5 Best Kayak GPS Reviews 2020 – GPS For Kayaking

So you love to go fishing on your kayak? A lot of people do. Some even use trolling motor to go to remote lakes for fishing on their beloved kayak. Everything sounds ok until you are lost in the remote area.

 

This could be a nightmare if you don’t know the way back home or if you don’t have an active GPS system with you. If you are kayaking on a remote area or you are just new to the place, a kayak GPS would be very helpful on such occasions.

 

Even though I am well aware of the places I visit, I always bring a kayak GPS to face such accidents. So if anyhow I forget the way back to home, I will just open the GPS system and get back easily. Sometimes I mark my favorite fishing spots on the GPS, so I can always come back later to the same place to stow the biggest fish on my kayak catch cooler.

 

Best Kayak GPS 2020

ImageModelDisplayEditorial RatingPrice
Garmin inReach Explorer+2.31 inches4.8buy button
Garmin GPSMAP 64st2.6-inch4.8buy button
Garmin eTrex 102.2-inch4.8buy button
Garmin Oregon 6003-inch4.4buy button
Garmin eTrex 20x2.2-inch4.2buy button
Garmin eTrex 30x2.2 inches4.5buy button
Garmin Montana 680 GPS4-inch4.7buy button
Garmin GPSMAP 782.6-inch4.5buy button
DeLorme AG-008727-201<2 inches4.4buy button
Garmin eTrex 32x2.2 inches4.4

What is GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It’s a network of the orbiting satellites which sends precise details of the position to a GPS receiver. GPS systems can be available at a lot of types of devices. Some devices are solely used for only GPS features.

 

Why Do You Need A Kayak GPS?

There are several reasons why you may need a GPS for kayaking. The main reason to get a GPS is safety. There are some portable fishfinders with GPS too. Instead of providing a brief, I am going to share the reasons on bullet points

 

  • Safety: Safety is the main reason to own a GPS system. As I have mentioned earlier, you may love to explore new and remote places. Thus, there are chances that you might get lost or forget the way back home. Or you may want to share the location with others to easily find you.
  • Storing points: A lot of fisherman loves to go back to their favorite fishing spots. It’s much easier when you get the location listed on your GPS system. The same thing also applies for sightseeing.
  •  Exploring: Sightseeing is an activity loved by the kayakers. So exploring an unknown place is much easier when you have a GPS system on your hand.

 

Why Do We Prefer GPS system over Smartphone GPS?

Yes, you can use your smartphone to get GPS features, but there is something more on a GPS device than a smartphone. Let’s see a few of the important reasons to choose a GPS system over the smartphone’s GPS feature.

 

  • Battery: Unless you are living under a rock, you probably have a smartphone of your own. You know how poor battery supports these smartphones provide. A kayak GPS system will last for a long time, while a smartphone won’t.
  • Durability: GPS handheld systems are more rugged than most smartphones. A lot of kayak GPS devices are waterproof and can handle harsh marine environments
  • Mapping: A smartphone requires network connectivity for mapping, while a GPS system does not. This is crucial when you are exploring places where network signal is not available or poor.

The Best Kayak GPS On The Market


Garmin inReach Explorer+

Garmin inReach Explorer+

If you are exploring dangerous or remote areas, and want to have the ability to have interactive SOS from anywhere in the world, inReach Explorer+ is an excellent option for you. InReach Explorer+ can be used as a GPS, 2-way communicator, and emergency beacon. A 100% global Iridium satellite coverage will enable your device to have a two-way text messaging from anywhere. However, to use the Iridium satellite coverage, you will have to buy the satellite subscription. In case of an emergency, you can use your inReach device to trigger an SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.

The device allows you to track and share your location with friends and family. It comes with preloaded Delorme TOPO maps, onscreen GPS routing, built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter, and more features. You can pair it with mobile devices using the free Earthmate app which offers access to downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery, and more. The optional inReach weather forecast service allows the users to get detailed updates directly in their device. It helps you to prepare for the trip.

