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on January 8, 2013
Update- August, 2013.

I purchased tracking collars for my other two dogs and am glad I did. I use the collars every day, whenever we go out trail running or hiking. Great investment. Not only do I know where my dogs are at all times, but it is fun to see how far each dog travels. I have started training my youngest dog for Search and Rescue (SAR)- avalanche and wilderness. It is very useful for training- I know where the dog is, where she has been, and how well she may have searched and area. Perfect working application. All in all, this product has worked very well so far- with daily use for almost a year. It was a costly first investment, but well worth it.

Original Review-

I finally bought this product on sale at REI after I (for not the first time) lost track of my husky, but this time he ended up following someone home and nearly ended up at Animal Control. I employed my tracking dog to find him, and did- but it was a bad situation. I thought I wouldn't need to pay so much $$ for a collar, and could train him to come when called or avoid losing sight of him, but things happen out in the woods, and I finally decided to spend the money I am so glad I did.

I currently only have one collar which I use on my widest ranging dog- my husky. I uploaded free maps from the orienteering club and state websites and have detailed maps of our normal running routes and mountain hikes. The GPS tracks great, I especially like the symbols of a running, sitting, and treeing dog. I can tell when my dog is running, which direction he is going, and what he is doing- running, standing or "treeing quarry" (which happens when they find a moose). This means I am able to call the dogs off whatever they are bothering, without needing to see what they are doing in person. I can also call my dog back if he goes down the wrong trail or I want to turn around, and then know when he has turned around. My husky loves to lead the way, and this puts me at ease, letting him run a bit free-er in safe areas.

The range on the signal isn't so great in the mountains, but I will carry the extended antennae next time and see how that works. I know that the signal will be lost no matter what antenna I am using if my dog ends up on one side of a mountain ridge and me on another, but at least I'll know where to start looking, and can get high enough to get a signal if I need to. In the mountains, I tend to lose a signal if the dog gets over a mile away. In the woods, he can be about 2 miles off and I have still been able to track him.

Keep in mind, pet owners, that the collar does not control the dog, it just tracks him. There is nothing I can do, if he can't hear me, to get him back if he is heading toward a road. It is great for wide open spaces and allows me to give my happy runner freedom to explore, but it does not have an e-collar feature like the newest "Alpha". I may upgrade to the Alpha at some point if and when I decide I need an e-collar.

The collar is a bit bulky, especially with the antenna hanging off the side, but my dog doesn't seem to mind at all. He is 80 lbs, but the collar also didn't bother my 55 lb dog. It seems like the device on the collar could be a bit smaller, but it's held together great, in rain, snow, and sub-0 temperatures. My dog has probably covered 2,000 miles of running using the collar and no problems so far. So despite its bulk, the collar appears to be well constructed.

Battery life on the collar seems great- never had a problem and I put it on the charger when I am not using it. The GPS has lost power after about 6 hours of use, but I can carry additional double-A batteries on longer trips to take care of this. If we go out on a really long trip, like an extended backpacking journey, it will be a shame to not have a way of charging or replacing batteries on the collar. I am not sure if this is possible, although remote solar may do the trick. Another option to save battery is to have a longer amount of delay between readings. I haven't tried this yet, but will weigh in if I try this.

The screen on the GPS is hard to read. Lower quality than say, and iphone or e-reader. It can be annoying to see in the dark (it's dark here all winter) but it works and I haven't had it effect my ability to track my dog. Also, the Astro would be absolutely less useful if I didn't have the detailed trail maps. Without the maps, I don't know if my dog is on or off trail, where he is running to, or how best to get to him. So, you will need to go online and search or pay for topo maps to get the best use out of this (already expensive) tool.

One of the funnest parts of this device is to look at the dog's track and my track after a run. My dog usually runs at least 1 mile more than me, sometimes a whole lot more. You also can see the dog's thought process as he runs the woods off trail. Dogs have an amazing sense of direction.

All in all, this purchase has paid for itself already in lost time and energy worrying about my dog and calling him. Often, when I would think he is "lost" he is actually quite close, running a different route. That is how I used to lose track of him sometimes, turning around to look for a dog that was actually in front of me already.

I don't want to promote irresponsible pet ownership with the product, but for those of us with huskies or similar dogs who like to wander a bit, it is very useful. I think you will find that your dog is actually keeping pretty good track of you, he just doesn't show himself real often. For me, it has been a purchase I would make again, and I may buy another collar for my youngest dog, just for peace of mind. Great product, and works as intended.
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on January 10, 2012
I purchased this product to put on my beagles. It is a little bulky and Garmin has had some issues with the antenna and signal strength.

