GPS for Big Rigs and Big Trucks

Friday, December 17, 2010

A reader wrote in a little while ago and asked what we use for navigation to avoid roads that aren't suitable for big rigs and in our case, big trucks. She got some good replies that I will post here after telling you what we use.

Stu purchased a Garmin Streetpilot 7200T both for it's larger size as well as the truck route setting. It's done pretty well by us and if we are in the truck alone, we can change to auto routing. Last year we purchased the lifetime update service and try to update it at least twice a year. That model is now discontinued, I found one at Amazon...pricey!
In addition we have the following books that help us double check any routing ahead of time.
You can download POI (points of interest) for your mapping software and GPS devices for low clearances, truck stops and a lot more. Some of the places to check are:
There are a lot more out there, I'm sure, but these are the two we've used consistently.

Here is the text of the emails received by our reader in response to her plea for help:

I use a GARMIN nuvi 465 T. It can be used in car or truck mode. In truck mode you enter your height, weight, width and length and the gps will keep you off the narrow streets and you don't have to worry about height / weight restrictions. ....and if you heed it's warnings you will have room to turn around.

I use two software programs to plan our trips. I use the Trailer Life Directory CD program which allows you to set:
  • Length, width and height limits for your type of RV.
  • What type roads you prefer to travel on.
  • The amount of hours you want to drive daily, plus the length of time for breaks.
  • It also will give you a cost of the trip when you set up mpg, meals & accommodation costs.
  • Of course it also lets you find campgrounds and POI along your route.
The Trailer Life program also allows for a USB GPS receiver so it can become your GPS device. This requires a computer operating in your vehicle. Right now I use my HP 17" laptop on a Truck installed desk stand with an inverter plugged into the auxiliary power, but am looking at Netbooks which are smaller and easier to deal with while traveling.

Before knowing the Trailer Life Directory supported GPS I bought the Delorme Street Atlas with the Earthmate GPS receiver. It does some of the same things the Trailer Life Directory does, but does not have settings for the size of you RV.
I like it because it has better a better GIS base, nice graphics when in GPS mode plus it has aerial views available for the maps.It also has a voice feature so you can ask it for your next turn without having to enter anything on the computer.

I have not tried using the Earthmate GPS receiver with the Trailer Life program, but it is compatible.

Cobra makes a full fledged truckers GPS. Although I have not used this GPS unit I have read good reports about it. This is GPS used by truck drivers.

So, hope this helps some prospective RVers decide how to help navigate with a big rig!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu


  1. I always learn something when I read your blog. This was great today as we are still looking for a good GPS. We have one now built in to the truck but not supported by updates. :( so I do you use it some but plan my route on Google maps too. I agree having the Mountain Directories is a great idea. This is our first visit out west and it has been a great tool. Thanks again for all the tools and links. :)

  2. I like the picture of the deck officer with the sextant. It reminds me of my younger days.

  3. Great husband is checking out the links and other info.


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