Are you ready to hit the water on your kayak but want to make sure you don’t get lost? Kayaking on the open ocean, large lakes or any body of water at night can be tricky, not to mention dangerous. Luckily, technology is here to save the day. There are many geographic positioning systems (GPS) available at every price point, with or without additional features. In this guide, we’ll help you find the best kayak GPS system.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we know that navigating a new sport, especially an outdoor adventure sport, takes time and research. Our goal is to get you paddling, climbing, hiking, biking or just moving through your new hobby with as smoothly as possible. While trying and failing at anything is a valid experience that’s great to learn from, the faster you can get to having fun (safely), the better.

For more of out top kayaking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Sea Kayaks | Sit on Top | Tandem | Canoes | Inflatable Kayaks

Paddles | Seats | PFDs | Dry Bags | Anchors | GPS

Wetsuits | Drysuits | Gloves | Shoes

Fishing Kayaks | RodsReels | Rod HoldersFish Finders

SUPs | Inflatable SUPsPaddles

cloud-download

CLICK HERE to Download our FREE Quick Starter Guide to Kayaking.

 

 

 

QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST KAYAK GPS

  1. Garmin GPS MAP 64s
  2. Garmin Oregon 750t
  3. Garmin eTrex 20x
  4. Garmin Montana 680t
  5. Garmin Oregon 700
  6. Garmin Oregon 600t
  7. Garmin Striker 4
  8. Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2
  9. Garmin eTrex 10
  10. Rand McNally Foris 850

 

 

 

KAYAK GPS REVIEWS

GARMIN GPS MAP 64S

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Lake kayaking

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 2.6 in (6.6 cm)

MAPPING: Worldwide base map features shaded relief, add more maps such as TOPO U.S. 24K and City Navigator (sold separately) with microSD card slot and 4GB internal memory

SUPPORT: GLONASS satellite reception; 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription for unlimited amount of satellite imagery

PROS: Bright, sunlight-readable TFT transflective display with 65K color measures, 16 hour battery life with 2 AAs, 3 meter position accuracy, 3-axis electronic compass, wireless connectivity via Bluetooth® and ANT+™

CONS: Some users report distance calculations

 

 

 

GARMIN OREGON 750T

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Geocaching via kayak

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.0 in (7.6 cm)

MAPPING: Worldwide basemap with shaded relief, 4 GB internal memory with a microSD card slot for optional mapping and data storage, 1 year BirdsEye satellite imagery subscription for real-life terrain views

SUPPORT: GLONASS satellite reception; Active Weather support

PROS: Expanded Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® and ANT+ connect to Geocaching Live, smart compatible, rugged build

CONS: Some users report errors with proximity meter

 

 

 

GARMIN ETREX 20X

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: All-around GPS use

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 2.2 in (5.6 cm)

MAPPING: Comes with a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief, 3.7 GB memory for downloadable maps – TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT, BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (sold separately)

SUPPORT: WAAS-enabled receiver, GLONASS compatible, supports geocaching files

PROS: 65k color display with increased (240 x 320 pixels) resolution, can be viewed in bright sunlight, handheld or mountable

CONS: City maps are unreliable

 

 

 

GARMIN MONTANA 680T

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Vacations

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 4.0 in (10.1 cm)

MAPPING: Preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps, 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription

SUPPORT: Tracks both GPS and GLONASS satellites

PROS: 4-inch dual-orientation, glove-friendly touchscreen display, 8 megapixel autofocus camera; automatically geotags photos, 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter, BaseCamp software for planning trips

CONS: Price, no screen lock

 

 

 

GARMIN OREGON 700

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Multi-sport athletes

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 2.5 in (6.4 cm)

MAPPING: Worldwide basemap with shaded relief, 1 year BirdsEye satellite imagery subscription for real-life terrain views, 4 GB internal memory with a microSD card slot for optional mapping and data storage

SUPPORT: GLONASS satellite reception

PROS: Activity profiles for climb, hike, hunt, bike, geocache, fish, expanded Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® and ANT+ connect to Geocaching Live, battery options (2 AA batteries or NIMH rechargeable internal pack)

CONS: Drains batteries quickly

 

 

 

GARMIN OREGON 600T

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Kayaking at night

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.0 in (7.6 cm)

MAPPING: Built-in 100K topographic mapping data covers United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, map detail includes national, state and local parks and forests, terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and points of interest, add more maps with microSD™ card slot

SUPPORT: Compatible with GLONASS, use 24 more satellites than using GPS alone, WAAS-enabled

PROS: Basemap stores up to 4,000 waypoints, 200 routes, 200 tracks, barometric altimeter, flashlight mode

CONS: Price, useless settings

 

 

 

GARMIN STRIKER 4

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Offshore kayak fishing

WATER RATING: Not water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.5 in (8.9 cm)

MAPPING: Mark and return to hot spots, docks and ramps

SUPPORT: CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer

PROS: Reads up to 1,600 ft freshwater / 750 ft saltwater, convenient keypad operation, transmit power (200 W RMS)/(1,600 W peak-to-peak)

CONS: Additional maps not available, not water resistant

 

 

 

HUMMINBIRD HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Motorized kayaks

WATER RATING: Not water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 5.0 in (12.7 cm)

