Best GPS For Off Road Jeep Reviews

Best GPS For Offroad Use Review

Many drivers have come to rely on GPS for directions. It is so easy and convenient to use. Nowadays it is almost impossible to get totally lost anywhere in America with an operational GPS.

What happens when you go off the road? This is when you need the most help because there are no landmarks and you could drive for miles with no human habitation in sight. This is why GPS devices specifically for off-roading are so important.

There are so many brands in the market and new models appear every month. Manufacturers are constantly working to improve their products. It can be difficult to find the perfect GPS for your off-roading experience.

In a Hurry?
A Quick View of “THE” Most Popular GPS devices

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:


Garmin Overlander

My personal choice for all of my vehicles. The Garmin overlander has not been around long as it was only introduced in 2020. It is a massive GPS unit with a strong and much better designed than most GPS units designed to be used in a motor vehicle.

With recent updates the device can also view “hunt view” maps, which was not included on the original release. This alone makes it far more useful than it originally was as you no longer need a handheld device.

An excellent piece of kit with a mix of good and poor reviews. Please check the geniune reviews before you purchase any GPS device to ensure it fits the bill that you want it for.

Garmin 010-02195-00 Overlander On/Off-Road Navigator GPS with Built-in Bluetooth Bundle with 2X Tactical Emergency Paracord Bracelet, Hard EVA Case and Dual DC12V/24V Multifunction Car Socket


Garmin GPSMAP 64st

If you have had the experience of getting lost when you and your friends are on what was supposed to be a fun off-roading trip, you know you need a reliable GPS device like this one.

This device is small enough for you to hold it firmly in one hand and use your other hand to do something else. It weighs only 230 grams (with batteries) so you will barely feel the weight even if you have it in your hand for hours.

It has a set of intuitive buttons which some users say are more convenient to use than touchscreen buttons. The screen is relatively large, at 2.6 inches, you can easily see everything displayed on it without having to squint. Screen clarity is above average with a display resolution of 160 x 240 pixels.

The screen is also sunlight readable so you can see everything clearly even if the sun is very bright.  The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is powered using a dual battery system and has 16 hours of battery life. This device uses a multidirectional antennae which works in conjunction with inbuilt sensors and systems to tell you exactly where you are and where you are headed.

Also included in this device is a camera. Yes, the manufacturers saved you the hassle of having to carry a camera to capture memorable moments and scenic sights which often come with these trips.

It also has Bluetooth, Ant and USB connectivity which you can use to share those beautiful pictures you take with friends and family.  Internal memory to store all this media is 8GB so you can take lots of pictures.

  • Sunlight Readable 2.6 inches color display. Display size : 1.43 x 2.15 inches and 2.6 inch diag (6.6 centimeter). Battery life : 16 hours. Water rating IPX7
  • Expanded Internal Memory 8GB.Display resolution 160 x 240 pixels. Interface: high speed USB and NMEA 0183 compatible
  • DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries (best with Polaroid AA batteries), or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be charged while inside the device.Weight 8.1 ounce (230 grams) with batteries
  • Receive Smart Notifications* and pair with optional ANT+ sensors, such as heart rate monitor, Tempe temperature sensor, speed/cadence, or use to control your VIRB action camera (64s/64st only)
  • Wirelessly upload data to Garmin Connect and view on smartphone, plus share activities as they happen with Live Track (64s/64st only). 3 axis compass with barometric altimeter.Routes:200

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

Key Features

  • Dual battery system with 16 hours battery life
  • Weights 230 grams (8.1 oz)
  • Internal memory of 8GB

Pros

  • Sunlight readable screen
  • Relatively small
  • Has USB, Ant and Bluetooth connectivity

Sale
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S....
  • Sunlight Readable 2.6 inches color display. Display size :...
  • Expanded Internal Memory 8GB.Display resolution 160 x 240...
  • DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries...

View price on Amazon

If this is unavailable due to the current circumstances take a look at the Garmin inReach Explorer.


Magellan TRX7 CS Trail & Street Navigator with RAM Windshield Mount

 

This Magellan device has a 7 inch, high definition touchscreen display so you can easily see everything displayed without any strain on your eyes. It is water, shock and dust resistant which makes it great for off-roading trips in the rain and dust.

If you don’t have a co-driver to hold the device when you need to have both your hands firmly on the wheel, it can get difficult to keep the device upright. This is where the windshield mount comes in handy. Simply place it in the mount and keep glancing at it to make sure you are on the right track without having to let go of the steering wheel.

