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Don’t Get Lost: Use One of These Off-Road GPS Units

When you’re adventuring into the unknown and heading off the beaten path, an off-road GPS device is your best ally.

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BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON May 19, 2022

When navigating a route during an outdoor adventure, you want to find a location easily and efficiently. We’ve gathered a wide range of information in the following buying guide to help you find the best off-road GPS. Whether you purchase one of our top picks or not, the resources included in this review will steer you on the right track, so you can get where you need to go.


Getting off the highway, familiar city streets, or even terrain you’ve traveled before to do some off-roading is fun but only if you don’t wind up lost. Off-roading can throw some surprises your way, whether in the twists and turns of the natural terrain or in a total lack of cell signal and WiFi. And both can leave you searching for a new route to navigate your way back to your starting point. 


But being in an area that’s far from strong cell service doesn’t have to lead to getting lost. With an off-road GPS, you can easily stick to your map, know where you are, and map out your routes. Filled with features that are beneficial to off-roaders, these more specialized GPS units, and apps will help you plot, plan, and find your way anywhere. We’re sharing our top picks for off-road GPS units below.

Best Overall

onX Offroad

Summary
A comprehensive and wonderfully detailed smart GPS mapping app that allows you to have deep insight even when you’re far from traditional roads.
Pros
  • Three different types of map views
  • Custom, photo-based waypoints
  • Offers trail info, status, and surrounding boundaries
Cons
  • Requires a monthly or annual subscription fee
Best Value

Trail Tech Voyager GPS

Summary
Streamlined and affordable, this off-road GPS unit allows you to use any offline maps to find your way over all types of terrain.
Pros
  • Can use maps from any GPS or map apps source
  • Backlit screen that’s easy to read in sunlight or darkness
  • Works effortlessly offline
Cons
  • Very small screen
  • May be too simplified for some
Honorable Mention

Garmin Overlander GPS All-Terrain Navigator

Summary
This advanced off-road GPS device provides both traditional navigation and topographic mapping, plus a whole host of features.
Pros
  • Allows for street and off-road mapping
  • Syncs with other devices for off-road communication
  • Colorful, easy-to-read large display
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Some features can be unnecessary
Don’t Get Lost: Use One of These Off-Road GPS Units

Our Methodology

To identify and highlight the best off-road GPS devices, we dove into the wide selection of different options, from navigation devices that can be installed in off-road vehicles to smartphone mapping apps. We focused on those items and apps that were made specifically for off-road adventures, with features like downloadable maps that can be used offline, topographic mapping, waypoints and pin positioning, turn-by-turn navigation, and the ability to communicate with other riders or drivers. We also considered extra features that could be particularly helpful for off-roading, like easy-to-read screens and maps that include land boundaries. And we looked to users’ reviews to understand just how each off-road GPS performed in real-world settings. 

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.

Learn more

Best Off-Road GPS Reviews & Recommendations

Best Off-Road GPS Overall
onX Offroad
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Specs

  • Brand: onX
  • Type of Maps: Topographic, aerial, and hybrid
  • Offline Functionality: Yes

Pros

  • Unlimited offline map saving
  • Set custom waypoints
  • Includes trails, update trail status, and government lands
  • 3D maps with the ability to create photo waypoints

Cons

  • Requires a monthly or annual subscription

When it comes to off-road GPS mapping that’s up-to-date, easy to use, and completely comprehensive, it’s hard to top the offerings of onX Offroad. This smartphone-based GPS navigator app delivers almost everything off-road enthusiasts need, from a variety of maps that allow you to see what you’ll be traversing to the ability to set photo-based customized waypoints to tracking. Plus, with the ease of saving unlimited offline maps, this smart app ensures you never have to worry about being caught without a cell signal. You’ll also enjoy trail info and updated trail status, plus land boundaries and government land identification so you know where and what you’re near.

The only downside is that there’s not an initial investment you can pay once. Instead, you’ll have to sign up for a monthly or annual membership and pay as long as you use the app. It’s a bit more of a long-term expense compared to a traditional GPS unit.

Specs

  • Brand: Trail Tech
  • Type of Maps: 3D
  • Offline Functionality: Yes

Pros

  • Can upload and display maps from any GPS system
  • Works without Wi-Fi or cell signal
  • Provides speed, distance, compass, altitude, and temperature data
  • Tracks accurately, even over rough terrain

Cons

  • Not a full-color or high-tech unit
  • May be too simplified for some

You don’t have to get fancy when you’re off-roading; rather, a simple GPS unit like the Trail Tech Voyager GPS can help you map your location and have fun without getting lost. This device is compact and rugged, able to survive anything you might throw its way with crash-resistant housing and screen. Its display is customizable, and it provides accurate data while it’s connected to your vehicle’s battery or utilizing its own built-in battery power. While its maps aren’t complex or even available in color, this off-road GPS allows you to upload the maps you need right to it, giving you the freedom to use your favorite mapping source and access location insight even when you aren’t connected to cell signal, WiFi, or anything else. And its affordable price makes it a value-rich pick.

