The Best GPSes For UTV Trail Riding (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Know exactly where you’re going with these top-rated GPS units for UTV trail riding.
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON April 16, 2021
If you’ve ever gone trail riding with a paper map, you know just how torn, dirty, and confusing it can get. Thankfully, we now have GPS (global positioning system) technology. It can pinpoint your precise location. Plus, with the increased popularity of these services, there are well-developed maps that you can use to navigate trails just about anywhere. Of course, you’re probably familiar with GPS from your phone or vehicle, but finding something to endure the intense conditions of the outdoors is a different matter.
The unit needs to be durable, portable, and reliable. While any GPS is better than none, finding the best GPS for UTV trail riding goes a long way to helping you stay safe and comfortable. After all, finding your way around in the wilderness is about more than convenience, it’s a matter of survival. To lend a hand, we’ve curated a list of the leading selections, along with some helpful tips on making the right pick.
Designed specifically for UTVs and side by sides, this GPS has base maps, topography lines, hill shading, and trails.
- Includes Buddy Tracking so you can connect to up to 20 riders
- Displays temperature, speed, distance, and more
- Fits all UTV makes and models
- Doesn’t display gas levels
- CVT sensor cable may be too short
- No cross-compatibility with Buddy Tracking
Durable and compact, this GPS navigator system is excellent for hitting the trails. It’s sturdy and ergonomic structure makes it a great handheld system.
- Small yet sturdy design
- Crisp LCD screen that doesn’t overload information
- Comes at an affordable price point
- Long-lasting battery system
- Can be a bit challenging to program the functions
- Cannot withstand being submerged in deep water
- Vulnerable to impact
This GPS navigator features a large, 7-inch, color touchscreen and a rugged design that’s built for off-grid performance. It comes preloaded with multiple maps and points of interest.
- Provides both on- and off-road guidance
- Features a sturdy, all-terrain construction
- Can be mounted almost anywhere with its powered magnetic mount
- Includes a built-in barometer and altimeter
- Not waterproof; cannot survive a heavy downpour or being submerged in water
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Benefits of GPSes For UTV Trail Riding
- Travel more efficiently. A good quality of a GPS for UTV trail riding is that it lets you maneuver wilderness with more ease. By pinpointing yourself on the map, you can make the safest and most time-saving decisions about your travel.
- Improve safety. When you navigate the outdoors, the first rule is to stay safe. In addition to useful accessories like riding goggles and helmets that work on ATVs, high-end GPS systems can ping your location to email accounts so people know where you are.
- Keep track of your route. The key benefit of using GPS tracking for UTV trail riding is keeping tabs on your progress. It’s way too easy to deviate from the plan and head out to explore some new sight. With a GPS, you can get back to where you need to be.
- Access to information. Paper maps get torn and stained. A GPS, on the other hand, lets you travel freely while keeping a map close at hand. Plus, since GPS can also be used through your phone’s apps, it enhances the benefits of the technology you already have.
Types of GPS For UTV Trail Riding
The types of GPS systems are largely based on the way that the unit sources its power. Hardwired GPS systems tend to be sturdy and long-lasting, and are priced accordingly. These GPS units will take some effort to install and it is important to check the wiring compatibility. Since it requires a lot of work to set up, this type is one of the less popular options.
Another common type of GPS is one that plugs into an adapter. These are more common for enclosed vehicles and are a frequently seen accessory when retrofitting older models with GPS. However, they can still be handy for UTV applications so long as you have the necessary adapter tech already set up.
Easily the favorite type of GPS for UTV trail riding, battery-powered GPS is usually handheld. As a result, it is the most portable and in no way attached to the UTV. Cell phone apps that provide GPS fall into this category. For these, it’s important to get a quality mounting structure. Other handheld models look similar to radios and can fit in your pocket easily. Because of convenience, this type is seen the most on the market.
With origins in Kansas, Garmin opened its doors in 1989 in the city of Lenexa. It was originally called ProNav; though, as it expanded into new tech and its GPS systems grew more popular, the name changed to Garmin. It remains an industry leader in GPS tech. Among this brand’s leading selections is the Garmin GPSMAP Handheld GPS.
Founded in 1991 by Harold Goddijn, TomTom is a multinational manufacturer of location technology and consumer electronics with the aim of making the roads safer and travel easier. It’s based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Some of its navigation devices include the Rider 550 and the Go 520.
A dedicated GPS manufacturer, LandAirSea is based in the United States. Though relatively new, the business is quickly growing into one of the top names in the industry. One of its best-known selections is the LandAirSea GPS Tracker.
GPSes For UTV Trail Riding Pricing
- Under $100: In this price range, you can find handheld GPS systems or plug-in models. Most have limited battery life and feature a basic screen.
- Between $100 and $300: The majority of GPS systems fall within this price range, meaning you can find all types. In this range, you can find bold displays and advanced features.
