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Best Kayak GPS

  • Kayak

Kayaks are an entertaining way to get around lakes, rivers, or the sea. They provide an excellent way to exercise whilst also having lots of fun, especially if you venture out on longer trips.

If you take your kayak further afield though, it is important you have the correct equipment so that you stay safe. One piece of equipment that you should invest in is a GPS device. 

GPS devices are essential tools for paddlers who love to explore remote areas. These handy gadgets allow you to easily navigate through unfamiliar waters without having to rely on maps or other navigational aids.

On top of that, they help to keep you safe in case of emergency, pinpointing your exact location at all times.

There are many types of GPS devices available, each coming with different strengths and weaknesses. The best ones include waterproof designs, high battery life, and the ability to track your position while on the move.

Once you've taken all of this into consideration, finding the best GPS device can be hard, but luckily for you, we're here to help.

In the following article, we have listed the top 5 kayak GPS's you can buy right now. We have selected these products based on their features, performance, and value for money.

OUR TOP PICK

Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro (Black/Silver)

The first GPS device on our kayak GPS list is the Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro. We'll start off by talking about the GPS's best feature which has to be its ability to be connected to up to five devices at once.

This gives us the opportunity for our whole group to make use of the GPS and its data. 

Fitted with a lithium-ion battery that provides 16 hours of battery life and a water-resistant case, you can expect reliable navigational assistance for the whole duration of your kayaking session.

In terms of the GPS's design and appearance, it fairs pretty well. It may not look like the most impressive electronic device but the simple layout and LCD screen make it very easy to use. 

Weighing just 3.2 ounces this kayaking GPS easily fits into the palm of your hand or pocket. When you want to use the device all you have to do is use the buttons on the side of the device.

When we reviewed the product we found that it worked well in adverse conditions and was very sunlight readable. The navigation buttons were easy to use and we could easily store the device away. 

The only downside of the product is that it only provides data readings. You don't have the option to see exactly where you are at any time.

Overall, if you have a compatible device, the Bad Elf 2200 is a great basic option that will get the job done.

Pros

  • Excellent battery life - Your Bad Elf GPS will last for 16 hours of kayaking.
  • Display size - The 2-inch screen provides you with all you need.
  • Water-resistance - This GPS offers excellent water resistance features which are obviously important when on the water.

Cons

  • Limited Features - This GPS only has data navigational features.

Also available at: Bad-elf.com

EDITORS CHOICE

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Designed to be worn on your wrist, the Garmin Foretrex is a great option for those of you who are looking for a high-sensitivity GPS device for your kayaking adventures.

The compact, lightweight device may lack a visual map available with other devices but it still comes with all the navigational tools you need to stay safe on the water.

One neat feature built into this electronic compass is TracBack. TracBack allows you to easily retrace your path. This is ideal when paddling in remote areas or when you reach a dead end.

As if that wasn't enough the Hotfix-assisted GPS receiver lets you receive signals even when you're under heavy cover.

When we took a look at the design features of the Foretrex 401, we were impressed with the internal memory of the device and the rechargeable battery that was definitely built to last.

The Foretrex 401 GPS can brilliantly hold 500 waypoints and up to 20 routes, letting you store all your favorite kayaking routes.

If you're after a kayak GPS that stays out of your way as you paddle but still provides you with everything you need, be sure to check the Garmin Foretrex 401 out.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact - The Foretrex 401 offers a wide range of features in a small device.
  • Strong GPS receiver - This is a high-sensitivity GPS receiver that continuously delivers a strong signal.
  • Internal memory - This GPS has a decent amount of memory space.
  • TracBack Feature - The TracBack feature comes in super helpful when in remote, unfamiliar areas.

Cons

  • Display size - The Foretrex 401 only has a 1.6-inch screen. A larger screen would be easier to use, especially in direct sunlight. 

Also available at: Garmin.com

BEST VALUE

Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

Another excellent GPS for kayaking is the Garmin eTrex 10.

Perfect for kayaking trips, this water-resistant device is one of Garmin's most popular navigational devices and it's not hard to see why. It is durable, very easy to use, has a high degree of accuracy, and is most importantly affordable. 

In terms of design, this kayak GPS device looks great. Designed to be held in your hand, the device has a 2.2-inch monochrome screen.

