Whether you’ve decided to take the family on a long road trip or you are moving to a different state for a job, it’s always fun to document your drive. Most of the time you will face a long highway with nothing to see. But every once in a while you drive through a beautiful road that you haven’t seen.
Or there’s a crazy driver who has nearly caused a 7 car pile up on the interstate. Either way, you’ll want to have the ability to capture it. This is where having the best dash cam for long trips comes in handy.
We will talk about what features you’ll absolutely need and also talk about some of the features that are nice-to-have but not necessary. We’ll also review some popular dash cams that we put through our rigorous standards and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s dive in.
SD Card Capacity
SD Card capacity refers to how much data can be stored onto the memory card. When you are road tripping, you’ll often want to be able to record for several hours, if not days. The more or higher, the better. Simple. Since all modern dash cams come with Loop Recording, old footage will be deleted to make room for new footage when the SD card is at capacity. Now that we know the higher is better, what should be looking for in terms of capacity?
There’s two types of capacity, one is from the SD card and the other is how much a dash cam can support.
For example, there are SD cards that go to 512GB which is great, but doesn’t matter if the dash cam cannot support that capacity. We need to be scanning all of the dash cams and find out what its capacity is.
From all of our research, no dash cam can support higher than 256GB. While this is the highest, the more typical capacity is around 128GB and even some are still around 64GB.
In our recommendations below only include models that have the most capacity for your road trip.
Additionally, file format can greatly affect the functionality of your SD card. If you have a 3-camera setup all simultaneously recording, this will fill up a SD card a lot faster than if you were only filming with one front camera. The resolution you choose whether it be 4K, 2K or 1080p will also make recording time variable.
We recommend filming with only the front camera for long road trips and scaling down the resolution to save space.
Having a GPS come with your dash cam is becoming more commonplace and cheaper. It serves several purposes and is necessary for your road trip.
For one, it tracks your route, speed and location. This is useful in several regards. One is if you ever need to recall your location, you can refer to the location data. You can also dispute speeding tickets as the GPS is a reliable form of evidence.
And if you’ve ever traveled across the country before, it really is neat to see all the land you’ve traversed. Going thousands of miles is no small feat.
Nice to Haves
WiFi is a great luxury to have but it isn’t vitally necessary. It can make your road trip a lot easier because you may not have access to a computer to access your files. Being unable to access them, you won’t be able to transfer files or view them on a computer screen, though your dash cam may have a built-in screen.
With WiFi capabilities, you can connect your mobile smartphone to the dash cam to view footage, change settings and even view your camera in real-time.
If you get into an accident or incident on the road, it is very convenient to be able to download that crash footage for immediate viewing or sharing. No fumbling with microSD cards and computers.
When you are not on the actual road, you are going to need to take pitstops. And when you are in unknown locations, often where other travelers or tourists gather, you may find that there is an increased level of theft in the area.
That is where Parking Mode is really nice-to-have, which is essentially a 24/7 car monitor system. This feature can detect other car’s hitting your parked car, and can even detect outside motion like if someone is standing too close. Footage that is deemed to be “important” is saved for later review.
While a lot of dash cameras include this feature, understand that many require power even when your car is off. This can pose a difficult scenario for those who aren’t familiar with hardwiring. No worries as there are dash cams that have internal batteries which we will recommend.
Skip these features
You don’t need a rear or cabin facing camera while on a road trip. The most important view in the front view. Now, are there cases where you may want a rear facing camera? Yes. And that is a call you are going to have to make, but it will primarily just take up space in your SD card.
You may be able to capture if someone rear ends you, but to me, it is not worth the trade off.
Having your dash cam connect to the cloud is an interesting experience. You can live broadcast to those who may want to watch, or have someone be able to check in on you at any time. But you will pay a premium for this and it simply isn’t worth it.
Cloud is great for those who manage fleets of vehicles and need to keep track of all of them. This not something an individual needs on a long road trip.
Rove R2-4K Dash Cam
The Rove R2-4K dash cam is our top pick for road trips. This is a front facing camera that attaches to via suction cup. In terms of must-haves, this device definitely checks all of the boxes. The Rove can support a microSD card up to 512GB. That is virtually unheard of as other 4k competing cameras such as the Vantrue N2S or the Rexing V1, which can only support up to 256GB.
By being to double the amount of space available, long road trips won’t be an issue.
In terms of resolution, you have several options including filming in 4K or 1080p @ 60 FPS, for silky smooth footage. By combining these 2 factors, one can record for the entirety of your road trip.
At 512GB, you could record at 4K for 30 hours, or if you decide to step down the resolution you can utilize 1080p for 36+ hours. That is enough for 3 or 4 days of driving!
Lucky for you, this camera also has all the essentials and nice-to-have features. Included is WiFi and GPS so you can access your speed, location and route all through your smartphone. Parking mode has time lapse which can not only protect your car, but record interesting footage.
Garmin Dash Cam Mini
If you are a minimalist and want a hidden dash cam, no better option than the Garmin Dash Cam Mini. This tiny dash cam is smaller than a credit card and about the size of your car keys. This is a front facing camera only that records in 1080p and 720p, not 4K resolution like other models.
That being said, this is another model that can support up to 512GB.
Filming at 1080p will allow you to film for about 36 hours and if you decide to film in 720p, you will be able to record for near 80 hours before the footage starts to loop.
Since this does not have a screen, you can access all the settings and footage via your smartphone via WiFi. Besides that, the Garmin doesn’t boast any other luxury features. It is a simple camera that focuses on providing good image quality within a small form device.
Next up is the Kingslim D4 4K dash cam. This one is around the same price point as the Rove R2, but has some different aspects to it that we would like to compare and contrast. For one, this has a waterproof rear camera that can be mounted outside of your car. Even though it won’t be used much during long road trips, most people will decide to use this in normal day-to-day driving and a rear camera can come in hand.
In terms of SD capacity, the Kingslim D4 can handle SD cards up to 256GB, which isn’t anything to scoff at. This is still on the upper end compared to other dash cams such as the REDTIGER.
256GB will get you 14 hours of continuous recording at 4K Resolution.
One other neat feature is that this is powered by a lithium battery which can be charged. This means you can utilize the camera’s parking mode and not have to worry about hardwiring the device. Don’t depend on it too long as eventually, all batteries wear out. We would recommend this for overnight monitoring, but not anything more.