Best Off Roading GPS: Go Off the Beaten Path Without Getting Lost
These off-road GPS units can help you navigate the wilderness
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PUBLISHED ON November 21, 2019
While a GPS unit can be great for navigating large cities or sidestepping traffic, they really earn their keep when used for off-roading. After all, anyone can get around with street signs and Google maps, but what are you supposed to do when the only identifiable landmarks are trees and rocks? The GPS units on this list are ideal for venturing off paved roads as they can help you travel outside your comfort zone without fear of getting lost.
- Best OverallGarmin inReach Explorer+SummarySummary
With access to global Iridium satellite coverage, this handheld communicator allows two-way texting from anywhere on the planet. It also allows you to send out an SOS to the company’s 24/7 search-and-rescue team if necessary.ProsPros
With a built-in digital compass, altimeter, and accelerometer, you can navigate comfortably even without relying on the downloadable maps. It also provides weather reports, allowing you to avoid dangerous conditions.ConsCons
The small screen may be hard for some users to read. Some of its features require additional paid subscriptions.
- Best ValueGarmin GPSMAP 64stSummarySummary
This unit allows you to upload your progress, so friends and family can monitor your activity in real-time. Optional ANT+ sensors, like a heart rate monitor or cadence tracker, are available.ProsPros
This model boasts a long battery life, thanks in part to its dual-battery system. The 2.6-inch color display is easy to read, even in direct sunlight.ConsCons
Using it requires a bit of a learning curve. The included manual isn’t much help, so expect a fair bit of trial and error at first.
- Honorable MentionGarmin Rino 755tSummarySummary
The Rino 755t has a built-in radio with a 20-mile range, and its position-reporting feature helps you quickly find any other Rino users on your channel.ProsPros
It’s useful for hunting parties, as you can track everyone’s location and avoid any potential mishaps. The rugged housing is able to withstand rough treatment, so there’s no need to handle it with kid gloves.ConsCons
Uses a proprietary charger, and replacing it can be an expensive hassle. The interface is clunky, with lots of poorly-designed, pre-loaded apps filling up the menus.
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- If you want to attach your GPS to a vehicle, find one capable of being mounted to a dash or console. If you prefer to carry it on your person, however, be sure that it will be small enough that it won’t weigh you down.
- Many units have built-in communication features, which is important if you like to push yourself in extreme conditions. A unit that makes it easy for others to find you is as valuable as one that makes it easy for you to find your way home.
- A few models have multiple positioning sensors inside, which improves their accuracy and allows you to travel to a wider variety of locales. This is especially important if you plan to go off-roading in places other than the United States.
Q: How reliable are off-roading GPS units?
A: That will vary depending on the unit and the number of sensors it houses. They should all be able to provide you with your location within a few feet. Some of the higher-end models are likely to be able to give you a more accurate picture of your surroundings, however.
Q: Are GPS devices updated regularly?
A: Most manufacturers release regular updates, and many allow you to download specific, up-to-date maps from their servers. To download them, you need to connect your GPS unit to a computer or buy one that has internet capability.
Q: Are off-road GPS units durable?
A: If a GPS unit is designed for off-road use, it’s a safe bet that it will be ruggedly constructed. Many have shock-absorbent casings, allowing you to use them freely without constantly having to worry about damaging them.
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is our favorite GPS for off-roading because it boasts a wide array of safety features and has a truly global reach.
While not as versatile as some other units, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st is nevertheless a useful unit that won’t break the bank. We especially like its bright, easy-to-read display.