How To Choose The Best GPS For Kayak

By Kevin Arnold | Fishing

Apr 06

A GPS or a global positioning system is the map of the 21st century. It is equipped with features that make it a very useful device especially for people that love to explore new places. The base feature that almost every GPS has is the computerized system that accesses the location to them as close range as possible.

However, with time, this device has also seen changes. The changes include many high functioning features that make the device about more than just maps and locating. The more the features, the harder it gets to find the right one. This article is compiled to help you find the best GPS for a kayak. Additionally, we will be answering questions that help in making your buying experience better.

​Name of product

​Battery Life

​Display Size



Garmin eTrex 30x

​25 hours

​2.2 inches

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

​20 hours

​2.6 inches

Garmin GPSMAP 64st -Best GPS for Kayak

​16 hours

​2.6 inches

Garmin Oregon 650t

​16 hours

​3 inches

Garmin Montana 610

​16 hours

​4 inches

Product Reviews

The following are the top rated GPS on the market right now. We have reviewed them in an unbiased fashion so that you see the market for yourself.

Garmin GPSMAP 64st - Best GPS for Kayak

Garmin GPSMAP 64

The Garmin GPSMAP is a simple yet high functioning GPS system that makes you're on the go trips easier. It has two power sources to keep always running no matter where you are. The several different sensors make the device packed with various features that make the product worth the spending.

One of the biggest advantages this GPS system will provide is the vivid screen that allows you to see in the harsh sunlight as well. The color display is prominent and readable even in the sunlight.

One of the greatest features this product has is the ability to share everything wirelessly on your smartphone and view everything. The Garmin connect features helps in making this happen. You can also view your live tracking on a smartphone which helps in increasing security for the user.

The antenna on the top may seem old fashioned, but it is a quad antenna with high sensitivity. Along with GPS and GLONASS, this makes the tracking and locating much faster and accurate.

Since most of the electronic items run on a power source which is rechargeable batteries, users seem disappointed with their short life. This GPS system has dual power sources, the first one is the standard battery life that is rechargeable and the second one is 2 AA batteries that can run the system smoothly.

Customer reviews

It has always been very hard for me to learn new gadgets, but this GPS is very easy to learn and more easy to use. It is perfect to me in every way. The battery is almost never-ending because you can always pop in a couple of AA batteries and keeps it running. I love the performance and the accuracy

I was disappointed that there wasn’t an option for detailed Topo maps

Things We Liked

  • ​The screen is colored and vivid
  • Two power sources
  • Quad antenna along with GPS and GLONASS
  • Sharing is possible

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Not waterproof
  • The device seems bulky


Our best GPS for Kayak is Garmin GPSMAP due to its powerful battery features and the vivid screen. Also contains the quad antenna which gives more accurate positioning.  

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

Another one of the Garmin GPS is this list for the best GPS for kayak because of the greatness of the product and the trust in the company. This one is specially made for water sports with features that are incomparable. The advanced technology allows users to take more advantage of the product.

 It’s alright, but the battery life is not too long which was an inconvenience to me.

One of the main features of this product is the fact that it is highly waterproof. The marine friendly design can be used for water sports or even water traveling. The GPS receiver is highly sensitive which makes it easy to catch the location even when you are on the water. The product also can float in water while fully intact.

Unlike many other GPS, this system has many inbuilt maps which make it much more convenient for the users to use directly. Features like shorelines, depth contours, harbors, marinas, and all these factors are visible in the inbuilt maps.

An electronic compass also comes with this device which is already installed. It is easy to operate and very accurate. A barometric altimeter is also equipped with the device which will help you in checking where you are heading, the altitude, the weather, and more.

For an extended usage, the memory of this product can be expanded with the SD card slot that can hold many more maps that an ordinary GPS will hold.

Customer reviews

This GPS is the third one that has I get because I love it so much. I used it on land and water, and it worked perfectly in both aspects. I love the accuracy, the compact design and the color screen which is very vivid. This GPS is very easy to operate. I love how you can float it in water without ruining the system to as much as an inch. I used it for ice fishing, and it played a role in making the experience much better

Things We Liked

  • ​Waterproof
  • A slot for an SD card
  • Pre-installed maps
  • An electronic compass and a barometric altimeter

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Not enough battery life
  • Not fast enough


If you are looking for an accurate companion for water sports, then this item is going to be perfect for you. The inbuilt maps and additional memory for more make it an attractive purchase. Excellent vivid colors of the screen.

Garmin Oregon 650t

Garmin Oregon 650t

The Garmin Oregon 650t is another GPS system that holds so many features as to make it the best kayak GPS. The screen is made to be easily read in the sun, and there is a dual power source which allows you to choose your convenience.

The screen of this GPS system is a dual touchscreen display that can be readable in harsh sunlight as well. The screen is three inches, and you can use it for multi-touching as well without a problem. One of the most attractive features of this device is the autofocus camera which is 8 MP and has an LED flash and a digital zoom. The camera makes your adventures much more fun and easy to capture.

