While traveling and/or living in an RV comes with fantastic benefits, sometimes, it can also be quite stressful. This is particularly true when you’re traveling to new places and have to navigate through narrow roads, sharp turns, low-hanging bridges and overhead tree branches. It doesn’t help that standard GPS units are not suitable for RVs due to the size and weight of recreational vehicles (nothing worse than a GPS taking you down a road that isn’t built for the size or weight of your RV!). Thankfully, you can make traveling and locating destinations much easier and safer by using proper RV GPS devices.
To help you pick the best RV GPS for your vehicle, we’ve researched and tested dozens of different models, outlining the most reliable, efficient and easy to use gadgets down below. And to further help you make an informed purchasing decision, we’ve put together a comprehensive buying guide which comes right after our detailed reviews. Sounds good? Then let’s get this show on the road!
Top 5 Picks
Garmin RV 785 Advanced GPS
TomTom Gps Trucker
Garmin RV 780 GPS Navigator
Xgody GPS Navigation
Rand McNally OverDryve RV GPS
Garmin RV 785 Advanced GPS Navigator for RVs
With a built-in dash camera and custom routing feature which takes the size and weight of your vehicle into account when mapping out your trip, the Garmin RV GPS 785 is undoubtedly one of the best RV GPS systems currently on the market. Providing warnings to keep you aware of sharp corners, steep grades, weight limits and more, this unit will keep you safe and sound on the road, no matter where you’re going. The Garmin RV GPS also comes with a directory of RV campsites, parks and services that RV-ers are bound to appreciate. Of course, the system also pairs with smartphones and tablets so it allows for hands-free calling and smart notifications. The only thing we’d change about the Garmin RV 785? The camera could have a wider angle.
- 7-inch high-res touch display, powered magnetic mount
- Built-in cam, records and saves footage in case of an accident
- Custom routing feature takes into account RV size and weight
- Provides road warnings for sharp turns, weight limits, etc.
- Hands-free features, directory of RV parks, campsites and services
TomTom Trucker 620 GPS Navigation
The TomTom RV GPS 620 is a solid choice for RV-ers looking for a budget-friendly RV navigation system. The unit comes with a bright 6-inch screen and is easy to mount on either dash or windshield thanks to its handy magnetic mount. The maps included can help you avoid traffic both in the USA and Canada, which is a big plus for those who love traveling outside the states. Of course, the GPS also connects to smartphones, tablets and PCs, and can be voice-controlled for hands-free usage. Most importantly, you can get customized RV routing to make your journeys more efficient. On the downside, the android app could use some work, and occasionally map updates may not work. Other than that, the TomTom 620 is a great affordable GPS for motorhomes and RVs.
- Bright 6″ touchscreen with a magnetic mount
- Customized routing for RV size, weight, cargo and speed
- USA and Canada maps and services
- Hands-free features, warnings about speed limits, traffic, etc.
- Compatible with Google Now and Siri
Garmin RV 780 GPS Navigator
The Garmin RV 780 is very similar to the Garmin 785 with one key difference: it comes without the built-in dash cam and, as a result, it’s cheaper than the 785 model. This device boasts all the usual features and benefits that one is expected to find in a Garmin GPS, including custom routing which takes your RV’s size and weight into account when mapping out the best routes, as well as a directory of RV parks and services. Of course, the system also provides road warnings to keep you ahead of weight limits, narrow roads, sharp turns and more. Needless to say, it connects to smartphones easily so hands-free calling, voice recognition and smart notifications are included.
- 95” touchscreen and suction cup mount
- Custom routing for your RV’s size and weight
- Includes directory of RV camps and services
- Road warnings to keep you safe on the road
- Connects to smartphones, hands-free features
Xgody 9-inch GPS Navigation
If you don’t care about brand names but still want the best tech for your RV or truck, check out Xgody GPS. With a 9-inch touchscreen and resolution of 800×480 pix, this handy little GPS unit gives a fantastic visual experience. Best of all, it has advanced lane guidance, showing you accurately which lane to take before you turn or advance an exit so you can always stay on the right path. The Xgody comes with all America maps, so not only do you get the USA maps, but Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Chile maps too – perfect for folks who often travel outside of the states. In addition to the smart route setting which shows you the fastest route, this GPS also shows rest stops, as well as gas and food stops as icons on the side of the screen (plus how many miles they’re away from you). On the negative side, instead of automatic map updates, you have to contact the company to be able to update them.