- $300 and up: This represents the most heavy-duty GPS with multiple features to promote durability. The maps and information provided by these systems are extensive.
An important feature is a screen since this is where you will be able to see the map and pinpoint your position. It needs to be made out of quality acrylic to prevent cracking and scratches. Ideally, the screen would be waterproof (or at least water-resistant). Choose something with a crisp resolution to make the most of the LCD technology. The brightness matters all the more when you’re off-roading with the GPS since tree coverage can dim your surroundings.
Your GPS is going to need to draw its energy from somewhere. If it’s hardwired, it’s from the UTV battery. The same goes for plug-in models. Battery-powered selections run on either replaceable batteries or recharge through a USB. Longer treks can benefit from replaceable batteries since you can swap them out if the power runs dry. Make sure that your GPS can last for the duration of your trip.
The exterior of your GPS needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the conditions of the outdoors. A strong casing can act as a helmet for the screen in case you drop the GPS by absorbing shock so there aren’t cracks or internal damage to the circuitry. Choose something sturdy and designed to weather a bit of impact. Waterproof abilities help too since it prevents other damage.
Depending on the type of GPS you choose, it is going to need to be mounted to the UTV. Compact handheld models can go in your pocket, but bulker models need a place near the handlebars. Magnetic tech is probably the most common since it requires no installation and does no damage to the UTV itself. Hardwired models have more extensive mounting needs. Plug-in models usually come with a suction-style mount or a magnetic one.
- Extra Features. Once you’ve identified that the GPS meets all your needs in terms of essentials features, it’s time to look at the perks. Some come equipped with a compass, altimeter, barometer, and more. Others ping your email to apprise friends of your safety. Decide which traits are most helpful and pick a GPS tracker that works for you.
- Regular Fees. Another worthy consideration is subscription costs. Often, if you choose a model that relays through an app, you’ll need to pay a price for that service. While the features offered by these subscriptions are useful, it has to work for the budget.
- Maintenance Needs. Everything requires a bit of upkeep, and GPS devices are no different. Think about how easy it will be to recharge the unit (or keep batteries in it). Determine if it has any specific cleaning needs to keep the buttons from sticking and the screen in good condition.
- Reception. Finally, you’ll want to think about the reception the GPS has. Since the tool is meant to be used as a navigator, if it can’t get service, the benefits all but disappear. Look for something with a prominent antenna (if it’s handheld) and check the repute of the model to make sure it’s accurate and reliable — like the options on this list.
Best GPSes For UTV Trail Riding Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Care and Maintenance of GPS for UTV Trail Riding
To extend the lifespan of your GPS, there are a few basic things you need to keep in mind. The first step is properly mounting the GPS on your ride if you plan to attach it. Place it far enough from the exhaust and the engine to prevent heat damage. Clean the area before you mount the GPS. If it’s handheld, try to keep it away from potential impact or water damage.
From there, it’s a matter of making sure that the unit doesn’t run out of batteries. Most of the settings are pretty intuitive, so as long as you follow the instructions for programming it, little care is needed to operate the GPS. Ensure that your subscription is in good standing if you plan to use one to prevent it from losing service mid-trip.
A final step you can take in terms of care is to double-check the calibration. Especially if you are using it as a tracker for reference, it can be easy to forget to consult the report. So, after your first use of the GPS, check your real-life route against the report. Provided it lines up reasonably well, you won’t need to calibrate the GPS (or replace it altogether). The good news is that GPS devices are built to last. They are durable and meant for the outdoors; so, even with minimal upkeep, they should last over the long term.
- If the GPS has replaceable batteries, bring spares in case your trip runs long.
- Keep the tracker as clean as possible to prevent damage to the exterior.
- Before you depart, check that the tracker is engaged and in good condition.
- Clean the UTV before mounting the GPS to ensure it adheres properly.
- Don’t mount it too close to the ATV tires to prevent scratches and mud from blocking reception.
- Check the reception zones for your GPS to make sure you stay in range.
- If your GPS is not waterproof (and even if it’s water-resistant), keep it in a sealed bag.
Q: What is the best off-road GPS app for Android?
There are quite a few different apps for GPS that are available for Android. The key is making sure it works with your GPS and mobile device in terms of operating power and data storage.
Q: What's the best GPS for ATV trails?
The best GPS for off-roading pretty much lines up with the best option for a UTV. The Garmin Handheld GPS with Altimeter is a good pick for its compact design. It fits in your pocket so you can bring it with you for any trail ride.
Q: How accurate are off-road GPS units?
The accuracy of trails on GPS maps increases all the time. Most connect via Google and rely on images from street and satellite imagery. Keep notes for yourself relative to the GPS to construct a map of the trails based on this extra information.
Now that you know all the secrets to find the best GPS for UTV trail riding, you can make your pick. It could be the Trail Tech Voyager Pro 922-125 UTV GPS for its rugged design and pre-loaded maps or the affordability of the Garmin eTrex Handheld GPS Navigator. There’s an option for everyone.