Garmin® 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS: Best Value in a Marine GPS Unit

Garmin® GPSMAP 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS Review

Garmin GPS Map 76

Garmin® GPSMAP 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS

In my family, we’ve always said that we had a good sense of direction. We didn’t realize it was a big deal until a couple of in-laws came into the family that do not share in this “gift.” I can’t tell you how many times we have turned around when we were going somewhere because one of the “navigationally-challenged” family members was leading the way! Then along came the ability to map out directions on the computer before you left home, which helped tremendously – you just had to know where you were going before leaving ; there was no room for improvising. Now we are fortunate to have GPS systems that can lead us the whole way.

And we don’t just use GPS for land travel. We can use the same GPS navigational tools on our boat. It can give us information on marine navigation aids, such as lights, buoys, sound signals and day beacons. Our marine GPS also provides information on water depth, tides, times for sunrise and sunset, and a fishing and hunting calendar, from its built in celestial data points. And the information on water depth can keep us out of “shallow water”, so I don’t get in” deep” trouble.

Garmin® is one of the leaders in GPS navigation systems. The GPSMAP 72H is a reliable handheld marine GPS made by Garmin®, in their marine-friendly line of navigational aids, and also works for land-based travel. Obviously, this handheld GPS device is waterproof: it floats on top of the water, and is IPX7 waterproof if it is ever submerged. The waterproof standard for IPX7 means that it is protected against immersion in water for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter or a little more than 3 feet.

Technical Details include:

WAAS enabled GPS receiver. WAAS What?

A WAAS enabled Global positioning system (GPS) receiver continuously tracks and uses up to 12 satellites.  You’ve probably heard the term WAAS, seen it on packaging and ads for Garmin® products, and maybe even know it stands for Wide Area Augmentation System. Okay, so what the heck is it? Basically, it’s a system of satellites and ground stations that provide GPS signal corrections, giving you even better position accuracy. How much better? Try an average of up to five times better. A WAAS-capable receiver can give you a position accuracy of better than three meters 95 percent of the time. And you don’t have to purchase additional receiving equipment or pay service fees to utilize WAAS.

The Garmin® GPSMap 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS continuously tracks and receives updated information from up to 12 satellites.

Factory Installed Marine Point Database. And Navaids. And BlueChart Compatible.

The Garmin® GPS Map 76 comes preloaded with the GPS 76 Marine Point Database which includes maps of rivers and lakes, cities around the world, navigational aids, and information on tides, and bluechart compatible.

The term “navaids” is short for Navigation Aids, and refers to any sort of marker or point which will aid the traveler in their navigation. It is commonly used in nautical and aviation travel. Some examples of “navaids” are: lighthouses, buoys, day beacons or fog signals. These “navaids” are not attached to the vessel or craft, and are extremely important is helping to identify position, and advise of a safe course of passage, or warn of any obstructions or dangers in the path of navigation. The nautical navaids are for North and South America.

The viewable tide data available is for the U.S. only, from tide stations surrounding the east and west coast, and Gulf of Mexico.

For land travel, this GPSMap76 is also preloaded with a base map of principle cities, interstates (including exits), highways and roads. The standard map coverage has cities around the world with a population of 200,000 or more.

Garmin® GPSMAP 76 Waterproof Handheld GPSTrip computer with current/average speed, timer, and trip distance. Display large enough to READ.

The GPSMap 76 series has a trip computer that will provide you with your current and average speed. It also has a timer, and trip distance so you can track how long it takes to get to your destination, and how far you have traveled. It has an extra large display that shows more map data. The GPSMAP 76 can also save up to 1000 of your favorite places in memory, and, when selected, take you directly where you want to go.

Programmable alarms and tables; 500 waypoints. “Show me the way to go home”

The Garmin® GPS MAP 76 system also includes programmable alarms and tables. You can use the programmable alarms for variations in course, water depth (shallow or deep), approach and arrival, and even anchor drag. The 500 waypoints include the 10 nearest and 10 proximity; you can even set an alarm for proximity waypoint. You can also find your way back with the TracBack mode. The Garmin® GPS 76 automatically stores waypoints along your way that you can use for your return trip.

8 MB memory for downloading data from optional Garmin® MapSource CD-ROMs; Basemap info

The handheld GPSMAP 72H adds an Americas, European or Pacific base map and 8 megabytes (MB) of internal memory so you can load detailed maps from a variety of optional MapSource® products. The base map means that the mapped data seldom changes, and is used repeatedly. The information on the base map is used to construct other maps with additional information.

This portable GPS unit is also compatible with Garmin’s line of downloadable MapSource CD-ROMs, and will store 1MB of downloaded map detail.

Size and Battery

The handheld GPS weighs about 8 ounces with the batteries, which are 2 AA (not usually included). The size of the GPS unit is 1.4” deep, x 2.7” wide, x 6.2” height, and fits comfortably in your hand. The grayscale LCD display is 1.6” wide and 2.2” tall. The battery life is estimated to last about 16 hours, which is great because it means you will not be caught out on the water with a GPS that has a low or no battery.

• Basemap
• Database: Marine Point
• Serial PC interface cable
• Wrist strap
• Owner’s manual
• Quick start guide


The Garmin® GPSMAP 76 is warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for one(1) year from date of purchase. More detail is provided on the Garmin® website, under Limited Warranties.

Garmin® GPSMAP 76 Reviews: What Others Are Saying

This handheld waterproof GPS unit has received very good reviews from most consumers on the internet, with an average of 4.3 out of 5 on the Amazon review page.

Here are some excerpts from the boat GPS system reviews comments listed on Amazon:

• A Kayaker said he prefers the larger screen, and it was easy to read in the sunlight; he has logged over 500 miles and is very satisfied with its performance.
• Proven handheld very reliable – used and abused for more than 5 years.
• Good battery life, easy to navigate menus.
• Excellent for jetski/small boat; followed the breadcrumb trail (automatically generated) back safely to port.
• Easy to learn to use; connects with laptop for marine charts.

Any Complaints on the Garmin® GPSMAP76?

There are very few complaints. One user mentioned that the amount of memory is low for uploading map data; however, in that same comment, he mentions that this keeps the battery from draining too quickly. Another recommends purchasing a transparent waterproof bag if used on salt water to avoid corroding the battery leads. The unit is not MAC compatible.

How Much Can You Expect To Pay for the GPSMAP 76?

The MSRP for the Garmin GPS MAP 76, Americas, is USD $199.99. The GPS unit is available on Amazon, at a price below the MSRP, with an option for free shipping.

Where Can You Buy the Garmin® GPSMAP76 Waterproof Handheld GPS?

Currently, the best price I have found is on Amazon. Amazon also shows some Garmin® accessories that can be bought with the GPSMAP76. Accessories are listed below.

What Types of Accessories and Additional Maps Are Available?

There are several accessories available to compliment the GPSMAP 76. These include the following:

Marine Mount
• Cables
• Cases and Covers
• Adapters
• Antennas
• Lanyards, Straps, Holsters and Clips
• Manuals
• Instructional Videos/DVDs

There are also additional maps and charts available, depending on where you want to go. There are several categories: On the Road; On the Water; On the Trail. The formats range from DVD and CD-ROM.

Overall, whether on land or water, this is a rugged and well-performing, waterproof handheld GPS for all your adventures.


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