Best GPS For Kayaking

15 Best GPS For Kayaking In 2022

I have been interested in kayaking ever since I knew how to do it and I absolutely enjoy it. That being said, I never knew I needed the best GPS for kayaking until I went kayaking in the wild! 

I wish I had known earlier that a GPS is almost compulsory when kayaking!

If you’re new to kayaking, you surely need to look into the best GPS for kayaking. This article is all you need to grab yourself one. You will also learn all the kayaking GPS jargon and characteristics to save yourself time and buy the best one for your needs.

But first, what is a GPS?

GPS is a short form for Global Positioning System. It is owned by the USA and provides users with the PNT (positioning, navigation, and timing) services. It uses satellites for location, navigation, tracking, mapping, and timing.

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Summary Of The Best GPS For Kayaking

GPSBest For?TypeDisplayBattery
Life
Pros
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPSBoating, kayaking, water activitiesHandheld2.6 inches20 hours Wirelessly share geocaches, tracks, and routes with other compatible devices
Garmin eTrex 22xTracking in more challenging environmentHandheld2.2 inches25 hours GPS and GLONASS available for better positioning and accuracy
Garmin GPSMAP 64stKayaking in deep woodsHandheld2.6 inches16 hours Dual battery system –
2 AA or rechargeable batteries 
Humminbird Helix 5 SIFishing and kayakingConsole-mounted5 inches40 hours Built-in UniMap cartography; Micro SD to save waypoints
Garmin Foretrex 401Fishing and kayaking in deep canyons or heavy tree coverWearable1.42 x 0.91 inches17 hours Add on heart rate monitor
Garmin Striker GPS FishfinderFishing  in deep water and kayakingHandheld3.5 inches6 hours Has sonar transducer, can detect objects, structure, and fish
Garmin Montana 680tKayaking in heavy cover and deep canyonsHandheld4 inches16 hours An 8 megapixel camera available for geotagging
Bad Elf 2200GPS ProKayaking in less heavy wildsHandheld2 inches35 hours Small and lightweight; Bluetooth to share location with 5 devices
Magellan explorist 510Kayaking anywhere in the worldHandheld3 inches15 hours A 3.2-megapixel camera;
Pre-loaded world map edition available
Simrad Cruise-5 ChartplotterKayaking mainly in US coastsConsole-mounted5 inches40 hours Sonar transducer
Garmin 72HKayaking in heavy cover and deep canyonsHandheld2.7 inches18 hours Built-in celestial data
Garmin Montana 650Kayaking, hiking, and hunting in deep woodsHandheld4 inches16 hours Wireless sharing
Magellan Triton 500Kayaking in the US, Alaska, and CanadaHandheld2.2 inches12 hours Weather predictor; Detailed map
Garmin Oregon 750tKayaking and hiking on hills and valleysHandheld1.5 inches16 hours Highly sensitive GPS-GLONASS reception
Garmin Oregon 650tKayaking anywhere including points of interestHandheld3 inches16 hoursDual battery system – 2 AA or rechargeable batteries 

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Why Kayaking GPS Is Needed 

Imagine you are kayaking in the wild. You cannot turn to your smartphone since the battery is dead. What’s worse is you find yourself lost!

Wouldn’t it be great if you have a map, or better, a GPS? It definitely helps to have something to guide us throughout our kayaking adventure.

Best GPS For Kayaking

So, you’re ready to get the best GPS for kayaking? Worry not, I’ve got your back. 

Here’s the list of the best GPS for kayaking one could ever get! 

1) Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS

best handheld GPS for kayaking

This is the best handheld GPS for kayaking. It has a highly sensitive GPS receiver and a TFT color display. It has a built-in coastal chart with shorelines, depth contours, marinas, harbors, and navaids of the USA/ Bahamas. The Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS also has a built-in electronic compass and barometer altimeter for weather/ heading/ altitude. 

