It goes without saying you need the best RV GPS especially if you’re always on the road or live in a motorhome. With this device you’ll have all the assistance you need for navigation, reach your destination, get turn by turn directions and more. When you’ve got one of these on your RV it’s easier to get from point A to point B.
But with so many GPS for recreational vehicles how can you possibly find one that suits your rig? I’ve done the work for you and rounded up the top 5 GPS you can purchase for your RV today. I’ve been using GPS apps since the early days and have seen the technology evolved, and these are the best out there.
Things to Consider
GPS devices have the same function but their features and functionality vary significantly. Some are bare bones but others are equipped with more sophisticated features.
- Advanced GPS devices also have voice commands and provides alternate routes so you get to your destination at the fastest possible time.
- The more advanced the GPS the more points of interest it has like gas stations, hotels, restaurants, truck stops, landmarks and other important locations.
- Buying from a reputable manufacturer is a must to ensure the GPS signal is reliable.
- If you plan to go cycling while your RV is camped, check out those GPS apps that offer info on cyclist lanes.
- One of the most vital features for any GPS is the alternate route function. This will not only save you time but also money as you cut down on the gas.
5 Best RV GPS Reviews
Garmin nüvi 2789LMT 7-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS
This is a 7 inch screen and dual-orientation device. It can search any new or popular places like shops, restaurants, gas stations and many more via Foursquare. It simplifies your navigating in tough routes like airport or any malls. It gives you lifetime map updates. This means you will get up to date maps, lets say any business is open or not or new routes. In short you will get the latest map.
It won't show you any ads or any kind of payment. You can activate voice navigation. This function will help you to keep you hands on the wheel and focus on the road. It also provides bluetooth wireless connectivity calling. It will give a bright arrow mark through the main root.
You can also add a wireless backup camera to get the rear view in the screen.
- 7 inch display
- LIFETIME MAP UPDATES
- Dual-orientation display
- Voice-activated navigation
- Bluetooth Compatible
- Active Lane Guidance
- Free Lifetime Traffic Avoidance
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Garmin RV 760LMT Portable GPS Navigator
The 760LMT is designed for RVs as can be seen by its 7 inch screen that makes it easy to read data. The unit comes bundled with comprehensive maps of the US and Canada and that includes restrictions for RVs like roads, bridges and highways that your rig cannot cross. Just enter your vehicle’s specs and the unit does the rest.
There are more than 20,000 RV services and parks included like regional parks, state recreation areas, national forests, state preserves and more. Lodging areas, boating sites, RV sites, dump stations and other essential locations are included too. Lifetime traffic and map updates are provided.
The unit supports smartphone links and voice command so you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel. This gives you the choice between touchscreen and voice commands, and using the smartphone link you’ve got access to other information. Finally the Up Ahead services means you’ll know what’s coming up the road.
- RV routing accounts for vehicle restrictions on dimensions and weight
- Voice-activated navigation responds to your vocal commands
- Comprehensive list of advisories and road cautions
- 800 x 480 pixel, 7 inch screen
- Lifetime traffic and map updates
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TomTom VIA 1535TM 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator
The VIA 1535TM allows for hands free navigation. No need to touch or tap the screen, just talk and the 1535TM follows. Its 5 inch screen is brighter than the previous version, plus the icons and graphics are sharper.
The traffic and maps are updated constantly and for free as long as you use the device. Voice recognition is superb so you don’t need to repeat yourself. With its support for Bluetooth you can take and make calls without taking your hands of the wheel. The system also boasts of a massive database so you get the best routes to reach your destination.
The mount is integrated so you can install this unit right away and the latest maps for the US, Canada and Mexico are included. With its Map Share community you’ll be updated of any roadblocks, speed limits and other relevant information for drivers. The intuitive design of the GPS also means it is ideal for new RVers who have not yet tried these devices.
- Voice recognition
- 400 X 272 pixel, 5 inch screen
- Split screen junction view
- Lifetime maps for the US and Canada
- Comprehensive list of routes and points of interest
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Garmin RV 760LMT with Wireless Backup Camera
The 760LMT 7 inch touchscreen is suited for RVs, and the speakers have been added power to match the needs of RVers. Its directory comes with a detailed and updated list of RV services and parks. The vast amount of information on the device also simplifies planning your trips.
A wireless backup camera is included, and you get regular updates for the map and traffic. Its voice activated directions are clear and complement the Garmin Real Directions. The touchscreen is very responsive so you’ll have no trouble assessing the data and following directions.
The receiver is compact as is the camera, but they’re fully functional and deliver clear images. The combination of the GPS and the backup camera is a nice one and saves you money. Sure you can buy a separate camera but there’s no need as it is fully functional.
- 7 inch, high res touchscreen display with voice command support
- BCTM 20 Wireless Backup Camera with 45 ft image transmission range
- Garmin Real Directions and Real Voice for easy to follow directions
- Routing is customized for RVs
- Maps updated on a consistent basis
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Magellan Roadmate 5322-LM 5" Touchscreen Portable GPS
This device comes with a bright 5 inch screen so it’s easier to see the maps in detail. Maps are updated on a regular basis, as are the points of interest and the routes. It gives you a traffic alerts powered by PhantomALERT. It helps you to get warning for both red light and speed cameras by visual and audio alerts.