Pros:

  • Satellite communicator and GPS navigator
  • 100% global iridium satellite coverage
  • Two-way text messaging
  • Interactive SOS can be triggered to 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center
  • Can be paired with mobile devices using free Earthmate app
  • Preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps
  • Track and share your location with family/friends
  • Weather forecast

Cons:

  • Expensive

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Garmin Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide Handheld GPS

Garmin Oregon 600

Best GPS For kayaking: Garmin Oregon 600 is a worldwide handheld GPS with 3-inch sunlight-readable display. This little GPS device has touchscreen functionality with multi-touch capability. You can take this device to kayak through the mountains or heavily treed areas, and it will still provide great support.

By the utilization of both GPS and GLONASS, this device has a very good reception ability. It is also WAAS compatible. One of the coolest things about this device is very easy to maintain and understand.

You can share routes, tracks, waypoints, or geocaches with the ANT or Bluetooth technology. You can switch between portrait or landscape views for easy reading. Three sensors are used on this device: 3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric altimeter. For battery purposes, you can use either the rechargeable NiMH pack (which you need to purchase separately) or with the traditional AA batteries.

This GPS device is packed with lots of features like the BaseCamp, where you can plan your trip by creating Garmin Adventures to share with your buddies.

Pros:

  • Easy to maintain and operate
  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning for better reception
  • Share waypoints, routes, tracks, custom maps and more with Bluetooth
  • Dual battery system: NiMH battery pack (bought separately) or traditional 2AA batteries
  • Different sensors
  • Easy to add maps
  • Easily load Geocaches

Cons:

  • Water drops might cause trouble to touch sensitivity. However, a few drops didn’t cause trouble to me
  • Display is small


Garmin eTrex 10

Garmin eTrex 10

Worldwide Handheld GSP Navigator

Best Bang For Your Buck: Garmin eTrex 10 is the best cheap kayak GPS in the market. Garmin eTrex 10 is an incredible GPS navigator which comes at a very low price. For kayaking, you need a rugged and waterproof GPS device. Garmin eTrex 10 has a rugged body with a waterproof level of IPX7 standards. So it can withstand splashes, water drops, rains, etc.

 

There are several variations of this device, but the basic one is sufficient for more kayakers. The device comes with a 2.2-inch monochrome display and it is preloaded with worldwide basemap. The device is a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver with HotFix & GLONASS support. Thus, the positioning is fast and the signal is good too.

 

You can power up this device with two AA batteries for up to 20 hours of use. So, if you like small devices which are easy to manage, Garmin eTrex 10 is a fantastic GPS for kayaking for you.

Pros:

  • Low price
  • Rugged design
  • Waterproof IPX7 standard
  • WAAS enabled GPW with HotFix and GLONASS support
  • Supports paperless geocaching
  • Two AA batteries power it up to 20 hours of use
  • Compact design for easy operating and managing

Cons:

  • small 2.2-inch display

 

Garmin Montana 680 GPS

Garmin Montana 680 GPS

 

Garmin Montana 650 is a famous GPS device for outdoor explorers. If you can remember, the Montana 600 was hugely popular, and the Montana 650 kept all the features and improved them for better performance. You get a lot of map overlay option to easily get the necessary information.

 

Like a good GPS device, it allows you to share waypoints and images with other compatible Garmin devices. Since we the kayakers are close to the water, Montana 650’s shock and water-resistant body are very beneficial for us.

 

Garmin Montana 650 comes with a 4-inch color screen. The backlit color screen can be easily seen on both day and night. It’s small enough to manage easily and big enough to see the data quickly.

 

There are lots of other advanced features like it can be loaded with TOPO 100k maps, bluechart marine maps, CityNavigator maps, etc. You can even use the MicroSD card port to use custom maps. What’s more, you can download geocaching.GPX file for accessing more hidden caches. Please note that for using different Maps, you may have to buy them separately.

8-megapixel digital camera can be used to capture your moments in high-quality images.

 

In my opinion, Garmin Montana 650 is the best kayak GPS you can find in the market. I completely love the features and rugged body of Montana 650 GPS.

