The Best Kayak GPS For 2019 (Why You Need One?)

Best Kayak GPS

We can all concede to the fact that the best kayak GPS can make the difference in your paddling experience.

Of course, I know that a lot of you will argue that they are not necessary amenities anymore. If you are already well-versed with your route, why would you even need a GPS?

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But you see, a GPS does more than that. Aside from pinpointing your location, they can also help you navigate through your destination so that getting lost will never be an option. You can't merely doubt the performance of these GPS as they have been used in various platforms and technologies.

But honestly, the performance of a GPS is quite dependent on how it was made or who built it. I will just go over with the latter because I don't discriminate any paddling devices or gears based on their brands.

In this blog, I will show you some of the best-rated GPS for kayaks in the market today. Make sure that you can check them out first before you start investing on them. Let's get started!

Product Name

Image

Quality

Our Rating

1. Garmin Montana 680t - Editor's Pick

Garmin Montana 680t

A+

Garmin GPSMAP 64s Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

A

3. Garmin eTrex 20x - Budget-Friendly Option

Garmin eTrex 20x

A

Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera (US Topographic Maps)

A

5. Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 Chirp GPS - Best Kayak GPS For Fishing

Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 Chirp GPS G2 Fish Finder

A

Garmin Montana 680t

Surely enough, the Garmin Montana 680t is a GPS that every paddler deserve. When you have this GPS, you can already encompass the entire boating terrain that you have. Right from the get-go, this one possesses a high level of precision without any delays or lags on record.

One of the best things that you can get from this GPS is the preloaded caches of different locations all over the world. It simplifies the process of mapping your existing route. Furthermore, it comes with a one-year subscription to Birdseye Satellite Imagery.

This GPS is high sensitive and features a GLONASS reception for faster and quicker location tracking. Moreover, its performance is optimized due to the presence of HotFix Satellite Prediction technology and WAAS-enabled receiver.

Pros

  • Can efficiently track your location wherever you are
  • Comes with preloaded maps for more straightforward navigation
  • Fast and accurate location pointing
  • The highly readable screen even in extremely bright conditions
  • Features a user-friendly interface.

Cons

  • No known issues.
Garmin GPSMAP 64s Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

For a compact GPS, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s is definitely an ergonomic utility for every paddler. It has a readable screen that can be used in both low light and high bright conditions. The screen is pretty big, which allows you to have accurate readings all the time.

Just like the Garmin Montana 680t, this GPS has a GLONASS receiver and a quad-helix antenna. These two ensure that this GPS can provide exceptional location tracking by improving its overall reception. It is downright responsive, too. It doesn't lag even if you bring it on recluse areas.

The battery life of this GPS can last for up to 16 hours. That's more than enough for recreational and touring purposes. Aside from your location, it can also display essential information such as the terrain and physical difficulty of a particular area.

Pros

  • Highly-sensitive GPS
  • The LCD screen is sunlight-readable
  • Comes with a 4GB internal memory
  • Features 250,000 preloaded caches
  • Compass and barometric altimeter are integrated on this GPS.

Cons

  • Controls are not that responsive.
Garmin eTrex 20x

If you are aiming for something that doesn't hurt your budget, you might want to check the Garmin eTrex 20x. By far, this particular entry-level GPS is suitable for every kayaking application. It has a hand-held design for better convenience, but it can still deliver crystal-clear displays and vivid indicators. It remains readable even under direct sunlight.

There's internal storage integrated on this GPS where you can load a variety of maps. It is compatible with TOPO 24K, BlueChart G2, BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, and HuntView. It can certainly give maps to all your prescribed kayaking destinations.

Just like the other Garmin GPS, this unit is highly-sensitive. Any changes can be read and tracked easily. It also features a WAAS-enabled receiver and HotFix satellite prediction technology for enhanced and accurate GPS reception.

Pros

  • Can track and maintain location accuracy
  • Works on areas where there are deep covers
  • Loaded with maps of different outdoor destinations
  • Features strong reception regardless of the condition
  • Durable and outdoor-worthy construction.

