Detailed Review & Overview for the All-New Garmin Tread Series Overland Edition: Trail Navigation, Route Planning, Emergency Communications & More
Wow, before we begin… this is one of the most dialed, heavy-duty, all-In-one off-road GPS units we have ever seen!
If you’re familiar with the popular Garmin Overlander navigation unit that came out a couple of years back, you’ll love the latest update to their off-road-focused lineup!
Building upon its popular features, the brand-new Garmin Tread Overland and SxS models offer a more comprehensive package for your outdoor adventures. I’m super stoked to share my thoughts and review the 8″ Tread Overland model, so keep reading to find out!
Find It Online:
Garmin Tread Overland (available in 8″ and 10″ screen sizes)
- Amazon: Check Price
- Garmin Direct: Check Price
Garmin – Long-Standing, Established Navigation Company
Garmin has a significant reputation in the outdoor recreation space. Despite branching out across various product markets in recent years, they have always had one theme: exploration.
One of my earliest memories of a Garmin product was my dad’s early car navigation device. This was long before the days of running GPS off your phone and well before cars had built-in navigation. Garmin started to bridge the gap between reading paper maps, printing out trip routes, and how we navigate our travels today.
As smartphones came onto the scene, dedicated GPS navigation units started to be rendered obsolete (to a degree). In light of this, Garmin began to expand its consumer base and make waves in the fitness and outdoor enthusiast market. I personally own a fitness watch in their Forerunner line (intended for runners) and their Fenix line is wildly popular for the serious explorer. The latter can be found with features such as trail breadcrumbing, GPS tracking, and emergency SOS.
Garmin Tread Series
So what would we get if we combined Garmin’s traditional car navigation unit with their more recent technology centered around the outdoors? We get the Garmin Tread series of navigation units. At a high level, these will navigate your adventure long after you’ve left the asphalt road. You now have trail navigation, emergency InReach, and location technology all wrapped into one device that is also IP67 weather resistant.
The new Tread series of navigation units come in two variants. The Tread Overland is available in 8″ or 10″ screen size, and Tread Powersport, is available with an 8″ screen. Fortunately, the internal hardware and software feature-set is identical in all models.
What is Garmin InReach?
InReach is a subscription-based, satellite communications service offered by Garmin. This technology brings the benefits of satellite communication in a more consumer-focused manner. Historically when we think of satellite communications, we think of a bulky satellite phone and maybe a large antenna.
Garmin currently offers a few easy-to-use handheld models that utilize this technology. The most significant benefit of bringing one of these devices with you off-grid is retaining the ability for emergency communications or even SOS notification to dedicated emergency response services.
What was until recently limited to a dedicated, handheld device is also built into the Garmin Tread Overland Series.
What’s in the Box?
The Tread Overland models will include the following:
- Tread Overland Unit
- Suction Cup Mount
- Vehicle Power Cable
- Locking magnet-assisted mount (to pair with the section cup)
- USB-C Cable
Unsurprisingly, the build quality of the Tread Overland is top-notch.
This thing is definitely built for adventure, whether it’s mounted in your rig or carried on your person. There is zero play in the screen itself and the housing has zero flex. What I like most about the build quality is the rubberized texture all around. Although this device has a MIL-Spec drop rating, why put that to the test when you can help prevent dropping it altogether?
The weight of this device is significant, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It feels substantial and like it can take a beating. This is not built like a run-of-the-mill tablet, and I’m just glad that they beefed up the windshield mount to make sure it stays secure!
Capacitive Touch Screen
The screen itself is super bright, and I’m not exaggerating at all here. I ran a system update out of the box, and upon restart, the screen brightness was defaulted to 100% and nearly blinded me. However, this brightness will come in handy when you’re hitting the trails in extra sunny weather.
A capacitive touch screen is used here, which means it has similar touch sensitivity to the phones or tablets that you’re used to. Older navigation units used to use resistive-type screens where you had to really press on them for input.
I’m a massive fan of the magnetic windshield mount that the Tread Overland uses.
The unit charges wirelessly via metal contacts in the magnetic mount. This is a well-thought-out feature if you need to remove your device quickly. The magnet itself is plenty strong enough to hold the device in place while driving on pavement, but a sliding lock mechanism should always be used.
Tread Overland devices operate on Android 10 and are fortunately reasonably snappy.
Garmin’s custom UI doesn’t seem to bog the device down too much and includes useful pitch/roll measurement apps.
