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)
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!