- Large 9” touch screen with a mounting bracket
- Route customization based on vehicle L, H and W, plus weight
- Advanced lane guidance and smart routing
- All America maps but no automatic updates
- Connects to smartphones, hands-free features
Rand McNally OverDryve 7 RV GPS
Rand McNally, the company that sells good old yearly paper road atlases, has their own rather excellent GPS navigation for RV. With a built-in dash cam and cutting-edge connected technology, the OverDryve 7 RV is one of the better ones out there. This device provides RV-specific routing based on the vehicle’s class, height and weight. To help prepare you for the road ahead and those sharp turns and complex interchanges, it has helpful features such as Advanced Lane Guidance, Junction View and Exists Ahead, plus Lifetime Maps and digital Road Atlas. Naturally, voice-enabled features are also there so you can call and text hands-free, as well as use the voice assistant to access your phone’s Google Now or Siri. The common complaint across all Rand Mcnally RV GPS reviews is that that the interface is designed rather non-intuitively and that the map updates are slow.
- 7” touch screen with a dash cam, magnetic mount
- Records incidents, allows for streaming music, podcasts, etc.
- RV-specific routing based on height, weight and class
- Advanced Lane Guidance, Exists Ahead and other helpful features
- Smartphone compatible, supports both Google Now and Siri
Garmin RV 760LMT Portable GPS Navigator
Another great RV and motorhome GPS by Garmin, the 760MLT unit comes equipped with a host of helpful features, including compatibility with the Garmin BC 20 wireless backup camera. Like all quality RV GPS devices, this model has specialized RV routing which is based on customizable restrictions of your vehicle, including its height, weight, length and width. It also features America’s RV parks and services directory, which combined with a smart response to verbal commands through extra-loud speakers, makes for a really handy device to have when on the road. Free lifetime map and traffic updates are also part of the package, and this includes not only the USA but Canada too. The 7-inch touch screen is big enough for most folks and the resolution is pretty great as well – 800 x 480 pixels. Overall, a solid GPS that’s well worth its price tag.
- 7” backlit touchscreen, suction cup mount
- Specialized RV routing based on height, weight, length and width
- Cautions include narrow roads, lateral wind, steep hill, state borders, etc.
- Lifetime map and traffic updates for America + RV-specific services and vendors
- Compatible with Garmin BC 20 back up camera, hands-free features
OHREX GPS Navigation for Truck & RV & Car
If you’re looking for an affordable RV GPS, we highly recommend checking out OHREX GPS Navigation that can be used on cars, RVs and trucks. This handy little device boasts optimized routings based on the size and weight of your vehicle, as well as the latest maps for the US, Canada and Mexico with free lifetime updates (no ads!). The directions and warnings about sudden turns, lane crossings, overhead trees, etc. are loud and clear, making it very helpful when encountering unexpected detours along a chosen route. The GPS also allows for intelligent route planning and lets you know about the estimated arrival time. The cons are that it is Windows-based, so map updating is not possible for Mac-only users. The screen could use some improvement as well as we found it was not bright enough for our liking when used during daytime.
- 7” touchscreen, suction cup mounting
- Optimized routing for RVs, trucks and cars based on size and weight
- US, Canada and Mexico maps with free lifetime updates
- Warnings about sudden turns, overhead trees, weight restrictions, etc.
- Windows-based only, not suitable for Mac users
Best RV GPS Buying Guide
Whether you’re an experienced RV-er who wants to upgrade their old Garmin, or you’re just starting your RV adventure and need an affordable but reliable GPS unit, you’ve come to the right place. In this buying guide, we not only review some of the best-selling GPS gadgets, but also talk about all things GPS, including of course how you can find the right one for your needs and budget. After all, there are almost as many GPS systems available as there are RVs nowadays, so picking out the best one can be tricky even for seasoned RVers. To help simplify your selection process, we give you our comprehensive buyer’s guide!
What is a GPS and How Does it Work?
Did you know that many folks don’t understand what a GPS system is or how it works even though they have been using it for years? If you’re one of them, don’t fret – this is the perfect place to learn all about this incredibly useful system.
So, first things first, GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a radio navigation system that is based on over 30 satellites that are currently orbiting the Earth. Developed by the U.S. government in 1978 to accurately determine geographical locations, GPS has many different uses today, including mapping of the world, helping with navigation, tracking, timing and location.
