Which GPS Tracker is right for you?
We hire different kinds of tracker. We are not tied to one supplier, so we offer impartial advice based on your individual needs, and the areas that you will use it. Let's start with how they work:
All trackers use satellites to find their location
The way they transmit their location is where differ
Some transmit using GSM (combined coverage of all mobile networks)
Some transmit direct to satellite
In most areas of the UK, a GSM tracker provides excellent coverage and performance. In parts of England (Dales, Lakes), or Scotland (Highlands, Cairgorm, or in Wales (Brecon and Snowdonia), while the GSM coverage is sometimes high (90+%), if you want 100% coverage in every valley then SPOT tracker is more appropriate.
If you are travelling to somewhere very remote or also need two-way SMS, then we recommend a Garmin InReach tracker, which provides 100% coverage.
If you want more detail, let's look at pros and cons of each type are below
GSM - Multi-network trackers
GSM/WCDMA models transmit your location via all mobile networks (i.e EE, Vodafone, Three, O2). They are fitted with multi-network 'emergency' SIM cards, which means they can send on almost all mobile 2G (3g in some cases) network in the world; so they combine the coverage of them all.
GSM trackers are able to transmit in 2G even in places where your mobile phone will not appear to work at all. They are the lightweight. They have the fastest location update time, as quick as every 10 seconds, but more typically every 60-120 seconds. They are most often deployed for UK use but can be used abroad. They feature a rechargeable battery which can last 4- 10 days (if used 24 hours a day).
SPOT trackers transmit direct to the Globalstar Satellite network. They offer excellent perfomance in many remote locations and do not rely on mobile network. They have good global coverage, but not 100%. Coverage can be patchy or non-existant in very remote locations; around the equator, far Northern, Southern Hemispheres, and coverage is not high on all the oceans.
They use 4 x AAA batteries. The device could in theory last for up to 45 days use based on 8 hours a day, as long as the SPOT has 100% clear line of sight to satellite . In real world use, set to 5 minute updates, battery life about 7 - 10 days is realistic.
SPOTs need a clear view of the sky to obtain a GPS signal and provide the most accurate location information. SPOTs will not work under heavy tree canopy, or indoors
Garmin InReach transmit direct to satellites of the more powerful Iridium satellite network. They do offer 100% global coverage; all oceans, the equator and polar regions. If you are going somewhere very remote this is the only choice. They are not commonly used for UK expeditions.
These weigh around 250 grams. They feature weather reports, navigation, and 2-way SMS messaging. They update once every 10 minutes. Battery life is around 100 hours, but can vary from 2 days to over a week depending on which features (how much screen time) are used. 4 days battery is about average as long as screen use in minimal.