All Who Wander Are Not Lost

Lost & Found sign


Stay on track with one of these RV- friendly GPS units as your copilot


We all know the old adage “Getting there is half the fun.” That may in fact be the case, but it’s never any fun getting lost. Tempers flare, blood pressures rise, and the good times cease to roll when you’re pulling a 40-foot fifth-wheel down a one-lane highway that seemingly leads to nowhere. In days gone by, the only recourse to get you back on track was unfolding the map, grabbing the magnifier and poring over the tendrils of tiny lines that were sometimes difficult to identify. Of course, you could stop and ask for directions, but that’s the ultimate concession that your weeks of planning have failed (at least, that’s what I think).
Global Positioning System (GPS) devices have taken most of the guesswork out of navigation, so much so that you basically have to try to get lost these days. There’s always the occasional news article or campfire story about an unfortunate driver following the GPS voice right into a river or lake, but for the most part, today’s GPS devices can be relied upon pretty heavily — provided the maps are up to date, of course.
In addition to simple navigation, GPS units contain a variety of user-friendly settings and options: points of interest, restaurants, hotels, attractions — the list goes on and on. And some units even come preloaded with campground listings, offering travelers the ultimate in RV usability, from campsites to height restrictions to access roads. Throw in the ability for instant updates, Bluetooth compatibility and even speakerphones and wristwatch units, and it’s obvious that the days of folding maps are far back in our rearview mirrors. That’s why we’ve selected the following handful of GPS units with special appeal for RVers.


The RV 760LMT from Garmin has been designed for RVers and offers users a host of features to make RV travel easy. The 760LMT ($399.99) starts with an easy-to-read 7-inch touch display that keeps the driving map onscreen at all times while displaying any additional information alongside. The info includes speed limits, current speed, accurate time of arrival and school-zone warnings.


The unit comes preloaded with America’s RV Parks & Services Directory, which includes a comprehensive listing of nearly 20,000 RV parks and campgrounds in the United States and Canada, including national and state parks and privately owned campgrounds. The directory enables users to search by preferred amenities, so you can easily find what they want, from pet-friendly parks to pull-through sites to free Wi-Fi. The directory also lists more than 14,000 service locations, including towing, tire shops, truck stops and repair centers.
Another highlight of the RV 760LMT is straight out of Star Trek: voice command. The RV 760LMT has voice-activated navigation in addition to its touch-screen interface, so you can keep your hands on the wheel while learning your exact whereabouts. Other user-friendly features include hands-free calling through the unit when it is synced (via a free app) with a compatible Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a smartphone. The RV 760LMT comes with unlimited map upgrades and the ability to receive real-time traffic updates (via your smartphone). The 760 is also available with a backup camera to help with hitching up ($499.99) and keep an eye on surroundings while in camp or on the road.

Dash Cam 20
Dash Cam 20

Speaking about keeping an eye on your surroundings, Garmin also offers the Dash Cam 20 ($249.99), a high-definition (HD) standalone driving recorder with a 2.3-inch display. The Dash Cam 20 records audio and video, with GPS for detailed time and location data pinpointing exactly where and when events occurred. Mount the camera to the windshield, and the Dash Cam records in a continuous loop, using the included 4 GB SD card. To add more memory, add a larger SD card (accepts up to 32 GB). Play back the footage on the LCD display or review later on your computer. The camera has a wide-angle lens that captures the entire road. Once it’s plugged into the vehicle’s 12-volt DC socket, it is recording; no need to worry about starting it up. For a close-up view of vehicle or property damage, you can easily remove the Dash Cam from the vehicle and take snapshots with it.
Garmin | 800-800-1020 |