GPS is made up of three different parts – satellites, ground stations and receivers. In the past, people used constellations for orientation; today, we use satellites for this same reason. Each satellite carries a precise and accurate record of its time and position, and this information is utilized by the ground stations which use radio waves to make sure the satellites really are where we think they are (this works thanks to atomic clocks that satellites carry; they are synchronized not only with one another but also with ground stations). A receiver, which may come in the form of a phone or vehicle GPS, constantly listens for a signal from the satellites, using it to calculate where it is (the receiver) based on how long the signal took to travel.
And there you have it! From literally miles up in space, GPS can figure out your exact location on the ground!. Can you imagine what would the ancient sailors of history who used constellations in the night sky to figure out where they were think of our modern technology?! Our world may have some (serious) problems, but at least we always know where we are and where we’re going.
Different Types of GPS
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time we delve a bit deeper into the world of GPS. Remember, the more you know about a topic, the easier it is to pick the right product for your needs.
While there are over four types of GPS tracking, we’ll focus on three in this article because they’re the most relevant for us RV-ers.
- Street Navigation GPS
Street Navigation GPS is the type of unit that mounts on your vehicle’s dashboard or windshield. Alternatively, it can be built into the vehicle, but this is typically the case with newer and more expensive RVs. This type of navigation provides all the information you need for a safe and efficient journey, including turn-by-turn directions, traveling speed, estimated arrival time and traveled mileage. Street navigation GPS also comes with preloaded maps for your region and many can also be updated for international maps as well. These systems also provide data about where certain important locations and landmarks can be found, including airports, police departments, gas stations, hospitals, etc.
The best thing about this type of RV GPS is the fact that it can be programmed or personalized based on your vehicle’s specifications. This is what makes the Street Navigation Systems the best for RVs. After all, RV travel is quite different to car travel because you have to account for your vehicle’s size, height and weight. And if you haven’t guessed already, all of the RV GPS units we reviewed fall right into this category.
- Handheld GPS
Handheld GPS devices are highly useful for outdoor enthusiasts who love hiking, geocaching, hunting, and other outdoor activities. Handheld, this type of GPS is easy to use when you quickly need accurate information about your location. Whether you need topographic maps or info about elevation, this type of GPS is great to have with you as it can point you in the right direction. These devices also offer access to waypoints, marking things such as campsites, fishing sites, etc.
While you can use handheld GPS during your RV travels, we recommend setting it aside for when you’re actually out of your vehicle and exploring the trails and wilderness. Because it cannot be mounted, you either have to hold it in your hand while driving, which is most definitely not recommended, or place it somewhere on your dashboard where it can fall from if the road is bumpy.
- Marine GPS
Marine GPS units are transforming the boating world by providing superior control both to experienced sailors and beginners. They’re perfect for RV owners with boats as they provide important data not only about the location, but also underwater surveying, buoy placement, speed information, etc. This type of GPS also allows the user to save positions, as well as to string several waypoints together in order to create a route.
Obviously, marine GPS is not recommended for all RV-ers. However, if you’re a hard-core nature-lover or perhaps a passionate fisherman, we highly recommend getting a marine GPS along with your regular RV GPS – it will make your outdoor adventures so much safer.
Features to Look for in RV Navigation System
To get the best RV GPS for your vehicle, pay special attention to the following things.
Getting the right-sized RV navigation system is crucial. While you can and indeed should mostly rely on audio cues from your GPS, you also have to have a visual confirmation of the audible directions. Therefore, your new device should be easy to read while you’re driving. Obviously, a large display helps with this – the bigger it is, the quicker you’ll be able to confirm your directions with a glance. However, bear in mind that a larger GPS takes more space on a dashboard than a smaller one; in fact, too large, and the gadget may block your view, which is definitely something you want to avoid. Having said this, we still recommend getting a device that is at least six inches across.
Most modern RV and trailer GPS devices allow you to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology, but we still recommend double-checking that the model you’re eyeing has this feature. A GPS that can be easily connected to a smartphone provides the ability to smoothly interface with the gadget: you can call and answer your phone through your RV’s speakers, redirect your route using voice-activated navigation, pull up a podcast to pass the time while on the road, and so much more. Not to mention, with a GPS that connects to your smartphone, you’ll also have access to real-time traffic updates, as well as weather information about the place you’re traveling to.
Your new RV GPS should also have an intuitive and user-friendly design, meaning it should come with simple features and controls that are easy and quick to learn to use. Getting a device with complex controls and features is not recommended (even if the GPS is otherwise excellent) because there’s a higher chance that your focus will shift from the road to the device, which is never a good thing. Pay attention to the touchscreen operation in specific, as it should be simple and quick to use. Of course, look for voice-operated software as well (all of the products on our top list are smartphone-connected and voice-operated).