If you are going somewhere with regular weather changes, this waterproof GPS for kayaking could easily help you detect any weather changes.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Boating, kayaking, and any water activities
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 2.6 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 20 hours
  • Weight: 0.48 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • Wirelessly share your geocaches, routes, track, and waypoints with other compatible devices.

Cons:

  • Smaller display compared to older models 
  • Needs separate sim card for places outside the USA

2) Garmin eTrex 22x

best GPS for kayaking

This kayaking GPS has 240 x 320-inch display pixels and a sunlight-readable color display for enhanced readability. It is preloaded with TopoActive maps with routable roads and trails. 

The Garmin eTrex 22x is also the best GPS for kayaking and hiking.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Tracking in a more challenging environment
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 2.2 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Button
  • Battery Life: 25 hours
  • Weight: 0.31 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • GPS and GLONASS available for better positioning and accuracy.
  • A microSD™ card slot to save data and an internal memory of 8GB for map downloads
  • GPS and GLONASS satellite systems are available 

Cons:

  • Inaccurate for smaller-scale maps
  • Not many tracks are pre-loaded

3) Garmin GPSMAP 64st

best GPS for kayaking

This GPS for kayaking has 1.43 x 2.15 inches display pixels and a sunlight-readable color display. What’s best is that you can even monitor your heart rate, temperature, and speed with its Smart Notifications paired with optional ANT+ sensors.

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st can help you keep your pace and not overdo yourself while kayaking. 

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking in deep woods
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 2.6 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Weight: 0.5 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • Dual battery system – 2 AA or rechargeable batteries 
  • Can share and connect with a cell phone to upload data through Bluetooth

Cons:

  • Slow map downloading time
  • Not many preloaded maps

4) Humminbird Helix 5 SI

best GPS for kayaking

This best kayak GPS is most suitable when you go fishing. It has the best fish finder, marine radio, depth sounder, and GPS system for anglers.

So if you love fishing and kayaking, the Humminbird Helix 5 SI is the best GPS you can get. 

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Fishing and kayaking
  • Type: Console-mounted
  • Display: 5 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 40 hours
  • Weight: 4.14 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • Built-in UniMap cartography
  • Micro SD to save waypoints

Cons:

  • The base does not rotate left or right
  • Harder to use at night compared to the older version

5)Garmin Foretrex 401

best Garmin watch for kayaking

This kayak GPS is the best Garmin watch for kayaking and it features HotFix with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver for enhanced performance and reception in deep canyons or heavy tree cover. With its wearable feature, you won’t have to worry about missing or dropping it.

So if you are eager to go kayaking in the deep forest, the Garmin Foretrex 401 is the best GPS watch for kayaking for you. 

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Fishing and kayaking in deep canyons or heavy tree cover
  • Type: Wearable
  • Display: 1.42 x 0.91 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 17 hours
  • Weight: 0.2 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • Add on heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, and electronic compass
  • Has sunrise/ sunset times, hunting/ fishing information

Cons:

  • Complicated start-up setting
  • Shorter battery life than expected

6) Garmin Striker GPS Fishfinder

GPS For Kayaking

This GPS shows you more around the boat in the water with clear scanning sonar. It shows you photographic detailed images of fish, structures, and objects.

Hence, the Garmin Striker GPS Fishfinder is the best one specifically if you’re out fishing as it detects fish near you. 

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Fishing  in deep water and kayaking
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 3.5 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 6 hours 
  • Weight: 0.5 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • Has sonar transducer 
  • Can detect objects, structures, and fish

Cons:

  • No suction mount is available
  • Need a 12V power source to work

7) Garmin Montana 680t

GPS For Kayaking

The purchase of this GPS includes a subscription of 1-year Birdseye Satellite Imagery It is also highly sensitive with  Hotfix satellite prediction, GPS AND GLONASS, and WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, and GLONASS support. Hence, the GPS maintains and locates your position precisely and quickly. 