The downside, however, is that you really don’t get much in the way of extra features. Mapping is very simple and low-tech, and it may be too simplified for off-roaders who want additional information.

Specs

  • Brand: Garmin
  • Type of Maps: Street and topographic
  • Offline Functionality: Yes

Pros

  • Switches from turn-by-turn navigation to topographic maps
  • Integrated pitch and roll angles, plus customized info based on your vehicle
  • Built-in rechargeable battery
  • Can be paired with other devices for satellite messaging, weather updates, and SOS alerts

Cons

  • Some of the extra features may not be helpful
  • Expensive

The Garmin Overlander GPS All-Terrain Navigator is built for off-roading needs, without sacrificing any smart tech. This highly capable device can map out turn-by-turn navigation on city streets and highways, but it’ll switch to topography maps so you can stay accurate with your location while off-roading. And it’ll help you navigate all types of terrain with detailed insight like pitch and roll angles based on your vehicle’s size, a compass, an altimeter, and a barometer. The rechargeable battery makes powering up easy, and the adaptable mount lets you bring this GPS unit anywhere. Plus, you can pair this Garmin off-road GPS with other devices and communicators to text, send SOS alerts, and get weather updates — and you’ll also get key land boundary info and trail insight too.

The biggest drawback is the expensive price of this GPS, which is higher than many others. Additionally, some of the features may not be necessary or the most helpful.

Specs

  • Brand: Magellan
  • Type of Maps: Street, trail, and topographic
  • Offline Functionality: Yes

Pros

  • Includes more than 100,000 trails for ATVs, 4WD, motorcycles, and snowmobiles
  • Day and night display settings for easy reading
  • Turn-by-turn street and trail navigation
  • Pair with TRX smartphone app for additional features

Cons

  • Not everyone may need the social features

If you’re looking for an off-roading GPS device that offers a wealth of high-tech features, the Magellan TR7 Trail and Street GPS Navigator is both a turn-by-turn device and a camera, plus a smartphone accessory. This capable device offers both street mapping and navigation and trail mapping, providing you with more than 100,000 trails for everything from ATVs to snowmobiles. As you set out on trails (or off), the built-in rotatable camera lets you record your travels, and it automatically starts recording as you approach trails. Plus, you can try out more than 160,000 OHV and user-generated trails filmed by fellow Magellan users. And if you pair this GPS device with the TRX (no, not the RAM) app for smartphones, you can log your off-roading trips and keep up with the community of users online, sharing your recordings, trails, tracks, and more.

However, if you aren’t big on recording your off-road adventures or don’t really need the community-based features of this GPS and separate smartphone app, this device may be overkill. It’s filled with extras, but they may not be extras that help you navigate.

Specs

  • Brand: Garmin
  • Type of Maps: Street, trail, and topographic
  • Offline Functionality: Yes

Pros

  • Extra-large, extra-bright display
  • Preloaded topography plus turn-by-turn trail navigation
  • Includes points of interests and Ultimate Public Campgrounds locations
  • Custom street routing

Cons

  • Extra features require a separate monthly subscription

If you’ve long wished your current GPS had more features and a bigger screen, the Garmin Tread XL Overland Edition GPS Navigator just might have you covered. This larger unit offers a 10-inch ultra-bright display so you can see every detail clearly. It features rugged housing for protection against the outdoor elements, and you’ll enjoy turn-by-turn navigation on city streets as well as select unpaved roads and rails. You can also set custom routing, which factors in the size and weight of your vehicle. The best features, though, are the preloaded topography maps and the ability to get points of interest and Ultimate Public Campgrounds for easy destination navigation without any satellite signal. If you want, you can even sync your smartphone to track friends and plan group rides.

The only downside — beyond the high price — of this off-road GPS unit is that extra features can require an additional monthly subscription. That can be a frustrating added expense for details like smartphone pairing or group communication.

