When you’re out exploring in your RV you aren’t always going to have cell phone service. It’s easy to get lost on rural roads and you might end up going down a dirt road you won’t be able to turn around on.
As full-time RVers, we’ve experienced this very problem lots of times when trying to find the right campsite in a national forest or in the mountains.
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At the beginning of our travels, we only used the GPS on our phones, but after getting lost a couple of times we realized the value of a quality RV GPS that works no matter where you are.
If you’ve begun researching the best RV navigation systems or GPS you’ve probably noticed that Garmin is definitely the front runner.
But what makes Garmin GPS systems so much better than the rest?
Accuracy is key when it comes to RV GPS, you don’t want to end up somewhere you can’t get out of while driving a giant Class A motorhome or towing a long travel trailer.
Superior updated maps and the best route recommendations for your specific rig are the main draws to Garmin’s RV GPS.
Other RV GPS systems are not much better than the navigation system in your smartphone and it can sometimes be worse with outdated maps and information.
When you’re out traveling in an RV you want the best information available, and that’s what Garmin offers with their quality RV GPS navigation systems.
What Garmin GPS Should I Get for my RV?
While there are other RV GPS options out there the only one really worth getting is one made by Garmin for the reasons stated in the paragraph above. The next issue is deciding on what Garmin navigation system is best for your specific needs.
There are a lot of different kinds of Garmin GPS. The most popular version is the Garmin Drive 52 GPS Navigator (click to view on Amazon).
The Garmin Drive is an excellent GPS system that works for all kinds of vehicles but Garmin actually makes two RV GPS navigators with some features that make them fantastic for all kinds of campers and travelers.
Either version will be fantastic for RVers and a huge upgrade from the GPS on a smartphone.
To help you decide on which one is right for you I’ll outline the key differences so you know what features you’re getting.
As you can see the only real difference between the Garmin RV 1090 and the 890 is the size of the display.
The 1090 has a 10 inch monitor size while the 890 is 8 inches.
The model number states the monitor size and they are a little misleading because you would think the 1090 model would have more features since it’s a much larger number than 890. But it’s really just a 2 inch display difference.
Deciding on the right one for you really comes down to the size. If you have trouble seeing monitors while you’re driving the larger option is going to be better for you but it also takes up more space on the dash.
One of the best ways to get a good idea about how they are going to look is to cut out two cardboard pieces in the dimensions of the two options and put them up in the dash of your RV or tow vehicle.
It’s a good way to see how much space the monitors will take and if you really will need the larger option to see better.
Garmin RV 890 Dimensions: 7.87″ wide x 4.92″ high x 0.79″ deep
Garmin RV 1090 Dimensions: 9.65″ wide x 6.06″ high x 0.83″ deep
Garmin RV GPS Reviews & Info
Since the only difference between the two Garmin RV GPS systems is the size, I’m going to put them together in this review and info section.
All of the features and technology are the same for each model. The only difference is the monitor size and the price.
The Garmin RV GPS navigations systems have a touch display that can be set up in a horizontal landscape or vertical portrait mode.
There is both a suction cup and a screw down mount included with purchase as well as a 1″ ball adapter with AMPS plate, a 12 volt power cable, a USB cable, and an instruction manual.
The first and best feature for RVers is the custom vehicle input that’s only available on these models.
You can put in the total height, length, and weight of your RV set up (this includes if you’re towing a trailer).
Garmin will then choose routes for you based on your camper and its limitations. That means it will try and avoid bridges that aren’t tall enough or roads with a weight rating that’s too low.
Note this feature is something that works 99% of the time but you still need to be alert and careful when driving. Make sure you always take note of road signs and warnings just in case the GPS has not been updated or it missed something.
The RV customization is something you don’t get with a smartphone GPS and it’s not usually as accurate with other brands that might offer a similar feature.
As you drive the Garmin will also warn you of other important road issues like steep grades, sharp curves, and narrowness.
Another RV specific feature you only get with the Garmin RV GPS is preloaded directories for RV parks and campgrounds.
There’s also information from TripAdvisor, Ultimate Public Campgrounds, KOA, iOverlander, US National Parks, PlanRV, and FourSquare.
Having all of the destination recommendations and ratings for the places you are visiting in one place can be really nice to have. The Garmin might tell you about a point of interest or a nearby attraction you wouldn’t have found on your own.
The Garmin RV GPS can connect to smartphones via Bluetooth, this will allow you to make and answer phone calls directly from the monitor and you will also see the notifications from your phone on the large navigation screen.
To keep the maps and software updated it can connect to Wifi. Whenever you’re at home the Garmin can connect to your home Wifi and do the necessary maintenance on its own.
Garmin also makes an app called the Garmin Drive you can use on your phone to keep the RV GPS updated on the latest traffic conditions and weather.
There’s even a voice assistant on the unit that allows you to change navigation or ask questions. This makes it much easier when you are traveling solo and need to make changes while driving.
Last but not least Garmin also makes a wireless backup camera called the Garmin B 35 (click to view on Amazon) that uses the GPS monitor.
That means you won’t need two monitors for a GPS and a rearview camera.
The only downside to the backup camera is it’s not the best for longer travel trailers and 5th-wheels. But it works great for motorhomes and camper vans.
Both versions of the Garmin RV GPS navigation system are fantastic choices for every kind of RVer. You want something that’s dependable and customizable to your specific camper for safer traveling and better routes.
Driving or towing RVs is a lot different than driving a car and you want a GPS that will help you get where you’re going and not make it more difficult.
It’s also good to have when you find yourself in the forest and there’s no cell phone service.
Frequently Asked Questions About Garmin RV GPS
Do the Garmin RV 890 and 1090 GPS have lifetime map updates?
Yes, both of these RV GPS navigation systems by Garmin have lifetime map updates.
You don’t need to worry about the roads changing over time because both of these can connect to Wifi to update software and maps.
Does Garmin have an RV app?
Not technically, but either of the Garmin RV GPS systems can connect to the Garmin Drive App which will update your GPS on things like weather, live traffic, and allow you to see your phone notifications directly on the GPS monitor.
Why use the Garmin RV GPS instead of a regular GPS or a smartphone GPS?
The main reason to get an RV specific navigation system like the 890 or 1090 by Garmin is the custom RV measurements you can input into the system.
There’s no other GPS or app that will do this as well as Garmin and it will help you choose better routes that are more suited to the weight, height, and width of your RV.
The points of interest and built in campground finder are really useful as well and a good way to see what options are around you without having to look it up on your phone.
Do the Garmin maps work without cell phone service?
Yes, maps are pre-downloaded onto your Garmin that will show you where you are and what’s around you even without cell service.
The only things that won’t work are the features you get when you pair a phone like voice assistance, live traffic, and weather.
Does the Garmin RV GPS record travel history?
Yes, both of the Garmin RV navigation systems will record your travel history so you can return to past trips or see where you have traveled.
Have any more questions about the Garmin RV GPS? Leave a comment below.