The 7 Best Marine GPS

Updated October 31, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

7 Best Marine GPS
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Don't take your boat out on any serious excursion without a chartplotter qualified for the job. Marine navigation and route planning are now almost as easy as when driving a car. Many newer models support automatic waypoint generation and connect with extremely advanced sonar, GPS, and even GLONASS networks to keep you safe and monitor your ship's systems. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best marine gp on Amazon.

7. Raymarine Dragonfly-5M

Designed for short coastal and lake excursions, the Raymarine Dragonfly-5M has 50-channel GPS accessible via a bonded LCD that is waterproof and fog-proof. It can store 3,000 waypoints, and comes with a very easy to install swivel mount.
  • charts load instantly
  • updatable navionics software
  • no sonar capability
Brand Raymarine
Model E70295-NAG
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

For handheld chart plotting, the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc is perfect for short trips with small numbers of waypoints. It is powered by easy-to-find AA batteries and will accept microSD cards to expand on its 1.7GB of built-in memory.
  • 20-hour battery life
  • includes basemap
  • hard-to-read screen
Brand Garmin
Model 010-00864-02
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2

The Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2 comes with an 83/200 transducer and Lowrance's famously well-made Insight maps, but you can still optionally use Navionics Platinum charts. This latest-version of the HDS-7 has a simplified interface, a touchscreen, & is easily visible in sunlight.
  • extremely accurate gps
  • includes structure scanning
  • watertight case
Brand Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Garmin GPSMAP 7608xsv

Ideal for deep-water fishing, the Garmin GPSMAP 7608xsv has 1 kW dual CHIRP sonar to distinguish between types of game. Meanwhile, it is also an excellent navigator with BlueChart g2 that will automatically shade contours not safe for your boat's depth limits.
  • garmin marine network support
  • 10 gps refreshes per second
  • wi-fi and ant support
Brand Garmin
Model 287138-18
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Simrad Go7 Xse

The Simrad Go7 Xse offers a beautiful and responsive LED touchscreen that supports routing via both Navionics and Jeppesen over an included worldwide basemap. The user interface is extremely easy to master and it can store a massive 10,000 waypoints.
  • connects with nmea 2000 engines
  • wi-fi and bluetooth
  • 2d sonar for shallow waters
Brand Simrad
Weight 7.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Raymarine c95

If you prefer a large screen, the nine-inch Raymarine c95 offers exceptional navigation connectivity, including charts, sonar, night vision, and radar. A wheel mountable remote makes it easy to use at a glance, and the unit can chain with up to 6 compatible models.
  • fast dual-core processing
  • composite inputs for marine cameras
  • syncs with ios devices
Brand Raymarine
Model c95 w/Lighthouse Charts
Weight 9.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Garmin 73SV

The Garmin 73SV uses high-frequency sonar to produce detailed images of everything in the water around you. It comes with your choice of U.S. Bluechart G2 charts, U.S. Lakevü HD maps, or Canadian Lakevü HD maps, so you can easily navigate the most common waterways.
  • includes a transducer
  • position updates 300 times a minute
  • compatible with auto pilot units
Brand Garmin
Model 010-01802-01
Weight 7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The History Of GPS Navigation

The Global Positioning System (GPS), was originally created for military and government intelligence applications. It is a network of satellites that orbit the Earth in fixed points and beam signals down to anyone using a GPS receiver, no matter where on the planet they are located.

In 1957 just as the cold war was becoming more intense, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. This motivated the United States to allocate more money towards their own satellite project and, in 1960, the US launched their first satellite system known as Transit. Transit consisted of five satellites and allowed US Navy ships to take a reading on their position once every hour.

In 1967, Transit was replaced by the Timation satellites, which featured extremely accurate atomic clocks. The more accurate a satellite's clock, the more accurately it can determine a GPS receiver's location. Between 1978 and 1985, GPS technology experienced rapid development with a total of 11 new satellites being launched.

When the Soviet Union shot down a Korean passenger jet in 1983, the Reagan Administration decided that GPS was needed for civilian applications as well. This would allow them to accurately determine their location and reduce the possibility of straying into a restricted foreign territory.

In mid 1993, the US launched their 24th Navstar satellite thus completing the modern 24 satellite GPS. At any given time 21 satellites are used to fix a GPS receiver's location while three satellites are spares in case one of the satellites malfunctions. Currently, the European Union is creating the Galileo GPS system which will use a total of 30 satellites, 14 of which are already in orbit.

Why Navigation Is So Important At Sea

Marine navigation is making the marine transportation world safer and more efficient. It is easy for landlubbers to believe that GPS navigation is only a necessity when large ships are out at sea with no land in sight to use as a reference, but this isn't true. GPS make navigating congested waterways and harbors safer. In fact, GPS navigation is more critical as large ships pull into port, when the risk of crashing into other ships and hazards is elevated.

When looking at the numbers, it is easy to see that GPS navigation has made the seafaring world safer. Between 1994 and 2010, as the use of GPS became a standard on most ocean going vessels, the total loss of ships over 500 gross tonnage has come down from 180 per year to 60 per year. High value accident claims have reduced from 520 a year in 1990, to 200 a year in 2010. And perhaps most importantly, the number of lives lost at sea annually has decreased from 450 in 1995 to 250 in 2010.

Environmental repercussions have lessened as well. The use of GPS is also responsible for reducing the amount of oil spilled at sea as a result of vessel crashes. In the 1970s, there was an average of 22 major oil spills a year from ships and, in 1993, roughly 140 million tons of oil was spilled from ships. In 2011, only 1,000 tons of oil was spilled. This increase in safety and lessened environmental impact has come even as ocean trade continues to grow.

Picking A Marine GPS System

Marine GPS units come in all shapes and sizes, which can make picking the right one difficult for those new to using them. Before choosing any GPS unit, it is best to consider a few important factors. First check the manufacturers specifications to see how many satellites the device uses. Low cost models may only use 12 satellites, which is enough to function properly, but a 24 satellite system will be notably more accurate.

Next, one should consider if they prefer a handheld unit or one that gets mounted to the boat's dash. If you have a small John boat or dinghy, a handheld model is probably sufficient. But it can be difficult for some to read the screen of smaller units and they also generally have reduced mapping capabilities.

Larger mounted GPS receivers are good for those who like looking at a large, color screen and want to see a lot of details about the surrounding area. Many are also compatible with a fish finder and depth sounder. Those with sailboats and larger yachts that carry a dinghy will often require both types. The handheld model being vital in an emergency when the larger vessel must be evacuated.

Depending on how you want to add new maps to your unit, you may want a model that can be connected to a computer. This allows one to download new maps and transfer them directly to the internal memory of their GPS. Models that don't connect to a computer will require the user to buy cards which have maps of particular regions of the world.

Some marine GPS systems, particularly handheld models, are considered non-mapping. This means they show a compass, latitude, and longitude to help you determine your position, but not an actual map. If you want to see a map displayed on the screen, choose a mapping system.

Statistics and Editorial Log

Paid Placements

Wiki Granular Update & Revision Log

help support our research

Patreonlogoorange psj5g7Wiki ezvid low poly earth xdypeb

Last updated on October 31, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.