These days, one has to wonder how we ever managed to navigate without the handy handheld GPS devices that seem to come standard in every piece of electronics these days. They are used for much more than just getting to your destination. You can use them to pinpoint your location, give you the names of roadways near you as well as telling you how far you are from your intended destination. All you have to do is program in a couple of addresses and a voice will guide you all the way from point A to point B.
A marine GPS is just a bit different. They are still basically a global positioning system, but they are specifically designed for marine environments. Much like a regular GPS, your path can be charted from one point to the next, but since there are no roads, the Marine GPS tells you how well you are staying on track and will usually warn you if you veer so far off that you might not reach your destination.
In other words, a GPS handheld marine system is great to have on the water, because if you happen to get lost, it will send out a signal so that rescue personnel can find you.
What is the Best Marine GPS?
Today, we are going to go over the top five best marine GPS models on this list. If you happen to be in the market for one, you will hopefully find some information here that will help you decide exactly which one you need.
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter Review
Our first model is the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof GPS and Chartplotter. One of the most trusted names in GPS technology makes this highly sensitive handheld GPS receiver and features a 2.6-inch color TFT display that is just perfect for boating and water sports.
This GPS Garmin Marine unit is waterproofed to IPX7 standards and will even float if dropped into the water. Some important features of this GPS are the built in BlueChart g2 US and Bahamas coastal charts with shorelines, depth contours, navaids, harbor lists, and marina lists as well as a built in 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and a barometric altimeter for keeping an eye on heading, altitude and weather.
If someone else has a compatible device, you can even share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly which is great if you are to rendezvous with a group at some predestined point on the water. Other great features you might find useful are the Garmin HotFix, custom points of interest, automatic routing, hunting and fishing calendars and photo navigation.
Garmin GPSMAP 78 Marine GPS Navigator and Worldwide Chartplotter Review
Next up is the Garmin GPSMAP 78 Marine GPS Navigator and Worldwide Chartplotter. This is another handheld model that features a 2.6 inch 65k color TFT that has a resolution of 160X240 pixels. Water resistance is IPX7 and the unit will float if dropped into the water.
This Garmin GPS for boats has a battery life of up to 20 hours, so it is definitely good for all day navigation and travel and it has a built in memory of 1.7 GB for all kinds of downloadable content
A worldwide basemap is built in, so that navigation is easy no matter where you happen to be and its highly sensitive WAAS-enabled GPS can locate your position quickly and precisely, even in heavy cover or canyons. You can also purchase microSD cards that come preprogrammed with a wide array of detailed marine and topographic maps. Since the card slot is located inside the waterproof battery compartment, there’s no need to worry that water will ever reach and damage your cards.
BirdsEye satellite imagery is also available, via subscription, and can allow you to download satellite images directly to your device for integration with all your maps. With the purchase of this Garmin, you will receive the unit itself, a wrist strap, USB cable and a handy quick start manual.
Standard Horizon GX1700W Standard Explorer GPS VHF Marine Radio Review
Next, we have the Standard Horizon GX1700W Standard Explorer GPS VHF Marine Radio. This radio features a built in 12-channel GPS system right into the front panel and is ready to go right out of the box. With DSC calling, position sharing, waypoint navigation and navigation to DSC distress calls, everything comes together with just a few easy steps.
You can easily enter up to 100 waypoints, which you can then select and navigate to by making use of the navigation compass display. Only 3.5 inches in depth, this radio has a 3-inch color screen so that you can see exactly what you are doing whenever you need to.
Some of the features you will probably use the most include GPS repeating position and time with customizable channel names, NMEA input and output, an NOAA weather channel selection with alert and high and low keys. Right out of the box, you will receive the Explorer VHF, a mounting bracket, power cord, all the installation hardware you will need for installation and a handy owner’s manual.
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator Review
The Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator is a rugged device that comes preloaded with a worldwide basemap and features a 2.2 inch monochrome display that gives you a clear picture of exactly what you need to see.
The WAAS-enabled GPS receiver comes with HotFix and GLONASS support for a reliable signal with fast positioning. This Garmin handheld GPS is waterproofed to IPX7 standards so that your device will be protected against splashes, rain and more. Paperless geocaching is also supported. This device is powered with two AA batteries that will provide you with up to 20 hours of usage, so if you need a GPS to perform the entire day, it is no problem for the Garmin.
Garmin GPSMAP 547xs GPS Receiver without Transducer Review
We wrap up today’s review with the Garmin GPSMAP 547xs GPS Receiver without Transducer. This GPS features the integration of a 10Hz GPS GLONASS receiver and has 527 refresh positions as well as heading up to ten times per second.
The five-inch, constant, fluid, on-screen location provides you with incredible accuracy while navigating to any one of the 5000 available user-created waypoints. The wireless connectivity feature means that you can connect and access any marine-specific app with the use of a smart phone or tablet. The Garmin also comes with advanced echo HD-ID sonar and allows you to record the sonar images.
This feature will allow you to coordinate the timing of the sonar return in relation to your boat’s particular position so that every waypoint will be accurate and precise. The spread-spectrum CHIRP sonar allows you to display clear images to help you find any manner of fishing spot, ship wreckage or the perfect spot for diving.
This technology allows you to see target separation and resolution at great depths and you can even dial in to specific frequencies that will allow you to pinpoint certain items or fish. Bottom contours are incredibly visible and you can suppress signal noise at greater depths for a clearer vision of what is below you, for more safety in navigation and better luck while fishing.
My Vote for Best Garmin Marine GPS
Of these five top marine GPS models that we have reviewed, my top pick for personal favorite is the Standard Horizon GX1700W Standard Explorer Marine Radio. Not only is this a very competent marine Garmin marine, but with the Standard Horizon, you also get a radio from which you can receive and transmit, making this an all-around perfect piece of equipment to take with you on the water.
The on-board digital compass features allows you to easily see exactly which direction you are going and, when used in correlation with the GPS, you can almost guarantee that you do not have to worry about getting lost. The large display allows you to see all the information clearly and since it is backlit, it will not matter if it is light or dark, you will still be able to see clearly.