The birdseye imagery (which is what makes this unit awesome) really sucks because of the download speed cap. It is so frustrating it makes me not like the actual product a little bit.

Signal loss is a huge issue!! For advertising 13 miles with the extended antenna only consitently delivering 1 to 2 miles is really a crappy thing to do. I did get one read in perfect conditions standing on a mountain at 4.14 miles but that was only for a second and then it quit.

Still its an ABOVE average GPS stand alone system with lots of capabilities and keeping track of dogs is really easy even if the bulky makes iit difficult for the dogs.

Worth every penny to keep the dogs safe and be able to use topo maps and birdseye with it makes it fun to use as well.

PS. FOR 600 BUCKS MAPS SHOULD BE FREE!!! when you first get the unit you have nothing at all unless you spend hundreds more on maps or buy birdseye..
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on January 15, 2012
I purchased this to replace a 200 model. It works just as well but not any better than the previous model in that you can always follow the arrows to find your dog but the compass seems to have trouble staying oriented to the north. I am needing to recalibrate often the so called 3rd axis where you can read it with it vertical is no better than the old one. All in all if you need a dog location device the Garmin Astros are the best on the market but save some money and get the previous model. If you are like me and had an older model the upgrade is not worth it wait for another upgrade.
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on December 15, 2012
First of all, I coon hunt 5 nights a week. The astro 320 is not smaller than the 220, it gobbles up name brand batteries. It loses signal when dogs get out to about 900 hundred yards where I hunt and the 220 side by side picks back up better , the 320 stays stuck while dogs are getting hundreds of yards away. I have to keep recalibrating the compass, I recommend the 220 with the dc40 collars. The maps should be free, I have had trouble with the map card staying place and also the back cover on the 320. Take my advice, the astro 320 does not out perform the 220 besides the birdseye view.
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on February 11, 2012
Have used a beep beep tracking system for the past 20 years or so. After using the Astro 320, I wouldn't even want to go out hunting if it was broken!

This thing is AWESOME!! If you get one, take the time to learn to download and use the Birdseye View. You can use the Satellite Picture to pick the easiest walk through the woods to your dogs, and heck, if they are treed in a big enough tree that's separate from other trees, you could actually see the tree they are treed in. Birdseye View is an extra $30 for a year, but it's so worth it. Get a 16gb memory card to put in the Astro, then download all your hunting areas onto the card within the year subscription. Once you download it, it's yours to don't need a subscription after the year unless you need to download another area.

This thing has made coon hunting with dogs so much easier, and a whole lot more fun than before. Would like to see an upgrade to the collars so that they could work longer on a charge. They'll only last a night or two of hunting when fully charged, so you still have to put the old beep beep tracking collar on also, in case you lose a dog for a few days. Once they ever get the use time on these collars up to a couple of weeks on a charge, it's bye bye to the old beep beep tracking collars.

Get it, you'll wonder how you ever hunted without it!
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on October 29, 2013
I had used the Astro 220/DC30 and it worked OK. Would have liked it to be faster updating and sometimes it had a hard time pointing to the dog but it worked to walk in on a pointing dog that you could not see due to thick cover.
The Astro 320/DC40 does not work that way. I has the same problem finding and pointing to the dog. Maybe 70% of the time it is close to pointing the correct direction but it will not point the way to a pointing dog past 35yd. At that distance, as you walk closer to the dog it jumps to 99yds. Since you can't see the dog you think he has relocated to 99yards but he hasn't. He has stayed put at 35yds and you cannot move in closer and find the dog on point. It is useless for this purpose.
Talked to Garmin 3 times and they have not been able to solve the problem. I cannot recommend to a friend. It does not work for a pointing dog.
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on December 17, 2013
We have to dogs that love to explore the countryside. I purchased this product a couple months ago and love it! It has never failed yet to take me to my dogs! One thing I would recommend is buying the external antenna. With the external antenna the dogs have never completely lost reception. They have run 3 miles away and it was still was tracking them!
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on January 5, 2013
I am enjoying this product. Have seen my hunting partners use the 220 and knew I needed one. Probelm with this one is it will not operate when plugged in to the vehicle and is really slow to charge the batteries installed. Maybe its not supposed to but the 220 does at least operate.
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on July 15, 2012
This is the second Garmin GPS device I've had and my complaints are always the same: the user interface is pretty bad. Functions you'd like to have easy access to are often buried deep in menus, eg resting tracks etc. otherwise it works well
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on January 12, 2012
This item is perfect without the map downloaded! Even better when you do download the topo map of your choice. This tracker is worth the money. Have seen other trackers that cost just as much or more that do not have the features the Garmin does. There is just no comparison. Could not see myself hunting without it now.
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