GPS Systems for Off-roading and Overlanding

Overlanding is a passion for those who are seeking a journey for the soul and is also an expedition into the most remote locations in the country. It is about self-reliance and self-discovery. More importantly, it’s about the journey down the path least traveled as one becomes closer to the natural beauty of the world around them.

Since over landing is all about the journey, you need to be fairly good with your map skills. After all, you don’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere. But, even if you are not the best at navigating a map, there is one tool that will help make sure that you arrive at your destination safe and sound.

Thanks to the many advancements in technology, off-roaders are able to utilize the global positioning system or (GPS).

GPS is a system of satellites that are used for determining the exact position of a receiving unit. Although it’s possible to use your cell phone’s built-in GPS capabilities, it’s not always the safest option to rely upon.

Why Do Overlanders Need a GPS?

It is true the concept of overlanding focuses on the journey itself and not the destination, you still need to know where your final destination lies.

As you track through the great outdoors seeking that remote destination, you need to make sure that you are headed in the right direction. Sure, your cell phone will help you for a while, but once it loses reception it will not do you much good.

With the help of a dedicated GPS system, you are able to determine where you are at all times. After all, losing your way in a remote, and unfamiliar location can be very dangerous for anyone.

There are times when you may find yourself far away from any form of civilization, and unable to refuel your vehicle, but with a quality GPS system, you will be able to find your headings and get back on the trail.

How to Choose the Best Overlanding GPS

There are many different GPS systems available on the market today. While most cars have a built-in GPS system in their dashboard, these are only able to assist you when you are driving on established roads. Once you get away from civilization and start crossing the vast wilderness, those dashboard GPS systems won’t be much good.

It’s important to pick the best off-road GPS systems that you can find. These devices also use maps, but these maps are specifically designed for people who venture off the beaten path.

Most units come with a default map when purchased, but you may also purchase additional maps from the manufacturer depending on where you plan on going off-roading. These specially designed maps provide a number of important pieces of information that an overlander needs.

Not only can they help you stay on route, but they can also indicate various points of interest that you may want to check out on the way. But the best part is, that they do not need any connection to the Internet or data to show you the way.

How to Keep GPS Without Service

Believe it or not, if your mobile device has built-in GPS, that system will continue to work even without any access to the Internet or cellular service.

While most apps will require connectivity to function properly, the GPS feature in your cell phone will work regardless of whether you have service or not.

So even if you choose not to purchase a dedicated GPS system, you can still rely on your smartphone, as long as you have already downloaded the proper maps, and keep it fully charged.

Magellan vs. Garmin

While there are many manufacturers of GPS systems, the two most well-known are Magellan and Garmin. Since Garmin and Magellan were the first manufacturers to provide GPS systems, they are generally the first names that come to mind when someone mentions a dedicated GPS system.


Magellan was the first manufacturer of GPS systems for mobile use. The company was founded back in 1986 when they developed the NAV 1000, which was the first commercially produced GPS receiver.

Over the years, Magellan has expanded its reach around the globe and manufacturers some of the most popular receivers in the world.

The company also spends a lot of time and effort to ensure that they have regularly updated maps. While it’s easy to maintain maps for inner-city driving, what Magellan specializes in maps for the open ocean, and the great outdoors.

Every quarter, they release new map updates which you can access with ease through their subscription service. However, if you do not want to sign up for the subscription, then you can still purchase maps individually for less than one hundred dollars.


The year that Magellan released their NAV 1000, Gary Burrell and Min Kao founded the Garmin manufacturing company. The company name is a portmanteau of the owner’s names, “Gar” and “Min”. While Magellan focused on the manufacturing of commercial-grade GPS systems that are commonly used in cargo ships, Garmin instead focused on recreational uses. In fact, their first line of GPS receivers were handheld units.

Today, however, Garmin has expanded a lot in the GPS industry. Not only do they still produce a number of popular handheld devices, but they also produce GPS receivers for cars, as well as wearable GPS units. These wearable GPS units are designed for recreational users such as hikers, skiers, and other similar athletes.

Once you purchase a Garmin GPS unit, there is absolutely no need to sign up for a subscription service. There are no recurring fees associated with the regular use of a GPS device. You simply purchase one, plug it in, and began using it. However, just like with Magellan devices, if you want access to updated maps or other features, then you’ll have to pay a fee for the upgrade.

In the end, having a GPS device in your over landing vehicle is a great way to ensure your safety as you hit the open road. You won’t have to worry about getting lost as you trek through the great outdoors because you’ll always be able to look at your exact coordinates. With a good GPS system, you can take your adventure anywhere, and get there safely.

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