Findster is a GPS tracker unit that you can attach to any collar. The best part is that there is no subscription needed, you only pay for the device, and there are no other recurring fees! This is because it doesn't need cell coverage, which means there are no geographical restrictions for using it!
The Pet Module is lightweight, waterproof, and shockproof, so it's ready for all adventures!
Findster Duo has two units: one on the dog's collar and one you have to carry on you (called Guardian). The two units communicate wirelessly using the MAZE technology, which works in a ~3-mile radius (depending on the environment). The pet unit has a GPS tracker; it communicates the location to the Guardian module, which will send the data to your phone via Bluetooth. Since the Guardian module uses Bluetooth to communicate with your phone, they should be nearby (1.5 meters, 5 feet).
You can monitor the pet's location on your phone even if you are in the backcountry without cell coverage!
The other great feature is that you can use the same “parent module” to connect to up to three “dog modules,” allowing you to use the same system to check on multiple dogs at the same time.
It is important to note that just because the units can communicate up to 3 miles, you will not get 3 miles (5 km) most of the time. Your environment - like tall buildings in an urban area, whether, etc. - can decrease the range to 0.5 miles (1 km) or less, while you can also reach 10 miles in an open backcountry area. The farthest we used the tracker was around 600 feet (200 meters), and the location tracking worked perfectly with this distance in the woods. The GPS's precision can be expected about 5-10 feet (1.5-3 meters), which should be enough to locate your dog.
After discussing this, we also want to note that this tracker was not designed for remote monitoring; it doesn't do much when the dog is indoors, and you will quickly get out of reach when leaving home to do your errands.
When you want to use GPS tracking, you have to initiate and finish the track from the app; otherwise, it only tracks daily activity and not the location. The battery life depends on how you use the unit. If you head out for a full-day hike and want to use the GPS continuously, you can expect it to work for 12 hours. If your dog is usually inside and you only start the tracking for three 30 minutes walk per day, the battery will generally last for 3-4 days.
Although the 3-4 days battery life is not impressive compared to other trackers we tested, remember that the use case of the Findster is very different from those. We liked that this tracker worked on our hikes in the mountains without cell coverage, so we usually just made sure to charge it before heading out and never had trouble running out of the batteries.
If you are not interested in activity tracking, you can turn the modules off when you are not walking to preserve battery life.
The phone application has a straightforward UI when looking at it first. If you only want to use it to track the walks and look at the map view, it's super easy, but some of the added functions are hidden in weird spots that you would not think about clicking or toggling unless you are told. It is a usable and stable app; it never crashed on us, but it doesn't go by the UX/UI best practices, making the learning curve a little steeper - especially combined with the lack of detailed tutorials.
We talk about these confusing button placements under each function. Still, as an example, an average user would never think of tapping on the dog's photo on the dashboard to reach the History tab (screenshot below). This would be an acceptable shortcut if the History tab would also be available from the side menu, but it isn't. Sometimes this app feels like a house with secret doors behind the bookshelves. It's all fun to have them once you found out they are there, but they don't make the initial learning easy.
Let's get a little more specific about the app. There is a nice dashboard on the home page showing your day's summary, progress towards your daily goal, battery level, connection, and GPS status. This is the same spot where you start or end your walk to activate the GPS tracking - nice and simple. Note that the % of your daily progress is based on the “paws walked and not on distance walked! As we mentioned above, the pet's photo is the secret door to the History tab.
You can open a tab in the side menu to view the pet's location on the map to grab her daily and weekly activity stats (time spent walking, distance walked, time spent resting, steps). There is also a leaderboard where you can compare your stats to others based on the daily, weekly, monthly, or all-time activity logged into the app.
You can set up safe zones in the Findster app easily in three different ways.
You can determine the virtual leash radius to get a notification when the dog gets farther away from you (from the so-called “Guardian module” on you), wherever you walk. It's worth mentioning that the virtual leash radius has to be more than 165 feet (50 meters) to avoid getting constant notifications from GPS inaccuracy.
You can set up polygonal, stationary fences to determine Safe Zones on specific locations. In the same way, you can define Danger Zones and get a different notification when your pet enters that area.
The Radar is another cool feature of the app that you would easily never find if you don't know it's there. When you choose the “Map” tab in the side menu, you will see a small toggle in the top right corner. Once you toggle that, you have a different view; the page's name is changed to “Radar” instead of “Map,” but you are still under the Map menu to make it even more confusing. It feels this could be a separate tab to make it more visible since it's one of the most critical features of Findster, and you might need to use it right away.
This tab shows how far your dog is and in which direction. It works as a compass when you hold your phone flat on your palm. This feature will only function properly if your phone has a built-in and working compass (magnetometer) since it has to know the phone's location accurately to determine which way you are facing.
