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Best GPS for Kayak Fishing

Having a GPS device in your kayak can come in handy when you're slap-bang in the middle of the water and can't find your way back to your starting point. It will also give you peace of mind when you're out exploring new and remote fishing spots, and even help you to make the most out of those hotspots.

A few things to keep in mind when shopping for a kayak-friendly GPS device include the screen size, battery life, durability, and coverage. Firstly, you want the screen to be large and clear enough to provide accurate data reading in any weather condition.

The battery should preferably have a long shelf life and recharge easily. It should be tough enough to withstand rugged conditions with a screen protector and waterproof features. Lastly, make sure that your device has good coverage, and should preferably have Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) as one of its features.

Now that the nitty-gritty is out of the way, here is our selection of the best GPS devices to use on Kayak.

​Top GPS Picks for Kayak Fishing

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS and Chartplotter

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc Waterproof Marine GPS and Chart plotter

​This compact kayaking gps may be small, but it packs quite a punch when it comes to features.

The TFT display is 2.6 inches and comes with old-school push buttons and a screen saver feature that switches off at 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute or 2 minutes.

​It's built-in BlueChart has Bahamas/ U.S. coastal charts that include marinas, depth contours, shorelines, harbors and more. It allows you to wirelessly share your waypoints, routes, tracks and geocaches with other users of the same device.

It also comes with a lanyard so that it doesn't get lost, and has rechargeable AA batteries. Other features include a MicroSD Card Slot with a 32gb memory card to load more maps and geocaching capabilities.

What We like

  • It's reasonably priced
  • Compact and easy to travel with
  • Worldwide base map
  • It's waterproof and can even float on water
  • Wireless sharing with users of the same device
  • Built-in compass
  • You can load more maps through the MicroSD Card Slot
  • The batteries can last for almost 2 days

What We Don't like

  • Complaints about the poor customer support offered by Garmin these days is quite disconcerting
  • The screen is rather small
  • The mapping options are limited and don't allow the user to input their own maps
  • The setup is not easy
Magellan eXplorist GC Waterproof Geocaching GPS

Magellan eXplorist GC Waterproof Geocaching GPS

The Magellan boasts a 2.2-inch color screen display, a user-friendly interface, menu, and easy to use controls. The device gets power from two durable AA batteries that should last you for 15 to 18 hours after each recharging session.

It comes with WAAS, and the SiRFstarIII GPS chipset gives you ultra sensitivity and a 3-meter accuracy guarantee. The device works great for geocaching and allows you to connect with the community and access and store thousands of geocaches.

What We like

  • The 2.2 inch LCD screen can easily be read in direct sunlight
  • Simple interface and user-friendly menu and controls
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Convenient geocaching features include 30-day free membership to community
  • Worldwide base map
  • Highly sensitive when it comes to tracking routes and locking onto signal
  • You can easily create waypoints on this
  • AA batteries can last for half a day, and you can extend battery life further by switching to Suspend Mode
  • Vibrant graphics

What We Don't like

  • Tiny screen
  • Complicated setup
  • The unit is not completely waterproof and will most likely not survive being submerged in water
  • The signal is poor sometimes
Delorme Earthmate GPS for Kayak

Delorme Earthmate PN-40w

This highly sensitive device has a vibrant screen and has a wide variety of display options. It has 500MB built-in storage capacity and can accommodate up to 32 GB of additional data through a memory card. It also comes with a barometric altimeter, which is complimented by a 3-axis electronic compass.

Other features include the Cartesio chipset from STMicroelectronics, which easily picks up and retains signal while seamlessly performing other tasks. Did I mention the detailed U.S. Street and Topography maps? For just $25 annual subscription you can get access to satellite maps, nautical maps and more.

The complete package comes with a rugged case, 2 AA batteries, a $40 certificate for Supplementary Data Downloads, a setup and Owners Manual, a neck lanyard and a USB data transfer cable.

What We like

  • Worldwide base map
  • WAAS with 3-meter accuracy
  • The 3 axis electronic compass performs well whether you're in a stationery position or in constant motion
  • Can function in any environment and can handle rapidly changing and extreme temperature conditions
  • Exceptional performance at maintaining signal
  • The bright colored screen means that you can see in the dark
  • Superb 3D compass
  • Excellent customer service
  • The batteries have long shelf-life of about 2 days

What We Don't like

  • The size restrictions and slow download speed of maps from the annual download service. It takes days to download one tiny map!
  • Setup is not easy
  • Cluttered display makes it hard to view aerial display in direct sunlight
  • The device is prone to freezing up and takes 24 hours with the batteries out to reset
Garmin eTrex 20x Kayaking GPS

Garmin eTrex 20x

Get more bang for your buck with this rugged and waterproof unit. The screen is 2.2inch monochrome, and it's got built-in worldwide base map. It offers fast positioning and signal detection and is WAAS enabled with GLONASS and HotFix support.

