Everybody knows that when you’re traveling to remote destinations for overlanding, you need a good GPS that will show you everything you need to know about navigating the area.
Finding locations and safe places to spend the night are essential to any overlanding experience. When you want to take some time and go off the grid for a while, you need a reliable source to tell you about your surroundings.
However, choosing the Best GPS for overlanding can be a bit tricky. Many of the devices offered today are geared towards on-road experiences, not giving the off-road adventurist everything they desire.
We’ve done the research and found the best GPSs available today and provided you the details below on our top choices, along with some of the best overland navigation apps for those of you who prefer to use your smartphone or tablets.
Garmin Overlander – Best Overall Off-Road GPS
We chose the Garmin Overlander as the best overall off-road GPS when compared to others simply because it outweighs pretty much all the other devices when it comes to the details.
Of course, it’s more expensive than the others as well, but the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is definitely true when it comes to choosing a GPS for overlanding.
The integrated features are what stands out the most, with topographic maps available in many countries being at the top of our list. The all-terrain navigator was built for off-road guidance and on-road navigation.
What we like and don’t like about it:
- Garmin Explore app can be used to download other maps and sync routes across your Overlander along with many other devices.
- It comes preloaded with iOverlander and Ultimate Public Campgrounds, which means cell service is not required to find the best locations to spend the night.
- The awesome powered magnetic mount features a RAM compatible adaptor or suction cup.
- The large color touchscreen is 7” and allows turn-by-turn directions for the on-road navigation and topography maps that cover both North and South America with 4×4 roads and public land boundaries.
- It can be used with large overlanding vehicles because the routing is based on the weight, height, and length of your vehicle.
- The rugged look pairs well with all of its features and capabilities.
- Price tag.
- Not completely waterproof.
Magellan TRX7 GPS Navigator – Best Off-Road Trail Mapping
If you’re looking for a brand that’s been around the block a few times, then Magellan’s 30+ years in the industry is a pretty good record. They tested and tried many different options only to bring the best solutions into the TRX7 GPS Navigator.
It comes with over 115,000 preloaded OHV routes to choose from with visual and audio turn-by-turn trail and street navigation. The 7” touchscreen comes with a day and night view, so you can always see where you are going.
Suppose you love the idea of new trail adventures. In that case, you’re really going to enjoy the database that Magellan offers, where other users can update the database based on their experiences.
If you want to go all out, you can even purchase a satellite map view 12-month subscription to DigitalGlobe for viewing and saving all your satellite imagery.
What we like and don’t like about it:
- Built-in 5MP rear-facing camera that can record with LED flash, including stills, video, and panorama.
- Preloaded designated OHV trails (115,000+) for 4WD, Motorcycles, ATV, and even snowmobile trails.
- Free lifetime software and map updates.
- Easily create off-road waypoints to share and meet with your friends.
- There is a backtrack button that allows you to return to your current track’s starting point at any time during your ride.
- Crowdsource tracking available through the online community track database.
- New trails might be missing from the preloaded maps.
- It can seem techy to some users.
Trail Tech Voyager Pro – Best Off-Road Compact Size GPS
If you’re looking for the best off-road compact size GPS with an excellent trail mapping feature, then the Trail Tech Voyager Pro won’t disappoint. If you want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, this GPS is perfect.
It’s a little bit smaller than our other top picks, but it is waterproof and can be easily operated with gloves on. It also has the ability to measure the voltage of your battery and tell you the temperature.
One of the best features about this GPS is the unique Buddy Tracking which is compatible with the Polaris Ridecommand Group Ride – you’ll always be able to stay in touch with your team.
What we like and don’t like about it:
- The color touchscreen (4”) is anti-glare, plus it’s waterproof and rated IP67 for anti-dust.
- It supports routes, tracks, and waypoints, including topography maps and hill shading.
- The display will show you elevation, speed, distance, temperature, and voltage.
- You can use the Bluetooth feature for media controls, dialing your phone, intercom, and messaging.
- Load or record riding areas and GPX trials and then upload to your laptop or PC with the micro SD card.
- Buddy Tracking for up to 20 riders that can be viewed on your screen in real-time.
- Smaller screen.
- Buddy Tracking can drain a lot of power when left on for extended times.
How Do You Choose the Best GPS for Overlanding?
What separates an excellent GPS for overlanding from all the regular GPSs on the market today is the ability to be able to see various map views. Most traditional GPSs are loaded with a standard road map, and that’s it. Hardly enough for any overlanding adventure!
You will have access to all the paved roads and maybe even some of the well-maintained gravel roads, but you’ll never be able to access or find any of the off-road trails and tracks. You’ve probably already witnessed using a GPS that leads you right into a solid green box with no lines for roads or paths.
That’s the most significant difference between using a regular GPS and choosing one that is designed to give you the best off-road experience.
You’ll want to know about elevation, distance, and temperature. Knowing where the rivers or waterfalls are located is just another bonus of using the best GPS for overlanding.
Finally, you want to have access to offline mapping for all those times that there is a weak to zero signal for your cell service. Relying on an online GPS only can be dangerous, especially when heading into some unknown territories.