This display size makes navigating your way around the device a lot easier, with the backlit display feature only adding to things.

The 2.1" x 4.0" x 1.3" rubber case the device sits in is incredibly durable. As a result of this, the device is also extremely water-resistant. 

When it comes to usability, the interface is easy to get used to. However, the navigation buttons could be hard to use if you have gloves on. 

The Garmin eTrex 10 is the first GPS for kayaking on this list that has a map. This makes it a lot easier to follow a route and to quickly identify exactly where you are.

Other high-quality features include the ability to download up to 2000 geocaches perfect for route tracking and fantastic 25-hour battery life.

Pros

  • Durable And Water-Resistant - This GPS has a solid case and excellent water rating score.
  • Ideal For Geocaching - The Garmin eTrex 10 has capabilities to download 2000 geocaches.
  • Awesome Battery Life - 25 hours of battery life is pretty impressive.
  • Neat Design - Above all else this GPS device looks great.

Cons

  • Small Buttons - The navigation buttons on the Trex 10 are only small.

Also available at:

Garmin.com

RUNNER UP

Garmin Montana 680t, Touchscreen Hiking Handheld, GPS/GLONASS and Preloaded TOPO Maps, 8 Megapixel Camera

Okay, so you've probably already guessed by now that Garmin is by far the best manufacturer of GPS devices that are suitable for kayaking.

The Garmin Montana 680 is actually designed to be used for hiking but it offers some brilliant features that suit kayaking too. 

For starters, it has a large 4-inch color display showing a detailed map that pinpoints your exact location. The beauty of the colorful display is that you can easily distinguish between land and water. This makes planning the route ahead a lot easier to do.

Also included with the Garmin Montana is a 1-year Birdseye Satellite Imagery Subscription which allows you to really see your surroundings. When we reviewed the Montana 680 our favorite feature had to be the device's touchscreen capabilities.

Having a touchscreen makes navigating the GPS a pain-free task. You no longer need to use fiddly buttons that often don't work if you have gloves on. With a swipe of one finger, you have access to all the data you need.

Another feature we found useful was the track manager. This feature allows the kayaker to organize and navigate through waypoints, tracks, and routes easily.

This GPS device may be a lot more expensive than other devices but it is by far the most feature-packed.

Pros

  • Feature-packed - This device is full of additional features perfect for staying safe and recording your data as you kayak.
  • Built-in camera - The Montana 680 even has an 8-megapixel camera so you can capture those special moments.
  • GPS and GLONASS - These features help the device quickly and precisely find your exact location.

Cons

  • Pricey - This device will cost you a lot more than other GPS systems.

Also available at:

 Garmin.com

RUNNER UP

POLAR M200 GPS Running Watch with Wrist-Based Heart Rate, Black

If you want a budget-friendly GPS device that has a no-nonsense approach, the Polar M200 GPS watch could be the one for you. Worn on your wrist this GPS watch stays out of your way while you kayak, providing you navigational data whenever you need it. 

The main feature of this GPS device is the Polar Flow Desktop and mobile app that track training data in regards to not only where you are but the progress you've made. Speed, heart rate, and even altitude are just some of the things the watch monitors. 

Despite not being a sophisticated device, we were pleasantly surprised with just how good the device is. The rechargeable battery can last an astonishing 6 days between charges. The internal memory holds 4MB of data, and the watch is waterproof to a depth of 30m. 

In terms of design, the watch also looks great. Being able to wear the watch on your wrist is its best design feature. This gives kayakers the opportunity to look at any data without having to stop. To control the GPS is nice and easy too. There are two buttons, one on either side of the watch. 

There are downsides to this watch. These include a limited amount of space and a smaller display. However, when you consider the price of the watch, you can't really go wrong.

Pros

  • Super affordable - This watch offers great value for money.
  • Excellent applications - The Polar apps provide a great place to review performance data.
  • Neat features - The addition of a heart rate monitor and kayaking performance monitors is a nice touch.

Cons

  • Basic - Though very good for a budget GPS, the Polar watch only offers basic features.

Also available at:

Decathlon.co.uk

Buyer's Guide

When buying a GPS device for kayaking there are many things to consider. Here are some points to keep in mind when making your decision.

