Never get lost again on your ATV with one of these ATV GPS systems
The Best ATV GPS system is perfect for those of us who like to explore the (off)road less traveled. We’ve done the research and compiled the best available GPS for trail riding options together in one article.
I can proudly say that I’ve never been lost. I just have found places that I haven’t been to before and from where I may not quite know how to get back to where I started from, but that doesn’t mean I’m lost. That’s what I always tell my wife when she asks if we’re lost. She doesn’t always believe me, but like Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, I know something that she does not know. No, I’m not left-handed, but I do have a backup plan. I always have a GPS with me to help me find my way. Today’s GPS systems available to off-road enthusiasts have more features and are much more user friendly than ever before. Here are the best ATV and UTV GPS systems that will help you find your way home, avoid any arguments and are less expensive than you might think. You can thank me later.
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Table of Contents
- 1. Editor's Choice: Magellan TRX-7 CS
- 2. Compact Powerhouse: Garmin zūmo XT
- 3. Mid-Range Winner: Magellan TR7
- 4. GPS Alternative: onX Offroad App
- 5. Most Compact: Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx
- 6. Perfect Plotter: Lowrance HOOK2-5 Baja Overland Offroad Chart Plotter GPS
- 7. Handheld and ATV Unit: Garmin GPSMAP 64st
- 8. Polaris Ride Command
- 9. Yamaha Adventure Pro
- How Does an ATV GPS Work?
- Do You Need an Off-Road GPS for your ATV?
1. Editor's Choice: Magellan TRX-7 CS
The top-level Magellan off road GPS system has the same 115,000 ORV trails and easy-to-use touchscreen navigation as the lower cost units. This unit, easily one of the best ATV GPS systems anywhere, features a 7 inch touch screen display, high-res 2D Topo and 3D Basemap of the USA and Canada (with free updates), and built-in rear facing digital camera with GPS tagging to record and upload your journey in new and fun ways. 16GB of storage means you can record every minute of the action on the trail so you can relive it the next day. It also has full Bluetooth connectivity and one-touch social media sharing to Twitter or Instagram.
ATV.com’s own Rick Sosebee has played around much with the unit. See what he has to say here. People often ask, what is the best ATV trail GPS? This is the model we most often recommend as the best ATV GPS for trail riding. The reason is simple, too. It’s the one we’ve been using and enjoying for a long time and it works great!
2. Compact Powerhouse: Garmin zūmo XT
One of the newer ATV GPS systems on the market, the Garmin zūmo XT all-terrain navigator is built to help you find your way along the trail. It has an ultra-bright 5.5” display that is glove-friendly and water-resistant. The zūmo XT is capable of withstanding all kinds of weather, extreme temperatures and vibrations, but just don’t drop it in the lake and expect it to work perfectly. The GPS is loaded with routes in North America, with turn-by-turn directions when used on-road for navigation, and it uses topographic or birds’ eye satellite imagery for off-road guidance.
The zūmo gives you rider alerts to what’s ahead on the trail. Easily manage and review routes, tracks and waypoints across your navigator, smartphone and computer using the Garmin Explore app, without the need for any kind of subscription. You can pair with a compatible inReach satellite communicator (sold separately) for interactive SOS, two-way messaging and location sharing. A battery life of 3.5 hours gives decent time for excursions away from your vehicle, where you’d likely just leave it connected to power through your cigarette lighter. Leave it to Garmin to come out with a sweet new way to stay on the trail.
3. Mid-Range Winner: Magellan TR7
Magellan has gone and made some of the best ATV GPS systems for the off-road community, and for 2019 , they have not only improved on the lineup, but made them more affordable. The TR7 retails for under $400 and is loaded with 115,000 trails! Yes, you read that right trails – not roads. They have those on there too, but 115,000 trails is HUGE. It has a 7-inch touchscreen display that is shock, dust and water resistant. You can expand on the trails available by using the TRX Trailhead website where users map out and upload even more maps. No matter what vehicle you ride, this is one of the best off road GPS devices available.
4. GPS Alternative: onX Offroad App
Most all of us have smartphones, tablets or laptops these days. And I’m sure you’ve at least seen an ad for the onX app, especially if you’re a hunter. onX started as a hunting app to help people map and navigate their hunting property, but it has evolved way past that. The onX Offroad App is loaded with over 400,000 miles of off-road trails in all 50 states, and with the most accurate and intelligent off-road GPS mapping tool you can get. View private and public land, including national forest, BLM, national parks and OHV riding areas. Trails are color-coded to quickly see which are open: green = open and red = temporarily closed. Tap a trail for information including trail details, closure dates, difficulty ratings, photos and more. onX Offroad covers more than 985 million acres of public land with thousands of recreation points such as campgrounds, non-ethanol fuel stations and trailheads. You can use the app to plan out the perfect ride and then go do it. Sounds great! When do we leave?
