Today, thanks to modern advancements such as GPS, people across any body of water can determine their exact location and safely travel towards their destination. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to pick the right GPS that suits your needs, and which of the best boating GPS devices to choose from in 2021.
Don’t Forget To Pin It For Later
What is a Marine GPS?
Generally speaking, a marine GPS is a navigation tool that can determine your exact location and give you your bearings. Aside from this basic function, several types of marine GPS devices function as emergency radios, fish finders, chart plotters, and more. These devices are extremely helpful if you are boating on a large body of water where it’s very easy to get lost.
What Should I Look For In A Marine/Boating GPS?
Here are some factors to consider before purchasing your Boat GPS.
Maps and Charts
This is the first and most basic thing you should consider when choosing the best bating GPS on the market. Just like in choosing your RV GPS, you should pay attention to the maps and charts that are loaded into the GPS device. Ensure the map bodies of water you will be traveling to are included on the device. You wll also want to chose a GPS that allows you to add maps and has enough memory or a micro SD slot.
If you’re using your boat GPS for watercraft such as kayaks, canoes, or jet skis, it’s ideal to get a smaller GPS that you can easily transport and store in smaller spaces. For larger boats or watercraft or longer navigation trips, you may wish to choose a heavy-duty device that you can directly mount onto your boat.
The screen size and resolution are important because no matter how accurate your boating GPS is if you can’t see it properly then what’s the point? Make sure that the GPS you choose is clear enough for you to see in direct sunlight as well as while wearing polarized sunglasses.
Choose a marine GPS device with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver that can connect to multiple satellites so you’ll receive fast, accurate, and reliable information no matter where you are located.
Not all boating GPS devices are built with waterproof materials, however, choosing a device that is waterproof could be to your advantage. Even if you’re traveling on calm waters it is best to get a boating GPS that is durable to withstand different weather conditions and won’t be damaged with a single splash of the water.
Boating GPS Terms You should Know About
To help you better understand some of the tchnical jargon around GPS systems, here are a few definitions.
GPS- or Global positioning system is developed to allow accurate determination of geographical locations by military and civil users.
Chartplotter- This is a device that Integrates GPS satellite navigation with charts of the water and the coastline, allowing you to accurately place yourself on the map and track your speed and direction.
Fishfinder- or Sounder is a device used to locate fish underwater by detecting reflected pulses of sound energy.
Sonar- Is a technology that uses sound waves to sense the location of objects in bodies of water.
CHIRP- stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse. CHIRP sonar transmits a longer pulse than traditional sonar providing better bottom tracking with higher speeds even on deeper depths.
Transducer- is considered as the core of any fishfinder system. It sends out sound waves and in turn receives the echoes, so the fishfinder can interpret what is below the surface of the water.
NMEA- or National Marine Electronics Association is an industry association that made the NMEA 200o which in simpler terms is an electronic language that your marine electronic devices use to connect and communicate with each other.
Waypoints- It is a specific spot or points of reference used in location and marine navigation. You can save multiple waypoints on your GPS devices to help you record the location of a channel, a shoal, or a fishing hot spot.
Maximum depth: 1,600 ft freshwater*, 750 ft saltwater*
Supported Frequencies: Traditional 50/77/200 kHz; CHIRP (mid and high)
Transmit power: 200 W (RMS)
Easy-to-use 3.5-inch color fishfinder with built-in, high-sensitivity GPS
Includes CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer
Smooth Scaling™ graphics
Built-in flasher and displays speed data
The Garmin Striker 4 offers a wide range of use when you're out on the waters. It allows you to Find fish easier, mark and return to hot spots, docks, and ramps, and share your favorite waypoints and routes with other STRIKER and echoMAP™ combos. It comes with the Garmin Chirp (77/200 kHz) transducer which provides a clear image of fish arches with greater target separation and shows detailed structures under the water.
It has s built-in, high-sensitivity GPS that can display your current precise location quickly and allow you to mark spots where the fish are biting so you can return to them again in the future. With the high-sensitivity GPS, you’ll be able to find your position in relation to the waypoints you have marked. You can even check your speed on the screen to make sure that you're going at the right speed for fishing or in wake-controlled areas.