There is an optional service that you can sign up for in the app for a monthly fee (currently $3.99/months) after the initial 30 days trial period. If you signed up for the free period and don't want to continue, remember to cancel your subscription! Some users mentioned that they automatically got subscribed when registering first, so check if you have it or not.
Through Findster Care, you can talk to a vet at any time in the app if you have any concerns about your dog's well being.
They also pull activity stats from the tracker to give you health-related insights, behavior analysis, and show trends. They analyze the data over time and give you a heads up if it seems that your dog is more restless at night lately or their activity level is changing.
Both modules come with RGB LED lights, but they are more there to display the module's connection status, not to make them visible at night. The light is white if they are not paired, blinking green when turning on, flashing red when turning off, amber if the battery is low, and blinking blue when synching through Bluetooth. The lights make it much easier to see the modules’ statuses and understand what's going on at the moment.
When you are on a walk, the light will blink once every 10 seconds in either green or amber to show the battery level, but it isn't super visible since we are talking about a small light. The tracker is usually facing downwards since it would turn the collar or slide down on most collars, making it even harder to see.
It caused some confusion that you can choose between four colors for each dog unit (purple, yellow, blue, and green) when you edit the dog unit's profile. It is supposed to help differentiate between your dogs if you use more than one unit, but it does NOT change the LED light's color; it only changes the circle around your dog's photo on the Map tab (see below with yellow).
We started this review by highlighting what this tracker is meant to do because most of the disappointed comments we read were complaining about features that Findster never promised to fulfill. It is not meant to be used as a remote tracker and will not show you the GPS location unless you started the tracking while the dog was still close to you.
We were excited to have a tracker that will work on our backcountry adventures wherever we are, and Findster excelled in this. We also appreciate that there are no monthly fees and that you can attach the tracker to any collar or mount it to a harness.
Let's start with our experience with GPS tracking. Once you click on “Start Walk,” the location is updated every 10 seconds as default, which provides higher accuracy than many other trackers. If you want to extend the battery life, you can choose the Power Saving Mode and only get a location update every minute. The module will automatically switch to this mode when the battery is lower than 30%. Many trackers using the cellular network has to sync periodically with your phone, while Findster's real-time tracking also comes with fast notifications when leaving a Safe Zone, and all the information is instantly available in your phone if you have the Guardian unit on you.
Another excellent feature for backcountry hikers is that you can download area maps for offline use - just as you could do that in Google Maps.
Below is the track of a longer hike. During at least 90% of this hike, we had no cell coverage at all. I was running my activity tracker for comparison, and it recorded 15.5 km on the same trail for me, so it's realistic that Mia walked 18.6 km on this narrow and steep trail.
There is another track for a much shorter distance below. With the shorter distance, you see some inaccuracy from only getting a location every 10 seconds. You see the white trail in the middle (where I was walking) and see that the dog was sent out to both sides of the path on a search training. You can't trace each step of the dog based on the log, but it clearly shows where the dog was sent out to check an area, with the last find being more complicated (circles and turns on the track). The dog ranged out to 400-700 feet in the woods on hilly terrain, and we haven't lost connection during this time.
The dog's module only weighs 0.74 oz (20 gr), and we haven't had any trouble with getting it wet. Since it is plastic, we have numerous small scratches on the surface from running through the woods but nothing that would affect the functionality.
Separating the GPS tracking and activity tracking functionality can be a little confusing at first. The short explanation is that GPS tracking needs both modules to be on, and pressing the “Start Walk” in the map to record the track. If you only use the pet module as an activity tracker, it records the time spent walking, resting, and “paws walked.” The latter feels a little useless because we couldn't find out how they calculate it - the assumption is that the pet module has an accelerometer which uses the dog's breed to determine the steps. We also assumed that you would end up with 24 hours at the end of the day when adding up the resting time and walking time, but it doesn't seem like it. Then we assumed that the time spent walking would somehow be the time we spent outdoors, but that's not it either; some active indoor times are included in that as well.
For example, Mia had the collar on for 6 hours on the below screenshot. We turned on the Guardian unit for 1 minute - that's where the 12-meter distance came from. We have 1 hour 15 minutes walking time logged and 1 hour 50 minutes resting time. We assume she was somewhat active during the other hours, but it's hard to get much use of this without knowing how they distinguish between resting and active periods. Altogether, we feel the activity tracking is not the most robust feature of this app. We would at least need a better description of the math behind the numbers to make them useful.
The setup and the initial pairing of the modules are not tricky, but they're a little more complicated than other trackers since you got two modules. We only had trouble when we did a factory reset for testing purposes and wanted to pair them at the trailhead without cell coverage, and we were not able to pair them to the phone. Another time we run into the same pairing problem while using mobile data. Not sure what caused this since we assumed they only need Bluetooth for pairing. Long story short, pair the modules at home while on wifi and have good cell coverage, not when you are in the woods. We never had any problem setting it up at home and never needed to re-connect them in the woods.
