Looking for a good marine GPS device can be complicated, but it’s worth putting in some time to find out what is the best marine GPS for you to make sure the device you purchase is worth the money. Marine GPS reviews often focus only on price or on handheld devices only, so we’re here to give you a mix of both mounted and handheld devices so that you can select the device that fits your needs.
The highest rated marine GPS will have high accuracy, features specifically aimed at marine usage, as well as easy to ready screens. They should also include some maps to start with and be easy to update with more maps to fit your specific region. Adjustable menus and display settings are also a huge plus for making the device suit your specific boating situation. Lasting, good customer support and a useful manual can make an average device a really great one to consider. These two things are invaluable when it comes to GPS devices.
There’s no reason to waste your money on a device that is not the best marine GPS. Not everyone has the same priorities when it comes to their GPS device, so check out our list of pros and cons for each device below to find the device that fits your priorities.
The Top 8 Best Marine GPS Reviews
Finding the right device can be easy with our marine GPS reviews of some of the most popular devices on the market below. Check them out to find your perfect fit, and feel more confidence on your next boating adventure!
This Humminbird device is one of the most popular mounted marine GPS devices on the market, and it’s easy to see why. It is an updated GPS with a fish finder as well as GPS chart plotting capabilities which allow you to do more with your device. The built-in Humminbird ContourXD makes the charts easier to read, and it comes with a transducer. The down scan and sonar both work very well, and this device can be integrated with another GPS like the Hummingbird 899 if you want to set up a dual GPS system (front and rear of boat) for faster fishing or locating techniques that you use. It also can be used as the main GPS system without any issues if you don’t want to do a dual setup.
The display on this device is the real benefit, especially for finding fish! Older devices don’t have the imaging capabilities or graphing that this device has. This helps you visualize what is going on under the water, which is a huge benefit. Combine that with the stellar GPS locating technology, and you have a really solid marine GPS as an option to you.
Humminbird has reliable customer service and a 1-year warranty on this device as well, so you can be assured that you will have time to see if this device is right for you before being too frustrated with the outcome of your purchase.
- Large, bright screen
- Has ethernet capabilities
- Reliable battery life
- Accurate, fast loading GPS positioning
- Dual card reader
- 1-year warranty
- Easy and fast to hook up
- Does not come with swivel mount
- Transducer can be difficult to set up
- Some devices were reported to have come with missing parts, but Humminbird sent them quickly
- Has radar, but need to purchase access
Garmin is a well-known name in the world of GPS devices and with that name comes a level of trust and reliability that you cannot get from many other companies. This device is incredible. Many of their most popular devices are handheld devices, but they also make a great mounted marine GPS device in the form of the GPSMAP 547xs.
Be aware that when you purchase this device, you have to consider whether you want the simple chart plotter, or if you want to add on a sounder and/or transducer. This just depends on your situation, but don’t waste money buying features you are not going to use if you don’t need them. Besides the inclusion of these add-ons, each 547 is the same device. The transducer add-on is a great deal and a very good transducer, so keep that in mind.
One other thing to keep in mind with this device is that some of the internal fuses may become corroded by saltwater over, so you may want to replace them if you are able to. Besides that, this device is nearly perfect for all applications and has almost all 5 star reviews. It can help you find fish, glide around easily, and works in all kinds of boats without any problems. If you want a fantastic device you can use right out of the box, then this is the device for you.
- Works right out of the box (with transducer)
- Dual SD slots
- Easy-to-view, split screen display
- Accurate depth tracking and no latency in loading
- Clearly separates and shows what’s under you
- Doesn’t come with the full manual. Request the NMEA 2000 connection PDF for connection help from Garmin directly.
- Limited base maps. Will need to purchase add-on maps.
- Internal fuses are not all fully waterproof
Lowrance Mark-4 Chirp 000-11823-001 Fishfinder/Chartplotter with 83/200 KHz Transom Mount Transducer
Lowrance is another brand that makes good GPS devices. They are not as well known as Garmin or Humminbird, but they are good in their own right. This fishfinder, chart plotter, transducer combination is a great marine GPS for many people.
This device has a built-in GPS antenna, and the package also includes a detailed U.S. base map that has more than 3,000 lakes, rivers, and coastal contours. It also will give you water depths up to 1000’ with those maps, which is very helpful. The ground speed, water temperature, and water depth are all clearly reported and very accurate.
