We've all been there: driving around the same two interstates in Idaho -- lost and getting nowhere fast. Without the best RV GPS to guide you, it's an all too common occurrence.
But wait a moment, you think. What about my smartphone? That would make sense. After all, every smartphone has GPS, and Google Maps is fantastic at what it does.
But here's the thing.
Your smartphone is useless if you don't have a cell signal. And when you're cruising the backroads of Omaha or New Mexico, or you're exploring the wilds of Oregon, your phone is useless.
That's when you want to have the best RV GPS on hand.
Consider This Before Buying a GPS
But before you rush out and purchase the first GPS you see, there are some things you should consider. After all, there are thousands of GPS options available -- a fact that may surprise you.
After all, aren't GPS units going the way of the Dodo bird? That is, smartphones have rendered them obsolete. But that's not true. In fact, Garmin, one of the world's biggest GPS manufacturers, reported an increase in earnings in the first quarter of 2019!
The reasons are varied, but it comes down to the fact that phones aren't reliable devices outside of large urban centers. They depend on an uninterrupted data signal from a nearby cell tower, or they become paperweights. GPS, on the other hand, links directly to satellites.
But before you get yourself a GPS, consider a few things.
First off you need to consider your budget before you start shopping. That's because when it comes to GPS, the cost is in a very wide range.
And with a dizzying array of brands and capabilities, having a strict budget to work with eliminates what you don't need.
Next, you'll want to make sure your GPS has a good size screen. That's another thing GPS units have over cell phones: their screens are much bigger and easier to see.
In fact, the best RV GPS units have a screen size between 7 inches and 10 inches. If you stick within these parameters, you'll be fine.
Another important factor in choosing a GPS is the strength of its receiver. If it has trouble connecting to overhead satellites, then you could be in for a problem.
While you don't need to know the nitty-gritty details of how GPS receivers solve a complex algorithm to determine your position, you should know that GPS is just one type of GNSS navigation. There's Galileo, GLONASS, and others. Here in North America consumers use GPS.
But you want to make sure that your GPS is completely stand-alone, and doesn't require DGPS. That's when the GPS unit augments itself using a digital receiver, much like a cell phone.
When you're on the road in remote parts of North America, you don't want to hope someone built a DGPS tower nearby.
Finally, an ASIC receiver tends to have better performance and accuracy and isn't too expensive. On the other hand, an FPGA receiver is extremely accurate, but also expensive. DSP/CPU receivers tend to offer a good balance.
Picture this: you're flying along the interstate around Phoenix. There's plenty of traffic. Suddenly your GPS shouts at you to "EXIT HERE NOW!"
Unfortunately, that's a problem a lot of GPS units have. But the best RV GPS units come with lane assist. They'll tell you which lane to be in well before you need to exit, so you can calmly catch the right off-ramp.
Another fantastic feature to have in your GPS unit is the ability to talk to it. We all know the stats: one-in-four accidents in the US get caused by distracted driving. That comes out to 1.6 million crashes per year!
So if you can reduce your distraction by using your voice to input information into your GPS, all the better. The best RV GPS don't necessarily have voice input, but it certainly helps!
And remember that no matter what kind of GPS unit you get, never try to type into it while driving. Either get a passenger to do it or pull over and stop the RV. The risk of accidents or legal action isn't worth it.
How to Use Your GPS
By now, you might have questions about how you use your GPS. The process is actually easy. Most GPS units are consumer-friendly and require only a few steps to get going.
Let's take a quick look.
First, you'll need to mount your GPS on the dash of your RV. Your GPS will come with a cradle that can affix either to the windshield or the dashboard using a suction cup.
If you do choose to hang it from the windshield, make sure it's high enough not to obstruct your vision but low enough that you don't need to take your eyes off the road. If you put it around the same place the rearview mirror would be in your car, you should be golden.
The same logic applies if you mount it on your dash. Make sure it's close enough that you can see it with a glance.
Next, you'll need to fire it up and download any updates. GPS companies constantly update their maps as new information becomes available.
When you turn on your unit for the first time, accept the agreements and allow it to download new data.
Then you'll need to program your trip. As you know, you should have an itinerary prepared. Follow the directions in your unit's manual to input your home address, and then each stop you plan along the way.
That's it! You're ready!
Beware of Thieves
Did you know that GPS units are a tempting target for thieves? It's true! And with all your belongings riding in the back of your RV, the last thing you want is to give someone the temptation to break in.
And that's why you should always pack away your GPS when you leave your RV.
Don't leave it on the dash or in the window. Also, don't just throw it on the seat. Instead, pack it in your glove compartment or a drawer or even bring it with you.
The 4 Best RV GPS Units
The best RV GPS units have several things in common. First, they are reliable. Second, they are easy to use. And third, they are completely stand-alone.
You don't have to be rich to afford the best RV GPS. But a general rule of thumb is that the more expensive it is, the better it will perform.
That said, you can still get a decent unit for a decent price.
How we reviewed
To make sure that you buy a GPS which you can rely on, instead of ending up lost outside of Crested Butte, Colorado, we dug through the internet to find the best RV GPS for you.
We checked out professional reviews at The Drive, and PC Reviews, to see what they said. Then we looked at Amazon customer reviews to see what real people said. That gave us a good idea of how these units hold up in the real world.
Armed with this information, we're confident that we compiled the best RV GPS units you can find in one handy place!
