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The 6 Best GPS Trackers for Hiking, Cars and More in 2021

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The RundownBest Overall:Spot Gen3 at Amazon"The Spot works on a satellite phone line that allows it to broadcast location data in places that most cellular GPS trackers cannot reach."Best for Cars:MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker at Amazon"Connects directly to Google Maps for extreme accuracy on location, speed, and traffic conditions."Best for Motorcycles:Spytec STIGL300 Portable GPS Tracker at Walmart"Providing location updates as often as every five seconds, the STI_GL300 is perfect for tracking fast-moving vehicles like motorcycles."Best for Boats:SPOT Trace Anti-Theft Tracking Device at Amazon"This rugged SPOT tracker uses satellite technology to track beyond the reach of traditional cellular coverage."Best for Elderly:Yepzon Freedom at Amazon"The Yepzon Freedom GPS tracker is a very tiny pendant-shaped wearable with superior tracking accuracy and a built-in SOS alert."Best for Kids:Verizon Gizmowatch 2 at Verizon"A handy wearable tracker that also serves as a rudimentary cell phone if your child needs to get in touch with you"in this articleExpandOur PicksFAQsWhat to Look for in a GPS Tracker

Our collection of the best GPS trackers is the easiest way to keep tabs on the stuff you love and your kids too. Some of these trackers can pinpoint lost objects half a world away, or provide you with notifications if the tracker leaves a specified zone. GPS trackers can also serve as added insurance when placed with valuable packages in transit, providing you with peace of mind for your most sensitive shipments.

You'll want to consider the size of your tracker as well as the overall battery life. Depending on what you're trying to keep track of, you may want something that can potentially go several weeks without the need to recharge. Another consideration is your options when it comes to data plans. Some require existing data plans with another carrier, whereas others have more flexible options.

If you want a clearer picture of how GPS functions and can help keep track of your stuff, our guide can help fill you in before looking at our best GPS trackers.

Best Overall:Spot Gen3

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The Spot Gen3 is a hiker's dream GPS tracker and it has a rugged outer shell that's more than capable of withstanding harsh environments. The rubber edge wraps around the plastic exterior guarding against shocks and impacts and even seals the body for waterproofing. While the build quality is notable, it's the support of a satellite phone system that truly makes the Spot stand out. Unlike most GPS trackers that rely on a cellular signal, the Spot works on a satellite phone line that allows it to broadcast location data in places that most cellular GPS trackers cannot reach.

Preserving battery life while on-the-go in the wild isn't just a good idea, it's downright essential. The Spot hits on this with tracking motion that sends updates while you're on the move and stops sending updates when you're not. Setting up the Spot is a snap and GPS updates are able to go out every 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. If you're in extreme conditions, you can even set adjust the update frequency down to as low as every 2.5 minutes to stay in touch with the outside world. Battery life varies by use frequency, but can go anywhere from seven days on four AAA batteries or as long as 156 days if used on 60-minute intervals with a 100 percent clear view of the sky. For the adventurer who likes to take to the trails, the Spot Gen3 is a must-own.

The 7 Best Handheld GPS Trackers of 2021

Best for Cars:MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker

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Whether you're the parent of a teen driver or simply want additional security for your vehicle, the MOTOsafety GPS is an excellent choice. The car GPS device connects directly to Google Maps for extreme accuracy on location, speed, and traffic conditions. Monitor your car's comings and goings in real time using the free mobile app, which updates your car's location every sixty seconds. In addition, the customizable geo-fencing feature allows you to set perimeters around key locations and will send text or email alerts whenever your vehicle enters or exits that specific area.

What sets MOTOsafety apart from the competition are its unique features tailored specifically for parents of teen drivers. Daily Report Cards keep your teen in check, monitoring driving habits like speed, braking, and acceleration. The software also tracks the amount of gas in the tank, so your car will never be running on empty. For this level of reassurance for your teen and your car, the MOTOsafety tracker offers a convenient, flexible payment plan, with no activation or cancellations fees, no contracts, and just a $19.99 monthly charge.

The 9 Best Car GPS Trackers of 2021

Best for Motorcycles:Spytec STI_GL300 Mini Portable Real Time GPS Tracker

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Providing location updates as often as every five seconds, the STI_GL300 is perfect for tracking fast-moving vehicles like motorcycles. It weights just eight ounces and measures three inches in length, so it's easily attached to the bottom of your bike, though it'd be wise to purchase a waterproof case to protect it. As with other devices on this list, it lets you designate a geofence and set alerts when your motorcycle strays beyond its limits.

While battery life will depend on the interval settings, a motion-detecting accelerometer helps extend its life to about two weeks. When the device is on-the-go, the battery automatically powers on; when it's stationary, it powers down to save juice and prevent it from dying at a crucial time. It's yours for $25 per month, with no activation or cancellation fees.

