Learn how to shop for a Garmin mount and what features to look for. Seven different mounts are reviewed, outlining their good and bad aspects.
What to Look For
Garmin mounts come in a lot of different styles to fit the shape of your car and how you plan on using your Garmin GPS and where it works best to have in your car. In general, I do not recommend getting a GPS mount that obstructs your view of the road. However, you also don't want one that requires you to look away from the road very long. These two considerations are contrary to each other, so you have to find something that will work for how you drive and what you feel is safe. Garmin mounts come in three different basic styles, with lots of variation in each category: Windshield mount, dashboard mount and other mounts.
When shopping for a Garmin mount, be sure that it fits your exact model of GPS. Going by the manufacturer name is not sufficient. The mounts shown here require you to use the specific bracket for your model, which has a socket on the back to fit on the ball of the mount.
Standard Windshield Mount - This mount comes in a few different styles to allow you to adjust the angle of viewing for the GPS unit. Again, the downside to windshield-mount GPS mounts is that they obstruct the driver's view of the road. Some vehicles have more windscreen glass than others, so think about what will work in your car.
Gooseneck Windshield Mount - This one, though similar to the one pictured above, has a unique ability to turn any way the drive might need it to. Depending on where it is mounted, it may also be able to be placed out of the line of sight of the roadway, making it a great asset to driving safety. The gooseneck is the same type of articulated pipe used for microphone stands and is very flexible.
Windshield mount GPS holders do not appeal to me personally because a friend who is a police officer told me that some criminals will look for the circle left by the suction put and break into those cars to steal the GPS units, which are often in the glove box. If you use a windshield mount, be sure to clean the windshield often to avoid this possibility.
Portable Friction Mount - This mount uses friction to keep your GPS in place on the dashboard. I have used this style extensively and find it to be my favorite. While it is too big to be very portable, I can imagine throwing it in a large bag if I were leaving my car. Mostly I would just toss it in the glove box when leaving the car unattended. The bean bag sides fold up neatly enough that it stows easily and still has enough weight to provide good momentum for stabilizing the GPS.
Friction Mount - This one differs from the portable one in a significant way, in that it does not fold up as easily. It has a gel-type bottom that is a bit tacky to the touch and keeps the GPS stuck to the dashboard. It can be easily removed and leaves no residue. However, the gel bottom does pick up dirt easily, making the mat less sticky. Thus, you should keep your dashboard clean if using this. The gel can be cleaned to bring back its sticky nature.
These are the models that do not have the two traditional mounting styles many GPS mounts have.
Vent Mount - This mount fits in your AC vent and rests at the bottom of the mount on an adjustable lever. This is a great mount in theory. It is not directly in the driver's view but is also not very far off. You get visibility without obstruction. The downside is that mounts like this I have used in the past sometimes get detached from their anchors and become unstable. They can also be difficult to move to a different vent, should you want a different viewing angle.
Cigarette Lighter Mount - I like this mount a lot. It uses your cigarette lighter socket as a base for stability and has a flexible wand that allows you to position the GPS in a number of different ways. It also has a mini-USB power connector to power your GPS, again from the cigarette lighter's power. In doing this, it eliminates what could otherwise be a tangle from the power cable.
Sticky Mount - This mount is probably my least favorite. I am sure the adhesive used is of top quality, but the idea of sticking something permanently in my car seems a little impractical. What if I decide that's not the best spot and want to move it? What if I sell my car and want my GPS to be in my new car? On the other hand, if you find that perfect spot your GPS should live in forever, this may be a good alternative. No slipping or sliding possible here.
Compiled from information in product literature from Garmin and Arkon. Photos are from the respective manufacturers of the products, also Garmin and Arkon.