A few times, we also used the fence feature while sitting somewhere to test it out, and that worked as expected as long as the covered area was big enough to avoid problems from GPS inaccuracy. We don't have a yard, so honestly, that's not the most thoroughly tested tracker feature.
The app logs your previous activities under the History tab, which is somewhat hidden from an inexperienced user, as we discussed before. On the main page, you have to click on your pet's profile picture, and that will bring you to your previous logs. Unfortunately, it only shows activities within the last 30 days. This is an area of the app that we feel would be nice to improve and store logs for maybe up to a year or have the option save/download the tracks.
On the screenshot below, you see the history tab: on the top, you can click on the dates, and it will show the track of your walk from that day.
There is one more confusing thing in the app that we want to mention. When you start a walk, you can go to the Map tab to see your dog's location. The less intuitive part is that you have to go back to the main page or toggle the Radar function to see how far the dog is from you exactly. So on the map, you see the dog's location, and if you are wondering how far that is, you have to switch to another tab. It would be nice to see both of these on the same tab, so you have a better way to scale the map.
We had other users reaching out to us while we tested the tracker, and they voiced some concerns and problems they had with the tracker. When finishing testing, we us ually look up other reviews to see if we can replicate others’ issues. It was interesting to see how many people had vastly different experiences. Some of the disappointment comes from not understanding how the modules work and expecting something from them that they can't (and never promised to) deliver. Altogether we haven't experienced most of these problems but wanted to address them anyway.
The dog unit is attached to the collar with a button-snap system, which requires you to rotate the unit to get it on-off from the plastic mount.
It comes with multiple buttons and snaps to set it up for collars with different widths, but once you fix it with the button, you can't change the plastic loop's lengths.
Attaching it to the collar was quick and easy, but you only fix the module to the collar with a rotation snap. The module never fell out for us; it stays in place well while the dog runs around even when attached to the harness, making it flap around more.
The mount does have a button on the side, which is supposed to lock the module, and you could unlock the module by pressing it. The problem is that we can easily rotate the module without pressing that button. Technically the unit could turn and fall out if the dog would roll around in the grass just the right way, but that doesn't seem to be a probable situation. We still heard this happening to some users, and they fixed the problem by using super glue to attach the pet module to the collar snap permanently. This is a perfect workaround, but it would be nice if the tracker would come with a more robust safety lock that actually keeps the module in place until released.
The modules come with a special charger that can simultaneously charge three modules, which is excellent for saving time. The only problem is to get a new one if you lose it because you can only buy it as a kit with the modules as far as we know. The charger's cable is a micro USB-USB cable, so that's easy to replace if it breaks.
The modules are held on the charger by a magnetic system, which is a little weaker than would be needed to keep the modules securely attached if you move them around in the meantime. It will not fall off from the charger by itself, but you want to leave them charge in peace. We read a few reviews where the magnetic connection was that weak that it didn't hold the modules there, and they didn't charge, but we haven't had any problems with this, so maybe they updated it since the initial design. If you have any issues, you can charge them face down, making both modules lay flat while charging. We can't imagine they would disconnect that way, but again, this might be a problem with an older design.
It can be confusing that sometimes the modules take time to start blinking when putting them on the charger or when pressing the buttons in general, so you might think they are not doing anything. We recommend giving them 5-10 seconds before trying again. Another problem with charging could be using an unsupported charging adapter to plug in the USB cable. We had no trouble with charging them from USB 4 slots on our laptops.
The photo below shows the Guardian module charged (constant green light) and the dog module still charging (blinking orange/yellow light).
Another problem with connecting to the charger could be if the pins got dirty during your adventure. You can use a toothbrush and alcohol to clean both the modules and the charger's pogo pins.
As we explained above, the range of the tracker is very much dependent on your environment. If you think about using a garage door opener or a walkie-talkie, they work the same way: if you have a hill, big buildings in between, it will not be able to communicate while you can easily use them from far away when you have clear sight.
As you saw on the screenshots, we used Findster for many shorter and longer hikes on different terrains, in different weather, over months, and never had issues with the modules’ disconnecting. However, Mia stays within 300 feet (100 meters) on hikes. We can reproduce the disconnection issue if I leave the dog unit somewhere and walk around a big building complex blocking the connection. The Dog module will disconnect as expected, and the Radar/Map will show the dog's last known location. Once you keep walking and come out from behind whatever was blocking the coverage, the units will re-connect automatically, and you will get an updated location.