This navigation device also has an inbuilt camera so you can capture those amazing, once-in-a lifetime moments. It is preloaded with more than 100,000 off-highway trails and gives you spoken turn-by-turn navigation so it is unlikely that you could get lost with it as your guide.

If also comes with a warranty. Warranties always make a buyer feel more confident about a product. If something goes wrong with the device, you can have it repaired. If it can’t be repaired, you can get a replacement.

Key Features

  • Inbuilt camera
  • 7 inch HD touchscreen display
  • 100,000+ off-highway trails preloaded

Pros

  • Water, dust and shock resistant
  • Warranty available
  • Has windshield mount

Magellan TN1705SGLU EXPLORIST...
  • TN1705SGLU
  • Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H) 5.00 x 5.00 x 5.00...

View price on Amazon


Trail Tech 912-4010 Voyager Stealth Black Moto-GPS Computer

 

This is much like a mini-computer. With it, you never have to worry about getting lost, no matter where you go. It is easy to handle in your hands because it weighs only 1.4 pounds and has dimensions of 4 x 4 x 1 inches.

It has a 240 x 400 WQVGA LCD screen with an LED backlight which is used to light the display if you need to use the device in the dark. The screen displays a compass, distance, altitude and maps and is customizable so suit your personal preferences.

One unique feature in the Trail tech voyager, is ‘smart logging’ which works by logging trails only when the vehicle is in motion. When you stop, the GPS trail logging also stops. This way the system doesn’t record unwanted or random data points when you are not driving.

A track manager allows you to view the trail you are on, and if you would like to share it, you can do so in 3D.

This device can be used to gather other information besides directions. You can keep track of both atmospheric and engine temperatures by recording engine temperatures in track data points. A waterproof MicroSD card allows you to download and share trail maps online. You can also use this to review the performance of your engine through a diagnostic screen on the GPS.

Key Features

  • Smart logging
  • Track manager
  • Weight – 1.4 pounds and dimensions – 4 x 4 x 1 inches

Pros

  • LED backlight
  • Waterproof SD card
  • Gives details on direction, speed, altitude, temperature

Trail Tech Voyager Pro...
  • Off-road GPS with 4 inch color touchscreen anti-glare...
  • Color navigation screen, topography maps and hill shading,...
  • Tracks speed in mph using the GPS or wheel sensor; displays...

View price on Amazon


Garmin eTrex 20x

 

This is a handheld navigation device which gives you 25 hours of battery life and a large internal memory. On top of basic GPS functions, this device can hold up to 2000 waypoints and about 200 routes.  It has the basic map and can also upload TOPO maps. You can store and display useful information like locations, terrains, descriptions and hints to help you find any location.

You can be assured of accuracy because it can use both GPS and GLONASS satellite networks. The two can be utilized simultaneously and with this you can afford to get lost literally anywhere in the world and still find your way home. For users who would like to download geocaches to their devices, this is a good option. It supports geocaching GPX files which are essential for these downloads.

It is also incorporated with HotFix satellite prediction as well as WAAS – enabled GPS receivers which speeds things up when locating positions. GPS locations are maintained even when you find yourself in deep canyons.

Key Features

  • Can utilize GPS and GLONASS satellite network simultaneously
  • 25 hours battery life
  • Large internal memory – can hold 2000 waypoints and 200 routes

Pros

  • Preloaded with base map and allows loading of more maps
  • High accuracy
  • Can be used globally

Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS...
  • UPGRADED DISPLAY - Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight...
  • LOAD MORE MAPS - Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD...
  • PRELOADED BASEMAP - Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded...

View price on Amazon


TR5 Trail and Street GPS Navigator

 

The TR5 Trail and Street GPS Navigator has a 5 inch touch screen display which allows you to see everything on it clearly. It is made with an inbuilt battery which you can recharge and get 1 hour of battery life.

This device gives you precise GPS routing and the ability to start tracking as you drive on the base map. With the simple touch of a button, you can record your track, save your way points and personal observations.

The Magellan Backtrack feature makes sure you have your adventure and get back home safe. If you are not sure you will be able to find your way back out of a trail with many twists and turns, this feature will come in handy. With a single click, the system guides you back through the same rout used, right back to the starting point.

It is preloaded with U.S and Canada maps so you are safe even when you cross the border. Also preloaded are more than 115,000 off-highway trails and more than 6 million points of interest with spoken turn-by-turn navigation.  Who said you don’t have points of interest of your own?

You do and they should be recorded. With this device you can add hundreds of custom points of interest. It has a map which shows you 2 dimensional views with contour lines and 3 dimensional terrain views with land features.

