Getting lost in a new and unfamiliar place is never a fun experience. It’s a waste of time and energy and can even be dangerous if you get lost in the wrong places. Continually looking at a map can also be stressful while driving an RV. Going to new and unexplored territories today is made more fun and a heck of a lot easier with a GPS. GPS, also known as Global Positioning System, is a U.S.-owned technology and utility that provides positioning and navigational tools and services.
The system is made up of 3 segments: the space segment, the control segment, and the user segment.
The space segment of a GPS is comprised of 24 operating satellites orbiting around Earth.
The control segment refers to the worldwide monitoring and control stations which maintain the satellites used by the system. It’s responsible for the tracking of the 24 satellites, updating the navigational data used by the satellites, and maintenance of the satellites.
The user segment consists of the GPS receiver devices that receive the information from the GPS satellites and translates them to real-time location and navigation information that the user can use and understand.
5 Uses of an RV GPS
- Location determination
- Tracking person or object movement
- Timing measurements
GPS was initially designed and created for the government and the Air Force of the United States. It was a satellite-based radio navigation system made for military purposes. However, over time and with technological advancements, GPS has evolved into something more.
Why You Need an RV GPS
GPS is an invaluable tool for every avid traveler. It is a satellite navigational tool that is available for everyone to use and benefit from. Though you may need to invest in a GPS device that you can install in your RV, it’s a small price to pay for such a beneficial technology. GPS services provide travelers all over the world with valuable information to keep them safe. The best thing about GPS is that it is available almost everywhere, whether you’re in the mountains, in the woods, or on the sea. GPS has helped an incalculable number of people and businesses worldwide with its navigation, tracking, and mapping services. It would be a bit irresponsible not to have one, especially if you love taking your RV to new, unexplored places.
GPS services are also available through mobile phones – like the RV Life APP that turns your smartphone into an RV GPS.
Why Should You Get a GPS Device Made for an RV?
Recreational vehicles are bigger than cars. They are also considerably heavier and will take up bigger road space. RV’s cannot maneuver freely, especially in narrow roads which means you could easily get stuck in a single, narrow road. RV’s should also avoid low bridges.
These limitations make a GPS designed for an RV essential. GPS devices made for RV use have additional features that help RV drivers and users avoid narrow and constipated roads, as well as low bridges. With these RV GPS devices, you can customize your device to direct you only on wide and open roads, which are RV friendly.
Top 5 Best RV GPS Reviews
Why do you need GPS specific for driving a recreational vehicle?
The size and weight of most RVs mean many roads are not suitable for safe passage.
An RV GPS lets you input your camper’s stats, and then routes you on roads that eliminate obstacles like low-clearance underpasses, hairpin turns, or weight limit restrictions that can lead to frustration or downright disaster.
Arrive stress-free to your camping destination by selecting the perfect RV GPS from this guide to the top five best RV GPS systems.
Keep on reading to learn the pros and cons of each our top RV GPS models, as well as product details, customer feedback, and who each model would suit best so you can find the ideal GPS for your recreational vehicle needs!
#1 – RV Life Pro APP
BEST FOR – RVers of all types
- Automatically updates
- Links to your computer for trip planning
- Tens of thousands of campgrounds, reviews, tips, and photos
- 7-day trial to try before you buy
- Price gets you GPS plus some other great features
- Limited to the screen size of your phone
The RV LIFE Pro subscription is not only a great RV GPS but also gets you RV LIFE Trip Wizard a trip planning platform that can be done pre-trip from your computer, an RV maintenance scheduler RV LIFE Maintenance, and access to RV LIFE Campgrounds – the best database of campground info and reviews out there.
Got questions about a campground or route? With RV LIFE Pro you are linked to a huge RV community with all the answers.
BEST FOR – The average RVer looking for a traditional GPS
- Easy to use interface
- Customizable to your RV
- Fair price point
- No pre-loaded campgrounds
- Shorter battery life
If you have hard copy maps in your rig for backup, there’s a good chance they are printed by Rand McNally.
Rand McNally has been in the navigation game for a long time. The RV specific RVND 7 GPS is customizable and pre-loaded with 11 different RV and camper types. Pair this with millions of RV-friendly locations and amenities and you have a great RV trip planning GPS.
#3 – Garmin RV 780
BEST FOR – Serious travelers who put on a lot of miles
- US, Canada, and Mexico maps
- Integrated info from campgrounds
- Back up camera option
- High price point
Garmin is arguable the top name in GPS. The RV 780 is not cheap but packed with features.
Integrated campground information and reviews are available including KOAs. Being compatible with a Garmin wireless backup camera means there is no need for a second system and screen.
#4 – Longruf GPS for RV
BEST FOR – People on a budget or people who don’t travel often
- Low cost
- Lifetime maps
- 7″ screen
- Quality matches price
- Unknow company lack of technical support
- Lack of pre-loaded features
If you are looking for a cheap GPS option the Longruf RV GPS is one option.
