Expert Reviews on GPS for Boat Use


Best GPS for Boat Use. What to Look for:


GPS devices for boat or marine use have revolutionized boating as a whole. With a GPS device, both seasoned and amateur boaters are able to track the exact coordinates of any vessel out in the water. Using satellites, this innovative type of device enables boaters to navigate the endless expanse of water to track the precise location of the device itself and then compare the data to marine charts. To ensure that you can safely and easily find your way to shore, here are the elements you want to look at in a GPS for boat navigation.

The best GPS for boat in 2018 offers dependable performance.

A premium quality marine GPS would need to use at least 12 satellites to ensure it performs as expected. That being said, a more accurate device uses even more satellites for navigation use. In fact, high-end models use all 24 GPS system satellites for efficient performance.

Some units boast sonar capability, or at least provide support for a sonar. A few are able to read the structure of the lake or ocean bed, helping boaters avoid rocks and shallow areas that could cause the watercraft to get stuck. Modern sonar devices are WiFi enabled for detecting sonar on your smartphone or tablet.

A lot of models come with a variety of nautical charts built in. Marine charts make a great addition to any handheld GPS for boating. Another important aspect to consider when buying a marine GPS that will perform as designed is how and where you intend to use it. This will ensure that you get a suitable fit for your specific water vessel.


The top rated products in the best GPS reviews in 2018 are easy to use.

A large display will not go well on the console or dash space of a small skiff. An extremely large model may provide plenty of inputs for video, radar and other components but if you don’t have any need for them, why even pay for the cost of all that extra real estate? Bear in mind that such elements as sounder capabilities and other functions on the display may need extra modules that will have to be wired into the ‘network’ or display or mounted on another space, all jacking up the total cost of acquisition for you. Small displays are pretty much designed to carry everything, in the first place. Equipped with built-in antennas, sounders and other components integrated into the display head, small models are perfect for smaller watercraft. This goes without saying that the smaller screen also means details are diminutive as well.

Boating GPS devices tend to be more expensive the bigger the screen size they have. Top-shelf devices are geared with specialized screens that are easy to red in sunlight. To enable hands-free operation, some models provide voice-activated navigation that enables them to accept verbal commands to supplement manual guidance. Turn-by-turn highway maps are extremely useful as well when you’re on land. Further increasing the value of this type of device are road and trail maps, which can be used for hiking, fishing, auto and bike touring when you dock.

Although it’s a given that a boating GPS be waterproof, not all units are 100 percent so. Check out models that offer 100 percent water resistance. Another thing to look into is whether the device comes with a custom fit mount.


The best GPS for small boat (or big ones) comes with some special features.

A device with WiFi interface is capable of transferring waypoints and trails wirelessly between devices. This feature enables effortless sharing of all the fun as well as convenient backup of your waypoints to another device. GPS devices are designed to save information including waypoints, maps and routes taken, with some models offering extra maps available for downloading or through separate purchase. This means the unit has to offer computer connectivity via a cable or other method.

You may need to do plenty of research to ascertain if the boating GPS you are eyeing is perfect for your use. Hopefully, the above buying guide can help in that respect. We have also featured the best products below for even more shopping assistance.



Top GPS for Boat Use in 2018



Bad Elf 2200


The Bad Elf 2200 enables you to share GPS data with up to five Bluetooth-enabled devices. Engineered as a standalone Global Positioning system, this model is able to store and stream data to most Apple devices for effortless and convenient sharing of navigation information without the need for a cellular signal.

Suitable for sailing, flying and power boating, or even just for family road travels, this device shows your navigation data in real time on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. This GPS stores up to 100 hours of data that you can view later on your PC to review the route you’ve taken. Offering up to 32 hours battery life in data logging mode, this device enables you to spend a long time in the water before requiring a recharge.

The backlit LCD screen facilitates easy setting changes. Offering a speedy GPS satellite acquisition time of 45 seconds, this model works even quicker after a recent position fix. The onboard receiver also interprets Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals, allowing you to get information from land-based antennas even when the sky is obstructed from view.

This device can still provide reliable signal accuracy in general in such situations. Delivering accuracy levels up to 60,000 feet above sea level, this device also accommodates travel speeds up to 999 miles per hour while guaranteeing remarkable precision.

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Garmin GPSMAP 78 010-00864-00


Engineered with a waterproof, floating design, the Garmin GPSMAP 78 010-00864-00 is geared with a cool 2.6-inch color display that lets you read vital navigation data easily. The integrated worldwide basemap on the internal memory of the device ensures you always have an idea of your exact location.

Perfect for boaters and watersports enthusiasts, this model is equipped with a high-sensitivity receiver and color mapping so you are never disoriented out in the wide expanse of the ocean. The device is capable of reading Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals to enable you to get information from land antennas even with an obstructed view of the sky.

Even in those situations, the WAAS still ensures dependable position accuracy in general. Another innovative GPS technology that this model boasts is the HotFix satellite prediction feature. This cutting-edge element employs an algorithm to imitate the earth’s movement. With it, the receiver is able to re-acquire satellite connection after the device is not used for two days, thus effectively reducing initialization times.

This model supports paperless geocaching software, which allows data transfer to a computer using the provided USB cable or through web uploading. You can also optimize optional extra Garmin map packages. This model is compatible with Custom Maps, the BirdsEye Satellite Images subscription service as well as free Garmin software for converting electronic and paper maps into components that can be downloaded to your device.

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Garmin eTrex 10


Do not mistake the 2.2-inch monochrome display of the Garmin eTrex 10 010-00970-00 as a sign of low quality. This GPS device is perfect for people who are simply looking for a portable model or are seriously into geocaching. This model is dependable whether you are hiking into the urban jungle or the woods, or navigating the vast expanse of the ocean.

Easy to use, this GPS device shows your current location while efficiently laying digital ‘breadcrumbs’ that enable you to retrace your route for review and easy regaining of your bearings. Navigation data is displayed in easy-to-read format. The device accommodates a host of optional mounts for problem-free attachment to different items.

Employing both GLONASS and GPS satellites, this device provides speedy signal acquisition to ensure around 20 times faster data for an exact fix on your position compared to depending on GPS signals alone. This model also reads Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals to obtain information from landed antennas when the view of the sky is not completely open.

Providing better position accuracy in general, this device also comes with the ability to quickly re-attain satellite connection even when not used for a couple of days, thanks to the HotFix satellite prediction feature.

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