Best Boat Electronics 2020

Get ready, 2020 is “shore” to be a great year out on the water! As we wrap up 2019 and move into 2020, we’re doing a roundup of some of the best and most essential electronics for boaters available on the market. Below are some great products currently available in a few different, key categories to help you stay safe and equipped out on the water in the new year!

As technology advances it becomes more powerful, increasingly compact and deeply integrated into seemingly all aspects of our lives, begging the question are we ourselves merging with technology? Regardless of your view on simulation theory and our modern sci-fi world, one thing is abundantly clear: great tech equals great safety and great experiences when it comes to exploring, sailing and motoring on water both inshore and out at sea.

Simrad NSS evo3

There are so many on-the-water tools available to boaters these days it can be a bit overwhelming, so we’ve gone ahead and broken them down by category. Having the right gear can mean the difference in getting a good catch for dinner or not, or whether or not your onboard guests have a great experience – in extreme cases, boat electronics can even mean the difference between life and death. These items represent some of the best marine products to have for any avid boating enthusiast!

Best Boat Navigation Equipment

Garmin GPS 8600

How to get where you are going is top of our priority list. The Garmin GPS 8600 series of touch screen units comes in varying sizes from ten to twenty-four inches. The larger the screen, the more real estate you have to play with, in regards to what information you want displayed with the customizable screen layouts. Featuring automatic guidance and sonar systems it’s understandable why the National Marine Electronics Association awarded Garmin with a “Product of Excellence Award” in 2018 for this product line. Always innovating and integrating the newest technologies into their products, Garmin’s GPS 8600 series will keep you heading in the right direction.

Simrad NSS evo3

Another option for precise nautical navigation, this fish-finder and chart plotter is a heavy hitting contender. A standard twelve inch display and all-weather technology behind this durable touch screen beast means it will be there when you need it most, no matter the conditions. Configurable with various transducers, and featuring an on-board echo sounder, this piece of technology enables you to take advantage of CHIRP sonar to find exactly what you’re looking for with HD imaging. With the Simrad NSS evo3, any angler will be able to thrive no matter the location or circumstance. Included with this device is the C-MAP Easy Routing application and a plethora of charts giving abundant choices for plotting routes almost as effortlessly as newly licensed teens use their phones to direct them to the nearest shopping mall.

Weather

Garmin 53 SiriusXM

“How’s the weather?” Answer this question clearly, quickly, and accurately when you have the Garmin 53 SiriusXM on board. Whether a casual day motoring about with the family, or your greatest fishing adventure to date, knowing what weather is waiting for you on the horizon is one of the most important factors in staying safe on the water. This fully integrated weather receiver and antenna sends the most current detailed forecasts and conditions directly to a compatible Garmin chartplotter. Ride with confidence as king of the seas knowing you have the most up to date, real time, weather data via the Garmin Marine Network. Additional features include access to SiriusXM stations, water temperatures, as well as detailed wave and wind information.

Davis Vantage Pro2

Another great option for hobbyists and professionals, the Davis Vantage Pro2 boasts being tough enough to withstand a category 5 hurricane. This station recorded a 199mph wind gust at the front eyewall of hurricane Irma in 2017. According to Davis Instruments, “the station, owned by Serge Brin, was mounted on a 21’ pole on a bluff on the north coast of St. Barthelemy, squarely in the path of the storm’s north-northeast winds.”

This package includes a console and versatile sensor suite capable of providing detailed information on temperature and humidity inside and outside, dewpoint, rainfall, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and with additional options UV/solar radiation. Installation options include wired and wireless setups. Designed to be extremely rugged, the Davis Vantage Pro2 is a great option for reliable and accurate weather data on board your vessel.

Safety

Garmin inReach Explorer+ EPIRB

Satellite positioning and emergency communication are essential to staying safe when traveling off the beaten path. A great option comes from Garmin, industry leader in global positioning devices, whether by land, air, or sea. The inReach Explorer+ is a highly capable compact device that packs a whopping amount of technology in the palm of your hand. Global Iridium satellite coverage means that you can go anywhere and remain connected. Two-way messaging is the stand out feature of this handheld EPIRB.

Once your device is setup it can be preloaded with contacts and messages that can be sent at the push of a button for quick delivery when time may be critical. It also features topographical maps as well as detailed weather information. In case of emergency, just press the SOS button and your location and preset message are sent to emergency response services. It is fully waterproof, lightweight, and easy to use.

