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Best Kayak GPS – We Guide You Through The Rapids

  • Updated: November 5, 2019
Best Kayak GPS - GPS sitting on a kayak

Kayaking allows you to explore many remote areas that are sometimes inaccessible by foot or road. Many paddlers enjoy taking their craft for multi day excursions travelling to remote spots to hike and fish. Having the best kayak GPS is imperative to find your way there and back again.

As sea kayaking and fishing become more popular, having the best kayak GPS to record, and show you the way back to your favourite spots becomes necessary.

You could be under the impression that having a GPS is s waste of money.  But as a kayak enables you to traverse large stretches of water quickly, knowing where the next dock, or slipway is, could be a lifesaver, especially in poor visibility.

Read next: Check out our review of the best kayak cart, tandem kayaks, and kayak seats.

Please note: This article contains affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page you won't pay a penny, but we'll get a small commission.

Best Kayak GPS- (Comparison Table)

Best Overall
Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver, Worldwide Basemaps
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator, Enhanced Memory and Resolution, 2.2-inch Color Display, Water Resistant
Best Budget
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer
Brand & Model
Garmin Montana 680t
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
Garmin eTrex 20x
Garmin Striker 4
Display
10.2 cm (4 inches) diagonal
12.7 cm (5 inches) Diagonal
66 mm (2.6 inch) color display
5.6 cm (2.2 inches)
88.9 mm (3.5 inches) diagonal, HVGA color, backlit
Touch Screen
Yes
No
No
No
No
Water Resistant
IPX 7
IPX 7
IPX 7
IPX 7
IPX 7
Fish Finder
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Memory
Micros SD, 4 GB internal
Micro SD
8 GB internal
Micro SD
--
Weight
289 g (10.2 ounces)
1.133 kg (2.5 pounds)
263 g (9.3 ounces)
141.7 g (5 ounces)
230 g (8.1 oz)
Battery Life
Up to 16 hours
Up to 16 hours
Up to 16 hours
25 hours
--
Best Overall
Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver, Worldwide Basemaps
Brand & Model
Garmin Montana 680t
Display
10.2 cm (4 inches) diagonal
Touch Screen
Yes
Water Resistant
IPX 7
Fish Finder
Yes
Memory
Micros SD, 4 GB internal
Weight
289 g (10.2 ounces)
Battery Life
Up to 16 hours
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder
Brand & Model
Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder
Display
12.7 cm (5 inches) Diagonal
Touch Screen
No
Water Resistant
IPX 7
Fish Finder
Yes
Memory
Micro SD
Weight
1.133 kg (2.5 pounds)
Battery Life
Up to 16 hours
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
Brand & Model
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
Display
66 mm (2.6 inch) color display
Touch Screen
No
Water Resistant
IPX 7
Fish Finder
No
Memory
8 GB internal
Weight
263 g (9.3 ounces)
Battery Life
Up to 16 hours
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator, Enhanced Memory and Resolution, 2.2-inch Color Display, Water Resistant
Brand & Model
Garmin eTrex 20x
Display
5.6 cm (2.2 inches)
Touch Screen
No
Water Resistant
IPX 7
Fish Finder
No
Memory
Micro SD
Weight
141.7 g (5 ounces)
Battery Life
25 hours
Best Budget
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer
Brand & Model
Garmin Striker 4
Display
88.9 mm (3.5 inches) diagonal, HVGA color, backlit
Touch Screen
No
Water Resistant
IPX 7
Fish Finder
Yes
Memory
--
Weight
230 g (8.1 oz)
Battery Life
--

Top Kayak GPS

Best Kayak GPS Overall

Montana® 680t

This unit has most of the bells and whistles you would expect to find on a top Garmin GPS. Including, an 8 mp camera, super fast and accurate GPS signal as well as a 4 GB internal memory.

The large screen and three different mounting options allow the device to be placed in the optimal position for both ease of use and safety.

The battery of this device will last you the whole day. For multiday excursions, the battery pack can be easily replaced and can even accommodate a pack with ordinary AAA batteries.

  • Display: 10.2 cm (4 inches) diagonal
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Water Resistance: IPX 7
  • Fish Finder: No
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Weight: 289 g (10.2 ounces)
  • Battery life: Up to 16 hours

What we like

  • Quick to acquire satalights
  • Easy to use, even with gloves.

What we don't like

  • Heavier than other units of its size

Best Kayak GPS Fish Finder 

Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder

This amazing fish finder / GPS,, boasts a wide 256 color, back lit screen, enabling clear definition of images day, or night.