Best for Boats:SPOT Trace Anti-Theft Tracking Device

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Though bulkier and more expensive than other trackers on this list, this rugged SPOT tracker uses satellite technology to track beyond the reach of traditional cellular coverage. You can set it to receive updates every 2.5, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes and follow it along on Google Maps. You can also set it to receive alerts via text message or email if the device has a low battery or has been powered off. (The four included AAA batteries will last you a good six months.)

SPOT is waterproof rated at IPX7, which means it's protected against splashes, rain, showering and incidental exposure of water of up to one meter for 30 minutes. Even so, you're probably best off buying a waterproof case for it. The required service plan starts at $10 per month, but despite the cost, it's a must-have for your expensive toys.

The 6 Best GPS Watches of 2021

Best for Elderly:Yepzon Freedom

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Keeping track of your elderly loved ones is super important, and the Yepzon Freedom GPS tracker is a very tiny pendant-shaped wearable with superior tracking accuracy and a built-in SOS alert. It uses GPS, 3G cellular networks (via a built-in SIM card), and Wi-Fi to pinpoint your loved one's location, meaning it tracks more accurately both indoors and out. The works-anywhere approach is matched by a lengthy battery life that can be monitored via a downloadable app so it never runs out unexpectedly. The app also allows multiple caregivers to follow any Yepzon One GPS unit.

Yepzon trackers don't require an advance subscription or contract — you just pay for the service as you use it and cancel whenever you wish. (This service also includes the cost of the 3G data your tracker uses so you don't have to pay for it out-of-pocket.) The versatility of the Yepzon makes it ideal for older adults who can wear it around the neck and have instant access to the SOS function, allowing them to send an alert to loved ones' phones whenever they need help. The waterproof casing makes it equally ideal in case it's worn in a pool or shower (falls in the shower are all too common with elderly). Simple and easy to use, the Yepzon is perfect for those who want to look after their parents and grandparents without feeling overbearing.

Best for Kids:Verizon Gizmowatch 2

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The GizmoWatch 2 is a handy wearable tracker that also serves as a rudimentary cell phone if your child needs to get in touch with you for whatever reason. This wearable runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network, meaning you'll need to set up a dedicated data plan if they aren't already your carrier of choice.

Tracking is done via the GizmoHub app which can set GPS boundaries and send you push notifications if the tracker leaves a preset area. The Gizmowatch also features 2-way calling for up to 10 pre-established contacts and texting for up to 20. Besides providing you with tracking and communication, the Gizmowatch 2 also features step counting and a waterproof design that allows it to double as a fitness tracker.

Because the GizmoWatch 2 offers more features than a dedicated GPS tracker, it does require charging about every 4 days, but few GPS trackers offer the same level of tracking as well as communication. A well-rounded feature set and durable construction make the Gizmowatch 2 a versatile GPS tracker that's perfect for kids that allows you to keep them at arms reach no matter where they are.

Final Verdict

Good for kids, and great for just about everything else, the Jiobit tracker with its carrier-free plan may cost a bit more than some of the other picks on this list, but if you need constant, customizable notifications on where something is, this tracker is pretty much second to none unless you need to keep tabs on something larger, like a car, boat or RV. In which case the SPOT Trace Anti-Theft Tracking Device would probably be better suited to your needs.

FAQs

How to GPS track a phone? If you've lost your phone and need to track it, your best bet is to use the built-in Find My Phone feature that's available on iOS and Android devices. Provided you've set up the feature on your phone beforehand, you can narrow down the location of your lost phone to a specific street or address. You can also remotely ring it, lock it, and wipe it.

Is there a GPS tracker with no monthly fee? Several of the GPS trackers on this roundup don't come with monthly fees. One of the ones we like is the Yepzon Freedom, it doesn't require a subscription or contract. You only need to pay for the service when you use it, and it includes the cost of 3G data.

What is the best GPS tracker for a car? GPS trackers for cars are a handy way to keep track of vehicles for fleet management purposes, get roadside assistance, or general emergency purposes. Our roundup of the best car GPS trackers has a variety of options, but our top pick is the Sptetc STI GL300MA. It has a long-lasting battery life, it's compact, and comes with a lifetime warranty. You can set up a geo-fence and place it just about anywhere in a vehicle.

What to Look for in a GPS Tracker

Use - How you'll use a standalone GPS tracker is pretty much the most important consideration for which device you'll choose. There are trackers that are optimized for keeping up with kids or elderly loved ones and models designed for tracking luggage or pets. You should definitely think about how you want to use a GPS tracker before you plunge into buying one.

Type of GPS Tracking - If you're planning on using a GPS tracker to keep track of a car or motorcycle, then purchasing one that operates on a cellular network will probably work just fine. But if you're a hiker who enjoys getting off the beaten path, or you want to track a boat, then you may want to look into a unit that operates via satellite.

Connection speed - Another issue with GPS trackers is how you actually track them. Most can link up with a smartphone, but how often do they provide location updates? If you're trying to track a person or want to make sure your car isn't stolen, you may want to pay extra for a unit that updates more frequently to make sure the location is as accurate as possible.