Double U Reviews the Garmin TT15X and T5X Tracking collars


Compatibility and Features of the Garmin TT15x and T5x collars

The Garmin TT15x and T5X collars released on February 17th, 2022 will track on any existing Alpha series dog trackers. This includes the Garmin Alpha 200/200i, Alpha 10, Alpha 100, Astro 430, and even the Pro 550+. Please note that the TT15x and T5x will not connect to older Astro series dog trackers such as the Astro 220 or 320, and no upcoming software updates are expected to make this possible. It is recommended to bring your current compatible handheld up to date on software using Garmin’s free “WebUpdater” or “Garmin Express” program, whether it be the Alpha 200i, Alpha 200, Alpha 10, Alpha 100 or 550+ system to ensure trouble-free operation. If you occasionally hunt with handlers using a different Alpha system, it’s comforting to know you can still track the TT10, TT15 or TT15x at the same time. So, what’s the big deal with the new “X” series collars? Let’s dive in!

Garmin TT15X and T5X Battery life (80+ hours)

One of our favorite and most impressive improvements with the new Garmin TT15x Tracking collars and T5x is the battery life. The new Garmin X series Tracking collars have made huge improvements to the run time making them perfect for those hunting off grid, away from your home area, or near large wilderness areas where battery life is imperative. Garmin advertising the TT15X and T5X tracking collars with 80 hours of Battery life, we testing this claim several times and found impressive results.

Buddy’s take on the TT15x’s battery life in real hunting conditions:

“It’s easy to bench test the battery life of a tracking collar but field testing is difficult because of Update rates, and different conditions like cold weather can really affect the run time. With this being said, most of our testing was while we were hunting and using the tracking collars on dogs in the field.

So while I don’t have an exact number when these TT15X collars consistently turned off, I’m confident with our experiences to suggest that it’s often more than the 80 hours Garmin claims when using the different update rates.

As most people know cold weather is hard on modern batteries, and Garmin devices are no exception to this rule. A battery will last a lot longer if it stays warm versus one that is left out in the cold. One of the tests was done during my 5-day Lynx hunt in freezing temps, and during my first 3 days I would intentionally leave the collars running out in the cold each night to stress the battery some. I was able to easily use these collars on a single charge for 3 full days hunting and still had plenty of battery to spare before deciding to re-charge the tracking collars. At the end of the third day in the cold, I’ll admit that I chickened out and charged the collars to finish out the final days of my hunt; the risk of a dead tracking collar in wolf country was too much for me continue the test to complete failure. However, I feel very confident that I could have easily hunted all 5 days with these collars had I either put the collars in “Sleep mode” at night or turned them off each night after my hunt while the dogs were sleeping safe in the box.

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Generally, when I hunt, I use 10 or 5 second updates so most of my testing was done on 5 seconds. However, I have used the 2.5 second updates frequently and found the collars easily last several days on 2.5 seconds. If you’re looking for extra-long battery life and desire to get 3-5 days consistently, I would recommend running on 5 or 10 second updates for the best performance. Garmin claims 80 hours of battery life, in my experience these Garmin TT15X and T5X collars always seemed to last longer than 80 hours and were still transmitting and working on the 5th day which was actually more like 110-120 hours, several times.” -Buddy Woodberry

The increased battery capacity makes it a perfect tracking collar for a pack member that tends to need more training or tends to stay out longer than the rest. Even if you must come back the next day to locate a dog, search time is cut down significantly with a collar sending out a signal more often than every 2 minutes.

Since you have more battery life to work with, you never have to shy away from utilizing training functions during your hunt. A standard TT15 on a dog that has needed frequent communication with the trainer during the hunt may show signs of a decreased battery life later in in the day and might even drop into Rescue Mode from having its battery consistently sapped from a high update rate and frequent corrections. A TT15x however, would still perform at a noticeably higher level even in later hours of usage. One would have no worries issuing multiple commands if necessary to call back a dog at a distance and could track the dog back to the truck at every step of the way with a 2.5 second update rate without worrying about conserving battery life. The TT15x collar is designed to last and work not just all day, but multiple days at full usage while its predecessors (and competitors) struggle to keep up.