Cons

  • The screen is quite small.
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera (US Topographic Maps)

The Garmin Oregon 650t is definitely an exceptional GPS for every marine application. This one features a waterproof design, which makes a trustworthy companion. It has a responsive screen that allows you to navigate this GPS with ease. Unlike other standard GPS devices, this unit features a dual-band GPS. The latter has a double performance and accuracy as other satellite positioning systems. Moreover, it also has a GLONASS function, too.

There are three sensors included in this GPS. Specifically, they are the 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer. These things are essential to further optimizing your kayaking experience. It also features Bluetooth technology. It enables the GPS to share waypoints, geocaches, and custom maps wirelessly. I can guarantee that this kayak GPS is ergonomic and possesses user-friendly design so that any paddler can use it.

Pros

  • Features a 3-inch screen that features sunlight readability
  • Touchscreen feature doesn't lag at all
  • Can display a variety of information necessary for kayaking
  • Can wirelessly transfer maps and waypoints
  • Highly accurate and responsive GPS.

Cons

  • No known issues.
Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 Chirp GPS G2 Fish Finder

The Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 is made to meet every paddling needs and expectations. This is the GPS device that you can trust whenever you will venture difficult terrains and areas. It provides exceptional precision and responsive in pointing your location. It can also help its users track their path so that they can arrive on their destinations safely.

The Humminbird Helix 5 can be mounted to your kayak. If there's a bracket or a platform there where you can install fish finders or related devices, this GPS can fit in. It is notable that the Helix 5 is using a 2D sonar that helps in hunting fish. It also has the CHIRP digital sonar that further improves its scanning capability.

Meanwhile, the GPS feature of the Helix 5 delivers all the essential information that you need. It can also determine the speed of your boat and the current conditions on the waters. A chart-plotting capability is also present of making and saving waypoints.

Pros

  • Large WVGA display for better user experience
  • Highly ergonomic controls for easier navigation
  • Features multiple sonars for fish finding
  • Accurate GPS with waypoint functions
  • Features mounting and stabilizing hardware.

Cons

  • The chartplotter of this device is not as functional as other chart plotters.

The Best Kayak GPS: Why Does It Matter?

The Best Kayak GPS: Why Does It Matter?

We all know that the global positioning systems or GPS have already been embedded in the market today. It is a fact that all of us can agree on. Aside from boating applications, these GPS devices are also being used in our land vehicles and even in our smartphones. They allow accurate tracking and pinpointing for more accurate mapping and navigation.

But why would you even need a GPS for your kayak or canoe listed in your checklist? If you are already familiar with your route, what's the purpose of this particular amenity or component?

Tracking and Location Pinpointing

Well, you see, familiarity is quite a subjective term in the world of outdoor adventures. Even if you know the physical layout and routes of your destination, this doesn't mean that getting lost has zero probability already.

Of course, you might think that this scenario is the last thing that could happen to you. But it does happen, especially if there are rough conditions that will disorient you of your current location and position. In these cases, a GPS can help you navigate your back.

Because these GPS units are anchored to the satellites of the United States, the way they can pinpoint your location is extremely accurate. They can assist you in getting back on track.


Mapping

Many of the GPS units that we have today have built-in maps. For instance, if you are kayaking in any regions of the United States, many GPS units can give you accurate information to your current environment.

By giving you highly accurate and detailed maps of your existing location, reaching your destination would be a lot easier. They can even indicate if there are obstacles and physical obstructions along the way.

But here's the catch: The maps have to be updated. Fortunately, various GPS devices have already addressed this particular issue. Specifically, they implement software and database upgrades to constantly improve the accuracy of their maps.

Check this video so that you can learn how a GPS works:

These Are The Types Of GPS That You Can Install On Your Kayak

If you think that GPS does only come in one specific model or design, then you need to have a change of mind already. GPS manufacturers, such as the ones that I have listed on this list, are producing different GPS units to accommodate specific applications.

