Best RV GPSes: Control Your Routing Preferences
Find the best route to your favorite camping destination with any of these RV GPS units.
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BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON August 12, 2021
Due to their weight and size, RVs need to navigate more carefully than regular cars and trucks. For that reason, standard GPS units may not efficient in selecting routes. That’s why you need a GPS unit designed specifically for RVs. To help you maneuver through sharp curves, narrow roads, lateral winds, and more, here’s our buying guide for the best RV GPS units.
A custom-routing GPS navigator with dual-screen orientation that uses your RV’s size and weight to map out the best route for you. It also includes voice-activated navigation and is compatible with smartphones.
- Intense color display
- Gives road warnings and alerts
- Includes public RV parks
- Software may crash
- Dashcam has a relatively narrow viewing angle
Enjoy fast and accurate tracking of your speed, navigation, and estimated arrival time with this GPS unit. It comes loaded with 2D and 3D maps for North America.
- Free lifetime map updates
- Intelligent route planning
- Must contact the manufacturer for map updates
- No Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
Easily read the eight-inch display on this RV-specific GPS unit. Use the built-in voice assistant for navigating custom pull-behind routes, points of interest, and road warnings.
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- RV specific routes, views, and lodging
- Low screen resolution
- Simplified maps
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy an RV GPS?
- Convenience. If you are a lone traveler, it may get hard to rely on your smartphone for directions. Furthermore, you may find yourself pulling your RV to the side a couple of times to read the information on your smartphone. Most RV GPS tablets typically have a larger screen than most smartphones, and you won’t have to strain your eyes to read the directions; the information is typically presented in a clear manner and in a well-lit background.
- Focus on the road. Some RV GPS systems come with voice command software, where the driver speaks out his intended destination, and the system speaks out the directions for the driver to follow. Therefore, the driver doesn’t have to keep on checking the screen for any changes in the route and can also experience hands-free calling via Bluetooth.
- Entertainment. Most GPS units have a large storage capacity where you can store your music for entertainment when you are on a road trip. Some have FM receivers that provide you with entertainment from your favorite radio stations, and with Bluetooth functionality, you can play the songs that are on your smartphone.
- Stay on the best roads. RVs are large and heavy, and for that reason, they need to stay on roads that will help the driver avoid low bridges, heavy traffic, narrow roads, weight limits, and roads with plenty of cyclists. Most GPS systems feature live traffic and weather updates, and you will always know what to expect on a specific route.
- Access the best RV amenities. Most RV GPS systems for travel come preloaded with millions of points of interest. They essentially help the driver access amenities such as hotels, restaurants, service shops, gas stations, recreational centers, and health centers.
This is the most popular type of GPS unit. It comes with a plug that you will hook into your RV. These units are nice because you can take them with you from one RV to another or use it in your car. Installing them is easier because you’ll mount them on a base that hooks to your dash or the window. They are the most affordable and come with a range of features. For more functionality, some plug-in models also have a battery backup.
This type of GPS unit requires you to install it into your RV permanently. It will be a screen that looks similar to a modern passenger car infotainment system. These are the systems that are most likely to have an Android-based operating system. They will also have more infotainment features beyond navigation. This is nice if you have the dashboard space for installation and are looking for more than just a GPS.
These are the most portable GPS units. You won’t find many RV GPS units that are solely battery-powered. However, there are some, and they are perfect if you plan to take your GPS with you on adventures once you reach the campground. Look for one with a powerful battery that will last several hours. It should also have a quick recharge time, so you aren’t stuck waiting for it to charge.
Founded in Kansas in 1989, Garmin is one of the most well-known brands in global positioning system technology. This company develops and manufacturers navigation technology for automotive, marine, aviation, outdoor, and fitness activities. The Garmin RV 1090 RV GPS Navigator will be the perfect addition to your next RV trip.
Founded in 1991, TomTom is a company that is known throughout the world for portable navigation. Its products are trusted for their reliable performance of satellite navigation. The TomTom - Go Comfort 6-Inch GPS with Built-In Bluetooth has a nicely sized screen and the connectivity you need.
Founded in 1856, Rand McNally began as a map, atlas, and globe company. As technology developed, it expanded the product line to include innovative navigational tools. Today its name is trusted for consumer drivers, commercial transportation, and education markets. The Rand McNally TND540 GPS Vehicle Navigation System has an impressive suite of features and reliable performance.
