Buyers’ Guide to 2022 4x4 Satellite Navigation systems

Buying a purpose-built sat-nav system for 4x4ing, which guarantees continent-wide coverage, should mean you never get lost

Sat Nav Header

If your tyres rarely leave bitumen, then nothing really compares with Google Maps guiding you to your urban destination via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. And most vehicles bought from the showroom floor come with an embedded satellite-navigation system of some sort – of varying levels of competency.

If pursuing remote campsites and long-forgotten stretches of white sand, though, city-centric mapping becomes quite useless. This is where a purpose-built sat-nav system for 4x4 use will be essential.

These units feature topographical maps (detailed and accurate two-dimensional representations of features on the Earth’s surface), precise mapping of remote tracks and the ability to function when off-the-grid – as well as a bunch of useful tools like POIs (points-of-interest), the ability to sync waypoints and save favourite off-road routes.

Here, we’ve included three quality standalone GPS units, as well as a few handy phone apps. However, keep in mind that, unlike a dedicated standalone unit, a smartphone isn’t built solely for sat-nav duties. It’ll lack durability and its battery life will drain at a far faster rate. Plus, many GPS phone apps only work when there’s mobile reception.

So, if you’d prefer not to get lost in the scrub. Read on.

Internal Memory Display Size Display Resolution Warranty RRP
Hema HX-2 16GB 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 12 Months $799
Garmin Overlander 64GB 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 12 Months $999
VMS 3DX 32GB 8-inch 1200 x 800 IPS 12 Months $549

Stand-alone GPS units

Hema HX-2

Hema Hx 2


  • Internal memory: 16GB
  • Display size: 7-inch
  • Display resolution: 1024 x 600 IPS
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • RRP: $799

Things we like

  • Hema-verified POIs
  • Battery life (claimed eight hours)
  • Vector mapping system

Not so much

  • User interface takes time to learn
  • Wi-Fi required for Hema Explorer maps
  • Quite pricey

An evolution of the outgoing HX-1 unit, the HX-2 is a lighter, faster, more intuitive and much improved unit. A larger battery and faster internal processor are key updates.

It functions well as an on-road sat-nav system, but escape the concrete jungle and this thing shines. Ditching the outdated Raster map system, Hema now uses Vector maps for more refined, detailed mapping - the Hema Explorer option in the off-road map section allows users to zoom in to 1:25-thou.

As it’s a Hema unit, it comes with all of the perks of the brand’s travel experience: 40,000 verified points of interest (camping sites, campgrounds, caravan parks, hotels, motels, dump points, wineries, lookouts, rest areas, boat ramps, post offices, fuel stops, etc.) and Australia-wide topographic mapping. The unit features a USB-C charging port.

Garmin Overlander

Garmin 1


  • Internal memory: 64GB
  • Display size: 7-inch
  • Display resolution: 1024 x 600 IPS
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • RRP: $999

Things we like

  • Hema topographic maps
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Genius magnetic mount

Not so much

  • Very expensive
  • Similar to Hema unit, but more pricey

Despite its expensive price tag at just a freckle under $1000, the expression ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true with this unit.

With a capacity of 64GB of inbuilt storage, the Overlander can store plenty of topographic maps for your adventures. It’s made of tough stuff too, built to USA military standard 810 for thermal and shock resistance - plus, its IP5X rating means it can withstand dust and extreme temperatures. And that magnetic mount is a touch of genius.

It utilises Hema technology and is pre-loaded with Hema 150K topo maps of Australia, with more than 36,000 points of interest.

It can also be paired with the inReach Explorer+, inReach SE+ and inReach Mini satellite communicators.

VMS 3DX: Portable Offroad GPS

Vms 2


  • Internal memory: 32GB
  • Display size: 8-inch
  • Display resolution: 1200 x 800 IPS
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • RRP:$549

Things we like

  • Price
  • Screen resolution
  • Bigger size

Not so much

  • Costs extra for topo maps
  • Relatively unknown in the industry

A bit of an unknown quantity in Australia, VMS is a Melbourne-based company, and its 3DX is a well-priced alternative.

Unlike the Hema and Garmin units, the VMS 3DX features a bigger (eight-inch) screen and a higher display resolution of 1200 x 800 IPS. Its internal memory of 32GB is also nothing to sneeze at - as is its 4GB of RAM.

In place of the Hema’s POIs, the 3DX utilises CAMPS 11 with Caravan Parks 6, which only boasts a fraction of POIs compared to the Hema unit.

It uses 3D vector maps, but topographic maps do cost extra which brings the total cost up closer to HX-2 territory.

Phone apps


CAMPERX is Hema’s thrifty smartphone alternative, and it’ll cost you less than two coffees to get things started. It’s powered by Hema, so it features more than 100,000 points of interest, detailed information and multi-scale topographic mapping including full offline capabilities. The user interface is known to have a few gremlins, though. Compatible with Apple and Android.

Hema 4x4 Explorer

The comprehensive 4x4 Explorer app allows users to access all of Hema’s perks via their smartphone or tablet. Features include Hema’s vast range of Australia-wide topographic maps, offline capabilities, more than 100,000 points of interest and Hema Cloud connectivity. Bear in mind, there may be additional costs, and the app can be buggy at times.

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is a membership-based GPS system, where members can get access to a vast range of maps for not only 4WDing, but hiking, camping, sightseeing and any outdoors activity. Maps can be downloaded for offline use, and even printed to take with you as a back-up. There is a free plan available, but that only grants access to the topo maps and they can’t be downloaded for offline use. Cleverly, it features Apple CarPlay integration.

ExplorOz Traveller

The Aussie-made ExplorOz Traveller app is compatible with both Apple and Android. The Traveller app features EOTopo mapset, offline maps, active tracking, an extensive point-of-interest catalogue, and it can be highly personalisable. Free updates are available frequently. Additional costs may be incurred for more features.

4X4 Australia staff


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