Garmin RV 785
- Custom routing takes into account the size and weight of your RV then finds the best route for your vehicle
- Provides road warnings to keep you aware of steep grades, sharp curves, weight limits and more
- Includes a directory of RV parks and services plus integrated content from Ultimate Public Campgrounds, KOA, overlanded, PlanRV, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and more
- Pair with your compatible smartphone to gain access to hands-free calling and smart notifications; also includes voice-activated navigation for convenience on the road
The best RV GPS you can buy is arguably the Garmin RV 785. This awesome piece of hardware calculates the size and weight of your RV to help find the best route. It can warn you about steep inclines and dropoffs, and even tracks road conditions for you.
Plus, the RV 785 comes with a directory of all the RV parks, including KOA, along your route.
You can even pair it with your phone and make hands-free calls right through the GPS unit. Of course, your phone will need a signal for that.
The screen is seven-inches of high-resolution beauty, so you can see it even with sun glare. And because it's a touchscreen, inputting is a breeze.
They said it was dependable, and praised its build quality. A few people complained that it's difficult to set up at first.
NAVRUF 7-inch GPS
Next is the NAVRUF 7-inch GPS unit. While not specifically produced for RVs, we consider the NAVRUF one of the best RV GPS units because it has excellent lane assist.
Also, the brilliant seven-inch display has a dark mode, so it's easy to look at when driving at night.
Another thing the NAVRUF has going for it is voice directions in over 40 languages. And if you connect your phone via Bluetooth, it becomes an entertainment hub able to broadcast music and also take voice directions.
All told, the NAVRUF is the most versatile GPS we've seen.
They loved that it's easy to use and set up. Many were impressed with its accuracy. A few people complained that it failed to find their location from time to time, so we're not too sure about what kind of receiver it's using.
Highsound Model N GPS
- Latest Updated Detailed Map! This Gps navigation is FREE LIFETIME MAP UPDATE and has loaded over 1 million miles of latest mapped roads including: United States, Canada, Mexico, and no pop out Ads.
- 2D/3D map view mode. Pre-installed the latest maps of United States, Canada, Mexico, provide with lifetime free map updates. If you have any questions to update the map or want other countries maps, please contact us to download.
- You can customize a better route according to your vehicle's weight, length, height and width, thus avoiding the roads which have width restrictions or height restriction or weight restriction, etc.
- Multi-language real directions guides rich features like a friend, video, audio, pictures. Receive alerts for upcoming sharp curves, speed changes, school zones, a fatigue warning, nearby red light and speed cameras and more.
- 90 DAYS MONEY BACK GUARANTEE AND LIFETIME WARRANTY - We offer you 100% satisfaction 90 days hassle free money back guarantee, and lifetime warranty. If you have any questions about the product, please contact us via Amazon message.
The third best RV GPS we found is the Highsound Model N. One thing we appreciate about the Model N is the lifetime of free map updates Highsound guarantees. That's over a million miles of highways and roads mapped in America, Canada, and Mexico.
Also, 3D navigation is excellent for getting around. Landmarks pop out on the screen, and it gives you a great idea of where you are on the map. That's helpful for choosing the right exit when you're hurtling down the highway at 50 miles per hour.
Another feature of the Model N that stands out is the ability to input your vehicle's weight, length, width, and height. That's fantastic for avoiding tunnels and bridges and roads where your RV won't fit.
And if the low price isn't enough to tempt you, a lifetime warranty might do the job!
Customers on Amazon were impressed by the Model N. They loved the large 7.5-inch screen, the clear picture, and the ease of use.
Many of them praised the unit for being accurate. There were no complaints. If you're on a budget, then the Highsound Model N is the best RV GPS you can buy.
But then there's the Vinone GPS. Although this model is meant for cars, as an RV driver, you'll have no problems with it. First off, it comes preinstalled with the latest US maps. There's no need to go through the download process when you first turn it on.
And like the Highsound and Garmin GPS units, the Vinone allows you to set the size and weight of your RV so you don't end up where you shouldn't be.
But what really makes the Vinone stand out is the amazing voice service which speaks turn-by-turn navigation to you. It will also tell you which lane to be in, and if you miss an exit, it will generate a new route. That's useful on a highway!
Most customers said it worked well and did the job. They also loved that it was extremely accurate.
There were no complaints about the Vinone GPS. One thing we wish it came with was a longer warranty.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Thus far you're probably surprised that the smaller, less-expensive brands are the best RV GPS units, rather than the pricier name brands like Garmin and TomTom. There are reasons for this.
For starters, technology prices have come down a lot, especially for processors and satellite receivers.
But also the age of eCommerce has opened up the marketplace to smaller companies with innovative ideas. No longer can a few giant brands dominate everything, and so we see excellent products from Highsound and Vinone.
So you're probably wondering which is the best RV GPS? We have to give that trophy to the Garmin RV 785 thanks to all the bells and whistles it packs.
The Highsound Model N is the best RV GPS if you're on a budget, thanks to that screen and ability to take your RVs size into account. That said, every GPS we chose has qualities going for it that you may prefer.
No matter which GPS you go with, remember to drive safe and drive smart. That means not looking at the GPS screen while driving. Glance at it quickly, or even better use voice navigation. Keep your eyes on the road and enjoy your trip!
Which do you consider the best RV GPS? Let us know in the comments.
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