A GPS logger is a tracker that logs timestamped position reports to memory, to be downloaded to your computer later. As it's not a live tracking device, there is no need for a SIM card or any ongoing costs.
You can use almost any GPS Logger with TackTracker, but it is true that some will give better results than others. Here is a quick guide to help you decide.
If you want a TLDR; we think the best device for TackTracker right now is the QStarz BL-1000ST (that's the red one!).
These are the essential things the GPS device must do:
The device should record its timestamped position at regularly spaced intervals, regardless of whether it thinks its moving. The interval should be configurable, ideally down to 1 point per second. 1 point each 3 seconds is about right for dinghy sailing, and 1 point every 10 seconds is probably okay for keelboat sailing.
The device needs on-board memory or an SD card so it can save tracks. Some devices require a phone to be connected to record the track - and you don't want to do that whilst sailing!
TackTracker can read tracks directly from QStarz devices such as the BT-Q1000XT or BL-1000ST. For other devices you will need to be able to export the track to an industry standard GPX or NMEA file.
There are also some features that will make some devices stand out over others:
TackTracker has written software to directly read tracks and configure certain model trackers from QStarz. This is a huge time saver for anyone running more than one or two devices. If that's you, then this feature could be considered essential. Supported devices include the QStarz BT-Q1000XT, BT-1300ST, CR-1100P, and BL-1000ST.
Again, if running a fleet of loggers, track download time and reset time are also important. This factor may sway you towards the BL-1000ST, which is blazingly fast compared with the older serial USB devices.
Some of the newer trackers, such as the QStarz BL-1000ST, simultaneously use multiple GNSS global tracking systems such as GPS, GLONASS and QZSS. The result is more accurate and more reliable tracking with fewer stray points. The additional accuracy can give you more detail around mark roundings, close boat-boat work and tacking manoeuvres. It will also improve the accuracy of your Navigation Rally scores.
All this goodness can come at a price premium, however.
Good GPS units, such as the QStarz devices, let you save your track name and other details to a special location in device memory. This saves time and eliminates human error when loading tracks.
Salt water and electronics just don't mix, so we always recommend putting your tracker in a waterproof pouch. Some trackers are water resistant, which is an added bonus in case of accidental spills, but don't rely on it.
Most trackers nowadays come with a rechargable li-ion battery and this is certainly the way to go. You want to have a battery life that allows the tracker to run all day without any concern that the battery might run out, and this is the case with most or all modern devices. Its an advantage if the battery is user replaceable, which is the case for the BT-Q1000XT and BL-1000ST trackers.
A POI or SOS button can be pressed at any time to mark a particular point of interest on the track. You could use this feature to mark the location of the start Boat and Pin, for example.
There are some features that you actually might not want with TackTracker.
A tracker that gives a real-time map or display of speed, VMG or bearing may be great for training, but generally not allowed in racing. In most cases you are better off with a simple tracker with no display that lets you enjoy your sport without distraction.
If you're using your tracker with TackTracker, the software utilities that come with the tracker might be more of hindrance than help. You want to be sure that the process of extracting the tracks into TackTracker is not too cumbersome. The gold standard is the supported QStarz trackers, for which there are no intermedate steps.