Specs

  • Brand: Garmin
  • Type of Maps: Topographic and satellite imagery
  • Offline Functionality: Yes

Pros

  • Created for side-by-side, ATV, and snowmobile off-roading
  • Preloaded topography
  • Withstands extreme terrains, temperatures, and weather
  • Includes push-to-talk fist mic and radio communication

Cons

  • In some areas, available snowmobile and ATV trails may not be mapped

You don’t need to carry multiple devices to stay in touch with your group on off-road adventures; the Garmin Tread Powersport Off-Road GPS Navigator with Ride Radio gives you directional insight as well as radio communication capability. This all-in-one device is built for use on side-by-side, ATV, and snowmobile adventures, and it’s constructed to survive everything from the bumps of extreme terrain to changing temperatures to extreme weather. As you ride, you’ll be able to use topographic maps of North America, which include public land boundaries, U.S. Forest Service Roads, and trails. Plus, you can get downloadable BirdsEye Satellite Imagery if you plan before heading out, too. As an added bonus, the built-in radio and push-to-talk fit mic will keep you in touch with your friends.

You may find, however, that not all snowmobile or ATV trails in certain areas are completely mapped out with this GPS.

Our Verdict on Off-Road GPS Devices

Convenient, easy-to-use, and totally comprehensive, onX Offroad is one of the best options for off-road GPS needs. Plus, you can get insight right on your smartphone with this trail mapping app. If you’re looking for an option that’s affordable and value-rich, the Trail Tech Voyager GPS is a great streamlined and simple GPS unit.

What to Consider When Buying Off-Road GPS Devices

Before you rely on just any off-road GPS unit or app to guide you off highways and roads, you’ll want to make sure you’re bringing along a product that can really deliver. Here’s what to keep in mind as you consider and compare different options.

Use Your Smartphone

While you may not get full-strength service — or even reliable service — while off-roading, it’s totally possible to rely on your smartphone as a GPS. You can even use your good ol’ maps app; just keep in mind that it isn’t really designed for off-roading, and you’ll have to download maps of the areas you’re headed to, just in case you lose service.

A step up from your maps app is downloading an off-roading GPS app, like onX Offroad. These apps are specifically made to guide you while off-roading, which means you’ll get an advantage — and more specific information tailored to your needs — as you ride over trails, public lands, and national parks and their territories. Plus, these apps will allow you to download maps before you head out into the unknown, which is a great workaround for lost cell service. And your phone might surprise you, too. In some areas, you may be able to get better signal than anticipated, which will allow you to use the off-road navigation apps to their full potential.

Off-Road GPS Key Features

Topographic Mapping

You don’t just need turn-by-turn directions when you’re off-roading (although they can help you find your way back to set waypoints or points of interest). What you really need is an understanding of the terrain you’re about to travel over and its varying geographical makeup. That’s why you need topographic mapping in an off-road GPS device or app. It’ll allow you to see contour lines, off-road trails and tracks, land boundaries, and even elevation. It’s both a map and a guide to areas you can or can’t roll over, helping you to prevent sticky situations. 

Offline Maps or Downloadable Maps

If your off-road GPS requires you to be connected via cell signal, it’s not going to be very helpful when you’re far from reliable service. Off-roading can bring very little in the way of cellular connectivity, so it’s a smart idea to ensure your chosen GPS will work offline. Access to offline maps or downloadable maps will ensure you can always find your way, even if you aren’t able to get real-time updates. Just make sure to update your offline maps regularly when you’re back at home.

Off-Road Related Points of Interest

You might not set points of interest very often on your in-car GPS device, but having this feature for your off-roading GPS can be hugely helpful. With points of interest, you can find national parks, nearby campgrounds, gas stations, trail heads, and plenty of other key destinations easily. This gives you points of reference to use whether you’re alone or in a group, and it’s especially beneficial if you’re venturing out from somewhere new — like a campground — and will need to find your way back without googling the actual address.

Off-Road GPS Pricing 

On average, you can expect an off-road GPS to run between $85 and $135 on the budget-friendly end of the spectrum. For more features and more capabilities, the cost will rise to $135 to $200. And if you’re looking for the most premium, feature-filled options with large screens and plenty of capability, you can spend upwards of $300 total.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Do Garmin GPS units work for off-roading?

A: It depends on the GPS unit you’re working with. Some are built for off-road use, which means they come preloaded with off-roading capability like topo maps, birdseye maps, or even trails and off-road paths. Your best bet is to choose a GPS unit that specifically offers these kinds of features.

Q: Can you use Google Maps when off-roading?

A: You may actually be able to use your phone — and Google Maps or even Apple’s Maps app — when you’re off-roading. These devices can work offline, if you download maps ahead of time for the area you’ll be traveling in. And while cell service and Wi-Fi may be limited, if you have a signal, you may be able to get real-time mapping via these smartphone apps.

Q: Can you use an app for off-road GPS?

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