Pros:

  • 4-inch perfect display for kayak GPS
  • the color display can be seen in sunlight or in the night
  • Share waypoints
  • Preload 250,000 worldwide geocaches from geocaching.com
  • GPS and GLONASS
  • WASS enabled receiver
  • Quickly and easily locates your precise position
  • Organize and navigate through the waypoints, routes, and track logs
  • Can be loaded with TOPO 100K maps, BlueChart marine apps, custom maps via MicroSD card (You may have to buy Maps separately)
  • GPS and HotFix technology even detects at you kayaking on remote and heavy tree zones

Cons:

  • The camera isn’t that great
  • Display resolution could be better


Garmin GPSMAP 78 Series GPS Navigator

Garmin GPSMAP 78

(2.6 inch Marine GPS Navigator and Worldwide Chartplotter)

 

This is a small yet highly efficient marine GPS navigator at a very decent price tag. Garmin GPSMAP 78 comes with a small 2.6-inch display with easy to access keys. The TFT display has a 160×240 pixel resolution.

Despite the small size, this GPS navigator came with a MicroSD card slot to load additional maps. The built-in worldwide basemap is very efficient, though. You can also use the Garmin Connect to send your activities and send tracks to other outdoor devices.

Since we are talking about kayak GPS, it’s worth mentioning that this is waterproof to IPX7 standards. It even floats in the water. There are tons of other features like geocaching GPX file to download geocaches to deliver straight to the Garmin GPSMAP 78.

 

Garmin GPSMAP 78 has a waterproof standard of IPX7 and it even floats on the water.

Pros:

  • MicroSD Card Slot for additional maps
  • Built-in basemap
  • Garmin connect to share activities with outdoor devices
  • Waterproof standard IPX7
  • Floats on water
  • Download geocaches
  • Slim and lightweight compact design
  • High portability

Cons:

  • Small Display


Garmin eTrex 30x

Garmin eTrex 30x

Inspired by the Garmin eTrex 20x, this handheld GPS is upgraded with a better display and functional materials, including more maps and built-in sensors. Garmin eTrex 30x comes with an upgraded display, featuring 2.2 inches long screen with 65k color. It has a resolution of 240×320, and it is sun readable. The device comes with a whopping 3.7 GB of internal memory, and a microSD card slot which lets you load a variety of maps. You can try the TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT, and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (additional subscription necessary).

eTrex 30x comes with a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. eTrex 30 features a built0in03-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass with a barometric altimeter which tracks the changes in the pressure to pinpoint the exact altitude. If you want, you can use it to plot barometric pressure over time. You can wirelessly share your waypoints, tracks, routed, and geocaches with other compatible devices. Considering all of the features, I can tell that this is one of the best kayak GPS you can have at the moment.

Pros:

  • 2.2 inches screen
  • 65K color
  • Sunlight readable
  • 240×320 pixels
  • 3.7 GB of memory
  • microSD card slot to load more maps
  • Preloaded basemap
  • Built-in sensors
  • Share your waypoints, tracks, routes with other compatible devices wirelessly
  • Wirelessly connect with compatible Garmin devices, VIRB, and accessory sensors

Cons:

  • The menu could be made a little bit easier to understand
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Magellan eXplorist GC

Magellan eXplorist GC

Waterproof Geocaching GPS

Magellan eXplorist GV is a geocaching GPS with a 2.2-inch LCD display. The display can be seen in direct sunlight. The main functionality is it can easily connect with the Geocaching.com user community. You can do various kinds of stuff like perform a “Send to GPS”, create and sync pocket queries. The device is pre-loaded with the most popular geocaches in the world.

 

The user interface is pretty easy to understand. The intuitive interface can be handled with the simple controls and menu. You can easily navigate the menu with the rich graphics. The device is WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS supported.

 

You can download more than 20 unique characteristics of each cache and view, search, filter on the device. Up to 10,ooo geocaches on the can be stored on the device.

