The 7 Best Kayak GPS Systems - 2018 Reviews & Guide

Do you love kayaking? Most people do love fishing on their kayaks. However, sometimes kayaking trips can turn to be less-than-good endeavor. This is more so when you don’t have proper directions.

Whilst you might have knowledge about most local spots, what happens when you explore new spots? Chances are you might have difficulties finding your way back home. As such, it is important to ensure you have the best Kayak GPS. Whether you love paddling on local lakes, a kayak GPS is sure to provide you with great kayaking experience.

7 Best Kayak GPS Systems Reviewed in the Market - Comparison Chart

Rankings

GPS

Item Dimensions

Weight

Editor’s Rating

#1

5.7 x 1.4 x 2.9 inches

10.2 ounces

#2

2.6 x 1.2 x 6 inches

7.7 ounces

#3

2.3 x 1.5 x 4.5 inches

6.9 ounces

#4

1.2 x 2.7 x 6.2 inches

7.7 ounces

#5

2.1 x 4 x 1.3 inches

5 ounces

#6

1.3 x 4 x 2.1 inches

5 ounces

#7

1.4 x 4.2 x 6.3 inches

9.3 ounces

1. Garmin Montana 650t

Want to go hunting, hiking or fishing? You can take with you Garmin Montana 650t and go anywhere you want. It is waterproof, resistant to bumps making it suitable for outdoor activities. And when it comes to its screen display, the GPS system does not disappoint. It features a four-inch color display that can be easily viewed even during the sunniest of days. The display is touch screen and can be operated with gloves on.

Equally important is its 5 MP digital camera that allows you to take clear pictures. The camera features automatic geo-tagging function that geo-tags all the pictures you take. This comes handy anytime you want to remember exactly where you were. With this system, you can share routes, waypoints and tracks wirelessly with friends.

Another feature worth mentioning is its high sensitivity WAAS enabled GPS receiver. As a result, the Garmin Montana 650t is able to locate where you are fast and precisely. In addition, it comes preloaded with Top U.S 100K maps and gives you the option to add more. Whether you want to add satellite images to your maps or transform paper maps into files, it is easy.

The Garmin Montana 650t is powered by rechargeable Li-ion batteries. They have up to 16-hours battery life. It can also run via three AA batteries for up to 22 hours. This ensures you stay powered throughout your kayaking trips. No need to worry about low battery life while you should be having fun. 

Additionally, this kayak GPS boasts a 3 axis compass as well as a barometric altimeter. This feature provides you with several and precise mapping options. You also get to know when the sun is going to set. With many compatible mounts, the Garmin Montana 650t can be used in your car, ATVs’, motorcycle or in boats. 

Highlighted Features

  • Micro SD card for optional mapping
  • Worldwide built-in basemap
  • 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter to
  • GPS receiver that is WAAS enabled for more accurate navigations
  • 5 Megapixel autofocus camera that captures quality images
  • 4 inch color touch screen display that is glove friendly

2. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Marine GPS

Small but highly efficient, this GPS system comes with a ton of features. First, it boasts a 2.6 inch color TFT display screen. The display is quite bright and features a decent resolution of 160x240 pixels. Though small compared to that of Montana 650t, it provides good view. Its small size also ensures the device fits in your palm.

One of the most key features of any best kayak GPS is that it should be waterproof. This device does not disappoint. It is waterproof to IPX7 standards and resistant to harsh marine atmosphere. In fact, it floats in water thereby ensuring you don’t lose it. This feature comes handy especially when moving towards strong water conditions. 

Looking to take recreational navigation to a whole new level? You should get the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc. Equipped with a GPS receiver with high sensitivity, you can enjoy accurate geo-positioning. It easily locates coastline, routes and landmarks while on the water. In addition, it features on-board blue-chat g2 U.S/Bahamas coastal charts. The charts includes navaids, shorelines, marinas, depth contours, harbors and much more.

To top it all up, you get a Micro SD card slot just in case you would like to add more maps. Another important feature is the built-in three axis tilt compensated compass. The compass is electronic and is designed to register your heading position. There is also a barometric altimeter for precise altitude and weather conditions.

You can power up this GPS system with two AA batteries that boasts up to 20-hours of use. Additionally, you can share your geo-caches, tracks and waypoints wirelessly. 

Highlighted Features

  • One year limited warranty
  • 2.6” LCD color display
  • Man Over Board (MOB) button
  • Built-in GPS receiver and basemap
  • Handheld and marine friendly
  • Three axis electronic compass with barometric altimeter
  • Up to 20 hours battery life

3. Garmin Oregon GPS Navigator 550T

Looking for a full-fledged handheld GPS system? You need to take a look at Garmin Oregon. It features a three axis tilt compensated compass. So just in case you are not able to use the GPS map feature, the compass will help you navigate. 

