There are hundreds of GPS devices on the market.
Garmin, a leading brand, alone has dozens of GPS devices. So finding the right one is like finding a needle in a haystack.
But don’t worry.
We curated the best kayak GPS systems in this guide to make it easy for you:
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
Garmin eTrex 10 is a compact and lightweight GPS and perfect for kayaking. It is also waterproof with IPX7 rating, so if it starts to rain abruptly, you won’t have to hide it away. The eTrex 10 comes with a 2.2 inch screen that shows everything in monochrome with absolute clarity.
We like that it runs on AAA batteries and can last 20 hours on continuous use. This means you can kayak for an entire day or even use it for long expeditions by keeping some extra batteries with you. It has onboard memory that lets you store waypoints along the way. You can also see low and high elevation points. It has good enough memory that stores up to 10,000 points, 200 tracks and up to 50 routes.
Its signal quality is excellent and it positions fast to your defined target. This is due to its WAAS enabled GPS receiver that comes with HotFix and GLONASS support.
Users love that the eTrex 10 is accurate and easy to use. However, the screen is prone to scratches so you should put a screen guard to keep it secure. When kayaking you can see the speed and distance using this GPS.
- Compact and lightweight
- Measures data accurately
- Stores a lot of data
- Lasts 20 hours on continuous use
- 2.2 inch crystal clear screen
- Screen is prone to scratches, screen guard needed
Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam Transducer
Garmin Striker Plus 4 is a compelling option for kayakers who need a powerful GPS. It is super accurate and comes with a dual-beam transducer which helps you find fishing spots and gives a clear view of the underwater environment. You can see everything clearly on its 4.3” screen.
The Striker Plus 4 is fast – it builds an instant connection with satellites to help you navigate and shows exact location. It also allows you to mark waypoints, set routes and know the speed at which the kayak is moving.
It also comes with built-in mapping software that helps you build high-definition fishing maps. You can even save as much as 1 million acres of maps on this beast.
The Striker Plus 4 also works as a fish finder. Its Garmin Chirp sonar technology produces clear images of objects underwater and shows you the exact location of fishes. The sonar works well both in shallow as well as deep waters. Even when you are moving fast in your kayak, it shows the underwater environment with impressive accuracy.
- Remarkable accuracy
- Fast mapping
- Stores 1 million acres of maps
- Shows kayaking speed and distance
- Works as a fish finder too
- Push connections on the back can corrode
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder
Humminbird Helix 5 is a powerful GPS that works really well for kayaking. It comes with a 5 WVGA display that shows everything with clarity. It comes with CHIRP dual beam plus sonar that produces clear images with great accuracy.
It has accurate internal GPS chart plotting to help you navigate with ease. It also has built-in anima cartography, which is basically an animated way of drawing maps on screen. It has a micro SD card slot that helps you save maps and waypoints.
It fixes your location fast with an accuracy range of 2.5 metres. You can create real-time maps of the fishing spots you target with this thing. Humminbird’s BaseMap gives you a clear image of the underwater structure and surrounding points of interest with rich details. Its target separation is quite effective at 2.5 inches.
The fact that you can use it as a GPS and a fish finder makes the deal even sweeter. Humminbird is a leading manufacturer of fishing electronics and you can rest assured the Helix 5 will last a long time.
- GPS and Fish Finder in one device
- Accurate positioning and mapping
- Saves maps and waypoints
- Real-time fishing maps
- 2.5 inch target separation
- Boat mounts are flimsy
Garmin GPSMAP 64 Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
Garmin GPSMAP 64 is a bestselling GPS device perfect for kayakers. It comes with a 2.6 inch display that shows clear images. The display is so effective that you can even read it in sunlight. You can store maps on its internal memory – it has an expandable 4 GB memory on board.
Since the device runs on 2 AA batteries, you can get a long run time. You can even further extend it to multiple days by keeping an extra pair of batteries with you. You can also opt for the rechargeable battery back that can be charged while the battery is installed in the GPS.
The Base Camp software works really well. The GPS is really useful since you can estimate the distance and speed, and reach your target location on time. It also keeps you safe when you get lost accidentally in the middle of the river or the ocean.
You can chart routes to kayak, maintain a record of your trips and most importantly, return to the starting point after a day of kayaking. The Garmin GPSMAP 64 is also water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about waves crashing over or splashes.
- 2.6 inch rich and clear display
- Built-in software for efficient navigation
- On board 4 GB memory
- Long battery run time
- Interface is outdated
STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF with Internal GPS
The Standard Horizon HX870 is a great GPS for those who also like the ability to communicate with a VHF radio while on water. It comes with a large display so you can see everything clearly.
It ensures your safety with an emergency button. The emergency button makes a distress call to the coast guard instantly as you press it. It is well known within the boating community that it is not safe to leave the dock without a radio. So this is great for all paddlers.
Although it is large in size, it is still lightweight and floats on water. The menu is simple and easy to use but some of the instructions can be hard to understand. The GPS acquires a position very fast in about 10 seconds or so.
You can set routes for your kayak trips and set waypoints. Its compass helps with navigation and finding your way back to the launch point. It turns on automatically when dropped in the water. The GPS is overall easy to use and you can clip the unit to your belt. The radio is IPX8 waterproof, so water splashes and waves won’t pose any risk. Its audio receiver and transmitter work with a noise cancelling function to give you absolute clarity.