If you’re keen on capturing your kayaking moments, the Garmin Montana 680t is the best one for you with its high-resolution camera.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking in heavy cover and deep canyons
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 4 inches
  • Human Interface Input: Touchscreen
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Weight: 0.48 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • An 8-megapixel camera is available for geotagging

Cons:

  • Screen too sensitive to touch, almost difficult to handle

8)Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro

GPS For Kayaking

This GPS is so small it can actually fit in the palm of your hand. It can be stored in pockets too. It has a backlight which should help when viewing at night.

In addition, if you are an iPad or iPhone user, the Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro is the best choice for you since it can connect with most models.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking in less heavy wilds
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 2 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 35 hours
  • Weight: 0.2 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX4

Pros:

  • Small and lightweight
  • Bluetooth to share location with up to 5 devices

Cons:

  • Takes longer than expected to acquire a position
  • Lack reception

9) Magellan explorist 510

best GPS for kayaking

This GPS allows you to record geo-referenced voice notes and images. If you purchase the “World Edition”, there is a preloaded map that covers the globe, complete with land use areas, roads, and details.

You can easily connect the Magellan explorist 510 to PC as an external drive and it is compatible with Windows computers 

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking anywhere in the world
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 3 inches
  • Human Interface Input: Touchscreen, Microphone, Buttons
  • Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Weight: 0.95 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • A 3.2-megapixel camera
  • Good for geocaching
  • Pre-loaded world map edition available

Cons:

  • Slow GPS processor
  • Unclear display under bright sunlight

10) Simrad Cruise-5 Chartplotter

best GPS for kayaking

This Chartplotter is probably the best easy-to-use one yet. If you’re kayaking in the US waters, the GPS is preloaded with a US coastal map. It also supports improved charts from Navionics and C-MAP.

While kayaking, you can immediately monitor battery voltage, position, depth readings, and other critical boat information. The Simrad Cruise-5 Chartplotter is also installed with a chirp sonar transducer for excellent automatic depth tracking.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking mainly in US coasts
  • Type: Console-mounted
  • Display: 5 inches
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 40 hours
  • Weight: 3.84 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • Sonar transducer available
  • Comes with complete hardware and is easy to use

Cons:

  • Outdated maps and poor accuracy

11) Garmin 72H

kayaking GPS

This GPS floats in water and is marine-friendly. It has a grayscale display that is readable through all conditions and a highly sensitive GPS receiver that quickly acquires satellite signals. Hence, it easily tracks your location in challenging conditions. 

With built-in celestial data that include hunting/fishing calendars, tide information, and sunrise/sunset times, you might find those useful while kayaking overnight. 

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking in heavy cover and deep canyons
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 2.7 inches, LCD
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 18 hours
  • Weight: 0.48 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • Built-in celestial data

Cons:

  • Batteries do not last long
  • Complicated

12) Garmin Montana 650

kayaking GPS

This GPS is complete with a 5 MP autofocus digital camera with automatic geotagging. Hence, it can detect your location for all your media. With a bright sunlight-readable touchscreen color display, you will get the best display even in the deep forest.

The Garmin Montana 650 also has a barometric altimeter and a 3-axis compass. It is also very sensitive as it is installed with a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking, hiking, and hunting in deep woods
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 4 inches
  • Human Interface Input: Touchscreen
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Weight: 0.64 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • Dual battery system: AA batteries or rechargeable 
  • Wireless sharing through Bluetooth

Cons:

  • A bit bulky for a handheld GPS

13) Magellan Triton 500

kayaking GPS

This GPS has a 3-axis simple-to-use electronic compass that delivers stationary bearing and heading at any altitude. The GPS has an embedded barometer that allows you to track altitude and pressure changes.

