Updated on August 28, 2020

Though once only reserved for very large commercial or passenger vessels, radar is now compact and ubiquitous on smaller sailboats. Marine radar is 100% necessary to help you “see” through fog, darkness, and inclement weather. Even if you enjoy navigating by the stars, it’s nice to have radar available to let you know of incoming boat traffic and unseen obstacles in water, particularly if you’re boating closer to shore. Whether you’re more into multi-day cruising or just are looking to explore closer to home this upcoming season, we’ve put together this guide to help you choose the best marine radar for you and your vessel. Included in this guide is also some key vocabulary and information to help you make the most informed purchase possible. Check it out, and see you out there, sailor!

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Quick Answer - The Best Marine Radars

  1. Raymarine RD418HD Color Radome
  2. Raymarine Quantum 2 Q24D Doppler 18”
  3. Garmin Fantom 18” Pulse Compression Dome Radar
  4. Simrad Halo 20+, 20”


Comparison Table - Best Marine Radars

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NameMaximum RangeWeightWarrantyPriceRatingReview
Raymarine RD418HD Color Radome48 Nautical Miles21 poundsThree Years (with product registration)$$4.9Read Review
Raymarine Quantum 2 Q24D Doppler 18”24 Nautical Miles12.3 poundsThree Years (with product registration)$$$4.8Read Review
Garmin Fantom 18” Pulse Compression Dome Radar48 Nautical Miles11.4 poundsTwo Years$$$4.95Read Review
Simrad Halo 20+, 20”36 Nautical Miles13 poundsTwo Years$$$4.75Read Review
NameMaximum RangeWeightWarrantyPriceRatingReview
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Marine Radars

Raymarine RD418HD Color Radome

  • Beam: 4.9 degrees H
  • Transmit Power: 4 Kilowatts
  • Dimensions: 20 ½” Diameter x 9 11/16” Height
  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Warranty: Three Years (with product registration)
  • Maximum Range: 48 Nautical Miles
  • Amperage: 3.3 Amps
  • Offers A 256-Color Radar Display With Clear, Lifelike Presentation
  • Includes A Bird Mode For Automatically Detecting Flocks Of Sea Birds Hovering Over Schools Of Fish
  • Can Monitor Both Long And Short Range Distances Simultaneously With A Single Scanner


If you’ve got a smaller sailboat or a fishing boat around which you’re moving a lot to catch your fish, you’re going to want a compact radar system that won’t get in the way of your enjoyment and won’t look unsightly on board your boat. This Raymarine Radome is with its moving parts inside of its dome, so you don’t have to worry about long, swinging arms that need to constantly rotate. 

This device doesn’t, however, compromise on performance with its smaller size. Its automatic settings – like its adaptive digital receiver that automatically adjusts to changing environmental and sea conditions – makes this radar system efficient and easy to use. If you do like fishing, it also has an automatic Bird Mode that detects flocks of birds hovering over schools of fish out at sea. Follow the birds and you’ll find the fish!

Raymarine Quantum 2 Q24D Doppler 18”

  • Beam: 4.9 degrees H x 20 degrees V
  • Transmit Power: 20 watts
  • Dimensions: 8.25” Height x 21.3” Diameter
  • Weight: 12.3 pounds
  • Warranty: Three Years (with product registration)
  • Maximum Range: 24 Nautical Miles
  • Amperage: 0.58 Amps
  • Doppler Moving Target Display Allows For Superior Sight And Awareness
  • 24 Nautical Mile Range Helps You Prepare For Traffic, Obstacles, And Weather
  • Lightweight And Easy To Install Design


When you are heading out on a day cruise, you’re most likely spending time traveling in and out of busier ports and traveling closer to shore. Increased traffic and obstacles like rocks in the water are much more likely in this scenario, and you’ll therefore want a radar system that can handle real-time updates and powerful transmission.

This device’s doppler moving target display updates as you move. It also color codes moving radar contacts (i.e., other boats or obstacles) for instant visual recognition, thereby reducing your risk of collision. It also features Pulse Compression technology, which ensures superior imaging at longer ranges allowing you to plan for upcoming traffic and obstacles in your pathway. Finally, this device is energy efficient and lightweight (about 50% less weight than other radar devices in its class), so it’s easy to install and mount.