The sonar is capable of reaching depths of up to 1500 feet. The width of the sonar is proportional to the depth, but both of these can be adjusted.

Kayakers may find this unit a little e on the large side and should only be considered by those who are fishermen

  • Display: 12.7 cm (5 inches) Diagonal
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Water Resistance: IPX 7
  • Fish Finder: Yes
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Weight: 1.133 kg (2.5 pounds)
  • Battery life: Up to 16 hours

What we like

  • Detailed screen with good resolution

What we don't like

  • Although portable can be cumbersome
  • Large battery

Best All Round Kayak GPS

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

This unit is extremely durable, quick to acquire safelights and supremely accurate.

If you continually push the envelope which may result in the odd capsize or brush with rocks, then this GPS won’t disappoint.

Its rugged nature means it does not have some of the features common to other GPS units, such as touch screens. But its no-nonsense features more than make up for it.

  • Display: 66 mm (2.6 inch) color display
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Water Resistance: IPX 7
  • Fish Finder:  No
  • Memory: 8 GB internal
  • Weight:  263 g (9.3 ounces)
  • Battery life: Up to 16 hours

What we like

  • Rugged, and very durable.

What we don't like

  • Outdated user interface
  • Battery life is not as long as it’s contemporaries

Best Value Kayak GPS

Garmin eTrex 20x

The eTrex has a small, but an extremely clear screen that can be easily read, even in direct sunlight. With both on board and micros SD card memory, you will have all the maps you need to complete your adventure.

This compact unit allows you to save hundreds of routes and waypoints quickly and easily.

This pocket-sized GPS is extremely versatile and compatible with GLOWNAS, meaning it can be used worldwide.

  • Display: 5.6 cm (2.2 inches)
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Water Resistance: IPX 7
  • Fish Finder: No
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Weight: 141.7 g (5 ounces)
  • Battery life: Up to 25 hours

What we like

  • Small and compact
  • Very durable and robust

What we don't like

  • Requires a bit of work before you can start using the unit. It’s not ready to go out of the box

  • No mounts or lanyards included

  • Software feels outdated

  • The screen is a bit on the small side

Best Budyget Kayak GPS

Garmin eTrex 20x

This unit has a highly sensitive GPS allowing you to accurately pinpoint your favourite fishing spots and ensure you return there every time.

The Garmin Striker 4 measures your speed accurately on the water whilst allowing you to mark any new areas, docks, points of interest quickly and easily on the go.

The fish finder makes use of CHIRP Sonar Technology to gather more accurate data of the fish in your vicinity

  • Display: 88.9 mm (3.5 inches) diagonal
  • Touch Screen: No
  • Water Resistance: IPX 7
  • Fish Finder: Yes
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Weight: 289 g (10.2 ounces)
  • Battery life: Up to 16 hours

What we like

  • Very user friendly
  • Easy to install
  • CHIRP Sonal

What we don't like

  • Screen is small
  • Fittings are fragile
  • Unit cover not included

Buyer's Guide for Kayak GPS

Water Resistance

Unless you are either very skilled or exceptionally lucky, you will capsize your kayak at some point in your adventures. The last thing you want to have to do is buy a new GPS every time you decide to go for a roll about on the lake.

Be sure to get a unit with an IPX rating. No unit is 100% waterproof, so be wary of any products that make this claim.

Make sure the GPS you are looking at is IPX certified. This will mean that the unit will be capable of being submerged in water, usually for a maximum of 30 minutes or so.

If a unit is IPX certified it will mean that its components have been sealed against water and corrosion. 

Display

The size of the display can vary from unit to unit.
One thing you would want, no matter what size of the display is, clarity in both, dim, and bright light.

If you are planning on using a combined GPS / Fish finder then the display should be large and easy to see. Sitting for long periods, hunched over a small screen while trying to spot your quarry will be hell on your back and spoil the adventure.

One thing to bear in mind though. A larger screen usually means a shorter battery life.

Size and weight

If you are planning on stopping and doing some hiking, then pay attention to the size and weight of your unit. If you choose a large fish finder / GPS, then this will prove very impractical for taking on walks and hikes.

Maps and support

As the purpose of having a PGS is to plot your current location and guide you to your destination, the PGS you select should be able to integrate with the latest maps.  Be sure the manufacturer provides a generous selection and updates both the maps and the unit’s software often.

Ensure that the unit you purchase has enough internal memory to load and store multiple maps.  You don’t want to have to keep swapping memory cards while you are out on the water.

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Category: Paddle

About the Author Brad Pickering-Dunn

Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.

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