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Humminbird 385ci Combo Review

The Humminbird 385ci is a combination fishfinder and GPS chartplotter. This chartplotter fishfinder combo is fitted with a 3.5-inch display screen, an internal 50-channel GPS receiver with WAAS capability, built-in 300-watt sonar, and Humminbird UniMap covering U.S. coastal and inland lakes.

Other models in the 385-series feature the same 3.5-inch color display screen and all the attributes of our test unit. The two other available models include the Kayak and Portable versions. A couple other units in the 300-series use a slightly large monochrome screen.

The 385ci package ships with the display unit, a tilt and swivel quick-release mounting bracket, power cable, operations manual on CD, quick start guide, installation guide, and a dual frequency transom mount transducer.

To facilitate on the water testing of the 385ci sounder and chartplotter I mounted the unit to a test rig using accompanying bracket to use aboard our 20-foot Seacraft test boat. The quick-release bracket that accompanies the 385ci makes easy removal of the display for safe storage off the boat quick and easy.

humminbird 385ci chartplotter fishfinder combo unit

Humminbird 385ci Combo

When in use on the boat you will find that the bracket rotates and tilts to optimize the display viewing angle. There are a limited number of preset positions on each axis and the unit snaps from one to the next holding firmly where it is set. Flush mounting this display unit in a panel requires the purchase of an optional IDMK-300 kit.

The back panel of the display has connectors for the XNT 9 20 T transducer, a power cable, and a for an optional cable that will let the 385ci interface with other NMEA 0183 devices. All the cables run through the inside of the accompanying bracket.

The display has a front panel footprint that measures approximately 5.3-inches wide and 5.1-inches high. Overall depth is 3.5-inches. A single SD card slot on the front panel is protected from weather and water by a gasketed cover. The 385ci can use Navionics Gold or HotMaps cartography.

Screen Size and Viewability

The Humminbird 385ci Combo screen uses a portrait layout that measures 2.8-inches high and 2.1-inches wide yielding a 3.5-inch screen size when measured on the diagonal. Screen resolution is 320 by 240 pixels.

I found the 385ci display screen to be bright enough when viewed in daylight conditions. Details appear fairly sharp and there was little to no reflectivity evident. One thing to keep in mind with a unit of this size is just that the size. There is not a lot of screen area here and you need to stay fairly close to the unit to read this screen easily. A 3.5-inch screen only has about half the screen area of a 5-inch display.

As expected the display screen darkens somewhat when viewed through polarized sunglasses, however it remains readable even out to severe side angles. Overall this screen shows plenty of detail when viewed in chart or sonar modes. I rated the Humminbird good for day and night viewability. No screen fogging was apparent in the display at anytime during our review.

Like other Humminbird chartplotter fishfinders I’ve reviewed the 385ci lets the user choose from one of three background color palettes that include white, blue, and black. In chart view choosing white background will show water in white and land areas in a pale yellow, switching to the blue palette changes water to blue and land to brown, while picking black leaves land areas brown but changes water to black.

Selecting the white palette will enhance daylight viewability and this is the color I used for testing during daylight hours. Night viewing can be improved by choosing the black palette, especially when operating in a very dark environment. Sonar page colors change along with the chart background choice. From the sonar menu you can also choose one of four color palettes.

To adjust the screen brightness you would give the on/off button a quick press and then change the setting with cursor left/right arrow keys.


humminbird 385ci combo chart page

Here is the chart page showing navigation information to track to a waypoint.

The Humminbird 385ci Combo uses nine front panel pushbuttons and a 4-way cursor pad to provide control of all functions. Beyond the dedicated functions keys control of the unit is accomplished through a menu system. A double press of the Menu button will get you to the main menu from any page. Six top-of-the-page tabs—Alarms, Sonar, Navigation, Chart, Setup, and Views&mdsh;get you to the right area of the menu fast.

Individual page views can be set by the user and are scrolled forward using the View key and in reverse using the Exit key. The user can select to view or hide up over a dozen different preset pages. Individual pages are selected as visible or hidden using the view tab in the main menu.

You will find full screen views of the chart, several sonar page options including one with a large data block overlay, chart and sonar split screen, and diagnostics available.