We heard from many people that the app didn't show the relative direction of the dog correctly. A technical requirement that should be mentioned more clearly on Findster's website is that your phone has to have a calibrated magnetometer(compass) that the app can use for this feature. It is also vital that you hold the phone flat on your palm while using the Radar.
This isn't a problem if you have a newer phone, but some older/inexpensive phones don't have it set up or don't have it all. Many users complain about the Radar function failing, while many said that using the app on a newer phone fixed their issues, so we assume this can be behind some of the disappointed reviews. Again, this feature worked like a charm for us, and we could not replicate the problems even though we tried it on different phones. If you have an older phone, check out Findster's minimum requirement list before buying. You can also download a compass app to your phone and see if that works as expected. If that doesn't work either, the problem isn't with the app but with the phone. You can also re-calibrate the phone's compass which was actually required for older phone time to time.
We keep pointing out that no gear or product would work perfectly for every need in every situation. With trackers, it all depends on your primary use-case for the product. Let's see if Findster knows what you want from a tracker!
We found the Safe Zone notifications to be faster than on other trackers. If your phone has a calibrated magnetometer(compass), it is doing a good job locating your dog if they are at a reasonable distance. If you are worried about your dog running away and keep running, the battery time and the range of the modules will be an issue for you. We would say it's a good emergency option if your dog just likes to wander around a little or your puppy is still learning recall. If you have reason to believe that your dog would run away without any intention to be captured or return, go with something that has a much longer battery life and range.
As mentioned above, the tracker only gives you GPS location if you started the tracking while the dog was still closeby, so it works if your dog starts chasing something on a hike, but you will not be able to start the track once your dog unexpectedly ran by you when you opened the door.
Yes, we think this is the field where Findster excels and works better than the other GPS trackers we have used so far! Not needing phone coverage makes it usable for us on hikes because we go to places without cell coverage. We haven't had any trouble disconnecting even on long hikes (unless ), draining the battery faster than expected, or not logging in Mia's track during walks.
It works as an activity tracker even when not in “walk mode,” but as we mentioned above, if this is very important to you, Findster might not be the best option. It does collect some stats, but it's not clear how those numbers are calculated, and you don't get a chart of the trends, only a summary of the numbers for the day and the week. If you pay for the Findster Care service, they give you more information on trends over time, but it is still not a powerful feature.
The good news is that if you only use it to track activity, the battery should last up to 7 days, and you can also turn off the Guardian module, that's only needed when you are tracking the location in Walk Mode. Since the pet module uses Bluetooth to communicate, the activity will only show up on your phone near the module (within 15 feet, 5 meters). If you want to get the latest activity, pull down the Home screen to refresh.
No, Findster is not meant to be used as a remote monitoring tool (see how it works above).
We can't push enough that Bluetooth connectivity and the GPS coverage can be spotty or interrupted by the environment and can cause problems outside of the tracker's responsibility. The technology also relies closely on your phone, providing accurate GPS location - which is better for some phones and worse for others.
Having a tracker on the dog is a good backup and can be a life-saver in emergencies, but any electronics can and will have blind spots. We see many people getting lazy with recall training or keeping an eye on the dog because they have a tracker on. Please don't expect a smart collar to keep your dog safe because only you can do that. Knowing their location or getting a notification that they left the safe zone will not keep them from being run over by a car before you get there.
We had mixed feelings while writing this review because while we had a great experience using it for hikes, we also talked to many disappointed users.
Researching the most common problems, it seems this tracker is more dependent on the phone than others. If your phone doesn't have Bluetooth 4.0+ (Bluetooth LE), you will have trouble connecting. If the phone's GPS or magnetometer isn't working correctly, you will have a constant problem determining the location, all of which is understandable. This is a situation when it's hard to tell if the negative experiences are due to user error, the phone's technology, or Findster itself. Still, we couldn't replicate most of the common problems over four months. We did factory-reset it multiple times and connected the modules to different phones; no issues with any of them, but again all of them exceeded the minimum requirements determined by Findster.
The small buttons on the units and the app's UI make Findster a little harder to use compared to other trackers, but nothing that would require you to be tech-savvy. There is some room for improvement with the app's menu system and with their tutorials but they have everything in place to be used as a tracker for hikes.
To summarize the points we made in the review, your happiness with this tracker will depend on your use case. If you don't care much about activity tracking and are not worried that your dog will run away unexpectedly when someone opens the door but wants to see how much your dog runs around when hiking and have a backup solution if they would get lost, it's for you!
We tried a few different trackers by now and Findster is still the one we grab before long hikes in the mountains. It is reliable, it's the only one so far that doesn't need cell coverage and doesn't use up our mobile data/phone battery. It works for 10-12 hours, and shows the location without a lag. These are all the features we need on a hike, and Findster delivers them perfectly.