5. Most Compact: Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx
Garmin has been in the GPS business for a long time and bring considerable technology to the table. The Garmin has GPS and GLONASS satellite reception that helps get a stronger signal in remote areas. With 8 GB of storage capacity, it is preloaded with topographic maps that are easy to view on the 5 inch screen, and supports active weather updating and tracking, which can come in very handy. In addition to the topo mapping, you can choose Garmin’s HuntView mapping for those of us that use our ATVs for hunting and other outdoor activities. It has pushbutton controls and is sealed for dust, water and guarded against shock, making it a great option for off-road use. It’s not cheap, with a price around the $600 mark, but if you use your ATV or UTV GPS for more than just riding, and want accuracy in remote areas, it makes a great amount of sense.
6. Perfect Plotter: Lowrance HOOK2-5 Baja Overland Offroad Chart Plotter GPS
I know what you’re thinking – that’s a fishfinder! It isn’t anymore. Lowrance makes some of the best GPS chart plotting system technology in the world and they have been slowly building into the off-road world. This unit is their popular HOOK2 system, but they have stripped out the sonar technology that you wouldn’t need or want in a UTV GPS system. With this GPS plotter, you’ll need to load off a map service, like a regional map. It also works best with an external GPS antenna. Where this plotter has found a home is with competition UTVs and trucks. Properly set up, this plotter can keep you on track regardless of the conditions, making it a winner to us.
7. Handheld and ATV Unit: Garmin GPSMAP 64st
When we started this list, the GPS units listed above were the easy picks for the Five Best available. There are several others that could make this list, they just are a tad more specialized in application. The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is a seriously cool ATV trail GPS. Why didn’t it make the top five? Well, it’s a hand-held device, so the screen is small at 2.6 inches, making it harder to use while riding. However, this is one packed little handheld with full topographic mapping, and it has wireless capability meaning that you can share the screen and information to your cellphone, tablet or more, and you can share the info with others, too. Being a Garmin, it is fully waterproof, shock resistant and has a quad-helix antenna for serious accuracy. It has bird’s eye view topographic mapping, too. The lesser models are great for hikers or cyclist looking for a decent GPS system with ANT capability for various sensor inputs, but when you want to see the finer details, the 64st can’t be beat.
8. Polaris Ride Command
Polaris’ amazing Ride Command system is offered as a factory-loaded special edition in the RZR, Ranger and General models. You can add it as an accessory, too. It provides a full readout of your machine’s information, such as speed, engine temp, RPMs, etc. and can provide diagnostic information if there is an issue. It also has full GPS and can link to other machines that have Ride Command, or through a cell phone app, for those without Ride Command. Ride Command is a cool product in that the 7-inch screen is glove-touch capable, meaning you don’t need to take off your gloves to navigate the screen options. Polaris was the first to come out with such a system from an ATV manufacturer, and they are definitely not the last.
9. Yamaha Adventure Pro
Yamaha released its Adventure Pro tablet GPS system developed in conjunction with Magellan and it is outstanding to say the least. This tablet-style GPS is water and shock proof and has full GPS mapping capabilities. It also has access to a wide-range of trail system maps and other topographical maps to help you navigate through wherever you should end up. Some Yamaha Grizzly models are pre-wired for the tablet with a special dock to let it ride right under the bars. Expect more Yamaha machines to offer options involving the Adventure Pro system, too.
How To Use an Off-Road GPS
(by Casey Cordeiro)
In the off-road world, new GPS systems are sprouting up all the time and most of the GPS systems on the market have pre-loaded off-road trails that help you determine where trails lead and where you should go next. This is a huge help when you’re navigating in real-time off-road. Plus, many systems go even further by offering the navigator the opportunity to plot their own routes for your next trip. In addition to stand alone portable GPS units (think Yamaha Adventure Pro and Garmin Overlander), there are multiple GPS apps that allow you to utilize your smartphone or tablet for navigation, should you already have one of these devices.
Let’s dig into specifics on how to use an ATV GPS system.
Using an Off-Road GPS For Planning a Route
Using an Off-Road GPS On the Trail
No matter which system you have, using an off-road GPS on the trail allows you to perform several important navigational functions, including: tracking your route as you move down the trail (so you can easily return down the same path, along with saving it for next time), placing markers at locations or obstacles that you want to remember at specific points along the trail (also known as Waypoints), and follow route guidance of a predetermined route that you put together before your ride.
