Garmin Force vs Ultrex [Which Should You Buy]❓

Trolling motors are essential for anglers who want more control over their boat and to fish more effectively. 

Different manufacturers and models of trolling motors offer a variety of features. Let’s compare two of the most popular and advanced trolling motors on the market: the Garmin Force and the Minn Kota Ultrex

SpecificationGarmin ForceMinn Kota Ultrex
Thrust80 lbs. or 100 lbs.80 lbs. or 112 lbs.
Voltage24 V or 36 V24 V or 36 V
Shaft Length50″ or 57″45″, 52″, or 60″
Motor StyleBrushlessBrushed
SteeringElectricCable & Electric
Sonar/TransducerGarmin compatible sonarUniversal sonar 2
Anchor LockYesYes
Sonar Transducer SystemsYesYes
Easy to Stow/Deploy – Lift AssistYesYes

These trolling motors offer advanced features and capabilities to enhance your fishing experience. This article compares the Garmin Force and MK Ultrex to help you decide which one to buy.

βœ… Common Features

The Force and the Ultrex are bow-mounted trolling motors designed for freshwater use. But the Garmin also works in saltwater.

They both have integrated sonar systems, wireless connectivity, GPS anchoring capabilities, and a three-year warranty with a lifetime shaft warranty. 

However, they also have some notable differences in their technical specifications, such as:


Both systems have excellent auto-pilot facilities.

Garmin Force: The Force has an autopilot feature that allows you to set a course and maintain it automatically using the wireless remote control or a compatible Garmin chart plotter.

The Garmin is understandably the technology leader regarding GPS functionality and can be set to run the boat in a “hands off” mode to the chosen location. Sadly, it can’t catch fish for me!

This means that it has the following functionality.

  • It can recreate the route to a chosen fishing spot.
  • It can be set up to follow the depth contours of the floor.
  • It will record and take you back to a thriving fishing spot.
  • It automatically controls the boat’s speed and steering.

The Minn Kota Ultrex: My favorite system is the Minn Kota, simply because it connects to the iPilot Link (included as standard).

The Ultrex is fully integrated with iPilot Link. The Minn Kota slaves the steering duties to the iPilot link, which offers the following features:

  • Record your route to access a particular fishing spot; the system will happily replicate that on future trips.
  • It can be set up to follow the depth contours of the floor.
  • The GPS coordinates of individual fishing locations can be remembered and returned to with ease.
  • While doing this, it can also control the boat’s speed and steering.

I’m calling this a draw!

Anchor Lock

The Force and Ultrex have an anchor lock feature that allows you to lock your position with GPS accuracy using the wireless remote control or a compatible Garmin chart plotter.

Minn Kota Ultrex: The Ultrex spot lock can be activated from any of the control devices on the boat. You don’t have to move the foot pedal to activate it.

You can enable Spot-Lock using the remote, Humminbird fish finder, Minn Kota App, or the foot pedal.

Garmin Force: The Garmin Force’s Anchor-Lock must be initiated by activating the button on the foot pedal, remote control, or using the compatible Garmin fish finders. 

The Garmin drifted off the spot far more frequently than the Minn Kota.

πŸ“ Editors Note: A software update should resolve this. But until then, I am calling this one for the Minn Kota Ultrex.

Sonar Transducer Systems

Both systems have excellent sonar systems.

Garmin Force Sonar: The Force has an integrated transducer providing sonar coverage along and below your boat.

It also works seamlessly with other Garmin fishfinders and displays.

Minn Kota Model Ultrex Sonar: The Minn Kota Model Ultrex has the standard MEGA Down Imaging transducer.

It produces clear, detailed images of all aquatic life or other structures under and around the boat. 

Through the One-Boat Network, It also integrates easily with other Humminbird fishfinders and displays.

Minn Kota Model Ultrex Sonar is available in three different modes: 

  • MEGA Down Imaging
  • MEGA Down/Side Imaging 
  • Universal Sonar.

The Minn Kota is compatible with most sonars, whereas the Garmin can only be connected to Garmin products. It also produces the clearest images. Due to this, Minn Kota wins this point.

Easy to Stow/Deploy – Lift Assist

Both products are equipped with automated Stow/Deploy–Lift Assist devices.

Both have a lift assist mechanism that makes stowing and deploying your trolling motor easy with minimal effort.

