5 Best Kayaking GPS Systems in 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Can’t wait to go on a big kayak adventure, without the fear of getting lost? The best kayaking GPS systems are just what you need.  This is especially useful if you love kayaking at night or in the open ocean.

When shopping for a kayaking GPS you want to consider size, whether or not it is waterproof, battery life, and map features.

Here’s a rundown of the top systems on the market today.

5 Top Kayaking GPS Systems

Image

Product Name

Screen Size

Waterproof

Battery Life

Price

Garmin Montana 600 Waterproof Hiking GPS

4 inches Yes 16 hours Check Current Price

Magellan eXplorist 510 Waterproof Hiking GPS

4 inches Up to 3 feet for 30 minutes 16 hours Check Current Price

Garmin GPSMAP 64st GPS

2.6 inches No 16 hours Check Current Price
Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS 2.2 inches Up to 3 feet for 30 minutes 18 hours Check Current Price
Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS with High-Sensitivity 2 inches Up to 3 feet for 30 minutes 18 hours Check Current Price

While choosing a GPS, it’s important to ensure it has all the features you need. Consider what you most need to use the GPS for. Will you solely use it for kayaking? Are you planning on using it in the car or for hikes as well?

Once you’ve figured this out, your individual preferences will help you choose the right one for you.

5 Best Kayaking GPS Systems in 2019

1. Garmin Montana 600 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Do you love to tackle challenging water in your kayak? If so, the most important feature of the best kayaking GPS systems for you, is that they’re waterproof. Garmin’s Montana 600 does not disappoint. This company, famous for GPS systems, has designed a handheld GPS perfect for all outdoor activities.

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The Montana a four-inch screen display which is viewable even on the sunniest of days. It also can take pictures with a 5 Megapixel camera. This camera automatically geotags your pictures for you, which is a handy feature for remembering where you were.

Another beautiful feature on the Montana 600 is that you can easily share information with other Garmin users wirelessly, like your location, pictures, or trips.

Furthermore, it supports geocaching which can be a really fun way to use a GPS, especially when kayaking.

To use this GPS, you may want to bring 3 AA batteries with you (or more, depending on the length of your trip). The rechargeable batteries on this GPS only last about 16 hours.

Due to its small size, the Montana should be no issue to use and store on your kayak. Given that it’s waterproof, you don’t need to worry about keeping it in a waterproof compartment.

It comes with a compass, an altimeter and it operates off preloaded maps. Therefore, you’ll be able to access them in most cases. However, should you wander outside the region of your preloaded maps, you may need to use the compass to get back into your map area.

Features

  • 5 Megapixel Camera
  • GPS Receiver with WAAS
  • 4” display
  • Display can be read in the sunlight
  • Color Display
  • Compass and Altimeter
  • Can share locations or trips with other Garmin users wirelessly
  • Rechargeable batteries or 3 AA
  • 16-hour lifespan
  • Photos are geotagged
  • Supports geocaching

Check Current Price

2. Magellan eXplorist 510 Waterproof Hiking GPS

The eXplorist by Magellan, another famous GPS company, is also waterproof. This GPS is smaller than the Montana, but has many of the same features.

It’s available in three packages, as seen on its purchase page. If you use it strictly while kayaking, you may want the Marine Bundle. However, when you plan on using it for a blend of kayaking and hiking, purchase the Hiking GPS.

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With the Marine bundle, the GPS has maps of the topography of 12,000 lakes in the United States. This means you can see the depth of the lake while you’re kayaking.

The screen offers a day and night feature. Therefore, you may select the nighttime view for easier visuals at night. Or, choose the daytime view to see the screen in the harsh sunlight.

It also has a 3.2 megapixel camera. This camera is not as high quality as the Montana, but you can take video with it as well as pictures. The GPS also has a built-in microphone to record audio while taking videos. Like the Montana, the pictures will be geotagged.

A major perk with this gadget is its view capabilities. View the map in 2D or 3D, so you’re absolutely sure of where you are.

Like the Montana, the eXplorist will hold its battery life for up to 16 hours. However, it only uses two AA batteries.

Additionally, this GPS has two hard buttons. If you’re fishing or have dirty/wet hands, instead of touching the screen simply preset the hard buttons for your favorite features and click them on the side of the GPS for quick access.

Features

  • 3.2-megapixel camera
  • Color Display
  • Screen can be read in the sunlight
  • Preloaded map of the entire Earth
  • Connects to PCs to export material
  • Two AA batteries
  • Up to 16 hours
  • Geocaching
  • Can view map in 2D or 3D
  • Touchscreen
  • 2 Hard buttons which can be programmed to access different features on the GPS
  • Can program up to 12 bookmarks of your favorite places
  • Waterproof (depths of 1 meter or 3 feet for 30 minutes)

Check Current Price

3. Garmin GPSMAP 64st GPS

The 64st by Garmin is much smaller than the other GPS models on this list. In fact, it kind of looks like a miniature walkie talkie. However, this little model has very different features from the other GPS on this list.

First, it has a daytime screen, which allows you to view it clearly in the sunlight. You can view maps easily to verify where you are.

It’s possible to sync this device with your smartphone to read texts and emails out on the water.

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The 64st is not a waterproof GPS. This is a negative when it comes to kayaking, but you can keep it in a dry bag and pull it out only when needed.

You can purchase a different model of this GPS which is waterproof. If you do this, you will forgo the Bluetooth option of connecting to your smartphone, so choose based on what’s more important to you.

For battery life, this GPS  lasts up to 16 hours. It runs on either 2 AA batteries or rechargeable batteries.