The chart views include a standard two-dimensional hart page with a basic built-in map, a three-dimensional Bird’s Eye view page, and a combo chart/sounder page. This unit comes with only a basic map installed and that is how it was equipped for my review. To get detailed cartography and associated services, port information and the like requires purchase of a Navionics chart card.

Sounder views include a full screen sonar, dual frequency, split screen zoom, full screen with big digit data overlay, and flasher. You can make any page visible or not as you see fit.


Navigating to a cursor selected point is as easy as placing the cursor over the place you want to go, pressing Mark, and then pressing GoTo. This action creates a waypoint, names it, draws a course line onscreen to the waypoint, and adds data boxes at the bottom of the screen with distance and bearing to the point.

humminbird 385ci combo chart page

Large data box overlay on a sonar page.

You’d navigate to a saved waypoint in a similar fashion. Place the cursor over the desired waypoint, then press the GoTo button, and navigation to the point will begin. To stop navigation you press Menu and select Cancel Navigation. You can also choose the waypoint from an list and execute a go to command from there.

To modify waypoint data you would select it from the chart view or waypoint list. You can change the internally generated numeric name to an alphanumeric name up to 11 characters long, select from a variety of onscreen icons and adjust the position data as desired. The Humminbird 385ci can store up to 2000 user waypoints.


Routes are easiest to create underway by beginning to navigate to your first point and then moving the cursor over your next planned turn and pressing GoTo. Doing so adds the second waypoint to your planned route. Continue to add more points as desired.

You can create a route in the 385ci by using the Routes menu. From here you name the route, then select waypoints, order them as desired, and save the new route. Various menu options let you review the route information, travel the route forward or in reverse, and move or skip a waypoint. The Humminbird 385ci Combo will store up to 50 routes.

Odds and Ends

The Check pushbutton opens a chart info menu where you can view the nearest port or tide information. Place the cursor over open water and then pressing the Check key will yield only the latitude and longitude of the cursor position.

The Humminbird 385ci is rated waterproof to IPX7 standards, which means it could be submerged to a depth of 1-meter for up to 30 minutes and survive undamaged. The unit carries a 1-year warranty.


The Humminbird 385ci combo produces up to 300 watts of output power from its integral sonar. It sends and listens for pings using a dual frequency (83 and 200 kHz) transom mount transducer. I used the supplied transducer for my testing.

humminbird 385ci combo sounder view

The Humminbird 385ci sounder displayed all three of our test targets clearly.

There are five sounder preset page views that include a full screen sonar view, split zoom, dual frequency, full screen with data overlay, and flasher. On the full screen sounder view you can display A-scope, which Humminbird refers to as RTS, in two different modes. Zoom can be set to 2x, 4x, 6x, or 8x using the plus/minus keys. Bottom lock is selected from the zoom menu and when on another menu selection appears to adjust the bottom lock range to be set between 10 to 60 feet.

Pressing the Menu key from a sonar page brings up the Humminbird X-Press menu. From here you can choose a tab to adjust sensitivity (gain), depth range, chart speed and more depending on the sonar page displayed. A second press of the Menu button brings up the main menu onscreen where you can make further adjustments to sonar settings. You will be able to adjust a wide range of setting from here including the transducer frequency, surface clutter, Fish ID, RTS, and SwitchFire mode.

SwitchFire is a Humminbird exclusive feature designed to clean up the sonar screen view when your boat is pinging in a shallow water area. When operating in water depths in excess of 10 feet you should leave SwitchFire set to max mode.

One nice feature I noted when using and testing the 385ci was the ability to set the depth range by the foot. This allows you to maximize the limited screen space by setting it appropriately. You don’t often see this capability on such an inexpensive unit.

I rated the Humminbird 385ci sounder good for presentation and good for ease of use. The pair of transducer frequencies available on this unit are best suited for bass anglers, bay, and saltwater coastal anglers who operate and fish in depths of less than 200 or so feet of water. In my opinion, the 385ci sonar operating sweet spot would be in water up to 200 feet deep.

Final Thoughts

The combination of a good display screen with adequate resolution, respectable chartplotter functionality, and a decent sonar package make this unit most worth the money. Certainly the sweet spot for the Humminbird 385ci Combo will be with anglers traversing inland lakes and coastal waters.