Best GPS Tracker for Your Boat in 2024

February 11, 2024

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Boating can be an exhilarating experience, whether you’re enjoying a day on the lake with family or embarking on an offshore fishing adventure. But owning and operating a boat also comes with risks that require preventative measures.

Installing a GPS tracker designed specifically for marine use on your vessel provides an extra layer of protection and peace of mind. With real-time location tracking, geofencing, theft alerts and more, you’ll always know where your boat is and be notified if anything seems amiss.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to choose the perfect GPS tracking system for your boat:

Benefits of Using a Boat GPS Tracker

  • Enhanced Safety – Monitor your boat’s location when family or friends take it out without you. Geofences alert if it enters dangerous or unapproved areas.
  • Theft Prevention – Motion alerts if your parked boat moves. Track it down if stolen. Evidence for law enforcement, such as with AirTag for motorcycle theft prevention and AirTag to deter bike theft.
  • Emergency Assistance – Share real-time location with first responders if you breakdown or get stranded offshore.
  • Route Optimization – Analyze previous trips to find most fuel efficient paths.
  • Peace of Mind – Always know where your vessel is and get alerts if anything seems off.

Key Features to Look For

Reliable Real-Time Tracking

The #1 purpose of installing a GPS on your boat is to monitor its location at all times. Look for trackers that provide consistent tracking at short intervals (every 10-30 seconds).

Waterproof & Durable Construction

Marine trackers must withstand all weather conditions and being submerged in water. Waterproof rating of IP67 or IP68 are ideal.

Long Battery Life

Long battery life of 6 months or more means less frequent charging. Solar charging options provide unlimited battery.

Motion Alerts

Get notified if your parked boat starts moving unexpectedly, which could indicate attempted theft.

Geofencing

Set permitted boundaries for your vessel. Immediately get alerted if it goes outside those limits.

SOS Alerting

Send emergency alerts to contacts and share real-time location with first responders if in distress.

Easy Mounting

Choose magnetic or hardwired installation. Avoid externally mounted antennas.

Top GPS Trackers for Boats

Based on key features, reliability, affordability and customer reviews, here are the 7 best boat GPS trackers:

1. LandAirSea 54

Landairsea 54 Gps Tracker
  • Waterproof 4G LTE tracker
  • Powerful magnet and adhesive mounting
  • Motion detection alerts
  • Historical location data
  • 30 day money back guarantee

Cost: $20 for device, $15/month for tracking

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2. Trak4 Bantam-M

Trak4
  • Hardwired, external antenna-free design
  • 90 day backup battery
  • Geofence alerts
  • Vibration alerts notify tampering
  • 24/7 live tracking online

Cost: $200 for device, $20/month for tracking

3. Optimus 2.0

Optimus 2.0 Gps Tracker
  • Built-in Bluetooth connects to boat’s NMEA network
  • Solar-assisted battery charging
  • Detects engine on/off status
  • Customizable alerts
  • Rugged, corrosion-resistant housing

Cost: $249 for device, $20/month for tracking

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4. Spidertracks Spider S

Spidertracks
  • Reliable Iridium satellite network coverage
  • SOS alerting with one touch
  • Motion sensing in real time
  • Free mobile and web platform
  • Rugged, marine-grade build

Cost: $359 for device, $35/month for tracking

5. Garmin inReach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini
  • Lightweight, portable design
  • 100% global Iridium satellite coverage
  • Customizable geofence boundaries
  • Send and receive 2-way text messages
  • Water rated IPX7

Cost: $350 for device, $15/month for basic tracking

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6. AES RGT90

Aes Rgt90
  • Hardwired installation
  • Built-in 9-axis motion detection
  • Geofence, anchor, speeding alerts
  • Historical data tracking and reports
  • Easy DIY installation

Cost: $177 for device, $20/month for tracking

7. MasTrack Personal GPS Tracker

Mastrack Gps Tracker
  • Affordable price point
  • IP67 water resistant rating
  • Movement and speed alerts
  • Historical location data
  • Small and easy to hide

Cost: $25 for device, $20/month for tracking

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Main Types of Boat GPS Trackers

Hardwired Boat Trackers

Hardwired GPS systems are wired directly into your vessel’s electronic systems. This provides constant power and automated data on engine running status. Hardwiring does require professional installation.