Like many of the other GPS models, it has an altimeter, a compass and an accelerometer. An accelerometer measures how quickly you’re moving. This is great if you want to work on your speed and track your progress.

Finally, like many of the other models on this list, it comes with a connection to geocaching.com.

Features

  • 2.6” display screen
  • Color Display
  • Screen can be read in the sunlight
  • 2 AA batteries
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Can connect with smartphones so that you can receive emails and texts
  • 250,000 preloaded caches from geocaching.com
  • Altimeter
  • Compass
  • Accelerometer

Check Current Price

4. Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS

The eXplorist 310 is quite different from the 510. Magellan 310 is much smaller and offers other excellent benefits too.

First, it offers a 2.2-inch display with a sunlight-friendly screen.

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This device is also waterproof. It can withstand water of a depth of 1 meter, or 3 feet, for up to 30 minutes. Therefore, it easily handles splashes of water while kayaking.

For mapping, this device has preloaded maps of the globe, much like the others on this list.

The battery life is up to to 18 hours and runs off of 2 AA batteries. This allows for an even longer day out on the lake than other GPS systems.

Additionally, the eXplorist 310 has a suspend mode to allow for continuous use of the GPS feature while turning everything else off.

Finally, it can track your journey by monitoring the number of steps you take. In other words, if you stop it will register where you stopped. This is a great feature if you want to repeat journeys or show a friend your kayaking path.

Features

  • Sunlight-friendly screen
  • 2.2-inch display
  • Color display
  • Waterproof
  • Preloaded maps of the entire globe
  • Can download geocaches
  • Suspend mode to save battery
  • Battery lasts 18 hours
  • 2 AA batteries
  • Can track your journey, steps, waypoints, etc.

Check Current Price

5. Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS with High-Sensitivity

The 72H is much more basic than the other models, but it still serves its purpose as an effective kayaking GPS.

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First, it has a 2-inch display in grayscale, rather than color.  It is viewable in sunlight and has a backlight for night visibility.

In terms of safety features, this device can withstand a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. This means that it is just as waterproof as the other devices on this list. However, the 72H also floats, so if it falls out the kayak you’ll have an easy time finding it.

The 72H comes with a wrist strap and it can also track your location, even in difficult weather.

Just like the eXplorist 310, the battery can last up to 18 hours. It uses AA batteries and does not have a rechargeable option.

Finally, this device can track the trails or paths you’ve taken. This ensures you find the route you have taken previously or that a family member can follow your same route.

Features

  • Can withstand depth of 1 meter (3 feet) for 30 minutes
  • Grayscale display
  • 18-hour battery life
  • Tracks location, even in difficult conditions
  • Measures speed in knots
  • Tracks trails
  • Backlight, which cannot be turned off
  • Wrist Strap
  • 2-inch screen

Check Current Price

How to Buy the Best Kayaking GPS

GPS For Kayak

When purchasing a kayaking GPS, ensure it offers all the features you need for your favorite types of recreation. Here are a few more tips on purchasing the right one for you.

Why is a GPS Better than Using a Phone?

Most phones have GPS included, and it can be easy to choose to use your phone instead of a traditional GPS. That being said, there are several reasons you should use a GPS instead.

Phones can fall prey to losing signal easily and if they run out of charge, you can’t just replace batteries. More importantly, in the worst case scenario, losing a GPS while kayaking probably won’t effect your day to day life, in the same way losing your phone would.

Does it Have to Be Waterproof?

No, you don’t need to spend more money on a waterproof device, if you’ve got a dry bag and are confident you won’t drop it while in use. For recreational kayakers on flat lakes and rivers, a dry bag is sufficient. However, if you tackle choppy waters, a waterproof GPS is the way to go.

The Benefits of Map Features

One of the best features to have is the ability to set destination points or favorites, with mapping features.

Ultimately, this helps guide you back to a place you are familiar with, if you get lost.

GPS devices that show the depth of lakes are perfect for fishing, if that’s what you love to do.

It may also be helpful to you, to see maps in 3D or 2D.  Sometimes, when looking at a 2D map, it can be difficult to tell exactly where you are. The 3D option literally lets you look at the map as you would be looking at your landscape.

Another feature which is excellent for GPS devices is a compass. If you should lose the ability to utilize the map feature on your GPS, the compass can help you assess where you are and where you need to go.

Size

When kayaking, it’s always a possibility that you’ll tip the boat.

This means you may want to choose a GPS which is small enough to keep it in a dry bag, on your person. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about losing it in the water.

Furthermore, make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the screen, in terms of reading capacity.

Battery Life

The battery life of most GPS devices will last between 16 and 18 hours. This is a great life length, as it allows you an entire day out on the water. If the GPS has a mode, such as the suspend mode, this stretches battery life even further.

However, one of the features to consider is the battery charge as some devices come with AA batteries and others come with rechargeable batteries, or both.

If you purchase a device with rechargeable batteries, you won’t be able to recharge the device when you’re out on the water. On the other hand, if your device takes AA batteries you can replace the batteries while you’re kayaking.

Our Final Review for the Best Kayaking GPS

Decide what’s most important to you, whether it be price, mapping features, screen size or battery capabilities.

At the end of the day, all of the GPS systems on this list will help you find your way back if you’re lost on the water, without having to risk your mobile phone.

Want to read about more kayak accessories? Check out our dedicated accessory section!

KayakBest
 

KayakBest.com is among the largest and most dedicated kayak review sites. We aim to help enthusiasts discover the best tips and products for an enjoyable paddling experience.

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