Stay safe on the trail; know where you are By Casey Cordeiro
Photos by Casey Cordeiro and the included manufacturers
Having a GPS system on board your ATV or UTV is an invaluable resource when you’re out on the trail. Whether you use it for navigation or for emergencies, a mobile GPS can get you to and from destinations, pinpoint your location, and sometimes communicate with others. In the last several months we have put all of these GPS systems to good use. One UTV adventure was 710 miles in length over a seven-day period. Accurate route guidance was imperative on that trip. We were able to see how these different GPS systems perform in the real world.
We couldn’t leave out mounts and different mounting solutions that keep your GPS secure while out on the trail. There are many innovative GPS mounting solutions, some of which allow you to take your devices from one vehicle to another. We love these portable and user-friendly parts, which allow you to truly create your own GPS system. So, let’s navigate through these GPS systems and mounts.
Price: Free app download
Avenza maps is an app built to run on mobile devices, and it is strong in the area of offline use. Avenza is available for either iOS or Android software systems, and it allows you to pinpoint your location on pre-downloaded maps on your device. This is especially useful if you are planning to head into a remote area with no cell coverage. Once you download the app, then you go in their database and purchase maps for the specific areas you want to ride. After purchasing and downloading the maps you want, you’ll be able to use them any time, with cell signal or not. You can see hiking and off-road trails on the map. Like other GPS systems, Avenza allows you to plot and record information about locations, measure area and distance, import and export place marks, and plot photos of a given area.
We have used this several times when attending the annual King of the Hammers race, and the system does work extremely well in a remote location. Being able to zoom in and out of the map is a very handy feature, and the topographic background allows you to read terrain without having a satellite image. We don’t find this system to be quite as user-friendly as a regular GPS system or LeadNav. If you’re looking for several mapping solutions for your next adventure, we would recommend having Avenza downloaded on your mobile device, along with the maps that you are planning to use of your riding area. This will ensure that you have several different systems with you when looking to get in and out of a particular area.
If you’re looking for a GPS system that is equally capable on- and off-road, then this should be your go-to system. Garmin has a long heritage producing top-notch GPS systems, whether they are handheld or wrist wearables. The Overlander is Garmin’s first 7-inch, touchscreen, large GPS that is built with Overland-capable features, like pre-loaded camping areas, thousands of pre-loaded off-road trails and points of interest along your route. After using this system on our big trip, we can confidently say that the hi-res, bright screen is one of the best features on this GPS. We recorded our entire route on this GPS, and the track recorder didn’t have one hiccup in it even after tracking non-stop for seven days. We ran into rain along our route, and the exposed Overlander didn’t have any issues with the wet weather. One favorite feature is the Overlander attaches to its magnetic mount, which we easily attached to a Ram mount. You can grab the Overlander off of the mount and use it out of the vehicle without ever loosening a bolt, and the Overlander magnets are plenty strong for rough trails. This is essential when you are showing comrades the route when you’re on the trail.
Overall, the Garmin Overlander is the best mobile GPS system we have used recently. It’s well worth its entry price. The hi-res screen, great build quality, usability on both on-road and off-road, and fabulous mounting system all make this Overlander a great GPS system option.
Price: $19.99 for the app download on iOS devices only (Apple products)
If you’re an avid adventure person who likes to follow your off-the-grid adventure dreams, then there is no better mapping software for you to use than LeadNav. This iPhone- and iPad-only software (built to work on iOS) allows you to perform all of the basic functions of a GPS—tracking your routes, placing markers and creating collections for the different places you visit. However, LeadNav executes the route-planning function better than everyone else. Sure, Garmin and Magellan have this capability, but LeadNav allows you to easily create your own routes right on your iPhone or iPad. When we were planning our 710-mile adventure, LeadNav was a crucial component to getting the route correct and making sure that we were successful. Even with the basic app download, we were able to utilize the regular functions to properly plan a route. Sure, upgrading to the Pro Pack would have helped when it came to editing the final route, but you don’t have to spend the extra money if you don’t want to.
LeadNav is an exceptional app for the price, especially if you already own an iOS device. Using the system is very intuitive, and you’ll appreciate the developer’s consistent updates to the system. The only issue we have had is an occasional crash of the app. Whether that’s because of our specific device or the app having issues, we don’t know exactly what is going on. If you’re worried about taking your phone or tablet along with you, check the mounting solutions elsewhere in this article for secure device attachments.
Yamaha Adventure Pro with Magellan TRX
If you’re in the market for a Yamaha, then an Adventure Pro accessory upgrade should be on your purchasing list. The price is right for a fully integrated GPS and instrumentation system in a vehicle, and Yamaha really hit the nail on the head with what driver’s want. Your basic instruments are all there on the Adventure Pro—tach, speedo, temperatures, trip meters and more. The transfer between instrumentation screens to the navigation screen is an easy process, and the overall layout of the screens is good. The resolution doesn’t seem quite as good as the Overlander, but the fact that this Adventure Pro is built into the Yamaha electronics is worth the entry price.