Featuring a barometric altimeter, kayakers can easily track any changes in pressure. The feature also allows you to pinpoint precise altitude. The altimeter comes handy in plotting barometric pressure over time. In addition, the device is equipped with U.S topographic data for the entire U.S continent. You’ll also get a worldwide basemap with details like trails, local parks, forests and rivers. 

Oregon 550t includes a 3.2MP digital camera with autofocus features and 4x digital zoom. This makes it easy to capture your moments in decent images and share them wirelessly. And each picture is geo-tagged automatically with the location of where it was taken. You can thus find your way back to the same spot later.

Another feature that makes this device a darling is its 3 inch diagonal display. It is a color touch screen display that can be viewed under sunlight. In addition, it is waterproof, effortless to use and durable. It can therefore withstand different elements. Be it humidity, bumps or dirt.

The Oregon 550t is also well known for its GPS receiver that is WAAS enabled. The receiver is highly sensitive to locate your exact location quickly and accurately. Even in deep canyons or heavy cover, the device still maintains its GPS location.

Last but not least, this kayak GPS boasts 850 MB of internal memory to store all your photos. But in case you want more space, the device comes with a micro SD card slot.

Highlighted Features

  • 3.2 megapixel digital camera
  • Preloaded U.S topo maos
  • 850 MB internal memory
  • Three inch diagonal color display
  • 2 AA NiMG batteries with a charger
  • WAAS GPS receiver
  • On board 3 axis compass

4. Garmin 72H Handheld GPS

Simple, lightweight yet solid, the Garmin 72H GPS system will help you find you way effortlessly. So don’t be afraid to hit the water on your kayak and explore new places. Whilst it might have limited features, this does not make it less of a good kayak GPS. It serves its purpose as an effective kayaking GPS while offering rock solid performance. 

Featuring a high sensitivity GPS receiver, it acquires satellite signals fast and tracks everywhere you go. It easily tracks every path or trail you take allowing your friends to follow same route. Even in the worst conditions like heavily forested area, this device will ensure you don’t get lost.

It comes with a wrist strap to prevent the GPS from dropping in the water. On top of that, it is IPX7 waterproof. As such, it can withstand any accidental splash or dunk in the water. In addition, it floats in water. This feature guarantees its safety just in case it happens to drop out of your kayak.

Equally important is its 2.7 inch display with a resolution of 120 x 160 pixel and a backlight. It is not colored like that of most kayak GPS but instead it is grayscale. The display is not only easy to use but it is also clear to read even in sunlight. However, the backlight does not turn off. 

Highlighted Features

  • Built-in celestial data that includes sunrise and sunset times and tide information
  • High sensitivity GPS receiver
  • Save up-to 500 of your best routes or tracks
  • Up-to 18 hours battery power
  • USB connection to share and download files
  • Simple interface that allows easy operation

5. Garmin eTrex 20x

This is an upgrade of the eTrex 20 hence it comes with better and advanced features. It is considered as one of the best GPS for kayaking for many good reasons. First, it is durable, easy to use, affordable and can be used on ATVs, boats, bicycles and cars. Second, it offers great readability with its 240 x 320 pixels display. 

That’s not all. Garmin eTrex 20x features a WAAS enabled GPS receiver that is highly sensitive. The receiver is further supported by GLONASS and HotFix satellite. This enables the GPS to track your locations quickly and accurately.

At its price tag, the display screen size is decent enough to allow good readability. Featuring a 2.2 inch 65k color display, you can view and read details under any light conditions. In addition, it is waterproof with up to 25 hours of average battery life.

When it comes to memory size, this fishing kayak GPS does not disappoint. It has a 3.7 GB of internal memory which is more than enough to store your kayaking memories. The memory can be expanded to accommodate more maps via the micro SD card slot.

On top of that, it also boasts preloaded base map with shaded relief. The maps include TOP 24K, City Navigator Nt, HuntView and BlueChart g2. You can also download more maps since the device supports geo-caching GPX files. 

Highlighted Features

  • Several compatible mounts for use on different devices
  • Supports geocaching GPX files
  • Tracks GLONASS satellites and GPS simultaneously
  • 240 x 320 pixels enhanced screen resolution
  • 3.7 GB internal memory with ability to be expanded
  • GPS receiver that is WAAS enabled

6. Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide GPS

Are you on a shoe-string budget and looking for the best kayak GPS system? The Garmin eTrex 10 handheld GPS might interest you. Coming at a very low price, it features a rugged body with a waterproof level of IPX7 standards. It can therefore withstand water drops, splashes, rains and even bumps. 