Garmin TT15X and T5X Sleep Mode

Previously only available in TT15 mini collars, “Sleep Mode” is another great tool to help extend your battery life. This was an awesome move by Garmin to include on the TT15x’s software that really opens possibilities by allowing a user to stop and begin transmitting at a whim, saving battery life on a collar when not actively hunting a dog, and have the option to begin tracking again without so much as touching the collar. When in Sleep Mode, the collar pauses signal output, meaning extremely little energy is being used. You can quickly and easily “Sleep” and “Wake” collars from the Dog List on any TT15x or T5X.

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It’s been very useful to utilize Sleep Mode function when the dog is loaded into the box or not currently tracking to optimize battery life. The TT15x’s more efficient battery capacity means longer times between charges in the field but could also mean longer recharge times back at base. With the new addition of Sleep Mode, this allows users to pause signal output and save their battery for when they need it most.

Another bonus of sleep mode is evident when a collar has “locked up” or is failing to update GPS location. By placing the Garmin TT15x in sleep mode, and then “waking” the collar, we have seen the TT15x regain GPS signal and correct the issue without having the collar in your hands. This little trick is a huge benefit when dogs are away from you. By doing this, it is very similar to physically turning the collar off and back on but can be done in the field at great distances.

TT15x and T5X USB Mode

Unlike previous models, the new TT15x and T5x are designed to go into “USB mode” when connected to a computer. This is a big change as it allows collars to be updated with a Windows or Mac. When connected to your computer, the collar will mount to the USB drive allowing for software updates, pulling track history data and more. This is a big improvement over previous models and will allow non-Windows operating systems to be used for updates without causing issues or disabling the collar.

The Garmin TT15X and T5X collars pair via ANT+ to an updated Alpha 200i/200 and Alpha 10

4.9 software on the Alpha 200i and Alpha 200 released Feb 16th, pairs the TT15X and T5X collars via ANT instead of over radio. Why does this matter? Here are a couple benefits of this new feature:

1. Pairing over ANT allows the user to check the software version of the collar with their handheld on the TT15X and T5X

2. Another small feature of the TT15X and T5X collar pairing by ANT is that the dogs name should be stored in the collar. So any updated Alpha 200i or 200 pairing to a X series collar via ANT will automatically suggest the dogs name to your system when pairing with an ANT enabled device

Pairing the Garmin TT15x and T5X collars

The pairing process for the new TT15x is no different than pairing previous TT15/TT10 models that you’re already used to. By accessing your Dog List and selecting “Add Dog”, you can add your new Garmin TT15x by pressing and holding the power button to place the collar into pairing mode. This quick, easy, and familiar pairing procedure will have you up and running in no time.

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TT15x and T5X Range

From a performance standpoint, the TT15X track and train collar performed as well previous models when it came to the range department. Users should expect to see similar distance to their other Alpha collars. When testing new tracking products, we like to run them side by side with previous models of comparable Garmin units to see how they perform. In this case, the TT15X was tested beside a TT15, double-collared on the same dog being tracked on two separate 200i handhelds. Both the Garmin TT15X and the TT15 performed the same. Whether it was the GPS signal or COMMS, both collars performed well and users should not expect to see a difference in either of these with the TT15X

Satellite coverage for the TT15x and T5X

On the technical side, the Garmin T5X and TT15X collar still tracks the GLONASS or Russian satellite system as well as standard GPS satellites. The combination of standard and GLONASS satellite coverage ensures the best possible tracking/training anywhere you choose to hunt. This means better service and satellite coverage when compared to early GPS tracking systems and competitors.

TT15x Observations

We are expecting Garmin to shift their attention away from the TT15 collar and focus more in the TT15X track and train collar in the near future. At the time of this article, February 16 2022, we are only expecting a few more shipments of the TT15 collars to arrive – which is one more reason to think about upgrading your system to the latest that Garmin has to offer.

All in all, the TT15X collar still has the same features we enjoy on the TT15 like Vibration, Bark Detection, and reliable training features, yet adds more for both the casual hunter and especially the serious houndsmen to enjoy. Not to mention the benefits the guide or outfitter would see.

It’s amazing to think that in theory, one could go into the country with nothing but a mule, an Alpha 10, and TT15x or T5X collars on their hounds, and the only worry would be packing in enough provisions to keep you and your hounds happy for almost a week before you even have to seek a charging port. Bottom line; The Garmin TT15x’s and T5X’s new features make this device a solid addition to your pack, and the battery life of this collar makes it Garmin’s most impressive yet.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>