You get what you pay for but the 7″ screen and lifetime maps are of value. However, support may not be readily available.
#5 – Tomtom Trucker 620
BEST FOR – Shorter less frequent trips
- Good list of big rig friendly fuel and rest stops
- Proven brand name with good support
- No lifetime maps
- Smaller 6″ screen
Although not a RV specific GPS, the Tomtom option was popular before RV specific systems were available.
The ability to add length and weight of the vehicle and be notified of weight restrictions and guided to big rig-friendly routes is very useful.
Benefits of Using the Best GPS for Your RV
There are many benefits to having a GPS device installed in your recreational vehicle. If you have difficulty remembering routes or reading traditional maps, then a GPS device may be what you need to make every trip stress free. Here are some of the benefits of having a GPS in your RV.
Going on a road trip can mean going places that are new to you. While this can be easy with a smaller vehicle, going on unfamiliar places can be more difficult for a larger vehicle such as an RV. U-turns for one, when you decide that you need to turn back, is a lot more complicated with an RV. The directions and roads that you take must be precise and correct to avoid stress and difficulties in your travel.
A GPS installed in your recreational vehicle can give you further information about the neighborhood that you are going to go to. It can help you find and locate the nearest restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores. This is extremely convenient and helpful when you need to stop for food, gas, and other necessities in an unfamiliar town or city.
It’s Easy and Safe to Use
A GPS is indeed easier and safer to use than a map. With a GPS, you will not need to squint on a printed map. Some GPS systems allow you to simply input your destination, and the GPS device will do the routing calculations. The more sophisticated GPS systems have a voice-over system that will direct and guide you every step of the way. This is a lot safer than traditional map-reading since you do not need to take your eyes off the road while you are driving your RV.
It Keeps You and Your RV Safe
Getting lost in the middle of nowhere may sound exciting and romantic, but it is never safe. If you are on a road trip with your family and your children, then getting lost is never an option. Being in an unfamiliar neighborhood or a deserted nowhere spells danger. A GPS installed in your RV will guide you from point A to point B, reducing the risk of getting lost. You also reduce the need to ask strangers for directions.
It Will Save You Time and Fuel
Trying to navigate places that you are not familiar with can mean going around places, looking for the right street, or turning around after you have made a wrong turn. Being unsure about which direction to take can be time-consuming, and going around trying to find the right direction means more fuel consumption. With a large vehicle, going around to look for the right direction may not be as easy as moving around in a sedan. A GPS assists you by guiding you and giving you the right directions to your destination. It can save you time and fuel (eliminating RV fuel anxiety) by giving you spot on and accurate directions.
It Gives Weather and Traffic Updates in Real Time
GPS gives you all the information that you need in real time. Aside from routes and directions, some GPS services also provide traffic updates and weather conditions. With a GPS service, you can be notified of heavy traffic in an approaching area, if an accident occurred in a nearby area, or if there are severe weather conditions. Some services even provide you with alternate routes if there are impassable routes due to traffic incidents. This can considerably shorten the time you spend on the road, and also keeps you, your companions, and your RV safe.
It Is Available Everywhere on the Planet
GPS service works with a network of satellites, so it is available everywhere to help and assist drivers, travelers, and business owners. You can have GPS services even in areas where there are no mobile data services. You can use it to guide you on all your wild, outdoor adventures. With GPS, you can go on that mountain trip without fear of getting lost or not knowing where you are.
It Gives You Multiple Route Options
Sometimes, in our confusion or exhaustion, we turn left even if the GPS is specifically saying we must turn right. It happens. U-turns are never easy for large vehicles, especially in narrow roads. GPS devices are flexible, and it recalculates the route to your destination, real-time, based on your current location. It can give you a new route once you have made a wrong turn, or if the original route is blocked and inaccessible at the moment.
The System Is Updated Regularly
The system is maintained and updated regularly by none other than the United States Department of Defense. Regular updates and maintenance ensure that the information that the system provides its millions of users worldwide are correct and accurate. The software and applications that use the service are also regularly updated, so they are synced with any system updates. Street names information, road access, and traffic access can change without any due notice. New roads can suddenly pop up. Unlike printed maps which may go out of date after a long while, your RV’s GPS system stays accurate for your convenience.
GPS Services Are Free of Charge
Although you may have to pay for the GPS device, along with the software that you will install in your RV, the service itself is free of charge. The satellites and the monitoring teams and systems are paid for by the US government. Once you have the GPS device installed, you can enjoy the benefits of having a GPS for life.
You Can Focus on Your Driving
Having a GPS to assist and guide you lets you focus on your main task, which is to drive safely. With a GPS, you do not need to constantly check with yourself if you are going in the right direction. You do not have to memorize from a map the roads that you should take. There is no need to memorize landmarks that you have read online. Having less load in your mind means less stress while driving. You will be less exhausted when you reach your destination, and you can have more energy to enjoy your trip.