If you select Portrait Mode which is better for left wheel steering because it show better the road ahead. Best part of theis device is 3D Landmarks which will help you to see your position like real world.
It also give you a graphical junction view which helps you to show the freeway exits.
- Screen size: 5.0-inch
- 3D Buildings
- Free Lifetime Map updates
- Portrait/Landscape Mode
- Junction View
- Touchscreen display
- Automatic re-route
- Customizable route method
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What Does The RV GPS Do And When Or How Does It Assist You?
The best GPS for RV offers not just information but allows you to interact with the device and make the most of your journey. For all the different functions in these apps, the purpose is the same: give you greater flexibility than regular maps.With a GPS you no longer have to stop and ask for directions, but that is assuming the program has the features you’re looking for.
RV GPS Usability
GPS devices are easier than ever to use and possess greater functionality. An intuitive interface simplifies use of navigation technology to find a specific location. Turn by turn directions also means it is ideal if you don’t like to pack a lot of maps or seek help for direction every time you’re somewhere new.
What To Look For in an RV GPS
Here is a checklist of the features your RV must have.
A portable GPS is ideal for many reasons. For one thing it won’t occupy a lot of space on your dashboard. If your rig is already packed then you’ll appreciate a small GPS. You’ll find that some of these devices are no bigger than a wallet.Of course you shouldn’t get one that is so small you can’t see what is on the screen display. Screen sizes vary but 4 inches is suitable for most drivers to read the info. A 4.7 inch or bigger screens are also available if 4 inches is too small for you.
Predictive Data Entry
Another advantage of a large screen is it’s easier to read and type addresses and names. Predictive data entry is another vital feature. It is a pain to have to type the full address and name of a location especially when you’re in a hurry. With predictive data entry, the GPS will complete the address or name you’re typing, saving you time.
The installation of a GPS unit must be quick and easy. A steady arm set at an angle is ideal as it connects to your RV’s suction cup. Once the GPS unit is installed it should remain in place even as your RV drives over rough spots.While the GPS must be easy to setup, it must also be quick to remove from the mount. A sliding or snapping mechanism works best.
When it comes to memory capacity it’s similar to computers, the more you have the more features the unit can handle. A GPS with plenty of memory holds more points of interest, maps and other features. With an expansion slot, you’ll be able to upgrade your GPS capacity so it can do more.
Text to speech provides spoken street names and turn by turn directions. This is essential so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
With Bluetooth you can perform hands free operation. You can dial, make a call and conduct inquiries without taking your hands off the wheel.
The days of getting lost while in you’re driving around will no longer be a problem if you have a GPS. However there are a lot of factors that come into play in deciding which to buy. Portability, screen size and price are important but so are the following.
Ease of Use
All the advanced features won’t mean a thing if the unit is hard to use. Look for a unit that is easy to navigate. Avoid those that will require you to go through multiple sub-menus. If you can issue commands by voice that’s even better.
All GPS units offer traffic updates but some offer more updates than others. Get one that has real time traffic data about alternate routes, speed traps, road closures and accidents. Do keep in mind if the traffic isn’t updated in real time it may no longer be accurate by the time you get there.That’s the reason why real time data is vital because you’ll be able to look at traffic cameras and get crowd sourced tips from fellow drivers.
The ideal scenario is to have your unit connected to a power source so you don’t have to worry about running out of power. But there will be times when you may need to move the unit so a long battery life is helpful. A lifespan of 2 hours on one charge minimum is ideal.
Every GPS units can run on your vehicle’s 12 volt socket. They’re also rechargeable so you’ll be able to run it for several hours. Most come with an AC power adapter or a USB port so you can charge it.
The time it takes to fully charge varies, but once done you’ll be able to carry the device in your hand or use it on another vehicle.
With GPS units packing so much information, it’s essential you’re actually able to clearly see the data that is being displayed. That’s why we keep saying that you must get a good sized screen.4 to 5 inches is the norm, but longer screens are becoming more common. These large screens are particularly ideal for an RV or truck as the windshield is some distance from you.
Since you’ll be relying on the GPS for your trips you need to make certain that it is accurate. With precise, up to date traffic signals you’ll be notified if there’s an accident. Versatile units transmit data to mobile devices, satellite radio and FM signals.Quality of traffic information varies from unit to unit. Some traffic updates require payment so you need to subscribe. Other systems offer free traffic updates from other users. The more advanced systems use sophisticated algorithms to determine the best alternate routes and steer clear of congestion.
A detour function assists you in finding a detour spot if there is heavy traffic in your way. Some GPS units let you choose a particular distance to find a better route. Some of these GPS systems have the detour function built in with the traffic update, and this makes it simpler to change course if traffic is heavy.
Lane Assistance and Reality View
Lane assistance makes it easier than ever to find the right lane. It uses an arrow to show you which lane you need to be in. For an RV and other vehicles you’ll also need a GPS with realistic description of the top junctions.