Key Features

  • 5 inch touch screen display
  • Spoken turn-by-turn navigation
  • Both trail and street navigation
  • Has headphone jack
  • Built in rechargeable battery

Pros

  • Magellan backtrack
  • Off-track notification
  • S and Canada map preloaded

Magellan TR5 Street and GPS...
  • 5", 800 x 400 resolution color touchscreen
  • Turn-by-turn trail & Street navigation
  • Preloaded with over 115, 000 authorized OHV 4WD, ATV,...

View price on Amazon


Garmin Oregon 650t GPS

 

The Garmin Oregon 650t GPS is one of the most popular devices for off-roading. It’s easy to see why. It has a 3 inch multi-touchscreen display which can be used even under very bright light.  You can choose to use the screen using portrait or landscape orientation view. To power the device, there is a rechargeable NiMH battery pack and if that runs out, not to worry. The device is compatible with AA batteries. You need a pair of these to get it powered up again.

It is fitted with three terrain sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer and barometric altimeter) and a dual-band satellite positioning system (GPS and GLONASS.) With these you can get the most accurate topological mapping no matter where you are.

Other features you will love are an 8MP autofocus camera to easily capture all the wonderful moments. Bluetooth technology is available to share pictures or routes with friends.

Key Features

  • 3-inch multi touch screen
  • 3 sensors
  • Dual band satellite positioning
  • 8MP camera

Pros

  • 8MP autofocus camera
  • Dual battery system
  • Dual orientation viewing

Sale
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch...
  • 3-Inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display with...
  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric...

View price on Amazon


Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator

 

This hand-held navigator has a high resolution screen with 240 x 320 pixels to ensure you see and read everything without much strain. The screen displays essential information like locations, terrains, detailed descriptions and even hints to help you locate different locations.

It has a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. You don’t have to worry about running out of memory space. This device has internal memory of 3.7 GB, and if this is not enough you can increase storage space using a microSD card. With this you can add maps to the preloaded base map and store them for later use.

Store various coordinates in the memory and use them during another trip without having to enter them manually. This eliminates the risk of making small errors when entering coordinates manually.

This high-sensitivity GPS receiver is WAAS-enabled and has HotFix satellite prediction which facilitates exceptionally fast location of your destinations. These features also assure you never loose direction even when you are in deep tunnels. It utilizes both GPS and GLONASS satellites which can be used simultaneously.

Key Features

  • Internal memory of 3.7 GB with SD card slot
  • Screen display – 240 x 320 pixels
  • Preloaded base map

Pros

  • Can utilize both GPS and GLONASS simultaneously
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Handheld

Sale
Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS...
  • UPGRADED DISPLAY Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight...
  • LOAD MORE MAPS Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD...
  • PRELOADED BASEMAP Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded...

View price on Amazon


Factors to Consider When Buying an Off-Road GPS

Free For Life Lifetime Updates

A lot of manufacturers offer lifetime updates that are free for life. This means there will be no charges for updates for your machine. This is important as some manutacturers do charge yearly for their updtes. Please note, that lifetime updates is for the lifetime of the GPS. That means that they will eventually stop providing updates when they bring something out that supercedes the older model. That is normally around 10 years from experience.

Accurate Topographic Mapping

Accuracy of topographic mapping is especially important for off-roading. Choose a GPS system which informs you when you are approaching geographical features, 4WD trails or unsealed roads. 4WD tracks are those which have been vetted by other drivers and are considered safe.

Your GPS should be able to guide you even when you want to do some off-road exploring. It should clearly map out contour lines, unsealed roads, and geographical features. It should warn you about things like rocky terrain, swampy spots, river beds and the like which you could get stuck in if you are caught unaware.

Landmarks and Points of Interest

One of the most important elements of what makes a great and a not-so-great off-roading trip is the ability to plan ahead.

Standard GPS systems used in cities and urban areas generally show you landmarks and other points of interest which you can stop at or if nothing else, use as identifiers to confirm that you are on the right track. These may be major roads, parks, buildings, institutions and the like.

When you are out in the jungle there are none of these. Your GPS system should be able to guide you using points of interest like lodges, camp sites, viewing points and fuel stations.

Having prior knowledge of where such points are not only helps you know what to expect to see as you drive along, it also helps you plan where you can have a meal, spend a night and most importantly, refuel your thirsty jeep. Knowing where the scenic views are also helps you plan where to take some great shots to remind you of the trip many years to come.

Turn by turn directions

This feature is most useful when you are driving alone. There is no co-driver to keep their eye on the GPS screen as you keep your eyes and hands on the road. It gives you visual and spoken directions which keep you on track; continually giving you the best route to your destination.

