Whether you’re a long-time GPS user who swears by her Garmin or the type who wouldn’t normally be caught dead asking for directions, taking the plunge into RVing can make you realize just how much of a benefit a navigation system can really be. An RV GPS is specially designed to deal with the challenges of the road that only someone driving an RV faces.
That’s because when you’re wandering the world in such a large vehicle, you’ve got some extra considerations to think about besides where exactly you point the darn thing. For instance, if find yourself guided down a narrow, rocky road in a car, it’s no big deal to turn around… but that’s not the case in a Class A diesel pusher.
Same goes for the lovely scenic route overhung with low-hanging tree branches. It’s a beautiful view… and also a great way to destroy your RV’s roofing finish. (Better solution: camp nearby and unhook the toad to go check it out later!)
RV GPS systems, like the Garmin RV 770 NA LMT-S, are designed with these kinds of RV-specific considerations in mind, which means they’re a great way to make sure your journey is as convenient, efficient, and uh-oh-free as possible. And since traveling always comes with its fair share of surprises, it’s nice to at least have a reliable route to comfort your road nerves!
But what’s the best GPS system out there for RVers? Should you go with a stand-alone, mounted product or will an RV GPS app for your smartphone suffice?
Never fear: those questions are why we wrote up this RV GPS comparison, your definitive guide to finding the very best RV navigation software solution.
Let’s get started, shall we?
What is the Best RV GPS to Buy?
Like many other parts of camping (and planning for camping), choosing an RV GPS is pretty personal. Each unit has different features and systems that might make it perfect for one RVer, but the second choice for another.
That said, reading RV GPS reviews can go a long way toward helping you figure out which one’s best for you.
Let’s look into some of the most popular stand-alone GPS systems designed specifically for RVers, shall we?
Garmin RV 785 with Built-in Dash Cam
With four-and-a-half of a possible five stars, it’s easy to see that the Garmin RV 785 is a crowd pleaser. And given its custom routing feature, which takes the size and weight of your RV into account when routing your trip, as well a warnings for steep grades, sharp curves, and weight restrictions, it’s not hard to see why.
This version even comes with a built-in dash cam, so you can record your travels for posterity — and for safety. Dash cams have helped police make the right assessment in traffic accidents more than once; you can never be too careful!
Garmin RV 770 NA LMT-S
Another great option from Garmin, this GPS system includes a directory of RV parks and services and offers voice activation for safe, hands-free operation while you’re driving. You can also access free live traffic and weather updates to keep you up to speed on the road, which the system can update using its built-in Wifi connectivity or through linking to your smartphone through the specially-created app. All told, it’s a great GPS option for any RVer!
Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB 7″ High-Clarity RV GPS Navigator
Magellan is one of the most popular RV GPS system producers out there, offering a variety of products at different price points and including different features.
We like this model — the Magellan RoadMate RV9490T-LMB — because of its spacious 7-inch screen and its focus on ensuring you’re in the right lane well ahead of time. After all, it’s not so easy to just “get over real quick” when you’re essentially driving a bus!
This system also comes complete with accessories like a carrying case and is pre-loaded with a directory of campgrounds to make your journey that much easier!
Rand McNally RDY0528018477 OverDryve 7 RV GPS
You already know we’re big fans of Rand McNally’s yearly paper road atlas, which is a great backup option when you don’t want to rely on technology to get where you’re going.
But did you know the company also offers an RV GPS system? The Overdryve 7 includes a built-in dash cam and is Bluetooth compatible, so you can connect it to your smartphone or other devices. You can even have it route text messages and other notifications through to the GPS screen, so you’ll always be up to date on what’s going on. And given it’s made by the world authority on U.S. road maps, we think it’s safe to say it’ll get you where you’re going!
RV GPS Apps
Now that we’ve covered a few of the pre-built commercial options, let’s step back and focus on some RV GPS alternatives you probably already have access to — and which wouldn’t cost you a dime more than you’re already paying.
Here are some of the best RV GPS apps that can help you get where you’re going from the comfort of your smart phone.
Google Maps (on your phone)
This convenient, free app is probably what you whip open when you need to head to a new destination in your everyday vehicle.
But using Google Maps for RV travel can be treacherous for the reasons we outlined above. As of late 2019, there’s no easy way to integrate RV-specific filters into the version of Google Maps that comes stocked on most smartphones.
If you’re really averse to purchasing an actual RV GPS that mounts on your dashboard and would prefer to use an existing mobile device, look into CoPilot, an RV-specific navigation app that can be downloaded onto either iOS or Android.
It’s fairly expensive — and extravagant as far as apps go — at $59.99, but it’s definitely one of the cheapest RV GPS alternatives you’ll come across. However, you’ll be stuck with your device’s small screen (and not being able to use its other features while you’re navigating) — not to mention figuring out how to look at your phone while driving without being totally unsafe. Yikes.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive app that works as a GPS as well as a total system tracking device, look no further than FleetSharp. This system can tell you where your RV is at all times, even if it’s hundreds of miles away from the smartphone or computer browser from which you’re tracking it — and it also includes a lot of other vital information about your rig, such as oil level, tire pressure level, and more.
FleetSharp works for both towable and drivable RVs and is a great solution for those who have a single vacation vehicle or a whole rental fleet. Click here for more information.
What to Look for When Buying an RV GPS
At the end of the day, there are almost as many RV GPS systems available as there are RVers. (Well, not really — but it’s a pretty flooded market.)
Choosing the right RV GPS for you is all about knowing what you want your GPS system to accomplish. Are you mostly just looking for a quick map to help you get to your destination as effectively as possible, or do you want fancy extras like a dash cam and the ability to connect to your smartphone and get your text messages? Importantly, how much does price matter?
That’s why, aside from specific features, our best suggestion for what to look for when buying an RV GPS is simple: great reviews! Seeing what others have said about their experience with a product is a great way to discover whether or not that product will work for you in the way you expect.
Where Can I Buy an RV GPS?
RV GPS systems are available from a wide range of vendors. You can find them at electronics specialty stores, like Best Buy, as well as camping stores like Camping World and others.
And, as is everything else in the universe, RV GPS systems are also available online through Amazon and other retailers. However, it can be helpful to be able to pick it up and hold it in your hands before you commit to a purchase, just to make sure you’re comfortable with how it works and that it’ll fit in your rig.
How to Use an RV GPS
While each RV GPS system will come with its own dedicated instructions, generally, using an RV GPS is simple. You’ll install the unit into your dashboard per the instructions — and with today’s technology, the installation may not be permanent, but rather an easily-detachable type that’ll let you take your GPS with you no matter how many RVs you rent or own.
Once your GPS is installed, you’ll be able to use it just as you would Google maps, or any other navigational tool you use on a regular basis, to route your trips and alert you to road obstacles, traffic, and potential nearby sites and attractions, all depending on what features the unit has loaded of course.
For the fullest picture of how to properly use your RV GPS and take advantage of all its available features, be sure to read your instruction booklet!
Other Factors to Consider When Buying an RV GPS
Once you’ve got an RV GPS, the journey’s only halfway done. Actually, if you really think about it, it hasn’t even begun yet!
Although routing is important, finding a destination (or three) in the first place is just as critical to your camping trip — and arguably a whole lot more fun.
There are so many wonderful places to discover in you motorhome or travel trailer, whether it’s a national park, state park, or one of the best campgrounds in your region. And no matter what part of the country you call home, there’s an amazing RVshare rental just waiting to whisk you away on your vacation — whether you’re looking for a towable rig, a drivable rig, or even delivery and setup.
Enjoy the journey! Isn’t it so much nicer now that you know where you’re going?
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