Furuno FA50 Class B AIS Transponder

Choosing the right automatic identification system to have on board doesn’t have to be difficult. The Furuno Fa50 Ais50 Class B is a top notch option for an AIS system that has both GPS and VHF capabilities. Included software from MaxSea allows display on PC of AIS targets. Its internal GPS is a 12 channel all-in-view receiver. This system also features two TDMA receivers on parallel VHF channels. Internally the GPS has 12 channels all-in-view and differential capability with SOG, heading, COG, and position. Having a good AIS system on board aids in port security and safe navigation especially in busy sea lanes.

Revere Coastal Commander 2.0 Life Raft

Nobody wants to think about needing their life raft, but having the right one on board can be the difference between life and death. With many options and styles available it can be difficult to narrow down the options. The Revere Coastal Commander 2.0 is a reliable, feature rich option that is sure to keep you, your family, and guests safe in a worst case scenario. It features a boarding ladder, self-erecting canopy, weatherproof double zippered door, righting line on the floor bottom, and it comes vacuum packed to ensure it’s protected from the elements minimizing service costs.

Rugged oversized double frame tubes with a safety orange closed canopy and reflective tape help guarantee that this raft is a sturdy vessel and can be easily spotted in a nighttime rescue scenario. Four ballast bags with fast deploying weights, sea anchor with 30m line, tow line, floating knife, and rescue ring are just some of the additional features making this raft an incredible value for its reasonable price tag.

Fish Finding

Lowrance HOOK2 5 TripleShot

Technology has come a long way in the arena of underwater imaging and sonar for consumers and professionals. This combo Fishfinder and Chartplotter features wide-angle CHIRP sonar coverage as well as SideScan and DownScan Imaging™. Whether a seasoned sportfishing enthusiast or a novice, this incredible device offers simple menus, quick access to the most important functions and unprecedented autotuning sonar! For clear viewing even in direct sunlight there is a high-resolution SolarMAX™ screen. The massive database of 3,000+ US lake maps with 1’ contours, and a global basemap ensure that no matter where you go, you will find what you’re looking for under the water.

Watersports

Big Air Vapor Wakeboard Tower

Swooped styling, rigid ultra polished tubes, and universal mounts make this tower a great option for rope based watersports. You can expect a very stable and rigid pull from this 6061 T-6 aircraft grade aluminum frame. Designed to fit any boat with a beam between 72″ and 108” this universal design fits just about any boat out there. One person can easily fold this tower down for stowage. Easily attach aftermarket wakeboard racks and accessories. Whether you choose a chrome-like polished or black powder coat finish, this rack looks good and is a lot of fun.

Entertainment

JL Audio MX650

JL Audio takes the cake when it comes to marine quality speakers for your boat. The MX650 are 60 watts, with 225 watts at peak power. These 6.5” coaxial marine speakers are built out of the same materials as the higher-end M650, and only differ in power handling and size. Where it counts most these speakers stand up and satisfy your listening needs. If you’ve ever heard speakers that are, “blown out,” you know that it doesn’t sound great. These speakers have a built in “tweeter polyswitch solid state protection,” this means that if too much volume is being sent to these speakers the tweeter automatically disconnects to protect it, as if it were an automatic fuse. With two grill types and two colors and standard mounting options, these are a great way to enhance the experience of a day out.

JBL PRV175 with Bluetooth

A great way to add tech convenience to your sound system is to upgrade to a bluetooth capable receiver. This waterproof marine stereo features MP3 capability, USB port, and packs a punch at 180 watts of power combined from four 45-watt channels. Internal EQ with preset tone curves, wireless remote, UV resistant face panel, and RCA connections make this a fully functional and robust unit to command the music on board your boat.

Accessories

GatorStep

Designed with the boater in mind GatorStep is a great choice for non-skid decking for your boat. With a highly reputable customer service department, and stylish options, these pads will enhance every part of your vessel. From floor decking to swim platforms, help pads to gunwale pads, GatorStep is fully customizable and low maintenance. An in-house creative team can even help you to design the perfect set of pads for your exact needs.

Written by: Nate Cantalupo

An experienced global traveler, Nate has kept a daily writing practice for over ten years, archiving, reflecting, and capturing his many adventures. A professional video producer, he identifies with storytelling. He’s always been called to the ocean, and grew up going to Nantasket beach in Hull, MA with his family in the 1990’s. Whether it's the balance of chemicals so similar to our crimson blood, or the exhilaration of being where there is no land in sight, out on the great blue is where he feels most alive. Currently he lives in South Beach, Miami, Florida. Check out his newest works at www.YachtWriter.com

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