Home Screen Customization
If you’re not a fan of how the default screen/widget configuration is out of the box, you have the freedom to rearrange it however you like.
Since this is based on Android, several other built-in widgets are available to add as you see fit. You can even add multiple home screens by just swiping right and adding to your heart’s content.
Pitch & Roll
The Pitch and Roll app will display that exact information in real-time, which is fantastic if your rig doesn’t have a built-in option!
Altimeter, Barometer & Compass
The “ABC” app helps you monitor your ascent/descent and a helpful compass all on one screen.
I like that these are all displayed in large, bold font to be super easy to read at a glance.
Check this app periodically to stay ahead of any inclement weather so you can plan accordingly.
This is especially useful if you have a complete camp set-up and bad news is on the way. Keep you and yours informed and safe out there!
Tread Overland takes into account several factors here. You can specify whether you drive an off-road capable vehicle, its size, if it has 4WD, and even how much ground clearance you have. Garmin helps take all of this into consideration so that you can pick and navigate trails that are appropriate for your vehicle.
You can even set your “Garmin Adventurous Routing” level, which determines how much pavement you want to stay on during your trip. There are four levels to choose from, and Garmin will let you know how each will affect your ETA (talk about attention to detail!).
If your current route encounters something that falls outside of the criteria you have set in the profile, you will see an advisory notice pop up during navigation. This is a feature that I would never have thought of but makes perfect sense. Knowing ahead of time whether you can make it through a trail should always be the first step in route planning.
Round Trip App
One of the quirkiest features that I found was “Round Trip”.
This app was specifically designed for the most indecisive adventurer.
It will ask you for how far or long you want to drive, which direction, where you’re starting from and will output several round-trip routes that match your criteria.
If you’ve got a little one that only falls asleep on joy rides, this feature is definitely for you!
Discover Your Next Adventure
Garmin makes it easy to find or discover your next adventure in various ways. Use one of the built-in repositories to find your next destination or enter your own the old-school way; it’s totally up to you!
What I like most about having all of this built-in vs. pulling that from the cloud is that you can always pull them up. The downfall of web-based mapping is that route planning and research are nearly impossible when you’re out of cell range.
Route Planner & GPX File Import Ability
If you use popular trail map services, you can import the GPX files directly to your Tread Overland for use. This feature is killer! You can also do this in the Tread mobile app and wirelessly sync all of the data.
Once all of your waypoints have been loaded in, Tread Overland allows you to create full-blown travel routes. This will allow you to input all of your stops ahead of time rather than input a search at every stop along the way. Over time, you’ll likely accumulate tons of data, but Garmin has you covered with a MicroSD card expansion for storage.
Download Detailed Satellite Imagery
Pictured: Options for downloading satellite imagery.
Pictured: Downloaded satellite imagery zoomed all the way in.
It’s never a bad idea to download sections of offline maps for the areas you plan on exploring.
The ability to download detailed satellite imagery is super helpful for route planning so you can spot significant obstacles.
Final Thoughts On Software
The software features are admittedly way more comprehensive than I thought they would be.
I had expected to see some offline navigation and driving metrics as I have experienced with previous dedicated navigation devices. I covered some of the most stand-out features that came with regular use to me, but there are certainly even more at your disposal with this device.
The Tread App
The Tread mobile app allows you to do all of your route planning on your phone and sync it all to your Tread device when you’re done. One significant benefit of this feature is that you’ll be able to do all of the route research and pull GPX (map) files anywhere you go. This feature is especially great when someone tells you about a new trail, but you might not have your Tread device on you.
The Tread Overland will also sync weather updates and message notifications when paired to your phone and in use. This, however, is provided that you still have a cell signal.
Real World Use
Easy To Detach
The windshield mount that Garmin uses is super sturdy. With it, your device is both secure and easily detachable at the same time. I can press the on-device buttons and screen with zero movements.
In addition, I’ve taken some extremely rutted-out forest roads at moderate speed, and again, it didn’t budge. That’s impressive, considering this is not a lightweight device. What I like about a magnet mount is that the unit can be easily detached. This is great if I need to show a buddy something about the current route or if I need to leave the car parked somewhere.
Different Sizes For Different Rigs
If you drive a vehicle with a mid-size or smaller windshield, I would recommend going with an 8″ screen model as this already takes up a decent amount of your outward visibility.
