Understanding where you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there is extremely important in any type of boating. A jet ski GPS should always be with you on the water.
Find out which device we recommend over all others as the perfect PWC GPS companion.
A GPS for your jet ski is one of the most essential accessories to own. They can be used for fishing, camping, or even geocaching. Using Google Earth might work inland, but eventually, you’re going to want a little more in terms of navigation.
In this article, we take a close look at the best GPS for jet skiing currently on the market. Find out about all the key features and just why it deserves your attention.
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What Determines the Best Jet Ski GPS?
Jet ski or PWC GPS systems are a special breed, they aren’t your conventional GPS devices and they have to be able to stand some pretty demanding conditions.
Here are a few of the things to look out for when searching for a new GPS for a jet ski:
- Price: A good GPS needs to be affordable. Some GPS units cost up to a thousand dollars or more, which is way out of most people’s price range. A decent jet ski GPS shouldn’t cost more than a couple of hundred dollars. Of course, there is a trade-off when it comes to price and quality, but there should be a reasonable balance. Most decent units cost between $200-$400.
- Features: These devices come with all kinds of bells and whistles these days. Typically people want something that sets waypoints, saves locations, and maybe has a built-in chartplotter. Anything more than that is the icing on the cake.
- Usability: It’s important that a GPS is easy to use, and doesn’t take very long to learn how to operate. Learning how to use a new device can be frustrating, so the easier it is to operate, the better. This all comes down to the design of the user interface and this is typically what stands the great devices apart from the average.
- Durability: If a GPS is being used on a jet ski, it’s more than likely going to get bumped around occasionally. Aside from being waterproof, a good GPS for a jet ski needs to be durable. This doesn’t mean it needs to be indestructible, just strong enough to handle average wear and tear.
What’s the Best GPS for a Jet Ski?
There are plenty of great marine GPS units, but the Garmin GPSMAP is one of the best options available.
It’s affordable, durable, easy to use, and comes with all the standard features that people want.
Garmin GPSMAP 64ST Review
Garmin is arguably the top producer of high-end navigation systems, so it comes as no surprise that they make such great marine GPS units.
The GPSMAP is a great GPS for jet skis, waverunners, and just about every other type of PWC imaginable. It has a compact design that helps save space on board, and it floats which is great for people who tend to drop things in the water from time to time.
Recommended Reading: Check out our guide to the top jet ski sound systems next.
There are several different options for the GPSMAP. They all share the same basic functions, but there’s an option for built-in add ons like an antenna, Bluetooth, a camera, or a built-in topography map of the US or Canada.
Although some features vary according to the specific model, there are a few things that come standard. All models are waterproof, come with a microSD card slot for loading maps, and have a dedicated MOB (man overboard) button.
Additionally, there’s an option to purchase a model with a preloaded map of the United States or Canada. Other maps can be downloaded off of Garmin’s website and other sites, but the continental US and Canada are the only ones that can come built-in.
This unit is handheld, so a mount is recommended for it to be used as a GPS for a jet ski. A slot is available for a lanyard, but investing in a good mount is well worth it.
Learning how to operate a GPS can sometimes be tricky, but Garmin’s customer service department does a great job at answering technical questions. If for whatever reason you find yourself having trouble with any of their GPS units, give them a call. Garmin’s tech specialist do a great job at explaining how to use their GPS.
It’s highly recommended to visit their website here if you have any questions about its functionality.
I’ve used Garmin GPS devices for a number of years now and while I feel that the software can sometimes feel rushed to market, Garmin always impress me with how committed they are to improving their systems through regular updates.
The Garmin 64st reviews pretty well when it comes to usability but the lack of a touchscreen might put some off.
Two AA batteries are required to power the GPS, or it can be charged with a 12v outlet on your jet ski. The battery lasts approximately 20 hours which, is impressive given all of its features and functionality.
This charge bundle provides a 12v car charger that will also work on your jet ski, a home charger, and a USB data cable.
All GPSMAP series have a surprisingly bright 2.6 inch LCD screen with color display as well as a built-in base map. The bright screen makes using the GPS in the daylight much easier, which is essential for a jet ski GPS.
The GPS can store additional maps on a micro SD card. There is a slot for an SD card under the batteries inside the batteries compartment.
Custom waypoints allow users to track paths to destinations. These custom waypoints are very useful when using this GPS with a jet ski because they allow you to track your path through narrow waterways accurately. Waypoints can also be saved and shared with others if you decide to share any hidden spots with your friends.
To use this as a GPS for a jet ski, a handlebar mount is pretty essential. While Garmin does make mounts for their GPS units, it may be better to invest in a more universal mount that will also work with other devices. The Ram mount cradle works well with Garmin GPS units, but can also be used for cell phones and other devices.
Pros and Cons
Let’s find out how the benefits stack up against the negatives. We love this device but it’s not perfect.
-Long battery Life
-Waterproof & Floats
-The shape of the GPS fits in your hand well
-It’s relatively small
-Maps are easy to read
-The interface is tricky to use at first
-Doesn’t come with a dashboard mount
This is by no means the only GPS for jet skis out there, but the Garmin GPSMAP series provide the best value for your money. There are other models that may offer more, but they’re more expensive. On the other hand, there are cheaper models, but they offer less.
What makes the GPSMAP such an appealing option is all the different model variants it comes in. The different models allow buyers to actually choose which features they’re looking for, rather than settle for less.
The GPSMAP provides the perfect blend of functionality and affordability, which is why in our opinion it’s the top waterproof GPS for PWC or jet ski out there.
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