With the Triton 500 SD card slot, you can easily store data, including additional maps, terrain, and geocache data 

The Magellan Triton 500 is also preloaded with compatible third-party and base maps, including major cities, lakes, and rivers for an effective kayak GPS tracker.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking in the US, Alaska, and Canada
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 2.2 inches
  • Human Interface Input: Buttons
  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Weight: 0.7 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • Weather predictor
  • Detailed map
  • Vivid imagery color display

Cons:

  • Outdated maps
  • Not very user-friendly

14) Garmin Oregon 750t

best gps for kayaking

This kayaking GPS has a dual display orientation (landscape or portrait view), so you can orientate it the way you want to. The GPS is suitable for the outdoors as it has a rugged, ergonomic design that stands strong against humidity, dirt, and dust.

The Garmin Oregon 750t is also compatible with any device with data fields, widgets, and apps, you find what you like or build your own!

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking and hiking on hills and valleys
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 1.5 inches
  • Human Interface Input: Touchscreen
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Weight: 0.5 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX7

Pros:

  • Highly sensitive GPS-GLONASS reception
  • An 8-megapixel camera

Cons:

  • Inaccurate battery life indicator
  • Poor interface and difficult to use

15) Garmin Oregon 650t

best gps for kayaking

This GPS is installed with a GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning and it has 3 sensors (barometric altimeter, 3-axis compass, accelerometer). You can wirelessly share waypoints, tracks, routes, custom maps, geocaches, and photos between units through ANT or Bluetooth technology. 

With its auto landscape or portrait view switching, the Garmin Oregon 650t can help you navigate according to your comfort.

Specs Summary:

  • Suitable for: Kayaking anywhere including points of interest
  • Type: Handheld
  • Display: 3 inches
  • Human Interface Input: 
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Weight: 0.46 pounds
  • Water Resistance Rating: N/A

Pros:

  • Dual battery system – 2 AA or rechargeable batteries 
  • Built-in camera for geocaching

Cons:

  • Difficult to set preferences
  • Batteries do not last long, always carry extra

The GPS Jargons

Best GPS For Kayaking

Here’s the list of common GPS jargon or terms to help you use it wisely. The terms are also useful to understand your GPS for kayaking.

GLONASS

GLONASS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System and is manufactured in Russia. It is the second navigational system with comparable precision and global coverage. It also serves as an alternative to GPS.

Adding GLONASS to a GPS is believed to make more satellites available to them. This means that positions can be accurately and quickly fixed, especially in areas where buildings might disrupt the view of some GPS satellites. GLONASS also supplements GPS to enhance positioning in high north or south latitudes.

WAAS

WAAS stands for Wide Area Augmentation System. It differs from GLONASS as it enhances navigational accuracy, availability, and integrity.  It corrects GPS signals and gives better accuracy.

Barometer

A barometer is used to measure atmospheric pressure. It can also be used to measure altitude as atmospheric pressure changes with distance below or above sea level. The main types of barometers are aneroid and mercury. 

Gyroscope

A gyroscope detects the movement of an object from its required orientation. It is commonly used in autopilot mechanisms on aircraft, ships, compasses, and orbiting satellites. 

International Protection (IP) Marking Code

An IP marking is a code that eliminates redundancy. It also provides exact and consistent performance specifications of a mechanical casing or electrical enclosure against exposure to water, foreign objects, and dust.

Geotagging 

Have you ever tagged a location while updating your social media? That is called geotagging. It is basically the process of “tagging” geographic coordinates to media based on a mobile device’s location. The geotags can be attached to any media like photos, videos, or websites.

Features Of A Good GPS

Best GPS For Kayaking

Going kayaking with a good GPS should be a priority for you keen kayakers. It helps you find directions and with added specs, you can do many other things through your GPS such as capturing photos, geotagging, and transferring data for future references.

Here’s the list of the features of a good GPS for you. 

Water Resistance

The best GPS for kayaking should have a good water resistance rating. The highest rating is IPX7, where a GPS can be fully submerged up to 1 meter deep. However, some GPS instruments do not have a water-resistance rating but come with a waterproof casing.