RoadMate RV9490T-LMB
RoadMate RV9490T-LMB

Magellan offers its popular RoadMate series with a variety of functions, including several designed with RVers in mind. In fact, the RoadMate RV series runs seven models deep, six of which feature a large 7-inch display.
At the top of the food chain is the RV9490T-LMB ($379.99), which offers a unique blend of RV navigation and safety features. The 7-inch display is actually an adjustable day- and night-view high-sensitivity touch screen, and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies make this GPS feel more like the integrated units available in many passenger cars. The wireless capability allows users to receive advanced weather updates,
up-to-the-minute gas prices and even Yelp reviews of the destinations along your route.
RV-specific information includes the preloaded Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory, RV dump stations, Walmart locations and RV-friendly fuel stations. You can also customize a route based on the RV’s size, vehicle type and driving preferences, allowing you to avoid tight clearances, one-way roads or downtown driving. MSRPs for the RoadMate RV units begin at $299, and most are available at
at discounted rates.
If you’re looking for something a little more interactive (though without the RV-specific functionality), the RoadMate 6230-LM Dashcam Navigator ($229.99) is a premium GPS device with the capability to record travel scenery or an unexpected event in front of the RV while on the road. The unit automatically records HD video with the forward-facing dash camera, as video and audio are automatically recorded in an endless loop.

RoadMate 6230-LM Dashcam Navigator
RoadMate 6230-LM Dashcam Navigator

The camera is designed so that the driver does not have to interact with it to record footage. When a collision occurs, a special built-in acceleration sensor called a G-Shock sensor automatically locks video footage, location data and date/time information prior to the incident, providing an accurate record of events. Videos may be played back on the device or on Windows-based computers. The 6230-LM Dashcam Navigator comes with GPS navigation features like Free Lifetime Map Updates, Traffic Camera Alerts by PhantomAlert, Junction View, Landmark Guidance, Best Parking and much more. In addition to this integrated functionality, the 6230-LM Dashcam Navigator is compatible with the Magellan Wireless Back-Up Camera ($149.99).
Magellan | 800-707-9971 |


Rand McNally

RV GPS 7735 LM
RV GPS 7735 LM

Rand McNally’s RV GPS 7735 LM is the latest Good Sam Club-branded GPS device with access to the Good Sam Travel Guide & Campground Directory. This means that users have up-to-date information on some 8,000 rated RV parks, including more than 2,100 Good Sam Parks.
The new model’s higher resolution 7-inch screen and faster processor make trip planning, points-of-interest searches and route customization easy. The 7735 LM offers improved large-vehicle routing with 11 different select­able RV configurations, plus a car mode for when you unhitch. Advanced lane guidance at the bottom of the screen makes at-a-glance navigation easier, while enhanced route customization helps drivers avoid congested areas, low clearances and construction zones.
The 7735 LM ($349.99; Internet sale, $329.99) displays more than 70,000 junctions, using Lane Assist to help guide you to the correct lane for easier city and interstate driving. The GPS finds toll costs and compares routes without tolls, and can connect to Wi-Fi for weather and fuel prices. The device also includes Rand McNally’s Best of the Road trips, adventures and getaways. Find a complete list of features at
Rand McNally |



Via 1605 M RV
Via 1605 M RV

Via 1605 M RV ($229.95) is TomTom’s RV-friendly GPS. The 1605 M RV includes map data specific to oversize vehicles so users can avoid restricted roadways and low bridges. The unit features an interactive 6-inch high-resolution touch screen for easy operation. A split-screen “junction” view enables users to view the map while catching a glimpse of their upcoming exit, making it easier to recognize the correct lane positioning. Owners also receive a 10 percent discount at KOA locations across the United States and Canada, in addition to free map upgrades for life.
Like all TomTom GPS units, the Via 1605 M RV offers real-time arrival info, a points-of-interest database, an audible speeding alert, fast route planning and safety alerts such as unpaved road notifications and recommendations for taking
a break. TomTom units also can quickly calculate an Eco Route, which steers drivers toward the most fuel-efficient way to a destination.