Garmin Fantom 18” Pulse Compression Dome Radar

  • Beam: 5.2 degrees H
  • Transmit Power: 40 watts
  • Dimensions: 9.8” Height x 20” Diameter
  • Weight: 11.4 pounds
  • Warranty: Two Years
  • Maximum Range: 48 Nautical Miles
  • Amperage: 12 Watts
  • Uses Doppler Technology To Identify And Display Moving Targets
  • Produces Color-Coded, High Resolution Images For Easy Visual Recognition
  • Compatible With Garmin Chartplotters For Clear, Concise Voyage Planning


This Garmin radar device packs a lot of power into a small, compact package. Its Doppler technology works really well to highlight moving targets to avoid potential collisions, find flocks of birds if you’re looking to drop your fishing line into the water, and track weather formations. This motion detection works from 20 feet from your vessel all the way out to 48 nautical miles; if you’re headed out on a multi-day cruise, you’ll truly be able to plan your route with all the information to stay safe out on the ocean. 

Finally, this radar system also color codes its moving targets and provides extremely high resolution so that you can see any objects or weather in your path with a quick glance at your screen and without coordinating a series of complicated nautical charts.

Simrad Halo 20+, 20”

  • Beam: 4.9 degrees H x 25 degrees V
  • Transmit Power: 25 watts
  • Dimensions: 8.8” Height x 20” Diameter
  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Warranty: Two Years
  • Maximum Range: 36 Nautical Miles
  • Amperage: 0.17 amps
  • Features Dual Range Mode That Allows You To See Both Short And Long Range Distances At The Same Time
  • Provides Almost Real-Time View At Closer Ranges
  • Ready Instantly From Stand-By Mode Without The Need For A Long Warm-Up Time


Though it may seem like cruising far out at sea would be more dangerous than closer to the coast, coastal cruising brings with it lots of hazards not found far from shore. From boat traffic to rocks and other obstacles in the water to variable weather systems, you’re going to want a robust radar system that can keep up with all of these quickly changing variables. 

This Simrad marine radar device offers an almost real-time view of moving objects so that you can plan your route around oncoming boat traffic and avoid collisions. The addition of its VelocityTrack technology will give you instant feedback on whether a target is moving toward or away from you and color codes obstacles for easy-to-read visuals, thereby further reducing your chance for a collision.






Before purchasing your radar system, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s compatible with your existing GPS or chartplotter system to be able to display your radar images as well as your electronic capacity on your boat. No need to overdo the size and capacity of your radar for the size of your vessel or how you enjoy using your vessel. Multi-day cruises require a different scope of radar technology.

For more information about choosing the right marine radar for your sound system, check out this article from West Marine.



You’re installing your subwoofer on your sailboat, and so you’re going to want to make sure that you have the proper infrastructure to handle your radar system. The devices can be compact and lightweight or quite heavy and wide. Make sure you measure before purchasing and attempting to install.



If you spend most of your time cruising around your local harbor and along your local shoreline, it’s unlikely that you’ll need seriously long range radar. After all, you’ll only really need something that can see as far out as your day-cruise can take you. If you’re headed out on a multi-day cruise, then you’re going to want marine radar that has quite a long range to look out for weather and boat traffic in unfamiliar waters.



Even if you feel like you know your local waters really well, unexpected inclement weather or fog can really obscure what was once in plain sight. It’s very easy to get turned around or not recognize low tide coming in if your sight is obscured. Additionally, if you enjoy fishing, radar that comes with a Bird Mode to check for flocks of seabirds feeding on schools of fish can be really useful as you’re looking for a good place to drop your line.






A system for detecting the presence, direction, distance, and speed of moving objects out of sight. Pulses of high-frequency electromagnetic waves are reflected off an object and sent back to the device.


A unit that measures distance at sea, equal to approximately 2,025 yards (1,852 meters).


A technology used to increase the range resolution as well as signal of radar.


A dome or structure that protects the radar equipment. 


The strength of an electric current in amperes.


The distance that a radar device can detect. It typically has both a minimum and maximum range.


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