Best Kayak GPS

Water Resistance

If you're kayaking with a GPS device, it is pretty safe to assume that at some point it will get wet. This might be from a little splash or a capsize in which the device will be fully submerged.

As most GPS devices aren't specifically designed for kayaking, it is always important to buy one that has water-resistant features. 

You can check how water resistant a device is by checking its IP rating. Manufacturers usually use this rating to signify how water-resistant their product is. By checking this number you can be sure the device you are purchasing is in fact waterproof.

Durability

It is equally important that the device you buy is also extremely durable. When kayaking it isn't unusual for a GPS device to take a few knocks, especially on choppy waters. Sometimes you may even drop the device getting in and out of the water. 

To avoid the risk of buying a device that isn't durable you should look for one that is made out of reliable materials. These can include a toughened glass screen and rubberized cases.

Mapping

Different types of GPS devices have different maps loaded onto them. Some GPS's might only have maps from one country whilst others might have a basic world map. Usually, devices have a basic world map so that anybody can use the device.

When looking for a device keep an eye out for this just to make sure you don't get a nasty surprise when your device arrives.

Some GPS systems will also let you download more specific, detailed maps that can be purchased and placed on to an SD card. If this is something you require, look for a device that has a large internal memory and capabilities to download more maps.

Display Size

The size of the screen on the GPS device could be a deciding factor in whether or not it is a suitable option. How big the screen should or can be will depend on how you wish to carry the device.

If you plan on carrying the device in your pocket ready to be held in your hands when you use it, the screen size isn't a problem.

However, a lot of GPS systems come with the ability to mount them onto your kayak or onto your wrist. If this is your plan, you need to ensure the device you buy has a screen you can read comfortably no matter where you place it.

You should never have to strain your eyes to see what the screen is displaying.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Good GPS For Kayakers?

This depends on what type of kayaker you are and what specific requirements you have.

For example, if you are planning on using your GPS during long-distance kayaking trips then you would want to go for a unit that has a larger battery capacity and more detailed mapping capabilities. 

On the other hand, if you're planning on paddling around local lakes and rivers you would probably be fine with a smaller unit that provides useful navigational data, monitoring basic performance metrics.

Do I Really Need A GPS While Kayaking?

Yes, you do! A GPS is essential for safe navigation and tracking of your kayaking progress. Without having access to your exact location it can be very easy to get lost, particularly at sea where most things look the same.

The best way to stay safe is to know exactly where you are going at all times. With a GPS you can easily track your route as well as monitor other important metrics such as your speed, distance traveled, and progress towards your final destination.

This information can help you to better understand your surroundings and identify any hazards along the way.

How Much Does A GPS Cost?

There are many factors that determine how much a GPS device costs. Most people are of the opinion that the pricier the device is, the better it must be. However, this couldn't be more wrong.

There are plenty of cheap GPS devices out there that will perform admirably even in the harshest of conditions. To make the best decision we recommended that you shop around before making a purchase.

Prices will vary greatly depending on the model and brand so having a good understanding of what to expect before buying is always a good idea.

Can I use My phone As A GPS?

Yes, you can easily use your smartphone as a GPS. Many smartphones have built-in GPS functionality that can be used for a variety of sports aside from kayaking.

These devices usually offer similar features to dedicated GPS systems and are often cheaper and easier to use. They are also ideal for those who don’t want to lug around a bulky GPS unit.

Having said that, smartphones don't normally have good water resistance qualities like a GPS device so if you drop your phone in the water or get it wet, it could be the end of your smartphone.

Final Thoughts

A GPS device is an excellent way to track where you are as you paddle, as well as see how well you have performed. When choosing a GPS device it is important to take key factors into account.

Some kayakers like to use their smartphones or tablets to record their kayaking data, whilst others prefer to use dedicated GPS devices. If you choose to buy a GPS device make sure you know what type of GPS you're looking for before purchasing.

It's important to have enough storage space to store all the data you need. Another thing to think about is whether you'd rather have a small or large screen and if the GPS device is attached to your wrist or designed to be held in your hand. 

Now you have our list at your disposal, narrow down your options or do some further research until you have found the GPS that suits you best. Good luck!

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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