Built-in high-sensitivity GPS
Several sonar functions
Versatile and easy to use
Pinpoints precise location quickly
The device allows you to monitor your speed
Allows up to 5,000 waypoints
Small screen display
Display Size - Diagonal: 5"
Display Pixel Matrix: 800H x 480V
Power Output RMS: 500 Watts
Sonar Standard: Chirp/Side Imaging/Down Imaging/DualBeam PLUS
Standard Sonar Coverage: 20°, 60° & (2) 85° @ -10db (Total of 180°)
Standard Sonar Frequency: 200/83/455 kHz
Target Separation: 2.5"
Depth Capability: 1500 ft
Side Imaging® and Down Imaging®Sonar
Hummingbird Broadband CHIRP
Dual-beam Plus Sonar
Internal GPS chart plotting with UniMap cartography
For a fish finder that includes a side and down imaging, the Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp SI GPS G2 is quite the catch since it only costs about $500 compared to most fish finders with the same features but costs you way more money. Its side and down imaging features allow boaters such as fishermen to see there are fish surrounding or beneath their boats, this feature is quite popular when kayaking or fishing on smaller boats.
Despite its small size, it doesn't fall short of its GPS capabilities, because it allows up to 2,500 waypoints and 45 routes. Its Internal GPS chart plotting with UniMap cartography covers the contiguous coastline, inland lakes, and rivers at 30m per pixel resolution. You can also customize your maps, add better details, enhance existing charts and download premade maps with its AutoChart Live feature.
Side and down imaging sonar
Two unique display modes
Easy push-button controls
Allows you to create maps and customize charts
Temperature alarm, freeze frame, split-screen zoom and instant image updates
Comes with an SD card slot for upgrades
Screenshot and sonar recording
No NMEA(National Marine Electronics Association) support
The GPSMAP 78S comes with multiple features that enable you to navigate across the water with ease. It has a built-in worldwide base map and microSD card that you can use to add a wide array of detailed marine, topographic, and road maps. Equipped with a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass that shows your heading even when you’re standing still, without holding it level. Sharing your data is also possible and super easy, you can share your waypoints, tracks, routes, and geocaches wirelessly to other compatible device users or send one of your favorite fishing spots to your friends.
You can rely on its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, and HotFix™ satellite prediction to locate your position precisely so you can find your way easily whether you’re under a heavy cover or deep canyons.
Transmit Power: 500 W (RMS) / 4,000 W (peak to peak)
Receiver: 5 Hz
Maximum depth: 2,300 ft @ 77 kHz, freshwater; 1,100 ft @ 77 kHz, saltwater
Quick-release bail mount
Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar
Chirp traditional sonar
Preloaded BlueChart® g3 coastal charts featuring integrated Navionics® data
The Garmin EchoMap PLUS 94sv is one of the most trusted boating GPS devices out there. To start, it features a sunlight-readable 9” touchscreen Chartplotter that is very convenient since boating is pretty much done under direct sunlight. It displays a vivid sonar color palette that allows you to distinguish targets and other surrounding structures.
The preloaded BlueChart® g3 coastal charts featuring integrated Navionics® data that comes with the device allows you to experience detailed maps and various charts that cover the coastal U.S., including the East and West coasts, Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Great Lakes. With the Garmin EchoMap PLUS 94sv, you’ll be able to manage your boating experience no matter where you are, you can even create maps easily and share them with the Quickdraw Community on the Garmin Connect app.
Dimensions: 6.51" x 3.31" x 3.8" h. (with bracket)
Display Size: 4" dia.
Display: WVGA color TFT LCD
Frequency: 200 kHz
Power Supply (Supply Voltage): 12V DC
4" SolarMAXTM screen display
Autotuning sonar actively adjusts sonar settings
Bullet Skimmer transducer
One-touch access to key features
Wide-angle Broadband Sounder™ sonar
Easy front-dash or gimbal-bracket installation
With the Lowrance® HOOK2-4x Fish Finder with Bullet Skimmer Transducer, you'll be able to experience unparalleled and broader coverage compared to most GPS fish finders on the market. It's Broadband Sounder sonar coverage displays bigger arches so you can see fish more clearly even in daylight and allows you to track lures and bait while your boat is currently moving.
Featuring an Autotuning Sonar which actively adjusts settings as the conditions change so you can focus more on fishing. You’ll be able to save waypoints and mark trails on its GPS plotter so you can come back to your favorite spot anytime you want.
Clear display on daylight
Offers double coverage compared to its competitors
One-touch access to key features
Easy to operate menus
GPS plotter saves routes and waypoints
No microSD or SD card slot
Inability to see in the elevation
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