Whether boating for fun or working in the marine industry, you need a GPS to find the right direction. People working in the marine industry know the great importance of GPS, but most of these systems need computers and network connections to work. However, the advent of new technologies led to whole new GPS devices that work without any WiFi or cellular data connection. This is the handheld GPS for boat.
In this list, we will give you a brief account of the best handheld GPS for boats. Moreover, we’ll tell you how to choose from the many options available on the market today and what you should look for in your new handheld GPS device for boats. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- Garmin GPSMAP 79sc Marine Handheld
- Simrad Cruise GPS Chartplotter
- Garmin GPSMAP 86SCi
- Garmin Rino 755t
- Garmin Montana 700
- Garmin GPSMAP 66i
- Garmin ETrex Vista C Waterproof Hiking GPS
- Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro
- Garmin GPS 73
- Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS
- Garmin Foretrex 601
- Garmin Striker Plus 4
- Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter
- How To Choose The Best Handheld GPS for Boat?
- Are handheld GPS devices for boats different from other GPS devices?
- What is the best handheld GPS for boats?
- Are handheld GPS devices better than stationary ones?
Garmin GPSMAP 79sc Marine Handheld
Garmin GPSMAP 79sc Marine Handheld is your saver in emergencies. This handheld GPS for boat comes in a package including the GPS device and two LED lantern bracelets. These produce SOS LED lights when you need help. The battery life reaches 19 hours. This might not be the longest battery life ever, so we recommend you always have spare batteries, especially during long boating trips.
Apart from that, the GPS is scratch-resistant and fog proof. These features are so much needed in sea trips. The memory is 32Gb in case you want to save waypoints. As for the maps, the device already has the BlueChart g3 Coastal Charts you’ll need for navigating the seas.
- Two LED lantern bracelets
- Fog proof
- 32 Gb memory
- Not the longest battery life
Simrad Cruise GPS Chartplotter
Although this might not be a compact handheld GPS for boats, Simrad Cruise GPS Chartplotter can be a very useful choice in navigation. The GPS is very easy to use and pretty straightforward. You’ll reach your destination in seconds using this GPS device, and all you have to do then is move towards this waypoint.
Further, the GPS can give you more information about the depth. It’s also a good way to know your current position in a second. What might urge you to use this relatively large GPS device rather than small compact handheld devices is the fast, automatic tracking and positioning better than any other handheld GPS device.
- Very user-friendly
- Gives information about depth
- Very fast and accurate
- Not the easiest to hold
Garmin GPSMAP 86SCi
Garmin GPSMAP 86SCi is another option you can go for, developed by Garmin. This handheld GPS for boat has the needed coastal charts for working on the water. You can also stream the boat data from chart plotters. Using this device is easy as most Garmin GPS devices. It has buttons to navigate through different features. In addition, you can use the remote control function for better feasibility of use.
If you’re in an area with a good connection, pair this GPS with your mobile phone. You’ll receive notifications about locations and other data when both are connected. Above all, the battery life is incredible. So, go for this handheld GPS if you have an upcoming long trip.
- Preloaded with coastal charts
- Remote control function
- Pairable with smartphones
- Some features need a subscription
Garmin Rino 755t
Sometimes you’ll face a situation where you need to communicate with some of your friends, but there is no network connection far in the sea. Here comes the importance of Garmin Rino 755t. It’s more than a handheld GPS for boats; it’s also a radio. Using this device, you’ll be able to communicate with your fellows who are far away by 20 miles. You can text or send a voice message.
Back to the navigational features, this GPS will let you position yourself and see the surroundings easily using GPS and GLONASS satellites. This gives better coverage and higher accuracy. The device has a three-inches screen that is readable during sunlight. Plus, it comes with two options for the batteries; either the rechargeable one or the AA replaceable batteries.
- Radio and GPS
- Two batteries systems
- GPS and GLONASS satellites
- Can’t download more maps
Garmin Montana 700
Garmin Montana 700 is available in several options, and all of them are perfect options. The most notable thing here is a large touchscreen for a clear view and ease of use. The screen size is 5 inches, and the navigational features support all the known satellites such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.
You can also get a package that includes the device and a mount. This will be an excellent choice to free your hands but still use a compact, lightweight device. Overall, this is a very rugged, high-quality device. Thus, expect to pay a lot to get this expensive option.
- Large screen
- Supports many satellite systems
- Compact and lightweight
- A mount is available
- Very expensive
Garmin GPSMAP 66i
Garmin GPSMAP 66i can provide birdseye satellite imagery with no subscription like no other Garmin handheld GPS. This feature is handy for an overview of the surrounding area. Although you can find it in many other products, most require a subscription. However, this GPS still requires a subscription to gain access to other features. For example, sending an SOS message.
Apart from the navigational features, the GPS has an unmatched battery that stays alive for more than one day. If you can connect to a cellular network, you’ll be able to use the application to gain access to several data and weather forecasts. You can also save and share data via this application.
- Birdeye imagery
- Connects to includes multiple global navigation satellite systems
- Long-lasting battery
- Provides weather forecasts
- Some features require a subscription
Garmin ETrex Vista C Waterproof Hiking GPS
As you can guess from the name, Garmin ETrex Vista C Waterproof Hiking GPS is made mainly for hiking, but you can use it for boating as well. The GPS device has a waterproof cover to protect it. It’s simply an ideal GPS device for low budgets and functional features. It has all the basic features you need for a sea trip.