 

The device is rugged and waterproof to IPX-7 standards. 2 AA batteries provide 18 hours of battery life to the Magellan eXplorist GC.

Pros:

  • Compact design
  • 2.2-inch LCD display
  • Paperless Geocaching
  • Easily connects with Geocaching.com user community
  • An easy intuitive user interface
  • Easy controls and menus
  • Display readable in direct sunlight
  • High-sensitivity SiRFstarIII GPS
  • Waterproof standard IPX7 standards
  • 2 AA batteries give 18 hours of usage time
  • worldwide basemap

Cons:

  • The screen is very small
  • Reading in direct sunlight is not that easy
  • Takes time to understand the system
  • No manual provided, had to read online


How to Choose the Best GPS for Kayaking?

Choosing the best Kayak GPS for your next journey is easy and simple to do. Kayaking or Fishing is different than hiking or other ground activities. For kayaking or fishing, you need a GPS device which is rugged and has the ability to face tough marine environments. In that way, it will be very beneficial to you. There are some factors to look to, before landing the best handheld GPF for fishing or kayaking.

 

Durability

Durability is one of the most important issues while choosing a GPS device. Most of the previously designed GPS devices had poor materials, which could easily break down. Nowadays manufacturers are offering metallic finish to the GPS devices for improved durability. These devices are stronger than ever and offer impact resistant.

Since we kayak on the water, a good kayak GPS device needs to be waterproof. When we fish, we are close to the water, and thus a waterproof device is better. You can also use screen protectors, waterproof casing to prevent water from getting into a regular GPS device.

 

Battery

As I have mentioned earlier, a good kayak GPS device will always come with excellent battery support. Assume, you are exploring a new place and suddenly your smartphone or GPS device shutting down. You don’t know the place; you don’t know how to get back and you stuck there for an uncertain period of time. It sucks, right?

 

This is why you need to choose a GPS device which comes with enough juice to provide direction for a long time. We have mentioned some kayak GPS devices with a better battery. Besides the more extended battery, it needs to be easily rechargeable and has fast recharging time. Things to consider when buying a kayak GPS system is:

  • Lithium batteries tend to offer better battery life
  • Inbuilt batteries to make it portable
  • For the economic purpose, rechargeable batteries are better

 

Coverage and Reception

The main reason for getting a GPS device is to receive the data from the satellites. Most GPS devices use WAAS (Wide Augmentation System) receiver to locate the route, landmarks, coastline while on the water etc. Your kayak GPS need to have fast reception because you might be using a trolling motor for high speed.

A good kayak GPS device will be able to receive data on a very dense forest too. I am not suggesting you go to the forest, but a lot of kayakers go.

There might be other systems, but the point is the GPS device needs to have better reception and more coverage to places.

 

Display

You will find different GPS devices with different display sizes. The resolution will very upon devices. A good resolution will allow you to see data more clearly. A kayak GPS might be between 2.2 inches to 5.7 inches. A small screen would be hard to read, while a big screen GPS device would be hard to carry. My suggestion is to choose a GPS device with 3.5 inches to 4 inches. Thus, you get to see the data more easily and quickly.

 

Ease of Use

A GPS device should be easy to control and read. I tried to mention the ones with easy reading and mapping. Not everyone is tech-savvy, and that’s totally ok. You need a device which requires less time to understand the readings.


Final Verdict

Let’s acknowledge, not matter whether we are professional or just a noob explorer, we get lost at sometimes at some of our kayaking trips. This is why it is wise to grab the best kayak GPS for your next endeavor. My suggestion is to get the Garmin Oregon 600. I have personally used the Garmin Oregon 600 for a lot of my outdoor activities, and I am perfectly happy with it. For the fishing purpose, Garmin Montana 680 is my favorite for taking pictures. However, if you are low on budgets, you should grab the Garmin eTrex 10. I have used Garmin eTrex 10 for few of my kayaking trips, and it delivered what it promised. If you have any suggestions or opinion regarding kayak GPS, you can leave them in the comments section below. I hope this great kayak GPS device will help you to improve your next journey. Happy kayaking.

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