If you’re a person who isn’t completely confident with your navigational abilities (it’s OK!), you should first get a GPS to have with you on any off-road adventure. Second, you need to mark your camp site each time you get to a riding area on your GPS. It sounds tedious, but you’ll appreciate that you did this… Third, before you leave camp for each ride, use your off-road GPS for what it was made to do – record your track as you go down the trail. If you do this, you will have no issues getting back to camp. It seems simple, and it is!
The other reason to record a track every time you leave camp is in case of emergencies. We don’t like to think of “emergencies” as a reason to track your route, but you’ll be so happy you did if you do have an issue on the trail and need to get back to camp quickly from your location.
The other thing that all off-road GPS systems allow you to do is pinpoint your coordinates while out on the trail. Again, we don’t like to think that there will be emergencies out there, but things happen, whether it is someone in your group or someone in another group of riders. You could save a life and not even have that intention before you leave camp!
Sharing Your Experiences
One of the best innovations in GPS device technology is that you can instantly share your routes with friends and family. After putting routes and tracks on their own GPS systems, your buddies will be able to share the experience that you just had on the trail. It’s great for everyone!
The exporting process for sharing tracks/routes is a bit different for each system, but as long as you look up the way to export the files, you’ll be able to share them with whoever you like so they can go and try the same route out for themselves.
What should I consider when purchasing an ATV GPS?
First and foremost, you’ll want a GPS that isn’t overly complicated. It can be tempting to purchase a GPS system that is used by the fastest racers in the world, but chances are it may feature many bells and whistles and you’ll never need and may be more difficult than less expensive units that will fulfill your needs perfectly. A good GPS system will also feature pre-loaded maps that have your favorite trails in them and the topographical information. Many of the manufactures will offer free map updating, which is great because it’ll give you even more options to explore. Depending on what kind of machine you’re putting it on, the size of the screen is important so you can easily see your routes and tracks.
Can I use Google Maps as my GPS?
Yes and no. If your off-road adventures are places where you ‘ve got perfect cell service then Google Maps might be ok for you, but in all reality what are the chances of that? While Google Maps uses satellite technology to pinpoint your location, it still relies on cellular service to update the maps that show where you are. That is why it’s critical that the GPS system you purchase either features preloaded maps or the ability to upload maps.
How does an off-road GPS work?
As mentioned above, GPS units use satellite technology to pinpoint your location. The strength of the signal for your GPS unit depends on how many satellites are used to track your location. This is why when you first turn on your GPS unit, it takes a few minutes to determine your location. If you’re using a GPS with saved or pre-loaded maps that already feature trails and topography of the area, you location is usually accurate within a few feet and you’ll see the map immediately. As mentioned previously, Google Maps relies on cellular service to load maps, so your location can be pinpointed by a satellite but you won’t be able to see landmarks till a map loads.
March 19, 2021: Added additional information on off-road GPS systems.
Sept 16, 2021: Added FAQ, added additional resources, updated product links, updated product descriptions
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How Does an ATV GPS Work?
GPS, or the Global Positioning System, is a network of roughly 30 satellites orbiting the Earth. Originally a US Military tool, regular folks like us have been able to use the signals generated by these satellites to triangulate our positions for some time now. Wherever you are on the planet, at least four GPS satellites are within range of your GPS device. Each satellite sends out its position and the current time at regular intervals. These signals are picked up by your GPS, which then calculates how far away each satellite is based on how long it took for the messages to arrive. As long as your GPS has received signals from a minimum of three satellites, it can pinpoint your location using a process called trilateration. Trilateration is pretty cool. Basically each of the three satellites’ signals will say you’re within a given area, calculated as an oval. Your GPS then pinpoints your exact location by finding where the three ovals interconnect. As software and signal strength has improved over the years, accuracy of best ATV GPS units that we use has greatly improved.
Do You Need an Off-Road GPS for your ATV?
Well, do you like getting lost? I’m kidding, of course. But they do help you stay on the trail and even help you find your way to new trails. Systems like Magellan’s and companies like Yamaha and Polaris are making it easier to find new trails through GPS by having online data you can download. These websites provide you with complete trail maps right on your GPS, and have waypoints and trail info from other users inputted right into the data stream. Very cool stuff. The best ATV GPS systems also work well when you’re trying to ride as a group, by keeping everyone on the same trail.