As I get older, these are becoming less of a “nice to have” feature and more of a necessity. This is a draw

βš–οΈ Notable Differences

The Garmin Force and the Ultrex have many features that enhance their performance and functionality. 

Some of these features are common to both trolling motors, while some are unique. The main features of each trolling motor:

SpecificationGarmin ForceMinn Kota Ultrex
Motor TechnologyBrushlessBrush
Steering TechnologyElectricCable Assisted
Gesture SteeringYesNo
Shaft Length50″ or 57″45″, 52″, or 60″
Motor StyleBrushlessBrushed
SteeringElectricCable & Electric
Sonar/TransducerGarmin compatible sonarUniversal sonar 2
UseFresh or SaltwaterFresh Water Only

Motor Technology

A brushless motor powers the Garmin Force. This isn’t just a “nice to have” technology you can play one-upmanship with your friends about. It offers real benefits to an angler.

The advantages of owning a system that uses brushless motors are as follows.,

  • They are substantially quieter by a significant value than older technology motors that use brushes. 
  • They weigh less compared to an equivalently powered β€œbrush” electric motor.
  • They run at higher speeds.
  • Speed control is nearly instantaneous (RPM and torque.)
  • Brushless technology produces more efficient motors and requires less power to produce the same torque as a “brush” electric motor.
  • The result is that a Garmin Force will have a greater range on the same battery compared to a Minn Kota Ultrex.
  • They require less maintenance than “brush” motors.
  • They require less power to operate, so using equivalent batteries, a Garmin Force will have greater range than the Minn Kota Model Ultrex.

The Garmin Force is the winner in this category.

Electric Vs. Cable-Steer Trolling Motor

The two products employ different steering technology.

The Garmin Force: The Force has an electric steering system. This is usually an issue for me because many of the systems available provide no “haptic” feedback, and there seems to be a disconnect between the steering and the motor.

The Garmin system overcomes this by including the said haptic feedback. It is designed to feel like a cable steering system, giving you more control and feedback over your trolling motor.

The Minn Kota Ultrex: The Ultrex, on the other hand, has a hybrid cable and electric steering system. 

The usual benefit is that the operator receives feedback and can operate the motor more intuitively. In this case, although the system provides high precision and accuracy, the Garmin Force wins out here.

I’m calling the winner in the category the Garmin Force.

Gesture Steering

I’ve said this before when comparing a Garmin trolling motor – I enjoy interesting tech (toys?) and think the gesture steering feature is terrific.

The system enables you to control the Garmin Force with simple hand gestures using the wireless remote control.

How cool is that? Minn Kota has no similar system, so Garmin wins this point.

The Garmin Remote Floats!

The Garmin Force comes with a fully waterproof and floating wireless remote control that allows you to control your motor from any location in your boat.

It’s not a gimmick because losing the remote over the side of the boat is easy. Minn Kota has no similar system, so Gramin wins this point.

Steering Lock

The Ultrex has a steering lock feature that lets you keep your trolling motor pointed in a specific direction without using the foot pedal. Minn Kota wins this point.

Use Cases

The Garmin can be used in either saltwater or freshwater. Garmin wins this point

Product Cost

Using two points for each winning score and one point for each when there is a draw, the results of this evaluation is

Minn Kota Ultrex: 6
Garmin Force: 8

🎯 Final Verdict

The Garmin Force and the Minn Kota Ultrex are excellent trolling motors that offer many features and benefits for anglers. However, their differences may make one more suitable for your fishing style and preferences. 

The following lists the most significant factors to consider when choosing between the Force and the Ultrex:

Garmin Force

For a quieter, efficient, and powerful motor with innovative gesture steering and an electric feel akin to cable systems, along with expansive sonar coverage, the Garmin Force with its brushless motor and Garmin-compatible sonar transducer is your ideal choice.
Check Price For Freshwater Check Price For Saltwater
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Both trolling motors are high-quality, high-performance products that enhance your fishing experience. 

πŸ”€ Alternatives To The Force & Ultrex

While researching the better trolling motor, it will be worthwhile to consider the following products as possible alternatives.

The Lowrance Ghost is another brushless trolling motor that competes with the Force and rivals the Ultrex regarding power, efficiency, and performance.

And the Tour Pro from MotorGuide is another model comparable to the Ultrex.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Kite Ship. The electrification of boating is the most exciting thing to happen to the marine industry in a generation! Welcome, and I hope that we can provide the portal you need to dive into the world of electric propulsion and power.