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The Ultimate Debate: Is GPS or a cell phone a better navigation tool for adventure riding?

Motorcycle with GPS Unit mounted


Proper navigation is crucial for a safe and enjoyable off-road adventure. While many people rely on their mobile phones for navigation, there is an ongoing debate about whether a GPS or cell phone is the better choice for adventure riding. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of both options, providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision for your next off-road adventure.

Understanding Off-Road Motorcycle Navigation:

Before taking your motorcycle off-road, it's essential to understand the available navigation options. GPS devices and cell phones can be valuable assets in tracking your location, finding amenities, and guiding you back to your starting point. It's important to remember that GPS devices and cell phones are not fool-proof and can fail in certain conditions such as poor weather or in remote locations. Always have a backup plan in case your technology fails. Additionally, it's wise to carry a physical map as a backup.

Pros and Cons of Using a Cell Phone for Navigation:

Cell phones offer convenience as long as there is a signal. They have large displays that are easy to read while riding, making them ideal for navigation. Mapping applications have improved significantly, allowing for pre-planned routes and real-time weather updates. However, cell phone signals can be unreliable in remote areas, draining the battery quickly and leaving you without navigation options. Losing your cell phone during an adventure can also be a significant drawback.

Pros and Cons of Using a GPS for Navigation:

GPS navigation systems are specifically designed for navigation and provide a more reliable service in remote areas. They allow you to plan routes, consider the terrain and road conditions, and stay on track without relying on a cellular signal. Some GPS units even offer emergency satellite assistance and information about nearby amenities. The main downside is the upfront investment required, as a high-quality GPS unit can be more expensive than a cell phone. Despite the cost, GPS units are well worth the investment for anyone who wants to explore remote areas with confidence. They provide a reliable, accurate method of navigation that is easy to use and convenient.

Considerations When Choosing Between a Cell Phone or GPS:

Several factors come into play when deciding between a cell phone and GPS for your adventure bike. Consider the coverage of your chosen device, as cell phones may have spotty service in rural areas, while GPS devices always have a satellite connection. Consider the features you need, as GPS devices provide accurate location information, while cell phones offer live data and communication options. Lastly, evaluate your budget and choose the option that best suits your needs and financial situation.

Tips for Optimal Performance Using Both Devices:

For optimal performance, using both devices can be a significant advantage; there are a few essential tips to remember:

  1. Securely mount your GPS device on your motorcycle to prevent bouncing during off-road riding.

  2. Plan your route before leaving to maximize your time on the road.

  3. Program your GPS to avoid roads and stay on off-road trails.

  4. Pay attention to the GPS and the road while driving to maintain safety.

  5. Keep your cell phone charged if you are using it for navigation, utilizing power banks, or connecting directly to your bike.

  6. Download maps, apps, and data to your cell phone when you can access a cellular or internet connection.


When it comes to off-road adventures, having a reliable navigation tool is essential. While cell phones offer convenience, GPS devices are specifically designed for navigation and provide more reliable service in remote areas. You can plan efficient routes, navigate unfamiliar terrain, and even receive emergency assistance by choosing a GPS. Don't embark on your next off-road adventure without a reliable GPS to ensure security and peace of mind. With the right GPS, you can travel confidently knowing you have the right information to navigate unfamiliar terrain and stay safe.


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