It Is Specially Made for RVs
GPS devices specially designed for recreational vehicles have additional features that regular GPS devices do not have. GPS devices made for RV’s will not lead you to single, narrow roads where your RV will not be able to pass through. It will not lead you to low bridges that may be difficult for your RV. Some will allow you to input your preferred road dimensions, so it will only suggest roads that your RV can comfortably and safely pass through. This reduces your risk and makes driving your RV easier. Some GPS devices will also give warnings for sharp turns and slopes that you should look out for. They can even provide guides to local RV repair shops and RV parks.
Frequently Asked Questions about RV GPS
What Do I Need to Look for in an RV GPS Device?
You may now be convinced that you do need a GPS device for your RV, but do not have an idea of what to look for to get the best GPS device for your RV. There are many RV GPS devices available in the market to choose from. You may feel overwhelmed with all the choices and possibilities available. Read on to know what makes the best GPS device that you can get.
It Must Be the Perfect Size
Look for GPS devices whose size fit your RV. It must be portable, so you take it with you wherever you travel. The screen size must also be comfortably big enough for an easy, quick glance while you are driving. Look for GPS devices that will fit your dashboard, and will not affect your view of the road. A four-inch, 4.7-inch, or seven-inch screens are perfect for road trips. The size you choose will depend on your preference and comfort.
It Must Allow Predictive Data Entry
Choose a model that supports predictive data entry. It must allow easy entry of city names or addresses. Predictive data entry can make the input of information easier and simpler as well as do auto-correction, in cases where you input wrong spelling for addresses and location.
It Must Be Easy to Install
A suitable GPS device must be easy to install in your RV’s dashboard. It should not be complicated to mount or remove, can easily snap or slide into place, and should not be easily dismounted with every shake and vibration of the RV. Some GPS devices come with a suction cup with a steady, angle arm.
*It Must Be Designed for RV Use
RV drivers and users have specific needs different from car drivers. GPS devices designed for RV use allow you to enjoy features made specifically for you. You get to set the road size that your RV can safely navigate through. These devices also give you warnings for oncoming sharp turns and steep slopes. There are even devices that go as far as providing suggestions for nearby parks and sightseeing locations.
It Must Be Durable
Choose a GPS device that is durable and shock-proof. It should be able to withstand strong rocking and vibrations. It must also be able to withstand extreme temperatures. Choose a durable device that you won’t have to replace every few years or so. Avoid devices that are made of plastic. GPS devices that are made of metal or other stronger and reinforced material are more durable and can last you longer.
It Must Fit Your Budget
Of course, it goes without saying that you must choose a GPS device and brand that is within your budget. Your budget can be your starting point in limiting your choices among the many available brands and models in the market. With a budget in mind, you can narrow down your options and be able to choose the GPS device that can give you your money’s worth.
It Must Be Able to Provide Accurate Maps
Choose a brand and model that can give you accurate and timely maps. Some models cannot provide full information about some towns and cities. Some may even miscalculate distances and give you incorrect guidance. Choose a reliable brand that won’t get you lost. It would help to read on user feedback and product reviews before you make your first RV GPS purchase.
What Are Additional RV GPS Features That Are Essential and Helpful?
There are many RV GPS brands today that are loaded with so many add-ons and features. Here are some features that are extremely helpful and that you will certainly be thankful for.
Many GPS devices in the market have a text to speech feature. GPS devices that come with audio notifications, telling you street names and which road to take, are safer to use when you are driving. It allows you to focus on the road, and you do not need to spare a glance on your GPS screen.
Bigger memory capacity allows for upgrades and updates in the future. Some GPS device models come with a memory expansion slot. This can come in handy should you wish to expand the memory capacity of your GPS device.
Some GPS devices come with Bluetooth capability, which allows you to make important calls, hands-free. This feature can be really helpful if you want to call a friend who will meet you at your destination, or if you want to make some reservations or inquiries while on the way.
What Are the Common Issues with RV GPS?
There is no doubt that every RV user needs a good RV GPS. However, like with most technology, there will certainly be some minor issues. One issue most users face is a drained battery, after days of not using your RV GPS. When this happens, just charge and plug your GPS in a wall outlet. Other issues are poor display resolution, incomplete map information and loose SD socket. These, however, can be avoided if you buy RV GPS brands with good quality and performance.
What Do I Need to Buy with My RV GPS?
To keep your RV GPS functional, there are some accessories that you need to buy along with it.
Make sure that you get your RV GPS the following:
- a mobile charger
- a protective carry case, and
- a mounting system for your dashboard
Does My RV GPS Come with a Product Warranty?
The warranty that comes with every RV GPS depends on the brand and the manufacturer of the unit. Most brands offer three to five years’ warranty. The warranty usually covers repairs of malfunctioning parts and components.
Get the Best GPS Device for Your RV
In life, a good direction and a spot on advice can take you to better places. The same is true for traveling with your RV. An ideal GPS device will be able to take you to your destination, hassle-free. Invest in the right RV GPS to save yourself from the trouble of getting lost and losing precious time.