Updated: December 2017

Marine GPS Reviews:

Marine GPS Navigation Systems - Sailors have traditionally navigated the seas by the stars; the constellations, particularly the North Star and Big Dipper, guided them to their destination. Today, with nighttime light pollution and daytime sailing, the stars don't stand us in such good stead. Instead, we rely on marine GPS systems, which are accurate. They are even as awe-inspiring as the stars in some ways. With a good GPS navigation system, you have a system of satellites to guide you there and back, calculate your current and average speeds and time, and measure your trip, plot waypoints, and much more. Those who enjoy boating, fishing, and water sports will find these devices to be not only handy, but a necessity. Choosing well is important, and this guide will help you do just that.
marine gps

What Can Marine GPS Systems Offer? - Being lost at sea may be the basis for exciting stories, but in reality, it is the stuff of nightmares. Whether you're traveling a course through the ocean or are kayaking down a series of rivers, becoming lost is, at least, an inconvenience. At worst, it is a very dangerous situation. Whether you're on the water or on the shore, knowing where you are, where you are going, or how to get back to a waypoint is a basic necessity. A GPS system helps you do this, and much more besides:

*Navigate a saved route
*Set waypoints
*Chart speed, distance, course
*Provide accurate satellite images
*Auto guidance
*Tide station information
*Fishing charts
*Depth and/or fish finders
*Customized alarms
*Man overboard emergency waypoint button

Things to consider before buying include the size of the screen and the color. Backlit black and white can be fine for nighttime navigation, but color offers better visibility. Also look for water resistance. This may seem basic, but not all marine GPS units are completely waterproof. Look for models that have a rating of IPX-7; anything less, and you risk losing your investment - and maybe your way - if you drop it or splash water on it. Next, consider what type of GPS navigation system you need. There are handheld models, which you can either carry or mount to your boat or car, and chartplotters. A chartplotter is used by boaters, and it is a system that combines a GPS receiver with electronic maritime charts. This allows people on the water to monitor the position and movement of the boat. The chartplotter takes the place of marine charts and adds the utility of guidance and tracking. Chartplotters usually cost a bit more than handheld GPS units, but in some cases, the cost is quite similar, and it may be well worth it for the extra features. Check out the best selling marine GPS units and chartplotters here.

Best Marine GPS Systems:

As you search for marine GPS systems, you'll notice two names popping up again and again: Garmin and Tom Tom. You will also see DeLorme and Magellan occasionally. If you are looking for a versatile "crossover" GPS system that can be used on the water, the trail, or the road, the Garmin Nuvi 500 series is a top choice. Consumer research site, Rated4Stars, recommends this for those who like to hike, drive, boat, or participate in other outdoor activities. The cross-over appeal ensures great versatility. If you are strictly a boater, this may not be the best choice. For jacks-of-all-trade type people, it's more than sufficient. The Nuvi 500 is a high-sensitivity GPS equipped with turn-by-turn navigation. Its WAAS-enabled GPS unit features a rugged IPX-7 waterproof exterior, HotFix satellite prediction, capability in canyons or heavy cover in urban and rural locations, 3.5 inch 320x240 pixel resolution touchscreen, microSD memory expansion, geocaching GPX file capabilities, Garmin Connect Photos, preloaded data from City Navigator North American NT for the lower 48 states, digital compass, Google Earth photos, 2D and 3D maps, topographical maps, and NAVTEQ for info on restaurants, gas stations, ATMS, attractions, and more. The replaceable lithium ion battery provides up to 8 hours of life, and you can easily switch modes for driving, boating, biking, and walking. It supports Internet Explorer 6 and later, Firefox 2 and later, and Safari 3 and later on Mac and PC. With an easy interface and a host of useful options, this is a crossover that makes itself handy on any adventure. It is $233. The Nuvi is well-reviewed by consumers on sites like Amazon, REI, and ZDNet, as well as on expert sites like ConsumerSearch, PCMag, and CNET. (See all Garmin GPS systems here). These reviews typically emphasize, however, that this is a good "crossover" choice. But what about a marine GPS system for serious boaters, fishermen, and water sports enthusiasts? Here, Garmin is still a popular choice, but so are GPS navigation units from NorthStar, RayMarine, Navman, MapTech, Furano, and Eagle. Many boat owners also use a laptop with an external GPS receiver because the screen size and resolution is so crucial. Lowrance chartplotters are recommended by Yachting Magazine for boaters and fishermen. The Lowrance HDS-5m 5-Inch Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter is a popular model with consumers on Amazon, Retrevo, BassPro, and other sites. This marine GPS - no crossover here - features SolarMAX display with clear, bright sunlight reading, wide angle viewing, hi-def GPS and mapping capabilities, sensitive 16-channel internal GPS antenna, fast time-to-signal lock, precision positioning, advanced networking and expandability, and a two-year warranty. One happy customer said that the Lowrance was even more accurate than promised. However, the networking can be confusing, so it may be worth your while to have an electrician or engineer install it. Or thoroughly read that manual. Lowrance tends to be high-end; the HDS-5M is reasonable at just under $600. The Lowrance LCX models recommended by Yachting Magazine run over $2000. Most of us non-yachters will do very well with the lower-priced model. If you want to use your laptop, a GPS receiver like the GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS Receiver is a worthwhile investment. Popular with reviewers, the GlobalSat features the latest SiRF Star III GPS chipset, active patch antenna for great accuracy, and extended 5-foot cable for easy routing to a PC USB port. The BU-353 is very sensitive, waterproof, energy efficient, and works well in reduced visibility environments. It can be used as a marine GPS system and also for applications on the road. This marine GPS won the iF product design award in 2006 and is available for about $40. A great buy if you plan on using your computer. Look here for a great selection of GPS units for boaters, water sports enthusiasts, anglers, and those who love to do all of those things and more. Garmin is a top name, but regardless, make sure you look for waterproofing and other essential marine features.