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Garmin RV 760LMT First Impressions

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I ordered the Garmin RV 760LMT from Amazon last Friday. It arrived earlier this week. I have had a chance to work with it for a few days, enough to form a first impression in case you are thinking about buying this unit.

What’s in the box?

Open the box and you will find a GPS unit, a docking station, a windshield mount, a 12V car adapter and a very short USB cable. If you want the detailed manual, you have to jump online. You can download a pdf of the manual from the Garmin site here.

What did I like?

That 7-inch colour monitor! Very nice indeed.

I also liked BaseCamp.

We have used a number of Garmin GPS units over the years so the interface itself is very familiar although the integration with their desktop software, BaseCamp, is a new experience for me. Here is a sample screenshot of BaseCamp:

BaseCamp

BaseCamp is software that you run on your computer. It is free and you can download it from the Garmin site here. To use it, you really do need to pair it with a Garmin device.

Like any new software, BaseCamp does have a learning curve. I found that it took me several tries to plan a trip with two stopovers. But, once I gained a bit of mastery over the software, it was very easy to plan and export a trip back into the GPS. Under Garmin’s main menu is an icon for Apps. And under Apps is an icon for Trip Planner. There it was. My trip to Petosky Motorcoach Resort. All ready to go.

I liked Garmin Express, another software app that runs on your computer. Garmin Express manages the firmware and map updates for the GPS. The updates are free for the life of the device. Free updates? I liked that as well.

You can tell that the unit has been designed for the RV community. It has an extensive database of over 20,000 RV parks and service locations coupled with information about campground amenities.  It also allows you to enter the profile of your RV to identify any related restrictions.

What didn’t I like?

Two different USB connectors. A mini USB connector to the main unit and a standard USB connector on the small docking unit that connects to the back of the device.

Mounting. Garmin only provides a suction cup mount. I was able to make mine work by attaching the mount to the Driver’s side window just in front of my line of sight to the Driver’s side mirror. I was able to get enough of a pivot to provide a good view of the monitor. But the mount is fussy. Very easy to pivot just a bit too far and the unit literally drops out of the mount.

Overall First Impressions?

Very positive. I am glad we bought it. I’ll have better insight into the unit once we have completed our trip to the Petosky Motorcoach Resort in a couple of weeks.

Garmin RV 760LMT

RV760LMT

The above image is from the Garmin RV 760LMT product page here.

I ordered this unit today so that we have an RV specific GPS before our next major trip with the Castaway.

The Castaway is equipped with an onboard GPS, part of Clarion’s NX405 in-dash system. I found the Clarion’s GPS frustrating to use. The NX405 is a capable head unit and the GPS software is powered by TomTom however using the touch panel for programming basic trips was a very poor experience.

We would like an RV specific GPS to help us plan our trips and stay away from things like low bridges and restricted roads. Preferably a unit that allows us to plan the trip in advance on a laptop.

The Garmin RV 760LMT looks like it will meet our needs. It features software, Garmin BaseCamp, that can be downloaded to a Mac or PC. The software pairs with the GPS and should allow us to do all of our detailed planning on our Mac and then download the plan back into our GPS.

I will provide a more comprehensive review once the unit arrives and we have had a chance to test it out.

RV Essentials

20160506_castaway_cay_049

What else do you need for a new RV? That was the question we faced when we finalized the date for picking up our coach from the dealer.

We did a lot of research on the web and we found advice on everything from cleaning supplies to folding bicycles.

We then made a list of essential items for our RV.

Electrical (Surge Protector and Dogbone)

The very first two items we knew we would need for the coach: surge protection and a dogbone.

As we have a fully electric motorhome we wanted to make sure that the electricity coming into the coach would be protected from surges and inappropriate voltage levels.

We went with a Surge Guard 50 Amp hardwire unit. This product monitors the electricity and shuts off the power when it detects surges, open ground, open neutral, low or excessive voltage, miswired pedestals, reverse polarity, or elevated neutral current conditions that could damage electronic equipment in a coach. We had it permanently installed in one of our bays.

We also picked up a 50 Amp/30 Amp dogbone. This adapter allows us to connect our 50-Amp service to a 30-Amp outlet.

Our coach is equipped with a 50-foot power reel so we did not need to buy any extension cables.

Water (Regulator, Sewage Hoses, Filter)

Our coach has a 50-foot hose on a power reel for water so we did not need to purchase a standalone hose for drinking water.

We will need a separate hose to rinse our sewage tank.

As water pressure can be quite variable at campsites, we picked up an adjustable water pressure regulator with a guage and splitter. The splitter is used to keep one line dedicated for drinking water and the second line dedicated for sewage tank rinse.

A guage on a regulator allows us to set the water pressure ourselves. We will set the regulator at 65 psi.

We also opted for a sewage hose kit with ground hose holders and a clear elbow joint to connect to the tank.

RV Geeks has an excellent video on how to dump and thoroughly clean your black tank. It showed us everything we needed for dealing with the black tank. You can find the video here.

We have a water filter on our coach however we are going to be looking at a more sophisticated water filtration system. Not right away mind you. But we do think it is an essential part of an RV.

Wheels (TPMS, Wheel Covers, Compressor, Gauge)

Weights and tires. Weights and tires. It does not take much research to understand the importance of knowing the weights of the coach at the corners and making very, very sure that the tires are properly inflated and maintained.

Coach-Net highlights the main causes of tire failure here.

We are still researching a tire pressure management system (TPMS). There are quite a few in the marketplace. TireTraker seems to be one of the most popular systems. We won’t be heading out on the road without a TPMS.

To protect the rubber of the tires, we will be getting some wheel covers. Not sure that we will get anything too fancy. Just something basic to prevent any damage from the sun.

We will also be getting a portable air compressor to inflate the tires. The Viair 400P-RV is probably the one we will purchase.

Finally, a good quality tire pressure guage to check the tires. Even with a TPMS, I suspect having a spare gauge will come in handy.

Technology (GPS, CB Radio, Dash Cam, Boosters)

Although the coach is equipped with an in-dash GPS, we think it best that we have a second RV-specific GPS for the co-pilot. I know from experience that it is best for me to be focused an the driving and not on reviewing or updating a GPS while in motion.

Garmin offers the RV 760LMT. I use a number of their GPS products and like them.

A CB Radio might seem somewhat old-fashioned in an age of smartphones. That said, when we are out on the road, we cannot always count on cellular particularly in the more remote areas of Canada. A CB Radio will let us listen in to the truckers and give us a bit of insight into road and weather conditions as we ride. We will go with a Cobra 29 LX. Because we have a fibreglass RV, we will also need a No Ground Plane CB Antenna. Lots of them here.

A dash cam will help keep a record of our travels, and in the hopefully unlikely event of an accident, a digital eyewitness. We’ll probably go with a Garmin as well. Perhaps this one.

The last bit of technology will help boost our cellular connection as well as our WiFi. We haven’t firmed up our decision on products yet. What we did do was purchase The Mobile Internet Handbook from Chris and Cherie at Technomedia. Highly recommended.

Odds and Ends

A variety of other items that we think will also be essential for our RV:

  • Jack pads for when we level the coach
  • Folding ladder to get up on the roof of the coach as the Dutch Star does not provide one
  • A tow dollie for our car
  • An RV foam fire extinguisher

We will no doubt find more items that we consider essential once we hit the road full-time.