Traffic and Campground Info
If your GPS can connect to your phone, you should have real-time traffic updates, which we highly recommend. This is a useful feature to have in general, but can be particularly beneficial for those who like taking their RV out to relax, meaning folks who’d like to avoid traffic at all costs. A good RV GPS should also contain nearby camping information – particularly useful if you’re not a huge fan of planning and like taking last-minute vacays.
Finally, pay attention to the installation methods when shopping for a new RV GPS. Ideally, the gadget should have multiple mounting options, but this is not a must-have. What is, though, is a device that is easy to install. Obviously, this will depend on your preferences – if you prefer a windshield mount, it only makes sense to look at units with windshield mount installation; the same goes if you prefer a suction cup. Another thing to look out for is a steady arm. After all, you want your GPS to remain stable even when you’re driving over very bumpy and bouncy roads.
Why You Should Invest in RV GPS Unit
If you’re still on the fence about buying a navigation system specially designed for an RV, here are a few advantages that come with RV GPS units that may help you make up your mind.
Easier travel for lone-travelers
While an RV GPS can make anyone’s life and travel easier, it is especially convenient for lone travelers. As anyone who has ever traveled all by themselves can tell you, relying on a smartphone for directions can get hard quickly when you’re alone, and you may even have to pull your RV to the side a few times in order to read the directions on your phone. A proper GPS for motorhomes and RVs has a much larger screen, allowing you to read the info easily and quickly, without straining your eyes.
Better focus on the road
Most modern GPS gadgets come with voice command software, meaning you don’t have to check your phone for directions or type anything – you can simply speak your intended destination and your GPS will speak out the directions you can follow. This feature also allows for hands-free calling (via Bluetooth tech), which is a big plus in case you have to make/take any important calls. Needless to say, when you don’t have to check your phone every 15 minutes for directions, you become much better focused on the road ahead of you.
Access to RV parks and services
RV and motorhome GPS devices typically come preloaded with hundreds upon hundreds of points of interest that RV-ers are bound to appreciate, including nearby campsites and parks, gas stations, dumping sites, recreational centers and more. This can be of huge help whether you’re traveling alone or with someone, but is especially helpful if you’re RV-ing with your family and kids.
Another great thing about RV GPS gadgets is that nowadays they come with a large storage capacity which you can use to store your music or anything else you like having with you while on the road. They also allow for downloading your favorite apps for streaming podcasts, so you can stay informed and entertained while you’re traveling. Highly recommend!
The main difference between a car and RV GPS is that the latter takes into account your RV’s size, including its height and weight. This feature is super helpful when you encounter low-hanging branches or bridges that cannot support your weight as the GPS will warn you ahead of time. GPS units for RVs also contain important waypoints, such as campsites and dump stations, which can make your travel (and life) so much easier.
While you can certainly use a navigation app on your phone, we strongly recommend getting a proper RV GPS if you’re a lone traveler. Smartphone displays are nowhere near large enough for you to easily and quickly read directions while focusing on the road, which can and probably will cause you to occasionally pull your vehicle on the side to properly read the directions. Not to mention, straining your eyes to read a small display and getting distracted will put you and other people on the road at risk. This said, if you’re traveling relatively short distances and you’re with other people who can read the directions for you, a phone app can indeed do the trick.
Most RV navigation systems come with lifetime updates nowadays and we highly recommend taking advantage of this feature. By keeping your GPS updated, you’ll ensure it remains current, which means it will always show relevant information and changes. For instance, if there was road work done in the last few weeks, your updated GPS will show the change while a non-updated gadget will not. To update your GPS, simply connect it to WiFi and select the update option which is usually found under settings.
Even with the best GPS for RV, you may occasionally experience an issue or two. Sometimes, updates may not work, other times your battery may deplete too quickly. To counteract these problems, try updating your maps several times and if the unit still won’t cooperate, email the manufacturer and ask for a solution (often, the GPS that refuses to update one day will miraculously update the next day). To avoid battery problems, do check the battery well in advance of your trip.
Because many camping sites have tall and large trees, some RV GPS devices may struggle to get a clear signal (this is also the case with areas with many tall buildings or tunnels). This, of course, depends on the GPS model and how clear or wooded the camping site is. This is when portable or handheld GPS gadgets can come in handy.