Pros: Reliable constant power source, connectivity to boat’s network

Cons: More expensive, professional installation required

Battery Powered Boat Trackers

Battery powered GPS trackers use long-life rechargeable lithium batteries ranging from 6 months to several years. This portable versatility allows flexible positioning.

Pros: Quick and easy DIY installation, flexible positioning, portable

Cons: Battery needs occasional recharging or replacing

Solar Powered Boat Trackers

Solar panels built into the tracker housing recharge the batteries continually using the sun’s energy. This provides unlimited battery without maintenance.

Pros: Unlimited battery life, no recharging needed

Cons: Solar panel needs sun exposure to function

Choosing the Right GPS Tracker for Your Boat

Where will your boat be docked and operated?

  • Inland lakes – Cellular network trackers provide coverage at affordable prices
  • Coastal – Look for cellular and hybrid satellite options
  • Offshore – Satellite-connected trackers ensure reliable worldwide connectivity

What size is your boat?

  • Smaller boats – Portable battery powered units are easy to install anywhere
  • Larger vessels – Hardwired trackers integrate with on-board systems

How tech savvy are you?

  • DIY install – Opt for battery powered or magnetic mount trackers
  • Professional install – Hardwired systems require certified technicians

What is your budget?

  • Under $200 – Affordable battery-powered GPS trackers
  • Under $500 – Solar and hardwired trackers
  • Over $500 – High-end Iridium satellite tracker systems

Prioritize features like waterproofing, battery life, wireless connectivity, smart alerts and ease of use based on your specific needs.

Installing Your Boat GPS Tracker

Installing your vessel’s GPS tracker only takes a few minutes and requires no technical expertise for portable models.

Step 1: Choose Mounting Location

Select a location with open sky view and exposure to amplify signal. Avoid enclosed cabins.

Step 2: Clean Surface

Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the chosen mounting area thoroughly. Allow to dry completely.

Step 3: Affix Tracker

For magnetic models, attach firmly to any metal surface. Adhesive mounts bond strongly when pressed to any flat surface.

Step 4: Activate Device

Turn on the tracker then login to companion app to sync and begin receiving data.

Step 5: Test Connectivity

Take your boat out for a short test run to confirm steady data connectivity.

Hardwired systems require professional installation to integrate with on-board power and NMEA 2000 networks. This provides live access to engine data and diagnostics.

Get Boating with More Peace of Mind

Investing in an advanced marine-grade GPS tracker designed specifically for boats provides an extra layer of security. You’ll have the ability to monitor your vessel from anywhere and receive immediate alerts for potentially dangerous scenarios before they escalate.

Choose a reliable model equipped with smart features like accurate tracking, motion detection alerts, geofencing and emergency SOS. Compare costs, battery life, wireless connectivity, waterproofing and associated apps during your selection process.

With your boat GPS tracker properly installed and activated, you can embark on worry-free boating adventures armed with the power of real-time location data. Sail confidently into the horizon knowing you’ll be notified if anything seems amiss back at the dock.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important feature in a GPS tracker for a boat?

For boats, reliable connectivity and transmission of location data is the most crucial feature. Marine-grade waterproofing is also vital. Look for trackers using cellular, satellite or a hybrid combination to ensure your boat’s position data can be accessed anywhere offshore.

Where is the best place to mount a GPS tracker on a boat?

Mount your GPS tracker in a location with open sky view for optimal signal, away from large metal objects. Common placement options include the cabin roof, boat tower, and mounting to rails or frames above deck. Avoid enclosed spaces like under seats.

Can a hardwired boat tracker still work if the boat battery dies?

Quality hardwired GPS trackers for boats come equipped with a backup battery that provides power for up to 90 days. This maintains connectivity and alerts if your vessel’s battery fails.

How long does a battery last in a battery powered boat GPS tracker?

Average battery life for a portable, battery powered boat GPS tracker ranges from 6 months to several years depending on frequency of usage and number of transmissions. Solar charging built into the housing of some models provides unlimited, maintenance-free battery life.

Can a GPS tracker prevent boat theft?

Boat trackers act as theft deterrents and improve recovery odds in the event your vessel is stolen. Receiving immediate alerts if your parked boat moves gives you a head start to take action and track it down before thieves get too far. Evidence of location history assists police in interpolating boats.