It comes with a 2.2 inch display that is monochrome. The display is easy to read and adjusts itself in any lighting conditions. Display resolution on the other hand is only 128 x 160 pixels. It also boasts built-in worldwide base map that provides information about the waypoints and routes. The device also supports spine mounting accessories as well s paperless geo-caching.

Another great feature is the GPS receiver that is WAAS enables. The receiver is supported by GLONASS and HotFix. This ensures you get reliable signal and quick positioning. You can power it up with two AA batteries that lasts for about 20 hours under normal usage.

Want to plan your next trip in advance? You can do so by utilizing the Base Camp software. The software enables you to view and even organize tracks, maps, routes and waypoints. BaseCamp usually displays topographic map data either in 2-D or 3-D on your desktop screen.

Garmin eTrex 10 comes with an USB cable to connect the GPS to your Mac or PC. This comes handy when you want to transfer GPX files. Unfortunately, you cannot load maps into the device because there is no micro SD card slot.

Highlighted Features

  • In built worldwide basemap so you can know where you are 
  • High sensitivity GPS receiver for accurate and faster positioning
  • Runs on two AA batteries with up-to 20 hours of use
  • 2.2” monochrome display that is readable in different light conditions
  • Waterproof against rain and splashes
  • Supports paperless geocaching files

7. Garmin GPSMAP 64 Worldwide

Equipped with a worldwide basemap and shaded relief, this device allows you to navigate just about anywhere. You can even download geo-tagged photos online and navigate to them. Featuring a 4 GB internal memory and micro SD card slot, you can always add more maps. You can choose to download 100K and TOP 24K maps or plug in BlueChart g2 preloaded cards. In addition, you can load satellite images onto the GPS by subscribing to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. 

Its 2.6 inch color screen that is sunlight readable is both rugged and waterproof. This ensures you enjoy high performance even under challenging conditions. Equally important is its GPS and GLONASS receiver. It locates your position fast and accurately and maintains it. The receiver uses a quad helix antenna to enhance its signal and reception. 

In addition, it can either be powered with two AA batteries or rechargeable NiMH battery pack. Battery life is around 16 hours under normal usage. To top it all up, you get 250,00 preloaded caches for paperless geo-caching at any time. It stores and displays key information like terrain, hints, locations and descriptions. 

Like most of Garmin’s GPS models, the GPSMAP 64 allows you to take charge of your trips. Of course this is through the BaseCamp software. It is also compatible with Custom Maps. This feature enables you to transform electronic/paper maps into downloadable maps for free. 

Highlighted Features

  • BaseCamp software to let you organize your next adventure
  • 4GB built-in memory and micro SD card slot
  • Ability to upload and share data wirelessly with friends
  • Can be paired with optional ANT+ sensors like speed and heart rate monitor
  • 2.6 inch color display that is readable in any light conditions

Buying Guide

Screen Display

Different kayak GPS have different display size. A kayak GPS might be between 2.2 inches to 5.7 inches. The larger the screen display the better for easy readability. In addition to size, you need to consider the resolution. A higher resolution means better clarity so you will not need to strain to view details on the display. Finally, you should consider how easy it is to read the display in different light conditions.

Battery Life

Typically, kayak GPS devices are powered by at least two or three AA batteries. The key thing to consider however is how long the battery can last. Lithium batteries tend to provide better battery life with over 15 hours. 

GPS Receiver

Most kayak GPS devices utilize the famous Wide Augmentation System (WAAS) receiver. This receiver provides fast reception even on a very dense forest too. The important thing is that the best kayak GPS should have great reception and more coverage. This is to ensure you get greater precision and continued connectivity. 

Durability and Reliability

Perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when buying a kayak GPS is its durability. A good device should withstand wear and tear under normal usage. It should be constructed from high quality and reliable materials for improved durability. Some of the best GPS for kayaking have metallic finish or synthetic polymer. As such , they never get damaged even when dropped in water because they are waterproof. 

Conclusion

Let’s acknowledge, even professional kayakers will get lost sometimes during their kayaking trips. That is why every kayaker needs to have the best kayak GPS. All the GPS systems we have reviewed in this guide can make a worthwhile investment. But if there is one device that I would go for any time and any day is the Garmin Montana 650t. Its large display screen, 5MP camera and glove friendly touch screen makes it an interesting kayak GPS. It is also well built for great durability with a WAAS enable GPS receiver.

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