Choosing the Right GPS for Your Boat

Choosing a GPS for a marine vessel might seem like a foreign concept to some people, but the more you get familiar with what you or your Captain need to direct the boat, the less complex it becomes to shop around for the right GPS. Read on below to see some helpful tips on what to look out for in your search.

GPS with Mapping Systems

The first question you need to ask yourself is what kind of journey or ventures your vessel be needing a GPS for. If you know the majority of your trips will consist of local or smaller lakes as opposed to open seas, then a non-mapping GPS may be the most suitable option for you (especially if you’re already familiar with the surroundings). 

Non-mapping systems typically display only a compass, your distance traveled, as well as latitude and longitude. However, if you are journeying into unfamiliar waters, then you should go with the GPS that has the standard basemap. They can be useful for rivers, lakes, shorelines, as well as for when you’re venturing through marinas and larger ports. These types of GPS have more features than non-mapping systems and are similar to a car GPS. Finally, you can choose the GPS with the most advanced mapping system. These will usually provide 3D viewing capabilities of underwater terrain, weather forecast alerts, and more.

Portable or Handheld? Choosing Style 

If you’re more prone to using your phone GPS as opposed to your car GPS, then you likely prefer having navigational power from the palm of your hand. For navigating boats, you’d likely enjoy the handheld style GPS. They’re able to run on 12-volt power and are usually supplied with an accompanying 12-volt cigarette lighter cable. 

A handheld GPS tends to have a smaller screen, so if you’d like to go for larger screen visibility, then you can opt for a portable GPS system. Portables offer a 6-inch touch screen and can be used in both boat and car. If you’d like to invest in an even larger screen, then a dash mounted GPS is the choice for you. A little more on the expensive side, they’ll typically carry a large screen and can be mounted on your helm for easier visibility. 

Number of Satellites 

Last, but definitely not least, it’s important to note the GPS specs on how many satellites your device is able to pull data from. Three satellites is usually all a GPS will need to determine coordinates, but many devices today can pull from 12-24 satellites. The more satellites, the better accuracy you’re guaranteed, so it’s important to be on the lookout for these specs when shopping around. If you’re considering where to begin your search for a quality marine GPS parts, be sure to check out NSN Sourcing! We carry a diverse inventory of marine parts to meet client needs! 


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