Runner Cardio
Runner Cardio

Although all the devices in this roundup are in fact “portable,” TomTom offers the ultimate in portability with the Runner Cardio watch, a great way to keep an eye on your health and fitness while exploring the countryside or hiking the dunes. The Runner Cardio features a built-in heart monitor and several settings to ensure you get the most from your backcountry travels. Users can adjust the pace, distance and calorie goals, all in a Bluetooth-compatible lightweight wristwatch that’s water-resistant up to 50 meters. You can even share your results with friends on popular running and social media websites and apps. MSRP ranges from $269.99 to $299.99.
TomTom |





  1. About the Garmin-
    Minus- It’s set up for 2 axle vehicles (class A, B, C, etc.), not TT or 5th wheels. As I’m towing in CA at 55MPH (by law), it tells me the speed limit in some places can be up to 70MPH and that I’m going too slow! I can live with that. Some of the “extras” that are available on the smartphone app are only available with a paid subscription. Lastly, I don’t know where they get their business database from. I was in Atascadero CA, and wanted to find the closest donut shop. It told me I had to drive to either a Yum Yum or Winchells donut store in Bakersfield, over 2hrs. away. Those were the only choices, no Mom and Pops. Maybe they only take business addresses who pay, or list only the largest chains. The GPS physically is huge! Can make blind spots on your windshield. You might think about getting a sun shield for it (this goes for any GPS).

    Plus-The GPS physically is huge! Makes it easy to see. I like that it tells me which lane to be in (with moving graphics). I like the bluetooth connection for the phone.

  2. Kris Bunker’s article on RV-friendly GPS units read more like a data sheet for each of the products represented than anything else. To me, any distinction of solutions that stand out would not so much be based on the bells and whistles (or features) of the hardware as it would the quality of the data, i.e. content. I suspect a good number of RVers over age 65 are only now applying the merits of GPS as it relates to this unique interest.

    Younger generations already take GPS for granted and are more likely to use the smartphone on their person than they are yet another gadget with cords to manage, etc. Particularly when the menu structure and other basic operation is as non-intuitive as it is with the many makers of legacy GPS hardware. For example, there is just no comparison for ease of use between my iPhone with map apps from Google and Apple to the Garmin nüvi model that I have.

    While I do continue to use my Garmin product, it is more as an extension of the instrument panel of my truck when I’m driving down the road than it is anything I would exclusively rely on for decision-making. If you want to offer value in your next article on this topic, how about conducting some research on the apps for iOS and Android that compares value specific to the needs and wants of the RV community?

    The makers of GPS hardware with their pricing plans for map updates remind me of companies like Kodak who remained in steadfast denial that film-based photography was a thing of the past. The reality today is that any smartphone will have maps that are current albeit prone to the same imperfections that have long stood in the field of cartography. Once again, I would find it far more valuable to learn about the state of the market whereas apps specific to the RV industry are concerned.

  3. The Good Sam GPS is absolutely horrible. I also have a 7″ Rand McNally model 7710 (basically the same unit but not produced in conjunction with Good Sam) that works fine. But this 7735 model is DEFINITELY NOT worth buying. The battery goes from fully charged to dead in somewhere between 5-20 minutes. I took my first Good Sam 7735 back and exchanged it. The second Good Sam 7735 did exactly the same thing. I complained to Rand McNally and was told that I should be happy if the battery lasts 20 minutes on the Good Sam 7735 unit. I then complained to Camping World and was told that maybe the Good Sam 7735 should just be kept plugged in at all times. That is ridiculous. For one thing, not all vehicles will keep that GPS charging when the key is turned off. (Hope you like waiting while the unit reloads and you have to reprogram.) I have 2 other Rand McNally units which I also bought from Camping World. The battery on my 7710, after about 3 years, still lasts for over 3 hours. But what really burns me up is the warranty. You can return a defective GPS to Camping World within 30 days and they will replace it. So, your RV finally gets out of the shop (again) and you set off on a trip, only to find the second GPS is also defective. By the time you can get back to a Camping World, maybe it’s now been 31 days, 1 day past your 30 day return period. And that extended warranty you paid for does not kick in until the manufacturer’s warranty has expired (in this case, 1 year). So your only option is to mail your new GPS to Rand McNally and they will send you back a used, reconditioned unit. Not another new unit like you just paid for 31 days ago. (Check your manufacturer’s warranty, they say.) Too bad, cause you could have saved some money and bought a used, reconditioned unit to begin with. So after all the frustration and trips back and forth to Camping World (hope yours is closer than ours), you end up with a used, reconditioned Good Sam GPS that probably doesn’t work any better than your new one that you sent in.

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