You will also find other sensors that are equipped with this GPS system for your convenience. You will find a 3 axis compass which will help you navigate your position at all times; an accelerometer that will track your speed; and a barometric altimeter which will allow you to measure your altitude which eventually helps in predicting the weather. 

Additionally, there is also a Bluetooth sensor which allows you to wirelessly share the routes, tracks, custom maps and photos, and more.

To run this GPS system, you have the option between two power sources. The first one is the 2 AA batteries that can operate the system, and the second one is the rechargeable battery that is fit in this device.

Customer reviews

I love this device, it is really good for about 100,000 maps and with the additional memory card and you can add 24000 more maps. The lithium battery has a great life, and even if it dies, I pop in 2 AA batteries. This GPS seems to be very accurate. The screen is clear and it easy to handle without a problem.

I did not find this device of much use when I was hunting

Things We Liked

  • ​Three different sensors
  • Bluetooth option
  • Two different power sources
  • 8 MP camera

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Not waterproof
  • 3-inches only


One of the most attractive features that you will find in this GPS is its two power sources. The autofocus camera allows you to take pictures while on your adventure.

​Garmin eTrex 30x

Garmin eTrex 30x

One of the best features you can find in this GPS system is the high sensitivity. This product is WAAS enabled and has HotFix satellite protection which allows the device to track the location of the GPS easily. These feature help in maintaining the most accurate position even in the corner most place of the world.

The eTrex 30x additionally uses GLONASS satellites which makes the regular GPS 20% faster in detecting the position and providing a way for it.

Most GPS systems have several features; however, none of them seem to matter when it comes to the readability in the map. This GPS has a resolution of 240 x 320 display pixels which allow better readings that can be taken. The screen is 2.2 inch, 65k colors, and is also visible in the harsh sunlight.

One of the best improvements the company has offered is the extended memory along with the support of a micro SD card which allows further storage space. All the space can be used to store several maps.

Customers reviews

I would want to buy this again and again because it is fast, efficient, and most of all readable. I love how it is a compact fit and can carry it anywhere and everywhere. I love this device and how it has enhanced my experience of GPS.

I used it for my six-day hike, and it did not disappoint me for even a second. It is highly accurate and efficient. Some users reported that the buttons on this map are very hard to push.

Things We Liked

  • ​Extended internal memory
  • GLONASS and GPS work together
  • Load maps up to 20% faster
  • A high-resolution map

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Very hard push buttons
  • No preloaded maps


The Garmin eTrex is one of the most advanced GPS which has features that make it the best GPS for a kayak. Features like expanded memory and being able to read in the sunlight help user a lot.

​Garmin Montana 610

Garmin Montana 610

The Garmin Montana 610 is a touchscreen GPS system which is all-purpose with unbeatable features. It comes with a year free subscription to the Birdseye satellite imagery. It comes with a compass, barometer, and many other likewise equipped features that make the purchase worth it.

One of the main and be features of the Garmin Montana 610 GPS is that it is loaded with a high sensitivity GPS, GLONASS reception, WAAS enabled receiver, and HotFix satellite prediction which makes it faster, more accurate, and even durable to some extent.

Navigation is also easy in this GPS. With the 3-axis and tilt-compensated electronic compass shows your navigation all the time even when you are not on the go. There is also a barometric altimeter which allows you to track your altitude very precisely. This feature also allows you to simply keep note of the changing weather conditions. 

The view of the maps allows you to see the contoured lines that depict different aspects of the map. You can also see your surrounding with the pre-installed one-year free subscription of the Birdseye satellite imagery.

One of the most lovable features that this GPS system has is that it can track your route as per your choice. Just hit the record button on the touchscreen, and you can simply save your route.

The screen is four inches with dual orientation as per your choice of settings. The touchscreen is easy to access, and you can also use it while wearing gloves.

Customer review

This is the second time I am purchasing the Montana 610, and I find it perfect for me. The accuracy and the features are great for traveling, hiking, and even boating. With an additional 32 GB SD card, I got more space, and I could download so much more. I love this device. It is small, handy, and surprisingly very durable

I got this for my motorcycle, and it works well. Unfortunately, the sound of turning is not very audible which makes it a bad fit. 

Things We Liked

  • ​Free subscription to the Birdseye imagery satellite
  • Room to expand the memory
  • Electronic compass with a 3-axis tilt
  • A couple of inbuilt maps

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Short battery life


 This GPS system has many features like a 3-axis tilt electronic compass which helps in navigation. The touchscreen is not a hindrance in fact; you can also use it with gloves on.

Buying guide

Since there are many different types of GPS in the market and each one seems to be better than the other, we realize it gets confusing for the customers to pick the one that is most suited for them. We have compiled this buying guide which focuses on the features that you should have while buying a GPS for your kayaking trips.

