display. This is significantly larger than the 200i’s 1.53 inch screen.
The extra size makes it easier to see the details at a glance. And the high 480 x 800 pixel resolution provides sharp imagery even in sunny or low light conditions.
The display is glove-friendly and waterproof as well. Overall, the Alpha 200’s big, bright screen maximizes usability when you’re out in the field tracking your dogs.
Garmin designed the Alpha 200 interface to be streamlined and intuitive for hunting dogs. The simplified menus and large icons let you quickly access the tracking tools you need.
There are also programmable hot keys that take you directly to the most important screens. For example, you could set one button to pull up the map view and another to access collar stimulation controls.
This simplified operation minimizes distractions when you need to focus on monitoring and guiding your dogs during the hunt or training exercise.
Preloaded TOPO Maps
The Alpha 200 comes preloaded with detailed TOPO topographic maps. These maps illustrate terrain contours, elevations, bodies of water, landmarks, and more.
With the high resolution TOPO maps, you can better understand the environment your dogs are traversing. You can also use them to preview topography and identify potential hunting spots.
The 200’s mapping capabilities integrate smoothly with the dog tracking. You see both your dogs’ locations and the TOPO maps on the same display. Overall, the preloaded TOPOs enhance navigation and tactical hunting abilities.
Save Dog Tracks and Stats
Hunting with the Alpha 200 allows you to save tracks, routes, and performance data for each dog. The handheld has enough internal storage to record up to 10 days of activity before syncing.
In the Garmin EXPLORE app, you can view saved dog tracks overlaid on maps. The app also compiles stats on distance traveled, speed, elevation, and more.
Reviewing these details after a hunt helps you better understand your dogs’ behaviors and patterns. You can see what commands worked well and which need more training. It’s an invaluable tool for improving control and obedience.Shop Garmin Alpha 200 on Amazon
Unique Features of the Garmin Alpha 200i
Next let’s go over some of the key features that set apart the Garmin Alpha 200i:
inReach Satellite Communication
The “i” in Alpha 200i stands for inReach. This model includes the ability to send and receive messages over the Iridium satellite network. That gives you communication abilities even when you don’t have cell service.
With an active subscription, you can send and receive texts via satellite anywhere on Earth. You can also ping GPS locations to contacts and trigger an SOS alert in emergencies.
Having this satellite connectivity provides an extra layer of safety and convenience when you’re far from help. As long as you have a view of the sky, you have global communication with the 200i.
Live Tracking and Monitoring
The 200i’s inReach integration also enables live tracking and remote monitoring through the Garmin EXPLORE website and mobile app.
When you begin a hunt, contacts can follow the handheld and dog positions in real-time using satellite updates. You can also share waypoints and pre-planned routes.
This live tracking capability is great for safety. If you become lost or injured, someone can access your location. They could even forward it to search and rescue teams if no check-in message is received.
Thanks to the inReach connectivity, the Alpha 200i can provide basic weather forecasts directly on the handheld. You can see if any storms or severe weather is approaching the area.
This at-a-glance weather data allows you to plan your hunt more strategically. You can tell if conditions are right for picking up scents or if you’re at risk of dangerous weather.
While basic, having these weather updates in the field can be extremely useful for staying safe and making tactical decisions during a hunt.Shop Garmin Alpha 200i on Amazon
The 200i features interactive navigation abilities when paired with your smartphone and the EXPLORE app. You can set waypoints on your phone’s map which automatically sync to the handheld.
While navigating a pre-planned route, the 200i provides alerts when you go off course and can redirect you back. This interactive functionality makes it almost impossible to get lost, even in unfamiliar terrain.
Between the satellite communication, live tracking, weather data, and navigation, the Alpha 200i gives you enhanced situational awareness and safety. For hunters who prize connectivity, the 200i really excels.
Garmin Alpha 200 vs 200i: Key Differences
To recap, here are the main differences between the Garmin Alpha 200 and the Alpha 200i:
- Display: The 200 has a larger 3.5” screen compared to the 200i’s 1.53” display.
- Interface: The 200 has a simplified menu system optimized for hunting dogs.
- Maps: The 200 comes preloaded with TOPO topographic maps.
- Data Tracking: The 200 can record and store dog tracks, stats, and hunting routes.
- Satellite Communication: The 200i has inReach integration for texting and SOS anywhere.
- Live Tracking: The 200i enables real-time monitoring through the EXPLORE app.
- Weather: The 200i can access basic weather reports and forecasts.
- Navigation: The 200i supports interactive navigation when paired with a smartphone.
Garmin Alpha 200 and 200i Dog Collars
The Alpha 200 and 200i are compatible with Garmin’s TT 15, T 5, and mini versions of each collar. These collars contain the GPS and E-collar modules that sync up with the handheld unit.
The TT 15 collars add full e-collar capabilities for delivering stimulations plus tone and vibration during training. The T 5 models are for GPS tracking only.