The 10″ screen option would be more ideally suited for full-size vehicles.
S.O.S. – Always Within Reach
On the left side of the device, an S.O.S. button is covered by a bright orange door.
If you ever need emergency services quickly, say, in a vehicle rollover incident, press and hold this button to send an alert and your exact location to the proper authorities.
Pictured: Normal driving view when navigation is not in use.
Pictured: Navigation in-use with trip metrics displayed as side app.
Navigation is super straightforward, and you can even display a side app simultaneously.
There are tons of options here, ranging from standard trip metrics to real-time elevation or pitch and roll.
Pictured: Standard trip metrics app.
Clicking on a pinned side app will launch it fully, and you can simply hit the back button to resume navigation. You have the option to display all of the relevant trip information that you need, and none that you don’t.
Built-in U.S. Public & Private Land Maps
Exploring public lands is always fun, but you occasionally cross over to private lands without noticing “Posted” signs. Knowing you’re treading on non-private land is huge. Having private land maps built-in means that you don’t need to scramble to find a cell signal and check that you are not trespassing. It goes without saying that not all private landowners will be equally as kind to unwelcomed guests.
Optional Equipment Add-Ons
The versatility of the Tread series continues with Garmin’s optional accessories. Although I didn’t get the chance to test these personally, the concept is awesome! Popular accessory switches typically involve running wires through the firewall to the switch located inside the cabin. Garmin’s PowerSwitch offers a wireless solution where the accessories connect to a module in your engine bay. From there, they can then be controlled via the Tread unit. In my opinion, this is a killer solution if custom wiring isn’t your jam.
Find It Online:
- Garmin PowerSwitch: Check Price
Garmin Group Ride Radio
If you like to travel in packs, this accessory makes it super simple to communicate and share each other’s location on group adventures. The Group Ride Radio will pair directly with your tread unit to enable push-to-talk communications. This is perfect in the event that anyone gets separated from the herd.
Find It Online:
- Garmin Group Ride Radio: Check Price
Garmin GPS Dog Tracker
My dog isn’t willing to run alongside my rig while hitting the trails, but this is an excellent accessory if yours does. The Tread unit is compatible with Garmin’s dog tracking collar that is commonly used for sporting/hunting dogs. Pairing these devices lets you see your dog’s location as a direct overlay on your navigation screen. Pretty slick!
Find It Online:
- Garmin GPS Dog Tracker: Check Price
Tread Series Overland Edition VS. Overlander
Left: Garmin Tread Overland | Right: Garmin Overlander
The names of the new Tread Overland and its predecessor may seem confusing. However, these devices have some major differences in their feature set.
What’s the Same
- Both devices feature similar navigation abilities
- They have the same durable build quality
- Both utilize magnetic mounting and charging to your windshield
What’s New & Improved
- Garmin Tread Overland starts with a higher resolution 8″ screen size whereas the older Overlander model was only available with a lower resolution 7″ screen
- The Tread Overland is compatible with the mobile Tread app that allows you to sync all of your route-planning work between your devices
- Battery life has been improved and nearly doubled in the new model (6-hours vs. 3-hours)
- Garmin InReach built-in on Tread Overland vs. a separate InReach device needed for pairing to Overlander
- Tread Overland is compatible with the optional accessories mentioned above, whereas the older model is not
Tread Overland VS. Mobile Off-Road Apps
I have some experience using Gaia maps on my phone and my 2021 head unit via Android Auto.
While Gaia has a very robust set of features, I will say that its UI has a bit of a learning curve. When I’m behind the wheel, I want a simple UI. This is so that I can keep my eyes as focused on the road (or dirt), as long as possible. If you do wish to import GPX map files like you can in Gaia, you can do so with Tread Overland as well!
Although the price may seem a bit steep at first, you have to consider what this device is bringing to the table. With it, you won’t need a separate emergency communication device, navigation device, or a trail map subscription. Plus, purchasing these separately, would add up rather quickly. You could argue that your phone could do some of this via various apps. However, it’s always good to have more than one plan. If your phone gets damaged or lost and you rely solely on it, that’s no good.
I am genuinely blown away by the Tread Overland series of navigation devices. It contains way more features than I could have imagined by a long shot. Not only can it help get you to where you need to go, but it can also help you find where you might want to go. This is truly a one-stop-shop device with native off-road navigation, the ability to store offline maps (just in case), and built-in InReach communications.
