[wvc_bigtext text=”PATHFINDER REVIEW” color=”white” font_weight=”400″]
dogtra-pathfinder-bird-hunting
FROM THE DOGTRA WEBSITE:
The most accurate and easy-to-use smartphone GPS tracking and training system. Track up to 21 dogs or hunters, share locations, playback data and create customizable Geo-Fence alerts. With an incredibly fast two-second update rate and a powerful zoom capability, the Pathfinder tracking feature provides greater live-action detail and accuracy when you’re in the field. The pathfinder comes with full e-collar function, which can be disabled per user preference.
I’ve been using the pathfinder for a while now and I have to say that I’m pretty happy with it. I made the switch to the pathfinder from a Garmin Alpha. I bought the Alpha because it was the bees knees according to everything I read. My experience with it did not live up to its praise. The Alpha is notoriously difficult to navigate while in the field. Nothing is quick about the garmin other than a quick stimulation using a couple of buttons on the face. Everything else about it seemed cumbersome.
The pathfinder originally called to me because I can use it on an iOS system which I’m very familiar with. Have an iPhone? Than you’re probably going to be an expert level user in no time at all. Also, I carry my phone with me everywhere, sometimes just for emergency but I always have it regardless. Why carry a phone and a collar receiver if I can have two in one?
So far, the pathfinder is a legit, high quality system. I haven’t put it through a full hunting season yet, but I imagine based on my training, which isn’t that much different than hunting, it will be just fine. The pathfinder works without using any cellular data. I’m no guru, but I can tell you that it doesn’t matter if I have service or not. It also pairs pretty quick if you take it outdoors with a good shot at the sky. I will say that I could pair my garmin inside and I cannot do that with my pathfinder. However, the garmin took waaaaay longer to pair than this system does. The system is fully waterproof to 33 feet, so far my dog  hasn’t pointed one that deep but I will work on it, it will make my NAVHDA buddies proud when it happens.
One of the strange things I had to get used to is that the receiver doesn’t serve a function to the hunter, its sole purpose is to help the collar communicate with the phone, at least thats how I understand it. I clip it to my belt and never touch it again.
The pathfinder app uses google maps, a huge advantage. You can zoom and pan easily without any lag time. I have been really impressed with the thing so far in that regard. You require no additional mapping software to run maps on this unit, which is killer. You spend your $400 bucks and in theory, you’re done.
As far as features, there isn’t anything this unit doesn’t do that I would ask my Alpha to do. I continue to compare it to the Alpha because it’s the premier unit out there. Every feature I wanted is there, mapping, stimulation, pointing alerts (or for hound guys tree alerts), barking alerts, easy to use geofencing, and a compass. All of these things are easy to use and are at your fingertips without having to go through elaborate menus. The alerts can be pop-up or sound or both. It has tracking features and history playback as well as location sharing. The collar has 100 levels of stem that are easily adjusted using an on-screen slider. It boasts a 9 mile range which I will never come close to. If my dog gets 9 miles away I’m hanging flyers. It seems like I can fully charge the collar and receiver in about an hour and a half.
Here are the downsides. It runs on your phone, that makes me nervous about the battery. iPhones are famous for running down batteries when using apps for long periods of time. This prompted me to buy a power case for my phone. I bought a lifeproof battery case which ran $150, that bumps the price to $550. Since doing that I have not even come close to running out of battery.
Now…I bought the pathfinder right at release, it had some bugs. I was having issues with pointing alerts. I wasn’t getting pop ups or auditory cues with any regularity. Also, I would get tree alerts while running a pointing dog regardlesss of the fact that I had them shut off. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. There have been many updates to the app since than and I haven’t had any issues with these things in a long time.
Also, I have two collars. One of them was having some problems connecting. I called dogtra to explain the issue and have them walk me through it. They didn’t have anyone there at the time who specialized in the pathfinder so they just sent me a completely new pathfinder with case, accessories and all. Great customer service. I have called once or twice at other times with various questions and always get someone on the phone or get a call back in a reasonable amount of time. The customer service team has me sold for sure.
The down-low….the pathfinder is the real deal.