MAPPING: Built-in Anima cartography, micro SD card slot for optional maps or for saving waypoints

SUPPORT: Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting

PROS: Large color display, CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar

CONS: Size, requires 12V battery

 

 

 

GARMIN ETREX 10

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Geocaching via kayak on a budget

WATER RATING: IPX7 water resistant

DISPLAY SIZE: 2.2 in (5.6 cm)

MAPPING: 3.7 GB memory, MicroSD™ card slot for storing additional data, built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief

SUPPORT: Compatible with GLONASS, WAAS-enabled receiver

PROS: Supports geocaching files, long battery life (25 hours),

CONS: Small screen

 

 

 

RAND MCNALLY FORIS 850

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Multi-sport on a budget

WATER RATING: Waterproof

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.0 in (7.6 cm)

MAPPING: Detailed U.S. street and contour maps, including water features, more than 5 million miles of trails and roads

SUPPORT: Content is pre-loaded

PROS: Geocaching with storage for 7,000 waypoints, 1,000 tracks rugged build, waterproof, compass, altimeter

CONS: Short average battery life (12 hours)

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST KAYAK GPS

PICTURE
KAYAK GPS
BEST USE
WATER RATING
DISPLAY SIZE
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
KAYAK GPS
BEST USE
WATER RATING
DISPLAY SIZE
PRICE
RATING
Garmin GPS MAP 64s
Overall
IPX7 water resistant
2.6 inch
$$
3.9
Garmin Oregon 750t
Overall
IPX7 water resistant
3.0 inch
$$$
3.5
Garmin eTrex 20x
Overall
IPX7 water resistant
2.2 inch
$$
3.8
Garmin Montana 680t
Touchscreen
IPX7 water resistant
4.0 inch
$$$
3.9
Garmin Oregon 700
Touchscreen
IPX7 water resistant
2.5 inch
$$$
3.0
Garmin Oregon 600t
Touchscreen
IPX7 water resistant
3.5 inch
$$
3.9
Garmin Striker 4
Dual GPS Fish Finder
Not water resistant
3.0 inch
$
4.3
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2
Dual GPS Fish Finder
Not water resistant
5.0 inch
$$
4.6
Garmin eTrex 10
Budget
IPX7 water resistant
2.2 inch
$
4.0
Rand McNally Foris 850
Budget
Waterproof
3.0 inch
$
3.7

 

 

Gear up for kayaking, without breaking the bank

Get the Latest Deals on Kayaking Gear

Sent right to your inbox...

 
 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST KAYAK GPS

WATER RATING

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing any electronic you’ll be using on the water is its water rating. Water rating describes how resistant to water exposure a device is. Some are water resistant to splashes or rain. Others can be momentarily submerged, while others are completely waterproof.

The designation “IPX7 water resistant” is the water rating Garmin uses for their products that are resistant to splashes, rain, snow, showering or incidental exposure to water (up to 1 meter) for up to 30 minutes.

Garmin is the premier manufacturer of GPS devices, thus the majority of products in this review will carry this designation. GPS devices that are not water resistant or waterproof can be packaged in a sealed plastic bag while in use.

 

DISPLAY SIZE

Display size is measured diagonally across the screen face, from corner to corner. The scope of sizes ranges only a few inches. Small devices will have screen close to 2 inches, while large devices will have screens with 5 inches.

Consider how you’ll be using the device and for what activities. Many kayakers prefer to mount their GPS front and center, 1-2 ft from their face on the deck of the kayak.

Small screens can be difficult to read at this distance. Some people participate in multiple outdoor activities. If you also enjoy hiking, it’s not wise to choose a large GPS device.

 

MAPPING

The purpose of GPS devices is to track the location as well as ensure the user understands where they are at all times and is able to safely get home. As we all know, poor directions can be exhausting to use.

A good GPS device will supply a world basemap. A great device will offer the option to download additional maps and store them on a micro SD card. An excellent device will include those layers for free and offer excellent water detail, sometimes known as “blue maps.”

Storage cards are useful for some mapping, but not others. Since there would be too much data required to store highly detailed maps on a GPS, some devices receive the data from satellites.

If the device you choose has this ability, it will most likely come with a subscription that lasts a few months to a year. After that, you’ll have to pay a fee annually to continue receiving data. BirdsEye Satellite Imagery is the mapping system used by Garmin.

 

SUPPORT

Most people are familiar with the term GPS, but do we know its history and how it works? GPS was developed by the US and utilizes 31 satellites to track location.

While the technology is good on its own, when paired with the Russian system GLONASS, its accuracy is greatly improved. GLONASS utilizes 24 satellites. For the best accuracy possible, look for a device that is compatible with GLONASS.

Another important feature is called WAAS. It stands for Wide Area Augmentation System and is a technology also developed by the US. Its purpose is the make corrections for slight errors in GPS readings.

Satellites speak to base stations on the ground every few seconds, correcting imperfect measurements. WAAS-enabled GPS systems will provide excellent accuracy when paired with GLONASS compatibility.

Some high-end GPS devices will provide support for weather readings. This can be extremely useful when kayaking on the open water, even lifesaving in certain instances.

Pin
Share3
Tweet11
Flip
14 Shares

Do you want to save money on Kayaking gear?