Power Supply

One of the most important things that you will need to check in your GPS is the power supply that it provides you. Most GPS are either equipped with a rechargeable battery, or you can use disposable batteries to power them. However, for maximum power, it is ideal to carry one with both power supplies.

The rechargeable battery will only provide about 16 – 25 hours of battery; if you need to use the device for more than a couple of hours, you will always have backup disposable batteries that will power your device. 


Since you are planning to use your GPS for kayaking, you will be surrounded by water. Electronic devices are highly fragile towards the water, and they easily drown and become useless. Hence, one of the most important factors that the best GPS for kayak should have is being waterproof.

The best waterproof GPS is the one that can even float in water so that if it falls, it does not sink. Being waterproof will also allow you to use it on land when it is raining, it will also make the device more robust and durable.

Map Features 

Of course, the most important factor that you will have to consider is the various map features that you will get in your GPS. Some companies have a separate GPS or a separate feature in their GPS for water maps.

Since water can easily disorient you, it is important to have something that supports features like a colored map with detailed lines and contours help in finding the way when you are in water easily. These features will help you in determining the depth and even the restricted areas.

Electronic Compass/Barometric Altimeter 

To read any map, you always need a compass. One of the most important features that your GPS should have is an electronic compass. The compass will provide navigation for kayak and help reach your required spot easily.

Additionally, a barometric altimeter is an important feature to have. The barometer will help in calculating the altitude, and hence, you can also find out the temperature and the weather in the area that you are headed.


Considering the size may not seem very crucial, but it makes a lot of sense especially if you are looking for the best GPS for kayak. You do not want your device to be very bulky and heavy to carry. In case your boat tips or in case of an accident, you should have your GPS handy enough to locate and help you reach the shore. However, it is crucial not to have a very small GPS that is hard to see. Make it mediocre and handy which will make it a portable GPS unit.

Additional Features 

A few additional features like having a wristband or a waist hook to carry the GPS also seems very important to most people. Moreover, if you are using for kayaking, you probably would also like to calculate the knots at which you are going it. It is also preferred to have a LED flash or a basic light that will help in seeing at night.

Cameras are a widely popular feature in GPS since people love taking pictures and pinning them on their maps. You can have any feature as long as you have the base features there.

Frequently Asked Questions

While on the quest for the best GPS for Kayak, many customers find confusions. We have found a few of the most popular questions by buyers and answered them to the best of our knowledge.

Is there are the difference between the sea kayaking GPS and river or lake Kayaking GPS?

Not at all, no matter where you are kayaking the GPS system needs to be of a few important features that we have mentioned in the buying guide.

However, if you want to be more specific and want more options, then make sure that the GPS for sea kayaking has a better range and can show maps from further apart as well. This feature will help you to the shore and give you a better sense of direction.

Will I have to install the maps myself?

GPS maps are all over the internet to buy or to download. Some of the devices have a couple of maps preinstalled, or they come with deals on a few maps on the internet that need to be bought.

While there are many more maps which can be installed for free even if your system does not have pre-installed maps.

Are the 2D maps better or the 3D maps?

2D maps and 3D maps both are seemingly equal in their performance, but if you want to view maps with more details, then the 3D maps are the perfect option for you. These devices may be a little more expensive than the 2D ones, but they are worth it.

 For water sports, 3D is usually recommended as it can show the depth, shorelines, and small details with great resolutions. 

Why do I need a GPS, why can’t I use my smartphone?

There are many different reasons why your smartphone maps are not as efficient to use as a traditional GPS. The first reason is that smartphones are not waterproof which is why they do not prove to be the best GPS for a kayak.

Another reason is that smartphones run on signals of Wi-Fi or GSM. These signals are limited to an area, and they can be lost very easily and in times of need, you will not be able to access these.

GPS devices work on the various satellites which help you find your way and locate you with accuracy without losing signals.

Smartphones also tend to be bulkier and heavier in control which is why they are not ideal to carry in your hand all the time; you will have to keep them in your pocket at some point.

A smartphone is less likely to have an electronic compass or a barometric altimeter, even if it has one; it is most likely to run on the internet. However, the GPS will have one that is via satellite and will help you be more accurate.

Using a classic GPS is ideal, if you want more features, you can simply buy the one with the camera on it, or the one with a wristband on it to make it a handheld GPS. The possibilities are endless. 


After reading the article, you may have made your mind up about the best GPS for a kayak. For us, the clear winner is the Garmin GPSMAP 64. We find it filled with features that are requirements. And though, it may have a few cons; it still stands out to us.

One of the most important requirements that are the screen clarity is found in this GPS. You will find it easy to read even in harsh sunlight. You will also find a dual power system for a long life until the system dies. This feature checks off another important thing. The GLONASS system the locating and loading of the maps is also much faster than many other systems will have.

Although it is not waterproof, it still makes for good devices regarding the features that the product offers. It has many more versions with several different features as well that you can choose from.