When out on the water, odds are you probably want to know where you are going. Getting lost out on the water could certainly ruin an otherwise fun filled day. For this reason, you may find yourself wanting to invest in a GPS unit for your personal water craft (PWC). PWC’s are currently not made with any GPS or GPS capabilities to speak of. So, you will have to go out of your way to make sure that you acquire one to make sure you make it home safe no matter what. Luckily, there are GPS units built for other markets that we may be able to apply to our brand of fun. Let’s dive into the three best GPS for PWC that are available today.
Best GPS for PWC
Looking at the best GPS for PWC, the units you are searching for might actually be branded toward different types of users. Namely, we want to be on the lookout for GPS units that are made for boaters or motorcycle riders. There are several important reasons for the GPS units for our purposes to come from this pool of products.
Firstly, these products are going to guide your way on the water so they need to feature maps that have the water mapped out on them. So, we have shouldered the burden of making sure that the maps on these units (even the motorcycle ones) have water guiding capabilities.
Secondly, we want to make sure that our GPS unit is shockproof, as anyone familiar with watercraft can attest to the fact that riding a PWC will give you a good jolt every now and then. Our GPS needs to be just as well prepared for this as we are.
Lastly, our GPS unit obviously needs to be waterproof. Although this may seem obvious, we don’t want this all important trait to be forgotten when it comes to the sea of features that are available with differing GPS units. For these reasons, we need to be sure of these three characteristics for a product are present to make it onto our list for best GPS for PWC.
Best GPS for PWC
Magellan Meridian Marine Waterproof Hiking GPS
The first entry on our list is also the cheapest ($90) option for those looking for a GPS for their PWC. This unit features 12 channels with a 16 MB marine base map preloaded into the unit. This database contains US marine navigation aids like fixed navaids, buoys, obstructions, wrecks, and lighthouses.
The unit also features a Secure Digital memory-card slot for larger storage capability for if you would like to add larger, more detailed maps into the unit. This extra storage could also be used to store waypoints and routes into the memory. In fact, the unit can store up to 500 waypoints (Can you even think of that many?) as well as 20 routes that can be guided both forwards and backwards. With this feature, you could load your home base (whether that be a dock, piece of shoreline, or launch ramp) into the unit for easy access to the liquid road home.
- 12-channel GPS unit with 16 MB marine base map
- Built-in database of U.S. marine navaids (including fixed navaids), buoys, obstructions, wrecks, and lighthouses
- Secure digital memory-card slot for expanded storage
- Waterproof, rugged, and ergonomic design
- Oversize gray-scale display with backlight and backlit keypad
The antennae in this Magellan product are top of the line and can operate in English, Spanish, and French, among many other languages. This GPS features a very simple gray-scale display that has a backlight as well as a backlit keypad. Of course, this Magellan product is waterproof, as vitally needed, and is otherwise rugged with an ergonomic design.
Mounts are sold separately from this GPS unit, so you could choose to go without the mount and hold this device in your hand while you ride or opt for a mount to free yourself up to enjoy your ride more. This GPS unit is sure to get you home at the lowest price and with the most basic technology to get the job done (but that’s the beauty of it).
At $199, the Garmin eTrex 20x is the next on our list of the best GPS for PWC. This GPS unit is, of course, a waterproof wonder that is loved by many adventurers. Sporting a 2.2 inch color display, this GPS unit is certain to get you home safe.
With 240 x 320 screen resolution, you will find that this GPS will be easy to read as you bounce along the waves on your PWC. It is also notable that this screen is sunlight-readable so it is still usable while you bask in the sun as much as the water. The internal memory has been upgraded from previous versions on this edition of Garmin’s eTrex and comes with a preloaded worldwide basemap with shaded relief. If you find that the basemap does not satisfy your tastes, a microSD card slot is available in the unit. In order to make this upgraded map useful, Garmin made this device usable anywhere – on land, on the water, even in the air.
eTrex 20x Highlights
- Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display with great resolution (240 x 320 pixels)
- Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot gives you tons of storage for a variety of maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (subscription required)
- Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief
- With its sensitive, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, HotFix satellite prediction and GLONASS support, eTrex can locate your position quickly, precisely
- Maintains its location even in heavy cover and deep canyons
The antenna on the eTrex 20x is quite powerful and constantly places you in the correct spot on the map, even in deep canyons and heavy overhead cover (which we don’t even need on the water!). With a wide assortment of available and compatible mounts, this GPS could be mounted to your PWC and used hands free to guide your way. This GPS unit is easy to use, durable, and affordable, making it possibly the best value for the average user.
ZOOZ Motorcycle Waterproof GPS Navigation System 5” ZG-5050
This high performance GPS receiver is built for serious performance with an 800 MHz processor at $399. Although this unit is marketed towards motorcyclists, it could definitely be used as one of the best GPS for PWC. Featuring that all important waterproof and shockproof capability, this GPS is totally built to last.
The screen on this unit is 5” high quality LCD display, plenty large enough to be seen from your seat at the helm of your PWC. Amazingly, this unit actually does even more than guide your way. It comes with an included entertainment system that has an MP3 player, video and Bluetooth capabilities. This ZOOZ product can run 3 hours without a charge, is full of an array of outstanding maps, and contains a built in loudspeaker that is sure to impress you.
- High quality clear and bright LCD
- Entertainment system support, Music and Bluetooth
- Water proof
- High performance Processor
- Includes FM Transmitter and Car Kit
It also comes with a built in mount that will hook around the handlebars of your PWC for easy installment. Most importantly, yes, it’s waterproof. While this option may be for the customer who wants to go all out on their GPS purchase, you would surely find that this system does far more than just get you home.
At several different price points, we have created a comprehensive list of the best GPS for PWC to help you find the right option for you.
The Magellan Meridian Marine Waterproof Hiking GPS will absolutely get the job done. It will get you home safe with no extra bells and whistles.
Second, we have the Garmin eTrex 20x, which has a few more capabilities. The mounting option may make a huge difference in the use of this product which may justify spending a little more for you.
And for those who want to go all out and get the best GPS option for their PWC, there’s the ZOOZ GPS that is so packed with features, you’ll be wondering what the device isn’t capable of. You’ll get home in style, jamming to your favorite tunes or making phone calls on the go.
For all of these reasons, these GPS units made onto our list of the best buys for GPS that you need for your PWC.