The Garmin Tread Overland Series of devices has a solid use case for those who frequent going off the pavement. It has a comprehensive feature set that is also very easy to use. These are two things that don’t always go hand-in-hand regarding technology. I would love to hear your thoughts on this device or perhaps those like it! Does it sit at the top of your equipment list?
Thanks for sticking with this read all the way through the end, and I’ll see you on the next one!
Maybe you should mention the dropping of Voice Recognition when moving to this unit from the Overlander.
im 62 and not super tech savvy. I have a android phone. where could I go to find out step by step to operate this Garmin tread overland edition, we ride at offroad parks like windrock park in Oliver tenn. they have a trail map you can buy for your phone which I did, but how can I put that on this device?
I’m new to all garmins and I just bought a side x side and I bought a tread overland edition. should I have bought a sxs edition?
not sure how to download a trail map from my phone to overland edition
Could you detach and use this for street/city walking? Or need to get a separate handheld
What is the source of Garmins maps. Are they really detailed. You said you have used Gaia maps. Will the Tread work with OnX maps. Does it include old trails and cat tails from the old Topo maps?
The source is Garmin’s own database – but you can import .gpx files as well. I don’t think it will support OnX natively, but you can load in the same .gpx file that OnX would use. I assume that it would include all previous trails as it probably pulls from the same database files.
There’s supposed to be a feature that will tell you the cost of fuel at stations near you. Did you test this? How does it get the fuel cost – is it tied into Gas Buddy?
I have seen the fuel cost feature while driving, but can’t really pay much attention as I drive solo. It probably pulls fuel prices from Google if I had to guess.
I assume a keyboard will pull up for typing an In-Reach message? In none of the reviews I’ve read has anyone actually tested the In-Reach function.
Yes you can type InReach messages directly on the device – it’s basically like when you tether an InReach mini to your phone, but it’s all in one device.
A sat phone or an In-Reach device normally will not work from inside a vehicle since they need a direct line of site to the Iridium satellites. With a sat phone you can hook up an external antenna. Is there an external antenna to use with the Tread so the In-Reach will work from inside of a vehicle?
InReach seems to still work from inside the vehicle (at least by the windshield) – however, Garmin does sell an external antenna as well.
How are you liking it now that it’s been a couple of months since your write up? Veteran’s Canteen Service has a sale going right now plus 20% off and the Overland Edition would be $1,013.59. An an In Reach 2 mini is $311 with code TY20. I’m definitely thinking about the Overland for on and Offroad driving, and love that it can show private & public land for hunting season, and forest roads.
I think the Overland Tread is an excellent device for anyone looking to utilize its comprehensive features fully! It’s really nice having everything rolled into one device – although I do understand the value of having some device separation so that all of your eggs aren’t in one basket as well.
Thanks for the detailed write-up Ryan! I just ordered this yesterday for a trip this summer from the Gulf Coast to the Beaufort Sea. Can’t wait to take advantage of all the way points that ioverlander has, as well as the ability to text while running around the Yukon.
Awesome! Let us know how you like it!
Nice review. I have been considering getting the earlier version but this looks much nicer. I use iOverlander a lot and cannot find much info on how this unit works with the app. Does it make available all the info on the app? Can you see all the pin and the associated description? How about check-ins?
I haven’t used iOverlander, but this device also supports pinning and importing .gpx files with all of their associated pins.
Wife and I have used our Garmin InReach Explorer+ devices for the last several years to stay in touch with the SMS/location features when one or both are out on wildland fire assignments or remote USFS/BLM work and they’re worth every penny. Definitely checking this out!
Awesome! Let us know how you like it if you decide to get one!
Hi are these units water proof or jar , can they be used in a side by side, or do they offer a water proof box as a option like smaller gps do. Thanks Chris
Yes! They are all IPX7 waterproof rated! There is also a model more tailored towards side by sides (PowerSport) as well.
I’m new to offroading, so something like this could be very helpful. However, I took a look at the price and got sticker shock. Are there any apps for Android you recommend that can do something similar?
I hear ya and totally understand! Gaia and OnX Off-road are popular mobile apps to get started!
Thanks! I’ll be sure to check them out. Great write up, by the way.
Thanks, I appreciate that!
Can you download apps like prime video and Netflix to watch video on this as well?
Unfortunately, no – the Garmin UX overlay locks everything down despite running Android on the backend.