Many portable GPS systems come with a mount though you can purchase them separately. The best ones are those with angled arms as they make it easy to install and remove GPS systems.Whether you decide to go with the snapping or sliding design the unit should not take more than a minute or two to set up. Now you just need to insert the power cord in the GPS or onto the mount.
English is the native language supported in GPS units. But a growing number have support for other languages. Check the manufacturer’s website for information on what languages the unit supports.
Frequency of Map Updates
Usually if the unit comes with maps, you will receive free updates for as long as the product is supported by the company. This is absolutely vital because you don’t want to be stuck with an outdated map.
Types of GPS Systems
GPS devices can be divided into three categories: those you download and use in mobile devices, portable systems and those integrated in your vehicle.
Smartphone GPS Apps
Using a smartphone GPS app in your RV is convenient as you just download it on your phone and it’s ready for use. These apps have maps, suggestions for alternate routes, traffic updates, waypoints and more.
You don’t need to buy a separate GPS device plus you get access to all the other features on your phone. Your mobile can use your history to check your travel time and download other useful features. These apps also update automatically.
The downside is GPS apps use mobile data and performance may be affected if someone calls. You’ll also need to buy a mount so your phone is accessible from the dash. A data plan is necessary plus a charger as a GPS apps drain batteries quickly.
In-Vehicle GPS Units
More and more RVs have GPS systems built in, and they’ve become more affordable as well. Advanced GPS units have Bluetooth support, a navigation option, Wi-Fi option and regular updates.Cars and RVs usually have the GPS built in the infotainment system. You can adjust the unit via touchscreen, voice commands or wheel control. The biggest benefit of an integrated GPS system is that it’s right there and no need to buy another unit. The disadvantage is the quality varies from the excellent to the barely usable.
These are dedicated GPS units which you plug in your RV, giving you access to Bluetooth, USB, Wi-Fi, navigation, waypoints, directions, turn by turn and other features. These are versatile systems that are compatible with RV and other vehicles. Since they’re portable you can move these from one vehicle to another.
Portable GPS systems receive data from satellites so they’re not going to halt in case your phone crashes or loses its Internet connection. As mentioned earlier they have the same features as the built in systems but often cost less.
The portability is the biggest attraction here as you can bring it with you anywhere. Voice commands and real time are available and updated constantly. The newer models have Bluetooth support for hands free operation.Portable GPS units come in various sizes so you should look for one that has the appropriate screen size. Buy from a reputable company to get high quality voice command. These devices can also drain batteries rapidly so keep that in mind.
Where to Buy These Products?
You can buy GPS units in brick and mortar stores and online. Buying in a real store has advantages: you can see and touch the product, and if the store is nearby you can drive over and buy it. If there are computer stores close, check out their stock and if they have the model you’re looking for.
But for a lot of RVers, shopping online is more convenient. There are more stores and their inventory is bigger. With a few clicks you’ll have access to a wide range of GPS units and can compare their prices and specs. With online shopping the vendors you just need to fill in the particulars and the unit will be delivered to you.Because most people do their shopping online it’s no surprise several vendors offer these products. Buy only from the manufacturer’s website or a reputable vendor to ensure you get your money’s worth, plus you’re assured of customer support and warranty.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a GPS?
Ans: GPS – global positioning system – is used to determine your position, time and velocity 24/7. This navigation system is more precise than anything currently available and works anywhere in the world regardless of the weather.
2. How does a GPS unit work?
Ans: GPS systems gather data from orbiting satellites. The collected data is transmitted to your device and displays the relevant information. Your position, points of interest directions, digital charts and waypoints all processed using the same process.
3. Where can I use a GPS?
Ans: You can use a GPS unit on land, air and sea. The system works regardless where you take your RV which is why it is effective for vehicle location. GPS units are also good for geodesy, mapping, geophysical exploration, surveying and other applications.
4. Can I use car GPS units on my RV?
Ans: Yes, GPS units can be installed on different vehicles though the setup configuration may vary.
5. How reliable is GPS reception?
Ans: The reception is available worldwide but signal quality is determined by your location. An unobstructed view of the skies offers the clearest signal. The reception may not be as clear if you’re inside a building however.
6. What materials block the signal of GPS units the most?
Ans: Masonry and metal can block GPS signals while plastic, wood and glass do not. If the GPS cannot get through a building you won’t get time.
7. What kind of hardware is required?
Ans: You need a serial port connector, data cable, power supply, antenna and the GPS receiver. All of these are included when you purchase a GPS unit. You’ll also need a power source. The mounting unit is usually included though you can purchase separate units.
8. Is an Internet connection necessary to use GPS?Ans: GPS units do not require an Internet connection. However you do need it to download maps. Once you’ve downloaded the map however you can use it offline. For smartphone GPS apps you’ll need the connection to access extra features, but most dedicated GPS devices don’t require you to be online.
If you are always on the road and going to new places, a GPS is indispensable. From giving you the shortest routes to finding places of interest, a GPS is the one device you’ll want to have. And the good news is all the five products deliver where it counts, reliability and accuracy of information.