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Gear Review: Small-and-Light Garmin Alpha 10 Big on Features

Review: Garmin's new dog tracking and training unit for upland bird hunters and hound enthusiasts.

Small and Light, Garmin Alpha 10 is Big on Features

Garmin's new Alpha 10.

Garmin's newest dog tracking and training unit is the smallest such device the company has ever made.

Don't be fooled by the size of the new Garmin Alpha 10—the 2.6-inch unit is packed full of features for those who love upland bird hunting with dogs.

If you thought Garmin couldn't top the release of the Alpha 200i from a year ago, you were wrong.

Here's a look:

Small and Mighty

Carrying on the tradition of tracking, Garmin has included "Companion Tracking" on this device like it does on others. When paired with a compatible device, like a 200i, you can hand your buddy the Alpha 10 and go your separate ways. The two units will talk to each other, so you know when your buddy's dog is on point and where—but more on that later.

The basics of the Alpha 10 are that it is like other Garmin units, just smaller but still mighty. The unit tracks your dog's distance and that is shown on the high-contrast display with a directional arrow and numerical yardage display. The device can track and train up to 20 dogs as far as 9 miles away. For training, the Alpha 10 features tone and vibration, as well as 18 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation.

Just in time for hunting season: Garmin's new Alpha 10 dog-tracking and training unit. (Photo courtesy of Garmin)

Great for Novice Gun-Dog Hunters

Hunting can be intimidating to newbies, including learning to handle your first gun dog or your first time in the uplands. Garmin was thinking about the R3 movement (recruit, retention, and reactivation) when they developed the Alpha 10.

The Alpha 10 provides a "companion unit" to your other compatible Garmin Alpha and Astro tracking devices (Alpha 100, 200i, 200, or Astro 430). This means that you can share your dog’s tracking and/or training code wirelessly to the Alpha 10 and the unit will display all the information a novice hunter needs to understand what is happening afield. It helps new hunters see how the dog is moving and when and where the dog is on point. It also allows newbies to learn to train and initiate collar stimulation if you so allow them to.

For the experienced hunter, the Alpha 10 gives you a platform to keep in touch with your hunt buddy while afield if you're only running their dog(s), or just yours. We all know that vast western terrain or thick alders can keep you from seeing a dog on point. The Alpha 10 lets you know when a dog is on point so you can make your way that direction without the handler yelling across the vast expanse.

Garmin's new device also provides a safety net for hunters who go their separate ways while hunting. No cell service? No problem. The Alpha 10 and paired devices let hunters know exactly where their buddies are in case of an emergency…or if they’re back at the truck waiting on you.

Garmin Alpha 10
Don't be fooled by the size of Garmin's new Alpha 10. It's packed with unique features. (Photo by Kali Parmley)

Packed Full of Features

Ever been hunting and find the honey hole of all honey holes of birds but can't tell your buddy because cell service is nowhere to be found? The Alpha 10 can talk to the units it is paired with by sending predefined messages. I'm disappointed to tell you that, "Jackpot! Get your butt over here" is not a predefined message on the unit.

Additionally, the Alpha 10 can be paired to a smartphone or tablet using the Garmin Explore app. This allows hunters an additional way to track their dog, this time with advanced mapping solutions. When paired, you can track your dog in real time on a map with customizable tracking lines and off-grid navigation.

The Alpha 10 can also be paired with compatible Garmin smartwatches including the Instinct, Fenix, and Tactix. It can also be used for in-vehicle tracking when paired with the Garmin DriveTrack, Montana 700, or Tread.

All in all, this little unit—that measures less than three inches and weighs just 5.6 ounces—packs a punch full of features. It's out just in time for hunting season, and I’m ready to test it afield this fall to see if the unit holds up to all it promises on paper. Knowing Garmin and their line of products, it will.


Specifications Recap

  • Physical dimensions (not including antenna): 2.3 x 4.8 x 1.1” (5.8 x 12.1 x 2.9 cm)
  • Display size: 1.8" (45 mm) diagonal
  • Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
  • Display type: Sunlight-readable, monochrome, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Weight: 5.6 oz (160 g) with standard antenna and spine mount attached
  • Battery type: Rechargeable internal lithium-ion; nonreplaceable
  • Battery life: Up to 1 week (40 hours of use)
  • High-sensitivity receiver: Yes (GPS and Galileo)
  • Interface: MicroUSB™
  • Compass: Yes (tilt-compensated 3-axis)
  • Wireless connectivity: Yes (BLUETOOTH® Low Energy and ANT+®)
  • Compatible with Garmin Explore app/website
  • MSRP: $399.99

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