Best Chartplotter – Our Top 5 Picks for Your Boat

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For boat owners, chartplotters are extremely useful navigational tools. Nowadays, most chartplotter models come with a plethora of functionality. In this article, we’ll help you narrow down your search by listing the top chartplotters on the market.

So, what’s the best chartplotter? The following are our top 5 picks:

  1. Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder
  2. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv
  3. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS
  4. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter
  5. Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter

From what we’ve researched, the Humminbird Helix 5 Chartplotter is the best chartplotter for the money. You can acquire a more top-of-the-line version like the Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter if you’re willing to spend extra.

Read on to know more about the best chartplotters, including their essential features and benefits.

Best Chartplotter – Our Top 5 Picks

1. Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder

The Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder is a fantastic product with excellent value for money. This chartplotter has everything you’ll need to improve your fishing abilities. It’s great for finding fish in shallow creeks, lakes, and bays.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

It’s not only a chartplotter, but it’s also a fish finder with two frequencies for its CHIRP DualBeam Plus sonar. It uses both wide and narrow beams to cover more area and improve accuracy.

The Humminbird Side Imaging on this model provides a 180-degree view of the aquatic world. This device produces higher-quality images when used in conjunction with its zoom-in/zoom-out feature.

This can cover an area of up to 800 ft. or 400 ft. on each side of your boat location.

Other Details:

  • With keypad control
  • Has a Micro SD card slot
  • Comes with mounting hardware, transducer, gimbal mount, power cable, and chart plotting with Anima cartography, and internal GPS

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Helps you find fish close to the boat’s bottom
  • Easy to install & operate (even for a weekend fisher)
  • Varied and very clear views and displays
  • Produces accurate and fast results

2. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv 

Another best chartplotter for small boat owners is the Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv – an excellent navigating tool. It features a 5-inch color monitor and keypad control with an all-black finish.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The echoMAP, like other Garmin chartplotters, comes pre-loaded with BlueChart g2 charts for the coastal United States, including:

  • West coast
  • East coast
  • The Great Lakes (between Canada & the U.S.)
  • Gulf of Mexico

When you use the HomePort planning software with your BlueChart g2 charts, you can set up the timing of the sonar sound waves to match your boat’s position. Also, you can save and review the details later to devise a strategy to avoid aquatic dangers.

Thanks to Garmin’s CHIRP ClearVü high-frequency sonar and the Garmin HD-ID sonar, this unit provides comprehensive, wide-angle views of the fish, structures, and objects around your boat. It also uses its integrated 5 Hz GPS to update your position and orientation at least 5x per second.

Quickdraw Contours custom HD map-making software is another fantastic feature of the Garmin 54cv. During your fishing trip, you can use this software to create your own high-definition, shareable maps with 1ft. contours.

The cord connects to the mount directly. So, the unit is simple to install and remove from the mount and power.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • User-friendly device
  • Easy-to-read and clear graphics (even in direct sunlight)
  • Easily uninstalls from the mount for storage
  • Maps are constantly updated

3. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS

This next best chartplotter from Garmin is a useful device for boaters, techies, and water sports enthusiasts.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The 2.6-inch color TFT display screen is located at the bottom of the device, while the buttons are located at the top. This design allows you to readily access the buttons with your thumb without covering the display screen.

It’s ideal for all of your outdoor excursions. And it’s easy to determine indoor positioning with its high-sensitivity GPS receiver.

Meanwhile, the BlueChart g2 U.S./Bahamas coastline detailed charts provide 1-ft. contours, ten depth ranges, and shallow water depth shading, including other useful navigational information.

A 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass is also included to help you orient the map to the direction you’re facing. Its built-in barometric altimeter can detect air pressure changes, allowing you to confirm your location.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Accurately calculates the depth
  • Easy to read though the screen size is small (even on sunny days)
  • Device is easy to familiarize
  • Always takes you to the spot where you need to be

4. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter

Simrad’s GO7 XSE Chartplotter works with a variety of navigation charts and is a full-featured chartplotter. Navionics®, NV Digital, C-MAP® MAX-N, Insight®, and Insight Genesis® are among them.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This is a simple device to operate. It includes a user-friendly, multi-touch interface with easy-to-use functions. Using a pinching gesture, you can simply zoom in and out. Suppose you wish to create or select waypoints, tap. Alternatively, use a simple tap-and-drag action to scroll through charts.

The CHIRP and StructureScan® HD sonar imaging systems are included in the GO7 XSE for a high-quality, panoramic image of the surroundings below and around your boat.

You’ll find vital navigation charts and information on the Cruise Charting page. You can also change any item on the screen if necessary.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Detailed charts and precise GPS
  • Bright display screen and sensitive to human touch
  • Constantly updated software
  • Waterproof (when disconnected, power and transducer cables have rain caps to prevent them from getting wet)

5. Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter

Do you need a backup fishfinder? The Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter is likely worth your time. It combines the features of a fish finder and a chartplotter into one device.

It has a 4-inch black-and-white monitor with 320 by 240 pixels for the greatest image quality possible. The display also includes backlighting, allowing you to view it in any light condition.

The Lowrance Mark-4 transducer supports two frequencies to meet your needs: 200 kHz for shallow seas to obtain more information and 83 kHz for deep waters to further penetrate depths.

It includes a GPS antenna, allowing you to use the functionality of a chartplotter. It has Navionics Gold charts pre-installed as well. In addition, a microSD card slot stores up to 3,000 custom waypoints, 100 routes, and 100 plot trails for optional maps.

The TrackBack™ feature is popular in Lowrance fishfinder/chartplotter models. It helps you go over recorded fish targets, structure, and key locations.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Operates in 2 frequencies for better flexibility and in various water conditions
  • Doesn’t lose any information for easy backtrack
  • Maps can be added with different expansions through the microSD card slot
  • Works as a fish finder & a chartplotter

Choosing a Chartplotter for Your Boat – Other Considerations

A chartplotter is a navigation device that continuously monitors and records your boat’s GPS location and movement, as well as routes, tracks, and waypoints, on a digital map.

Therefore, the most important feature of a high-quality chartplotter is precise GPS. This will allow you to travel to new places safely and comfortably.

What other considerations should you take before purchasing a chartplotter?

Consider the following factors when purchasing your first chartplotter or replacing an older one:

  • Consider what type of boating you do (coastal cruising, boat racing, coastal sailing, recreational fishing, or offshore cruising).
  • Size and resolution of the screen: A larger, brighter screen will make it easier to view details and avoid zooming in and out as much as possible. Chartplotters having a resolution of less than 480 by 480 pixels should be avoided.
  • It should be straightforward to operate and have properly labeled and lit buttons.
  • Inspect the power (in watts). For inland waters, a 200-watt power chartplotter is sufficient. Offshore boat fishing necessitates a power output of 1,000 watts or more.
  • Choose the appropriate transducer for your boat. Low-frequency (about 50 kHz) transducers offer better penetration, while high-frequency at 200 kHz, 400 kHz, or 800 kHz transducers have the most detail or resolution.

Conclusion – Best Chartplotter

To recap, what’s the best chartplotter? The Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder, in my opinion, is the greatest chartplotter for the money. There are, however, numerous others to consider.

The following are our top 5 picks:

  1. Humminbird HELIX 5 Chartplotter Fish Finder
  2. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 54cv
  3. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Handheld GPS
  4. Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter
  5. Lowrance Mark-4 Combo Base Fishfinder and Chartplotter

For many on-the-water operations (fishing, water sports, and powerboating), chartplotters have become vital tools. Any of the above chartplotters will improve your fishing trip and whole boating experience.