RV GPS Pricing
- Under $150: Most RV GPS systems at this price range only offer basic navigation features. You may find either some GPS tablets from a few high-end brands that are old versions or refurbished tablets.
- $150 to $300: Budget around this much if you are looking for a GPS unit that offers advanced navigation features with a few frills like voice-command software, live traffic updates, Bluetooth functionality, and a large storage capacity.
- $300 and up: This is the price range for most new and improved GPS tablets from high-end brands. The tablets carry an RV user-specific interface that’s meant to help an RV driver find the easiest, fastest, and most fuel-efficient route to their destination. However, most have a short battery life due to the extra features.
The size of the screen you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the amount of space you have available. GPS devices range in size from 3.5 to 10 inches. Generally, the larger the screen, the more expensive the GPS unit will be. Also, consider the screen resolution. The higher the resolution, the sharper the image will be on the screen. Most people like a larger screen because it shows more information and is easier to read. However, a small screen will be less distracting and fit in the cockpit area easier.
Don’t get stuck in unexpected delays from accidents, rush hour traffic, or another traffic-related incident. A GPS unit that gives you live traffic updating will help you avoid the gridlock and keep you on the move. The unit should be able to tell you the current road conditions and give you alternative routes that have less traffic. Advanced units will have features that help you to drive better, such as speed limit changes and traffic camera presence.
While nothing is stopping you from using any automotive GPS unit, some come with RV-specific features. These are nice to have because they make driving your RV easier and more enjoyable. Some units customize your route to suit the weight and size of your rig. Others provide you with RV points of interest, such as parking, fuel, and campgrounds.
- Portability. If you plan to rent or borrow your RV, then you’ll want a portable GPS that you can take with you. If you don’t have room in the dash for a permanent unit, then a portable one will also be easier to find a place for. You could also bring your portable RV GPS with you in your car for daily driving or shorter road trips.
- Updating. Roads are constantly changing, and you need your GPS to have the latest information for the most accurate navigation. Check whether or not the unit comes with free updating or requires you to pay. Then look at how often the manufacturer updates their maps. Some units are quick and easy to update by connecting to Wi-Fi, while others must be plugged into a computer.
- User Interface. If the user interface is confusing or the screen is unresponsive, then you’ll find the GPS hard to use. Some units use a familiar platform, such as Android. Others have a custom interface created by the manufacturer. Look at how you navigate through the menus, create a route, or add waypoints.
Best RV GPSes Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Avoid buying GPS systems with a gooseneck arm. They tend to vibrate a lot when the vehicle is in motion, and it gets worse when you get on a rough road. The tablet could also fall off and crack if the suction cup comes loose.
- Always ensure that your smartphone is within 33 feet from the GPS tablet if you would like to maintain a perfect connection between the two.
- Always ensure that your GPS device’s data communications are enabled to improve signal acquisition time. This will enable your device to give you an accurate estimation of your expected time of arrival and traffic updates in a given location.
Q: What general issues should I expect when using an RV GPS?
One common problem you may encounter with high-performance GPS navigation systems is short battery life. Also, some GPS systems have a loose micro SD slot and a poor display. Check if the product has a warranty or purchase a GPS tablet from a reputable source to avoid such inconveniences.
Q: Is an RV GPS reliable at camping sites with overgrown trees?
It depends on how good the signal receiver is. Some GPS systems perform poorly in areas with large trees, tall buildings, or tunnels, as they are blocked from getting a clear signal. However, if you have a portable GPS system, you could walk around before the battery dies and get to a higher or clear point where the GPS system can get a signal.
Q: What should I do if my smartphone doesn’t connect to the GPS?
If you are sure that the GPS unit is Bluetooth compatible, turn both your smartphone and the GPS off and turn them on again. Turn on the Bluetooth on your smartphone and try to reconnect it again. Alternatively, download the GPS system manufacturer’s app on your smartphone and try reconnecting to the GPS tablet via the app.
We chose the Garmin RV 785 GPS Navigator as our best pick since it is a top-quality product with a large screen and RV-specific routing technology.
For a more affordable option, the Ohrex GPS Navigation System won't let you down with its lifetime promise of free map updates and intelligent route planning. It can track your speed, navigation, and arrival time.