One of the best features of the Adventure Pro is that all of Magellan’s pre-loaded off-road trail database is on the Adventure Pro. You can easily see other trails that riders have already taken, giving you an additional resource that comes in handy if you get lost. It does also track your ride thoroughly, and it allows you to keep collections of all of your rides. We found the Magellan online software easy to use if you want to plan rides and send them to your tablet for your next adventure. Once you get to know it, this software is very user-friendly and well-integrated with Yamaha vehicles.
Polaris Ride Command
Price: Varies with particular vehicle
Besides the Adventure Pro system from Yamaha, Polaris’ Ride Command system is the only other in-vehicle instrumentation and mapping system from a UTV manufacturer. Polaris has had years to dial in the Ride Command system, and they have done a great job integrating this latest edition into their line—for RZRs, but also available in General and Ranger models. Ride Command has basic instrumentation functions that you’ve come to expect with this glove-touch 7-inch weatherproof screen, functions like a speedometer, tach, water temp, fuel gauge, trip meter and more. Then, you have the real beauty of the Ride Command system—the GPS functionality. Polaris has spent many years gathering trail information and maps from Ride Command users all over the globe, and these trails are pre-loaded into the Ride Command system in a Polaris UTV. As you’re driving, you can see different trails that people have ridden in the past. This mapping helps you navigate, and the built-in Ride Command display offers high-resolution graphics and a bright appearance that makes it easy to see on the trail. The actual GPS system isn’t as easy to use as the Magellan or Garmin systems, mainly because it is more difficult to share trails and perform other GPS functions, but you can still record your rides and put place markers on the trails you ride. As far as a factory built-in GPS system, this is the best on the market at this point.
Look for the Ride Command system in various Polaris RZR, General and Ranger models. If you’re into mapping your own software and like built-in technology, then the Ride Command system is a must-have. The operating system also allows you to have control over Bluetooth functionality when you pair your phone/mobile device to the Ride Command system. Make sure you purchase it with your vehicle, or you can expect to pay upwards of $1,549.99 to put Ride Command in as an accessory.
Assault Industries Mobile Device Holder
Assault has an innovative phone holster that you can use with your personal cell phone. This is ideal if you’re using LeadNav, Avenza Maps or any other mapping software that you run on your phone. With three mounting options available, we like how you can choose a RAM mounting option with this device. If you do this, then you could theoretically use this mount for your other GPS systems that you use in the future. We also like how this Assault mount is made from durable material and is spring-loaded to make sure your phone doesn’t go bouncing down the trail.
On our 710-mile trip, we used an assortment of Ram mounts for our phones, tablets and GPS systems. The beauty of Ram mounts is that you can literally use them for anything and any type of mounting solution that you need to create. You can literally create your ideal mounting solution by using parts and pieces that Ram makes. Need to alter your mounting system for the future? No problem, just put a different style of mount at the end of your connection and you’re good to go. The Ram mount’s multiple-system compatibility and expandability are literally unmatched. Check out their website and build your own system. Plus, with a lifetime warranty, these products come with peace of mind. We had nothing but praise for Ram mounts after our rough and long trip.
Axia Alloys Device Mounting Arm for GPS & Tablets
If you need a clamp for your UTV, then Axia Alloys has one. Their proprietary clamp system is patented and imitated by almost everyone else in the industry, because their system just works. We like how the engineers at Axia have developed a tablet mount that allows you to securely attach tablets, phones, GPS systems and other devices to this extension arm. All you have to do is choose the correct end adapter when you complete your order, either AMPS, VESA or a rear clip for Lowrance Trophy GPS systems, which are commonly used in off-road racing. There is a ton of adjustability built into this mount, and you can extend it by adding additional extensions if you’d like.
Mob Armor Mob Mount Magnetic
Similar to the magnetic mounts that many people have found useful in their road vehicles, Mob Armor is using the same technology for their off-road-capable Mob Mount Magnetic. Pick a size that will fit your phone and you’re good to go. The top mount ensures that your device is secure on the trail, and we like how small this magnetic mount is. On vehicles with limited dash space, this is an ideal mount. Plus, the swivel feature ensures that you can position your phone wherever you need it to be.
Rokform Pro-Series UTV Mount
Built to be mounted to any cage measuring 1.75 to 2 inches in diameter, the Rokform Pro-Series UTV mount allows you to securely attach your phone via a dual-locking system. The system is all aluminum for strength and durability. This mount is built with four points of adjustment and allows you to use your phone in either portrait or landscape orientation. We really like how the attachment point (one of them) is built into the case of your phone. So, not only can you use this in your UTV, but you can also use this in your street vehicle or on different off-road vehicles that have Rokform mounts.