The perfect Christmas gift idea for a boater often involves something new and electronic like best hunting GPS, best mountain bike GPS, GPS asset tracking, best RV GPS, best handheld GPS for fishing and military GPS watch. Most boaters love marine electronics – even the smallest vessel usually features at least a handheld GPS for navigation and a VHF radio for communications.
Although marine electronics aren’t inexpensive, they often can contribute to the safety of the vessel – and they’re almost guaranteed to bring a smile on Christmas morning. Here’s a list of the top five potential Xmas gift ideas involving marine electronics:
- Marine Handheld VHF Radio
Handheld VHF radios always come in handy to communicate between boats and to monitor the weather. It’s possible to purchase a good, inexpensive handheld VHF for about $60 to $130. Excellent choices include Cobra’s MR HH125 compact radio and Standard Horizon’s HX 280S, both of which sell for under $100.
For Christmas gift budgets that allow a little more spending room, deluxe marine handheld VHF radios can provide more functions, such as digital selective calling, or waterproofing, allowing the radio to be dropped overboard without damage. In this category, the waterproof Icom M88 stands out, as does the Lowrance LHR80 – both would make good Xmas gift ideas for a boater.
- Fixed-Mount VHF Radio with Integral AIS
For the owners of larger vessels, the Standard Horizon Matrix VHF fixed-mount radio with AIS, or Automated Identification System, might make an ideal Christmas gift. Boaters use AIS for ship-tracking; with an on-board AIS system, it’s possible to track large vessels nearby and take early action to avoid collisions.
The Standard Horizon Matrix VHF with AIS won the National Marine Electronics Association Technology Award for best new marine electronics product in 2010. It retails for a little more than $300.
- Handheld GPS with Chartplotting
Marine navigation, once the realm of paper charts, dividers and rulers, now resides almost exclusively in GPS chartplotters, and the best marine chartplotters sell for several thousand dollars – and up. However, most boaters don’t need 15-inch-wide chartplotter screens with real-time weather overlays (even if they covet them).
A relatively simple GPS that includes simple marine chartplotting might make a perfect Xmas gift for a boater. Two options, both from Garmin, stand out: the Garmin GPSMAP 76, which sells for about $160, and the Garmin GPSMAP 78, which (unlike the GPSMAP 76) includes a color display. The GPSMAP 78 sells for around $275.
- New Color Fishfinder
For fishermen, the best Xmas gift idea might involve a fishfinder to make it easier to spot the best fishing spots. Like marine chartplotters, fishfinders have evolved significantly over the past few years, and color displays, once unheard of, now are mainstream.
Humminbird, Garmin, Lowrance and Furuno all offer high-quality color and black-and-white fishfinder units. For a color fishfinder Christmas gift idea, look closely at the Humminbird 778c fishfinder unit, which is waterproof and sells for about $500. Lowrance’s X50 DS fishfinder has a smaller black-and-white screen but carries a smaller price tag: about $120.
- Waterproof Marine Stereo System
While some boaters enjoy the silence when they take to the water, others want to rock out with the best possible marine stereo system. For someone who falls in the latter category, a great Xmas gift idea might involve a high-powered marine stereo system.
Although regular car radios will install successfully on boats and run off the vessel’s battery system, few automotive radios feature waterproofing. In addition, some have trouble playing CDs while underway, since they tend to skip if the boat pounds into a wave.
The solution? Consider purchasing a true marine stereo for the boater on your Christmas gift list. Both Alpine and Sony make units that consistently win high ratings. To finish off the installation, add a pair of Bose 131 flush-mounted marine speakers, which retail for about $240.
Shop Early to Find Lowest Prices
In most cases, marine electronics will be cheaper online than in brick-and-mortar stores. For boater-oriented Christmas gift ideas that involve marine electronics, shop around prior to Black Friday’s Xmas sales, and be ready to pounce quickly on any good deal for products including best hunting GPS, best mountain bike GPS, GPS asset tracking, best RV GPS, best handheld GPS for fishing and military GPS watch.
Also, if you’re looking for more Christmas gift ideas for the boater on your list, consider boating comfort Xmas gift ideas, plus more personal boater-oriented Christmas gift suggestions.