This device would be directly hooked to a12V and can then be run. It does not drain the battery very quickly. However, you will want to make sure you seal off all connections you make to keep it running safely and without any potential damage from water or corrosion. Overall, this is a great device for those really looking for a value buy. It does not have the durability or extra features that a more expensive marine GPS has, but that does not take away from it being good value for the money that you would spend on it.
- Accurate GPS
- Comes with U.S. base map
- Very affordable
- 12-volt unit
- Good value for the price
- Can be connected directly to fuse
- Accurately reports water depth, temperature, ground speed, and rate of drift
- No color screen
- Not as long-lasting as more expensive devices
- Some packages require that you purchase a yearly membership for the maps after purchasing which will be around $99 per year
- Small screen
- Screen hard to see in sun
Here is another great marine GPS manufactured by the GPS-creating masters, Garmin. The 78 line of handheld, marine Garmin GPS devices is one of their most popular. It comes in a few different variations, the 78s, the 78sc, and the 78. The 78sc has the most features and includes the maps, compass, and barometric altimeter. You can choose any of those three, but if you want the most out of your device, you should go with the 78sc. That being said, it is also the most expensive of the three devices.
Depending on which model you choose to purchase, you will get a different amount of maps. The 78 sc comes with built-in BlueChart g2 U.S./Bahamas coastal charts. When purchasing, remember that neither the 78 nor the 78s comes with built-in charts, and you will need to load your own maps after purchasing them separately.
This really is a top-of-the-line GPS device. It has so many features that will take time to learn, certainly, but will also be very helpful once you figure them out. There is a built in, multi-axis electronic compass that works very quickly, responds to small movements, and is very accurate. The nicest thing about the compass is that you can set it to either orient to the compass heading (where you point it) or to the track (the direction you are moving becomes the “up”). While this may seem like a small feature, its features like this that make this a fantastic GPS well worth the money.
If you’re looking for a unit that can be mounted but is also handheld, this is the best of the best in terms of marine GPS devices. Make sure to consider it during your hunt.
- Durable, strong case
- Waterproof to IPX7 standards and can float
- Has a dedicated Man Overboard button
- Zoomable maps
- Coastal marine maps included
- Long battery life
- No gasket around battery compartment; not fully waterproof if you don’t correct this
- Menus are difficult to navigate
- No touchscreen
Among Garmin’s more affordable devices is the Striker 4 built-in GPS fish finder. It’s a great handheld device that comes in 3.5”, 5”, and 7” screen sizes. Here, we review the 3.5” screen size because it is the most affordable and the most popular among fans of Garmin GPS devices.
This specific best marine GPS uses CHIRP technology as it’s sonar transducer. It runs at 77/200kHZ and has a 200W RMS transmit power. You can also upgrade this transducer within the Striker 4 easily but is not required for it to work well. In ideal conditions, the transducer will read water depths up to 1,600 ft in freshwater and 750 ft in saltwater.
You should note that this is a chart plotter and fish finder that can mark waypoints, but it is not a GPS in the sense of it showing maps for you to follow. To use it for that function, you will need to use it in conjunction with another device like an echo mapper. You can hook this device up to another one to share the waypoints that you mark, or you can load a waypoint to make your way back to it, but you cannot load extra maps on this device.
- Smarter interface than other Garmin devices with keyed interfaces and dedicated buttons for specific purposes
- Includes CHIRP (77/200 kHz) transducer
- Can easily upgrade the CHIRP if you wish to
- Runs on 12V battery
- Shows water temp, battery voltage, speed accurately
- Comes with fragile clamps to hold transducer; will need to be upgraded for long-term durability
- Tracks way points but cannot have additional maps added via SD or other methods
- Basic Striker 4 does not come with DownVu (dv) which gives 3d shape to what you’re seeing, but that can be added if you buy the more expensive Striker 4dv
If you’d like to consider a brand away from the usuals, try thinking about getting a Raymarine GPS. The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Navionics+ is a good option that has dual channel sonar and GPS capabilities, among other useful features.
This is a very advanced GPS that comes with both CHIRP and Navionics+ at a very reasonable price considering how advanced those features are. Unfortunately, the manual that comes with the Dragonfly is not very useful, but it is possible to access a longer version of the user manual online that will give you more information about the features.