Geocaching abilities include GPX file downloading with paperless and wireless coordinate detail input. It's AA batteries can withstand up to 20 hours of non-stop usage, and it's ideal for any kind of kayak activity. It also has a whopping 3.7 GB of internal memory and an option to increase that memory with a MicroSD card slot that can take up to 32GB memory capacity.

You can also connect this to your laptop or PC via USB, to export waypoints, routes, and tracks, but you'll have to download the BaseCamp software to your computer for it to communicate smoothly with the device.

What We like

  • Super affordable
  • Rugged and waterproof design
  • Hardwearing and long lasting
  • Worldwide base map
  • Clear signal and optimal positioning
  • Paper-free geocaching
  • Easily tracks GPS and GLONASS satellites at the same time

What We Don't like

  • Small screen display
  • The setup can be difficult for new GPS users
Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld Kayak GPS with High-Sensitivity

Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS with High-Sensitivity

This lightweight handheld gps has a 120 x 160-pixel grayscale display with superior location tracking that works effortlessly in difficult terrain and weather conditions. Angler and hunters alike will appreciate the built-in celestial data which includes a fishing/hunting calendar, sunrise/sunset times and useful tide information

You can create GPX files with this, using MapSource and BaseCamp programs which you can freely download from Garmin. The unit is also waterproof and can float in water.

Also included in the box is a handy wrist wrap, owner's manual and a quick start manual. This unit may not have any fancy maps or high-tech features, but it does the job.

What We like

  • USB connectivity
  • WAAS enabled
  • Impressive battery life with AA batteries that can last for up to 18 hours
  • Simple and user-friendly
  • Good signal and tracking even in heavy cover
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Built-in celestial data with fishing/hunting calendar, sunset/sunrise times and detailed tide information

What We Don't like

  • Does not contain any street or terrain maps
  • Backlight doesn't turn off unless you turn the entire unit off
  • Not great at GPS mapping and can only show waypoints and the coordinate grid
DeLorme inReach SE Satellite Tracker GPS

DeLorme inReach SE Satellite Tracker

The DeLorme tracker is one of the safest and most decorated devices on the market. Among the features, you'll find worldwide coverage courtesy of the Iridium satellite network, access to a 24/7 SOS search and rescue monitoring center and 2-way texting to any email addresses or cell number in the world, through inReach SE.

The Explore web portal allows you to view past maps on the DeLorme topographic map, prepare for your journey and share it with your loved ones on the go through social media, and get 24 to 72-hour weather prediction complete with temperature, winds and precipitation forecast.

You can connect your smartphone to the device via Bluetooth using Earthmate app which is compatible with iOS and Android devices. Loved ones can track your location at any time to access your GPS coordinates and elevation level through the app. All this is supported by a monthly service plan ranging from $12 to $100 depending on the features you use on the device.

What We like

  • You can have peace of mind kayaking into remote areas, knowing that you have access to a 24/7 SOS search and rescue unit through 2-way inReach texting
  • You can quickly recharge the built-in battery using solar power, and a regular wall charger or car charger will work just as well
  • Provides strong signal in remote areas and difficult weather conditions
  • Access to 72-hour weather prediction service including forecasts for the wind, precipitation, and expected temperatures
  • Accurate tracking every 10 minutes to 4 hours at affordable rates
  • Share your trip on social media through Explore web portal

What We Don't like

  • The device does not update as expected
  • Setup and activation takes a VERY long time
  • Small screen
  • Customer service could use some improvement
  • It's not waterproof
  • It's quite bulky and is not travel-friendly like their units

Wading on the Water..

Well, there you have it! An assortment of the best GPS devices that you can use when you're on your kayak. From long battery life to geocaching, waterproof and durable design with WAAS capabilities, we've made your selection that much easier. Just be sure to pay attention to the combination of features in each device, and don't be swayed by the bells and whistles. Always go for a unit that works best for your application and budget, and keep it simple if need be. All the best and have fun out there!

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