TT 15/TT 15 mini
- GPS tracking collar
- Training collar with tone, vibration, and stimulation
- 9 mile (TT 15) or 4 mile (TT 15 mini) range
- LED beacon lights
T 5/T 5 mini
- GPS tracking collar
- 9 mile (T 5) or 4 mile (T 5 mini) range
- LED beacon lights
The mini collars are ideal for smaller dogs or when you need a lighter weight design. But they do sacrifice some range. For hunters with big sporting dogs that range far, the full size TT 15 or T 5 is likely the better choice.
All the collars are waterproof and rugged. They withstand tough hunting conditions so dogs can run free without damaging the electronics.
The collars also flash built-in LEDs that you can activate remotely from the handheld. This helps you locate your dogs at night or if they are lost in heavy cover.
Overall, Garmin’s Alpha dog collars provide reliable tracking and training capabilities from miles away. They sync seamlessly with the Alpha 200 and 200i handhelds.
Garmin Alpha 200 vs 200i: Which Is Better For You?
Now that you understand the core features and differences between the Garmin Alpha 200 and 200i, how do you decide which model is right for your needs?
Here are a few key factors to consider:
- Budget – The Alpha 200i costs around $50 more than the 200. Paying more for the 200i may be worth it if you really value the live tracking, messaging, and navigation perks.
- Hunting Habits – Think about how many dogs you use, typical terrain, and if you hunt with others. More dogs at long distances favor the 200i. The 200 excels for solo hunts.
- Training Requirements – The 200’s larger display and simplified menus are ideal when actively using stimulation and corrections during hunts.
- Safety Priorities – The 200i’s satellite connectivity provides more emergency comms and monitoring. This added safety is crucial for certain buyers.
- Location – If you regularly hunt in areas without cell reception, the 200i’s satellite messaging and SOS abilities will be indispensable.
Ultimately, the Garmin Alpha 200 and 200i each offer pros and cons. There is no universally “better” choice. Assess your budget, needs, and how you actually use dog tracking to determine the best system for your hunting habits.
Both represent a major upgrade over traditional beeper collars. And investing in quality dog gear pays dividends when it leads to better performing dogs afield.Shop Garmin Alpha 200i on Amazon
Key Takeaways – Garmin Alpha 200 vs 200i
- Garmin Alpha systems allow you to GPS track and train up to 20 dogs from one handheld device.
- The Alpha 200 and 200i share excellent features like long battery life, robust tracking, and 18 levels of E-collar stimulation.
- The 200 has a larger, simplified touchscreen while the 200i adds satellite texting and SOS capabilities.
- Both models withstand tough conditions like water, dirt, and hard hits while hunting.
- Choose the 200i if you value connectivity and safety when cell service is unavailable.
- Select the 200 for the lower cost and user-friendly interface optimized for hunting dogs.
- Pair with Garmin’s TT 15 or T 5 collars for versatile tracking across many miles and terrain.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many dogs can the Garmin Alpha track?
Both the Alpha 200 and 200i can track and train up to 20 dogs at once. The handheld updates each dog’s location every 2.5 seconds.
What is the range of the Garmin Alpha systems?
When paired with the full size TT 15 or T 5 collars, you get a 9 mile maximum range. For the mini collars, the max range is 4 miles.
Yes, both models support marking waypoints. The 200i additionally allows real-time location sharing via the inReach satellite network.
How long does the battery last?
The Alpha 200 and 200i handheld units provide up to 20 hours of battery life per charge. For the 200i, this is reduced to 15 hours when satellite messaging is enabled.
What types of maps does the Alpha 200 use?
The Alpha 200 comes preloaded with detailed topographic maps. The 200i just uses basic GPS maps. But both support overlaying BirdsEye satellite imagery.
Can I use the Alpha 200 or 200i without cell service?
The Alpha 200 requires a cell connection for some features like downloading satellite imagery. The 200i can send and receive messages via satellite when no cell service is available.
Is the Alpha waterproof and rugged?
Yes, both units have a water rating of IPX7. They can withstand submersion up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. The systems are also impact and dirt resistant.
How do I know the battery levels?
The handheld shows the collar battery levels and has an icon indicating its own remaining battery life. This way you can monitor power and recharge as needed.
Hunting dogs are invaluable companions, but controlling multiple dogs across variable terrain can be extremely challenging without the right gear. Garmin’s Alpha dog tracking systems give you real-time visibility and control no matter how far your dogs roam.
Both the Garmin Alpha 200 and Alpha 200i represent amazing technology for hunters who work with sporting dogs. They combine robust GPS tracking with customizable e-collar training capabilities. By understanding the pros and cons of each model, you can select the best system to enhance your hunting habits and take your dogs’ obedience to the next level.
Have more questions about using Garmin devices for hunting dogs? Feel free to contact me or comment below! I’m always happy to help fellow hunters and dog owners with choosing gear and improving their time in the field.