Here are some of the key features you’ll want to look for:
- Turn-By-Turn Navigation
- Topographic Maps
- Enhanced Screen Viewing
- Route Tracking
- Possibility to Add Maps
- Easy to Mount or Carry
You’ll also want to make sure that your device is durable and is not affected by shaking or sudden movements. It should be semi-waterproof and rated IP67 for anti-dust; the waterproof is a must for any motorcycles, snowmobiles, etc.
You should also consider a GPS that is preloaded with relevant POI for your overlanding adventure. Knowing where you are going and how far the closest resources are is imperative to a well-planned trip.
You could also consider having a GPS with a rearview camera or integrated dashcam; however, neither are absolutely necessary and could be seen as an added feature.
Why Is Off-Road Navigation Necessary?
Have you ever gotten lost before and had no way of knowing how to get back home? This is where off-road navigation shines – it allows you to see where you are and what trails or roads are located near your destination.
Most navigation apps and traditional GPSs will only take you as far as the regular street view will allow. They don’t have the ability to bring you off-road and show you all your options.
The last thing you want to do is head out into the woods and then realize that your GPS has no mapping available for your location.
This happens way too often, and we’re pretty sure that most people find themselves upgrading their GPS once they’ve been lost for hours.
You want a device that recognizes the trails you are traveling on and has them indexed for showing all your possible actions, i.e., turning, exiting, etc.
Best Overland Navigation Apps
If you already dropped a decent chunk of change on your new smartphone, then chances are you’re not looking to buy an expensive GPS device for overlanding adventures.
Some of the latest smartphones are more than capable of delivering you some excellent features, especially for on-road experiences.
However, when it comes to overlanding off-road, you’re going to need an excellent overland navigation app to get you through all those tough terrains.
Below are the top five navigation apps that people around the globe are using and recommending to all their friends.
If you’re not familiar with one or more of these apps, then we suggest checking them out and seeing which one offers you the most important details when you’re overlanding.
These apps are typically free and can be downloaded in either the Google Play Store or the Apple Store for all iPhone users. They are accessible offline, so being stranded shouldn’t be on your plate!
#1 GAIA GPS
This app is by far the best one to use when taking off the beaten path and exploring some unknown territories. It’s also the most popular because of how reliable it is when you need it the most!
It has the best overland maps, and you’ll know exactly what to expect when you begin journeying offroad in your 4×4 or on foot. The topo maps from USGS and USFS are a nice feature for planning your trip and knowing what you’ll be up against.
It will even provide you with details such as property ownership, restrictions for motor vehicles, and more. You’ll know upfront if an area has seasonal restrictions or if a trail is closed.
The public land destinations are an awesome feature that gives you access to all the campsites in the area you are exploring, and it will even cover National Forests.
With access to updated weather for precipitation and wildfire activity, you’ll have everything you need in one single app!
Once you save your favorite maps or plan your perfect trip, you won’t need to rely on any cell towers to get you where you need to go when using the onX app. It works perfectly offline and is designed to keep you in the know at all times.
The onX app boasts millions of private properties along with over 975 million acres of public land, so you’ll always know which direction to go. They proudly state that they have over an impressive 421 map overlays and still counting!
Going off the grid is something every overlander loves to do; that is why using an app like onX is ideal for getting you from point A to point B without any mistakes.
You’ll love how you can check out an area on your computer and then use it to explore on your smartphone. Overlanding has never been easier!
The name says it all – the ideal mapping app that was designed and created by overlanders. It comes with an extensive database for all the camp lovers, plus it has details for mechanic shops and gas stations, just to name a few.
It’s a great app for people who like to hit the trails and have accessibility to any essential needs while on their adventure, including laundromats.
Yep, it will even locate the closest places to do your laundry and a list of veterinarians. People love to take their four-legged friends overlanding!
Some users rave about the campsites that iOverlander can guide you to, while others love the fact that this app will prevent you from taking a wrong turn.
You don’t need to make any plans when using this app; it will adapt to your location and provide you with everything you need to know about the area you are in.
This app is notorious for being useful when you’re both driving or walking. You can drop the color-coded pins all over a map then allow the app to navigate you to each location with ease.
It’s easy to create a plan while traveling and incorporate all the necessities in life as well, such as dining, sleeping, and extracurricular activities. It’s also an excellent source for finding trails.
You can use this while driving to your destination and while hiking some of the most exclusive trails in isolated and remote areas. If you’re searching for all of nature’s beauty, then this app is the perfect companion to navigate the way.
Simply download any map you want and then access it offline to proceed to your favorite locations.
# Google Maps
This is probably the most widely known app out of all five and is used by millions of people on a daily basis. However, some folks never imagined how cool it could be for overlanding.
If you’re looking for some camping spots or routes that are not the usual choice, then you’ll enjoy how Google Maps can take you places you never imagined going before.
One of the best features of this app is the ability to be able to share your map link. So if your buddies are coming to meet you, you’ll be able to give them the exact location where you’re at quickly.
Most users agree that the estimated driving times are highly accurate, and the colored pins are a huge asset when mapping a trip. Plus, you can always return to whatever destination you found by using your history and favorites locations.
Whether you are looking for the best GPS for overlanding or hoping to discover the most efficient app to navigate your next adventure, everything mentioned above was provided to give you more options that are both reliable and safe.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and wish you all the best on your next big overlanding adventure!