A waterproof casing serves the same purpose, but just be extra careful. You should use a casing even though your IP rating is high.

Durability

Durability is definitely important too. Since you will be using it a lot in water and in the wild. As such, it’s best to know how long the lifespan of your GPS instrument is. You don’t want to spend your money on items that are not everlasting. The more durable, the better!

Display Size

There are various display sizes of GPS. If you like a small and compact style and don’t mind a smaller display, you can use a smaller GPS. If not, you can find a bigger display-sized GPS perfect for your needs.

Mapping

  • Detailing: The more details that can be displayed on the map, the better this helps you find your direction better. Detailing also helps you in remote and less-used areas.

So, before deciding which GPS to buy, make sure you know which or what kind of map is preloaded in the GPS. Sometimes, you have to purchase extra maps if they are not already built-in. 

Battery Life

  • Battery life depends on the type of battery used. Most GPS instruments have a dual battery system. This means that you can either use alkaline AA or AAA batteries or charge the device. Some even have a power supply ready just to make sure the GPS does not die while in use.

Types Of GPS For Kayaking

Wearable

A wearable GPS looks like a wristwatch. A kayak GPS watch is compact, mobile, and easy to use. Here are some of its best features:

  • Less chance of dropping/misplaced.
  • It looks like a wristwatch.
  • It also has straps that keep it secured to your wrist. 

If you are clumsy (like me), there are higher chances that you will like this type of GPS. However, there are some drawbacks as well, as follows:

  • Limited features: Many features might not be included in the wearable version. But if you don’t mind other additional features and are satisfied with the wearable one, just keep it.
  • Smaller display: Of course, the display is not as huge as the other versions. With such a small size, not many features can be added to the device. 

Handheld

A handheld GPS for kayaking requires a holder when you’re using it. You can hold it manually, but you need both hands to row your kayak. Despite needing a holder, here’s a list of positive characteristics of a handheld GPS:

  • More features: It has more features that a wearable GPS lacks. 
  • Larger display: The display is comparably larger and clearer. Hence, you can get a wider view of the places you’re going to go to.
  • Lightweight, portable, fits in your pocket: Despite being bigger than the wearable GPS, the GPS can be kept safely in a pocket. If you don’t have a holder, it can just slip into your pocket. As simple as that!

Console-mounted

The third type is console-mounted GPS for kayaking. Here are its characteristics:

  • Advanced features: It has the best features of all three types of GPS for kayaking. 
  • More common for fishing kayaks: Instead of regular kayaking, this type is more common for fishing. So if you’re into fishing, get a console-mounted GPS for the best experience.
  • Bulky: Despite being advanced, this type of kayaking GPS is simply bulky and a little heavier. It might be troublesome for you to manage the GPS and row at the same time because of its size.

Which Garmin Is Best For Kayaking

Of all the best kayaking GPS watches, the Garmin Fenix 5 emerges as the best GPS watch for kayaking. Aside from a functional setting of paddle sports, it has a tremendous navigational and sporting functional range. In addition, you would have no problem knowing where you are with both GLONASS and GPS compatibility modes.

Does Apple Watch Track Kayaking

Currently, there have been no kayaking/ canoeing tracking options together with a tailored calorie circulation and recorded distance in Apple Watch. However, you can opt to use the Open Water Swim workout app to record your kayaking activities. Hence, to conclude, the simple answer is no, Apple watch does not track kayaking. 

Conclusion 

Based on the information shared above, I hope you have found yourself the best GPS for kayaking. Make sure you know which type of GPS is perfect for you, either wearable, handheld, or console-mounted.

You should also be familiar with the technical jargon so that the GPS you purchase will play its part well in your kayaking journey.

Additionally, do remember to take into account the ease of connectivity to store data, either wirelessly or through USB. 

Hopefully, you have already decided on the best GPS!

And finally, happy kayaking!

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