The Best Off-Road GPS: Don’t Get Lost

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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The Best Off-Road GPS: Don’t Get Lost © The Best Off-Road GPS: Don’t Get Lost

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.

Summary List

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. 

Best Off-Road GPS Reviews & Recommendations

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 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.

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