One of the great things about this device is that you can download the Raymarine app on your phone, tablet, or another device, and then you will be able to send sonar information to the app. You can then use the app to share pictures, videos, and more from your phone to social media, which is a cool feature. If you pay for the Navionics app, you’ll also be able to share GPS information.
When purchasing with Navionics and maps, make sure you are purchasing the unit that has the maps that you want for the region you will be using the device.
- CHIRP sonar & DownVision give photo-like, accurate images
- Live sonar data can be linked to phone app via wifi
- Includes US lakes, rivers and coastal maps
- Transducer with temperature sensor & mount included
- SD slot
- Can load additional maps
- High-quality color display
- Accurate speed, depth, and GPS reading
- Small screen
- 5 amp inline fuse not included
- Full owner’s manual only available online
- Wi-fi fish app only shows sonar, not GPS, data
- Additional maps outside of purchased region can be expensive
The last two devices on this list are going to be two more Garmin GPS devices because they are the top of the GPS selling manufacturers. This next one is the GPSMAP 527. It’s one of their more pricey, mounted marine GPS devices, but that price comes with great quality.
This unit can get much more expensive if you want to get more than just a chart plotter. There is a chart plotter sounder unit with or without a transducer available, and these will run for much more money than the basic 527. However, you should only buy those additional features if you need them. The other features of the 527 are similar between the models, so keep that in mind when deciding what you need.
The 527 comes with a worldwide base map and has wireless connectivity which will allow you to connect with marine-specific apps and make more of the unit’s features. The transmit power on the 527 is 1 kW traditional; 1 kW single-channel CHIRP.
The best part about this unit is that you might believe it to be difficult to set up because it has a lot of features and is expensive, but that is not the case. This is very easy to set-up and very easy to use as soon as it is set-up. This means that your money is well spent as it’s buying you a product that you can use without having to spend too much initial setup time on the unit.
The 527 is easily one of the very best mounted GPS units on the market, so make sure to consider it when you are deciding what unit is right for you.
- Accurate depth, sonar, speed, and GPS readings
- Very simple to use
- Very easy to set up
- GPS/GLONASS receiver fast and accurate
- Weak transducer on the basic 527; much better on the 527xs with added transducer
- Basemap is not enough; you will want to purchase more detailed maps
- No touchscreen
The final Garmin GPS unit to look at today is the 421 model. This model, like the 527, comes in a variety of versions. The fish finder, transducer, and different maps are all different options when purchasing, so make sure that you purchase the option that fits your specific needs.
The basic 421 is great for basic navigation, the 421s gives you more features, and the 431 or 431s gives you even more features. Whichever device you need, you should make sure to purchase it, or you will be disappointed in the money spent.
The 421s comes with a good transducer and works as a great fish finder. It also comes with the necessary mounting instructions and equipment for that transducer so that you will have no problems with the transducer for fish finding.
If you’re looking for a device that is easy to use out of the box and gives you the capability to track and find waypoints. You can also use this to hook up with another tracking device so that you can use multiple on different parts of your boat so that you don’t need to go back and forth unnecessarily. Regardless of your situation, you might have a use for this unit.
- Easy-to-read, color screen
- Many different options available when purchasing
- Plotter scrolls quickly and seamlessly
- Internal antenna makes installation simple
- Screen viewable from many angles
- Small screen. Get the 541s if you want a bigger screen.
- Like other devices, map upgrades and expansions will be necessary to add on to the base map
- Menu setup is not very intuitive
- Many wires inside can make installation seem confusing
With this list of handheld and mounted marine GPS options, we hope you’ve been able to narrow down your search for what is the best marine GPS for your situation. If you’re still having trouble choosing a device, make a list of the features you absolutely cannot live without and the features that you hate on a GPS device. Use these lists to compare to the pros and cons lists above, and only consider purchasing those devices that match with your list. Also, make sure that you’ve decided if handheld or mounted devices are preferable for you.
Price can also be a factor in which device you choose, but remember that price isn’t everything and, often, you are really paying for quality when it comes to GPS devices. Consider how many maps come with your device, as maps can be expensive and will add up quickly if your device does not have the maps that you need.
Find the best marine GPS today, and get out on the water as soon as you can! Hopefully, we’ve helped you speed up the journey to finding the perfect device for your situation with our marine GPS reviews. Don’t buy blind: Use research to get the best GPS out there!