Battery system and life

Imagine investing in a GPS device to make sure you never lose your way, only to go out on the road and it dies on you. This is why battery systems and battery life of a device are such an important consideration.

Some GPS devices have an inbuilt battery which you must remember to charge before your trip. Others are powered by removable but rechargeable batteries which should also be fully charged before you depart. In some devices, there is more than one powering option.

They could have an inbuilt battery and slots for alkaline batteries which serve as a backup.  The most important thing is to know exactly how your GPS is powered so you know if you need to charge them beforehand. If alkaline batteries can be used, always have a pair or two handy in your bag.

Also think about the weather conditions likely to be prevalent where you are going. Although alkaline batteries are generally best, lithium ion batteries perform best in extreme cold temperatures. That said, remember lithium ion batteries are more expensive than alkaline ones.

Another detail to keep in mind is what you can do to conserve battery power on the GPS device. When you are running low on battery power but can’t afford to switch it off completely what do you do? You can turn off its magnetic compass. This consumes less power and it still continues to collect GPS navigation information from satellites.

Non-essential features like auto-routing and the screen backlight can be kept off when they are not needed.

Memory Space

Always check how much internal storage space the GPS has before you buy. The more the space the better. More importantly, check to see that it has an SD or micro-SD slot for additional storage space.

It will usually be hidden behind the batteries. The extra space comes in handy to store more maps, screenshots and even photographs. Portable memory also allows you to transfer information like waypoints and routes from your PC to GPS and vice versa.


FAQs

What does GPS stand for?

The abbreviation means Global Positioning system. As its name suggests, it is a system which allows you to know exactly where you are.

How does GPS work?

The system is a constellation of about 30 satellites which orbit the earth. The GPS devices we use act as receivers which figure out how far they are from some of the satellites. When the receiver calculates how far it is from four or more satellites, it knows exactly where you are. For most equipment, the accuracy is somewhere between 10 and 100 meters.

Does GPS need internet connection to work?

No it doesn’t.  The system uses pre-loaded maps to navigate.

How long does a GPS last?

The average lifespan of a device like this is estimated by factoring the life of its major components. It is depicted as the number of operational hours before failures set in. Using these specifics, one major manufacturer of GPS devices lists operational time before failures as at least 10,000 hours. This translates to a lifetime of about 10 years.

Most users however, say their devices last between 6 and 7 years.

Are dedicated off-road GPS devices better than my smartphone?

Smartphones actually work just as well as dedicated devices. You get all the functions on a separate device like landmarks or points of interest and topographic mapping.

What you may not get on a smart phone but can get from a dedicated device can be obtained on a smartphone by purchasing additional applications. These allow you to record you off-road trail and geo-tag photos. This way you can share your experience with friends quickly and easily.

What is GLONASS?

GLONASS (the word comes from Global Navigation Satellite System) is a satellite navigation system based in space. It operates as part of a radionavigation-satellite service and is an alternative to GPS. GLONASS is the second navigational system with global coverage with precision comparable to GPS.

GLONASS or GPS, which on is better?

When it comes to positional accuracy, GPS is on the overall, slightly better than GLONASS. The US has committed to maintain at least 24 GPS satellites approximately 95% of the time.

GLONASS satellites are positioned differently compared to GPS ones. This makes GLONASS give better accuracy at high latitudes that is in the far north and far south.

Who owns GPS?

GPS is owned and operated by the United States government. It is a national resource under the stewardship of The Department of Defense which carries the primary responsibility to develop, operate, sustain and modernize the system.  It is funded by the American taxpayer.


Conclusion

Nothing would dampen your spirits more than heading off the road for a fun day out only to lose your way. By the time the sun is fading into the horizon you still don’t know where you are or how to get out of this jungle.

GPS devices can make all the difference. Our analysis found the Garmin GPSMAP 64st to be the best choice, with specific consideration to off-roaders. It gives you 16 hours of battery life so you don’t have to worry about finding a power source to recharge it for many miles. It is small and light which makes it easy to handle and has USB, Ant and Bluetooth capability.

Next time you are planning a trip off the tarmac, make sure you have one of these by your side.  Don’t forget to charge it up before you leave.

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Cyborg
Steven Reilly is a qualified mechanic and his passion for cars goes beyond just the technical aspects. He is also an amateur racer and all round car enthusiast. When he is not driving them, he can often be found in his garage under the hood of a rare model. Steven Reilly has lost track of the number of hours he has spent setting up his fine collection of rebuilt models. He believes that cars can provide a constructive and fun opportunity to teach the youth important life skills. In line with this, he is developing a community outreach program, potentially dubbed ‘Cars for change'.
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