Not true. You can side load applications to both the 8” and 10” versions. It is not officially supported by Garmin, but it is very simple to do. Search for “sideloading”
Instead of using the suction cup would it be fairly easy to attached a Ram mount or something similar to the magnetic charger and arm in order to bolt it to an installed dash like what ICS offers?
I have mine mounted using Ram mounts. You’ll need the larger c-Size 1.5” ball and arm. Ball Mount: RAM-238U and Double Socket Arm (medium): RAM-201U
It is heavy (at least the XL) so I had to move it lower to my Rago Fabrications center console molle bridge. But this keeps it lower but I can still glance at it and it doesn’t block my view. I had it installed on the Expedition Essentials T4RPAM mount but it was too heavy and blocked the top vents.
I have some photos on Instagram: @ben_out_co
Hey Ben, you mean too heavy as in it wouldn’t support it? I recently bought the XL and had planned to attach it to my ICS dash mount.
You might be a me to, in the last picture you see the tightening handle that clamps the magnetic base to a ball joint on the suction cup. I’m not 100% certain though. The suction cup is stout though – I took this on one of the worst rutted out trails I’ve been on and it didn’t budge one bit!
Awesome review! I picked up the 10” Tread Overland XL a few weeks back and it’s a huge upgrade from the Overlander and InReach mini combo.
The 10” is massive but I really like the larger screen to see more of the map and for quicker glances while driving. But to your point it does take up a lot of space on the dash.
The internals have definitely been upgraded from the Overlander so the whole UI and user experience (I’m a UX Designer by day so this stuff is important to me lol) is faster and more efficient. Just navigating around menus and the actual maps are greatly improved.
At first I was torn with having the InReach mini as a separate device. It’s a negative to have to charge a separate device but it’s also nice if I just want to take that with me (like on a hike) and not have to carry the larger Overlander (before) or the (even larger) Tread Overland XL. Additionally you can’t easily share the InReach subscription across multiple devices. There’s a process (that you need an internet connection for) to switch the subscription from device to device. So that’s probably not something you’ll be able to do in the field. You’d probably be best served with 2 separate subscriptions, one for the InReach mini and one for the Tread, but that’s extra cost per month. I’m sticking with the single subscription and using the built-in InReach on the Tread for now but will hold on to the InReach mini for now.
One bummer is that the Overlander supports up to 4 external cameras but the Tread Overland models do not. I have no idea why Garmin omitted this option, seems silly. But I have other cameras setup so it’s not a huge deal but would have liked this option to carry over to these new Tread models.
I’m still playing around with the Tread Overland XL but it’s a great upgrade from the Overlander. As you mentioned it’s an investment but having an all in one device means less things to charge, tighter integration (the phone app integration rocks) and the offline storage is a huge benefit (yes you can have offline storage with Gaia, Overland Bound One, etc.).
Once again great write up!
Wow! That is some excellent info! Thank you for letting us all know! Yeah, I totally agree, having to officially “swap” subscription devices is a pain, but you’re right – it’s a strategic business move.
I was a bit worried when I noticed that this was running Android in the background, but as you said, it’s surprisingly snappy! There must be some decent hardware in this thing.
I’m glad you gave some true insight in terms of O.G. overlander comparison as I didn’t have one on hand!
Ryan, this is next level man. I want this mounted in my cabin.
Thanks boss! Great addition to anyone’s rig for sure!
Great review. I already have an inreach mini. Would I need to get a second subscription with a Tread?
Unfortunately you can’t share a single InReach subscription across multiple devices. You need to switch the subscription to your active device. The process is easy to do on the Garmin Explore website, it takes 10-15 minutes to transfer the service from device to device. But this is something you will probably need to do at home or at a location with a solid internet connection.
I understand why Garmin does this but it’s annoying. It would be nice to have a multiple device subscription plan and maybe pay a couple of bucks extra a month for the second device then have to have an individual subscription per device.
I had to do the process above when i switched over from my InReach mini and Overlander combo to the Tread Overland XL. I’m still keeping the InReach mini but it’s not in use at the moment.
Thanks for clarifying, Ben!
I’m pretty sure you’re one subscription should have you covered, as this uses the standard inreach service! That being said, I’m not sure if you can be logged on with both devices at the same time.
Wow… probably the most detailed product review I’ve ever read. Nice work @Ryan L!
You are too kind, my man!!