- Large screen
- Easy to use
- VHF radio ensures safety
- GPS acquires position fast
- Instructions could be more clear
Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer, 4″ GPS
Garmin is the leading manufacturer of GPS systems and the Striker 4cv is one of their best. It comes with a 4.3 inch display for better clarity while viewing maps. The display is readable even in sunlight, so you will always stay on top of things.
The GPS system allows you to mark waypoints, create routes to map out your entire trip and view the speed of the kayak.
Its GPS positioning is fast and accurate. It comes with the company’s Quickdraw Contours mapping software with which you can build and save maps with 1 inch contours for up to 2 million acres.
The Striker 4cv also works as a fish finder thanks to its CHIRP technology that comes with ClearVu scanning sonar. The target separation is also great and helps you catch a lot of fish on a short trip. You can view the underwater environment with clarity.
This is a great GPS with intuitive interface and fast positioning. It also lets you track speed and distance. It is easy to use and install on your boat. The battery runs all day as per customer reports, so you won’t regret buying it.
- 4.3 inch bright screen
- Fast and accurate GPS
- CHIRP and ClearVu sonar technology
- Intuitive and user-friendly
- Doubles as a fish finder
- Need a better owner’s manual to explain all its features
Garmin eTrex 22x, Rugged Handheld GPS Navigator
The Garmin eTrex 22x is a compelling option if you are looking for a GPS system for a kayak. It is also compact and lightweight, so it will fit easily in your bag and won’t take space on your kayak either. It works with both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems to provide the best navigation and positioning.
It allows you to create way points, routes, tracks as well as geocaches. Not only it has onboard memory to store everything but you can sync it across devices through wireless connectivity.
However, navigation on this device may not be for everyone since its screen size is just 2.2 inch. Nonetheless, the display quality is amazing and has 240 x 320 resolution. The device is preloaded with Topo Active maps which can be used while hiking or cycling.
The device comes with an impressive 8 GB of memory on board. And if that is not enough, you can use the micro SD card slot to get even more storage capacity.
It has an amazing battery life too – it can last 25 hours in GPS mode, which means you can use it for an entire day and more. It runs on two AA batteries, so you can take extra pairs with you to never run out of power.
- Great positioning speed and accuracy
- 8 GB onboard storage
- MicroSD slot to expand storage
- 25 hours of battery run time
- Creates waypoints and routes
- Screen size is small at 2.2”
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS
Garmin GPSMAP 78sc waterproof marine GPS is an excellent option for those looking for a compact, lightweight gps device for their kayak. It is waterproof with IPX7 rating, so you don’t have to worry about splashes or waves crashing over. It also floats in water so you won’t lose it if you drop it accidentally.
It comes with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, a high-sensitivity receiver and molded rubber side grips. It also has built-in coastal charts that include shorelines, harbors, depth contours and more.
It lets you create waypoints, routes, tracks and geocaches for smooth navigation on your trip. You can also share this data wirelessly with a compatible device. Its battery life is good and it can last an entire day with AA batteries.
It has a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix satellite prediction technology for fast positioning with high accuracy. Even if you are surrounded by huge rocks or trees, it maintains its GPS connectivity.
- Accurate and fast positioning
- Waterproof, floats in water
- Shares map data wirelessly
- High GPS connectivity
- Good battery life
- Display is small at 2.6 inches
Frequently Asked Questions
Which handheld GPS is the most accurate?
There are many accurate handheld GPS options, but the Garmin GPSMAP 66st performs a level above others when it comes to accuracy. It is also rugged and comes with plenty of useful features. Other options are Garmin eTrex 10 and eTrex 22x.
What shoes should I wear for kayaking?
For kayaking, you should wear water shoes since they have a good grip and keep your feet warm. Regular shoes tend to fill in with water and make things messy. Water shoes are made with water resistant materials and better design that helps remove the water from inside the shoes.
What should you not do while kayaking?
Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go kayaking. Don’t go kayaking without wearing a personal floatation device. Do not go kayaking when you are drunk. Do not go kayaking wearing regular clothes that can get you drenched when a wave comes crashing over. Do not go kayaking if you are not aware of tides and currents that can sway you off course and even pose risk to your life.
What is the best thing to wear while kayaking?
Always remember to dress according to the water temperature and not the general weather. If the water is going to be cold, wear a wetsuit. Also, use layering and wear multiple layers on top to stay dry and warm. Don’t wear cotton clothes since they absorb water and don’t get dry. Also, don’t wear clothing that is too tight. Flexibility is important.
Is there an app for kayaking?
‘AccuWeather’ is a great app to stay updated on climate changes and stay aware in case storms or tides are coming in your direction. ‘Polaris GPS’ app allows you to navigate and use NOAA marine charts to view depth and marine features. If you want to find the best place to go kayaking, download the ‘Padding’ app. To record your experience with photos and videos, download the KayakLog app.
There are many kayak GPS devices in the market. Each one in this list has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Consider various factors such as price, accuracy, battery life, onboard memory and connectivity before you decide to buy one.