Fortunately, kayaking isn't that finicky. They can handle different types of GPS, depending on the needs of their paddlers. For instance, a fish finder is still a type of GPS that helps you track the location of fish and examine the environment beneath your boat.

But to have a better grasp of things, here are the types of GPS that you can install to your kayak:

  • Handheld GPS - Just like its name suggests, a handheld GPS is a device that you can utilize while it is on the grasp of your hands. The construction of this item is compact so that it can fit your palms. Furthermore, the interface is quite necessary. However, handheld GPS units can already deliver precise location tracking. They are great because they don't occupy any space in your boat. But the drawback is that they might prevent you from paddling with the use of your two hands.
  • Portable GPS - Most of the portable GPS out there can be both hand-held or mountable. They have large screens and controls, which are obviously not present to hand-held units. The majority of the GPS that belong to this category are using 12-volt batteries or power source. They also have brackets so that you can affix them in place and just remove them once you are done boating.
  • Fixed Mount GPS - Compared to the first two types of GPS, a fixed mount features a larger screen and more complex and sophisticated features. They are great for large boats, but in some instances, they can be installed on your kayaks, too. However, keep in mind that these GPS devices are meant to be mounted permanently.
  • Stand-Alone GPS - A stand-alone GPS, or a chart plotter, is one of the innovations in the GPS industry today. This navigation tool efficiently displays the information that is present on the nautical chart. They are an excellent choice for navigating expansive terrains such as the oceans. Notably, most of these chartplotters feature fish-finding capabilities through the use of sonars and GPS tracking.

How To Choose The Best Kayak GPS?

I can't emphasize enough the fact that not all GPS for kayaks are not made the same. Some have exceptional designs, while others are just on the basic level. Some are made for experts and professional applications, while others are meant for leisure activities. In any of these options, you can already see the nuances of this particular GPS.

Simplicity

A kayaker has to decide whether or not he/ she wants to have a user-friendly GPS for his/ her boat. At this point, it is essential that you can assess your proficiency in handling these GPS devices. Do you know all the controls and features that are embedded in the GPS? Are you capable of configuring different GPS device to your own advantage?

If you are not sure about these questions, then I do recommend that you settle on a GPS that comes with a simple interface. Their functions are limited, but definitely, they can give you the features that you need. They will not aggravate you with complicated stuff that can make you scratch your head.


Navigate-To-Point

One of the essential function that a kayak GPS has to offer is the feature called "navigate-to-point." This particular function enables the GPS to generate the route that you should take automatically. A "path" will be displayed so that you can be guided with the right location accuracy. It is an excellent feature for those who are new to their current boating route.

Furthermore, this navigate-to-point feature can also be used to follow a particular path that you have saved in the GPS. In this way, you don't have any downtime while you are kayaking. Moreover, you can use this smart feature wherever you are paddling on conditions where visibility is not that great.


Chartplotter

Not all GPS devices have this feature. I can say that this one is pretty advanced and can only be seen on high-end units. Basically, a chart plotter allows you to know where you are currently in the map. It is a useful utility that can help you navigate your way on unfamiliar and challenging routes.

Of course, it is vital that your GPS can provide satellite imagery, auto link-up to satellites, tide information, and other essential ergonomics to make your life in the boat a lot more convenient.

Bottom Line

The thing is, these GPS devices can help you improve your boating experience. They can help you feel braver when exploring uncharted terrains or new boating routes. Even in cruising familiar destinations, a GPS can still aid in your adventure by tracking your current location and displaying all the necessary information for convenience and safety.

Of course, before you can get these benefits, you should get the best kayak GPS first. The selection that I have made here are essentially your top choices for kayaking GPS. But you are still free to choose whatever GPS that you want. Just follow my simple guide so that you can spot the right one for you.

Did you learn from this guide? If you have questions or suggestions, just drop them in the comment section below.

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