Kayaking is an enjoyable way to explore the great outdoors, whether you’re paddling through calm lakes or navigating thrilling whitewater rapids. As a kayaker, one crucial piece of equipment you’ll need is a reliable GPS to help you stay on track and navigate unfamiliar waters. If you are into fishing from an kayak, you might have also want a fish finder that already has GPS functionallity, so just be aware of this.
In this blog post, we will discuss what to look for in a GPS for kayaking, and then reveal our top picks for the best GPS devices in various categories.
What to Look for in a GPS for Kayaking
Waterproof and Durable Design: A GPS device meant for kayaking should be waterproof and durable enough to withstand the harsh conditions of being in and around water. Look for devices with an IPX7 or higher rating, which ensures that they can handle being submerged in water for extended periods.
Battery Life: A GPS device with a long battery life is crucial for kayaking trips, especially for multi-day excursions. Ideally, your GPS should have at least 12 hours of continuous use on a single charge.
Screen Visibility: Choose a GPS with a bright, high-resolution screen that is easily visible under direct sunlight. This will ensure that you can see your route and other important information while you’re out on the water.
Mapping and Navigation Features: Advanced mapping and navigation features are essential for a kayaking GPS. Look for devices that offer preloaded maps, the ability to add custom maps, and features like waypoints, routes, and tracking.
Ease of Use: A good GPS for kayaking should be user-friendly and easy to operate, even when wearing gloves or with wet hands.
Best GPS for Kayaking: Top Picks
Best Overall: Garmin GPSMAP 66s
The Garmin GPSMAP 66s is our top pick for the best overall GPS for kayaking due to its excellent combination of durability, battery life, mapping capabilities, and ease of use. It has a rugged design with an IPX7 waterproof rating and offers up to 16 hours of battery life. The 3-inch sunlight-readable display is clear and easy to read, and the GPS comes preloaded with TopoActive maps for easy navigation. The GPSMAP 66s also includes features like waypoint and route management, making it an excellent choice for any kayaking adventure.
Best Budget Option: Garmin eTrex 22x
The Garmin eTrex 22x is an affordable yet reliable GPS for kayaking, boasting an IPX7 waterproof rating and up to 25 hours of battery life. The 2.2-inch sunlight-readable display is smaller than the GPSMAP 66s, but it still provides clear and easy-to-read information. With preloaded TopoActive maps and the ability to add custom maps, the eTrex 22x is a great budget option for kayakers.
Best for Advanced Navigation: Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x
If you’re looking for a GPS device with advanced navigation features, the Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x is your best bet. It comes with a 5-inch high-resolution display and offers an impressive IPX7 waterproof rating. The HOOK Reveal 5x includes preloaded C-MAP charts, Genesis Live real-time mapping, and advanced GPS navigation features, making it perfect for kayakers who want a high level of detail in their navigation.
Best for Multisport Use: Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar
For kayakers who also participate in other outdoor activities, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar is an excellent multisport option. This GPS watch comes with an IPX8 waterproof rating and a solar charging feature, which can extend the battery life up to 14 days in smartwatch mode and up to 40 hours in GPS mode. The 1.3-inch sunlight-readable display is smaller compared to handheld devices, but it’s still clear and easy to read.
The Fenix 6 Pro Solar comes preloaded with TopoActive maps, ski maps, and over 2,000 worldwide ski resorts, making it ideal for various outdoor adventures. It also includes navigation features like waypoint and route management, as well as activity tracking and heart rate monitoring. While the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar may not be as specialized for kayaking as other options on this list, its versatility makes it an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts who participate in multiple activities.
Which is best?
Whether you’re a casual kayaker or an experienced adventurer, a reliable GPS device is essential for safe and enjoyable trips on the water. By considering factors like durability, battery life, screen visibility, mapping capabilities, and ease of use, you can find the perfect GPS for your needs. Our top picks, including the Garmin GPSMAP 66s, Garmin eTrex 22x, Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x, and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar, offer great options for kayakers at various skill levels and budgets. Choose the one that best suits your kayaking adventures and enjoy a worry-free time on the water.