As for the display, it’s a moderate screen offering good readability. Generally, the size of the device is average. This is what most travelers look for. This GPS uses an electronic compass and barometric altimeter to get precise locations and point out the right tracks. Thus, it’s nothing different than the most expensive handheld GPS.
- Suitable for low budgets
- Good size and weight
- Waterproof case
- Internal memory is very small
Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro
Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro is another budget-friendly option but with fewer features than the previous Garmin GPS. It doesn’t provide a navigational map or destinations, but you get information about your location, altitude, and similar data. So, why might you go for this option? Well, many people just need some basic information and need to be connected, and this is exactly what Bad Elf does.
The small device can pair with five smartphones at once, giving them access to all the information it has. Moreover, there is a LED backlight if you’ll go boating at night. Bad Elf is briefly one of the best GPS for kayaking and any other sea adventures.
- Very small and lightweight
- Pairs with five devices at once
- LED backlight
- Not expensive
- No navigational maps
- Pairs with IOS devices only
Garmin GPS 73
Garmin GPS 73 is packed with many features, including marine-specific features such as marine alarms, creating routes, and MOB. In addition, it floats on water besides being water-resistance. Thus, it’s the best handheld GPS for boats in terms of marine-specific features. You can also use it for any other activity as it provides perfect connections.
Going further, this GPS can store up to 1,000 waypoints. This is more than enough for a solo traveler. Garmin handheld GPS is easy to hold and easy to use, thanks to the user guide included within the package. Plus, there is a neck lanyard in case you don’t want to hold it between your hands all the time.
- Marine-specific features
- Good storage
- Floats on water
- Not many preloaded maps
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS is good hiking, kayaking, and boating handheld GPS device. First, it has a three-inches screen that is sunlight-readable and gloves-friendly as well. Go and get your best cold weather gloves now, as you won’t have to remove them anymore to navigate through the features of your handheld GPS.
Further, the GPS supports global navigational satellites such as GPS and GLONASS. This gives more accuracy when detecting locations and planning routes. Additionally, you can share the waypoints and routes you planned via Bluetooth. Above all, it has a flashlight for night vision.
- Very accurate
- Bluetooth feature
- High-quality display
- Not all world maps are available
Garmin Foretrex 601
Garmin Foretrex 601 works with all the common satellite systems, including GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo systems. This provides the most accurate location and navigational features ever. You can use this small wrist-mounted GPS device for any purpose, including marine purposes. To get an idea about everything related to this device, there is an easy user manual that tells you how it works and all the features it has.
The GPS device is very compact and lightweight. It works with AAA batteries, and you can pay for the device with the batteries or without. Want to know more? This small GPS has a 3-axis compass and a barometric altimeter. This is what stands for its high capabilities.
- Very compact and lightweight
- Long-lasting battery
- Very accurate
- No preloaded maps
Garmin Striker Plus 4
The Garmin Striker Plus 4 is a very value-for-money option and one of the cheapest handheld GPS devices you can get. Although it’s sold at less than $200, you’ll find great features that nearly resemble the most expensive handheld GPS devices. The GPS feature lets you find your way in the sea and save waypoints for further notice. You can also save maps on the device’s internal memory.
Plus, the screen is bigger than most other similar devices. It’s 4.3 inches, and it offers good visibility in sunlight. The device is very light, and it comes with a protective cover, all in the same package.
- Large screen
- Good value for money
- GPS and fish finder
- Not very durable
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter is the best handheld GPS for boat available from Garmin up till now. The device is very sensitive, which means accurate locations and destinations. It can be used for several purposes, not only boating. Yet, we believe it’s perfect for boating because it’s waterproof and floats on water.
The maps on the device are very accurate and informative. They have shorelines, marinas, and all the details you need while navigating through the sea. Best of all, you can share the waypoints and routes you save with other users who have the same device or compatible devices.
- Very accurate
- Shareable routes and waypoints
- Doesn’t include all world coastal maps
How To Choose The Best Handheld GPS for Boat?
Boating is very difficult if you don’t know how to navigate the sea. Even if this isn’t your first time, you may face an undesirable situation where you can’t go further because you don’t know the route. Here comes the importance of GPS devices, and here is what you should look for in the best handheld GPS for boat.
Charts and maps
Handheld GPS devices come preloaded with maps, so they don’t need WiFi connections. However, some devices have very basic maps that become unuseful for tracking the route. Check the available maps on the device you intend to buy first. Best of all, get devices that allow for downloading more maps.
Handheld GPS devices can work with rechargeable or replaceable batteries. It depends on the device itself. The best devices are those that work with both. However, this isn’t very common, so you need to figure out the battery life if you’ll buy a GPS with a replaceable battery. Some can go up to more than a day.
Handheld GPS devices can go very expensive according to the features it includes. Some of these features are SOS LED light, SOS messages, two-way communication, and extra measures such as depth. All of these features aren’t a must, but they can save you in some cases.
Are handheld GPS devices for boats different from other GPS devices?
Most of the features are the same, but GPS devices for boats should have coastal maps.
What is the best handheld GPS for boats?
The best handheld GPS for boats is the one that provides accurate information about locations and directions. Also, it should have a long-lasting battery. Garmin has a couple of ideal items here.
Are handheld GPS devices better than stationary ones?
In fact, both are perfect, but it depends on how and where you’ll use them. You might need a handheld device for easier and more practical use for sea trips.