Navigation can be a bit tricky sometimes, especially when you’re out kayaking on a large body of water. In such scenarios, it’s very easy to lose sight of typical landmarks and get lost in the process. Things can get even worse when you’re out on a foggy day. You may get stuck with choppy seas or poor light, both of which can cause you to miss the horizon.
However, you don’t have to be a lost sheep crying for help with an SOS banner in the middle of the water. With the right gear in your possession, you will find your way home easily—even if you get lost in the middle of no man’s land on a very foggy day!
That is where the best GPSs for kayaking come in handy. We have listed three of the best kayaking GPS options on the current market. Plus, we added a comprehensive buying guide to help your final decision.
Most of the GPS models we found are geared toward mountain climbers and trekkers. That made it difficult to track down a good kayaking GPS. However, after much deliberation, we uncovered some of the best out there. The following options stood out from the rest.
- The Standard Horizon Internal GPS is a great option for long trip kayaking.
- You should consider buying the Garmin Striker 4 if you’re looking for a budget option.
- If you want a GPS that will serve you well as a fish finder and GPS receiver, then you should consider the Humminbird HELIX 5.
Who Should Get This?
Are you a Kayaking hobbyist or someone who likes to go out to sea on a warm summer day? Then these GPS’s are for you
If your idea of being adventurous is going out kayaking on the sea alone, then having a GPS for kayaking wouldn’t be a bad option either!
Fisherman can also get the use out of these models because they both help find fish and allow you to properly navigate on the deep sea.
Plus, these GPS trackers will come in handy for you if you’re part of a search and rescue team on the sea.
Best GPS for Kayaking: What Are the Things to Consider in 2022?
Here are a few factors to consider before buying any GPS for Kayaking:
Battery Life and Type
Generally, kayak GPS devices come with many different battery types. For instance, the Standard Horizon HX80 uses a lithium-ion battery, while the Garmin Striker 4 needs a 12-volt battery to work.
Thus, it’s essential to consider battery type before making your final purchase You have to ask questions like, “can I find a replacement easily?” “can I get the batteries at any dock,” or “do you have to visit the manufacturer’s shop outlet?”
Always check your GPS’s battery life as well. Are the batteries good enough to last for hours on the sea, or do you have to carry along a ton of replaceable batteries?
If you’re an angler, then you should pay more attention to this factor, especially in times when you need to spend long hours looking for fish.
Easy to Read Display
The display is one of the most critical components of a GPS because it’s where you get all the essential information. Thus, when going for a GPS, it’s necessary to look out for one with a large display that allows you to clearly see every single detail
You don’t want to strain your eyes to find quality information that can save you from getting lost on a large water body. To prevent that, only look for devices that come with a high-resolution display and enough light to give your eyes clarity in dark or foggy nights.
If you want a handheld GPS for Kayaking, understand that they are usually small. Therefore, it’s advisable to go for a high-resolution model with enough screen brightness to help you to see no matter the size.
That is not as important in fishfinder GPS devices because they tend to have bigger screens.
GPS devices with built-in maps help you navigate over open bodies of water. However, note that some GPS models only come with a map of the US and its surrounding waters, while others show the entire world.
Always confirm the map that your GPS device comes with, especially if you frequently travel to different locations around the world.
Devices that allow you to download a custom map via the aid of an SD card or USB are also great!
Most GPS devices usually go for $100 – $300, depending on the brand and the quality of what you’re looking to get. If you want a budget Kayaking GPS device, you shouldn’t expect to find a built-in-map display. those with fish finding functions and built-in maps tend to be on the expensive side.
When looking for a Kayaking GPS, you shouldn’t go for any device that has a water rating lower than IPX7. Most devices with IPX7 are water-proof and can still function three feet underwater for an extended period of time.
There are a few that have a water rating of IPX8, which can go lower than the three feet and stay 、underwater for even longer.
GPS and GLONASS are the two primary satellite location systems available for various GPS devices. The US runs the GPS satellites, and Russia runs the GLONASS satellites, with better coverage in polar regions.
Based on location, you should go for GPS devices that support your area and surrounding waters.
Best GPS for Kayaking: Out Top Picks for 2022
Here are our top kayaking GPS devices.
Matching GPS and VHF radio makes this device an ideal choice for when you’re going on a long-distance kayak trip. To further support its claim, the designers created it with a water rating of IPX8.
The device appears like a radio, thanks to its large antenna and boxy shape. It doesn’t come with an in-built map. Instead, it works with coordinates to better match its small display. If you have issues solving coordinates, then this device is not what you need.
What We Like:
- Monitors nearby ships
- Has access to radio weather report
- Comes with VHF radio with GPS functionality
- Water rating of IPX8
What We Don’t Like:
- Small display and no map
The designers created the Garmin Striker 4 to be a budget option when compared to other Garmin GPS units on the market. Thus, most kayaking anglers use it as a backup navigational tool.
The display of this device is pretty large, which allows you to see the screen clearly without straining your eyes
But there’s more!
The device displays the time and speed needed to get a particular location, which allows you to know how long it will take you to reach your destination.
The sonar display helps you detect both fish and vegetation in the water.
What We Like:
- Comes with mount
- Easy to use
- Displays time and speed calculation
- Matches GPS with fish finder
What We Don’t Like:
- You can’t load base maps
The Humminbird HELIX 5 is an excellent choice for anglers that love to combine kayaking with fishing. The device comes with a 5-inch diagonal display, which makes it easy to see while you’re out on the sea.
The mounting bracket also enables you to read the GPS while you paddle. But that’s not all!
This device allows you to add extra waypoints and maps, thanks to its microSD card slot. Thus, you can’t get stuck in the US lakes and coast charts available on the HELIX 5 by default.
One striking feature of this GPS device is the in-built sonar, which acts like a fish finder and a mapping tool to help kayakers record vegetation and bottom hardness.
Its large display screen also makes it easy to see the maps and the fish finder display without straining your eyes. That way, you can move in the right direction as you watch for excellent fishing spots.
What We Like:
- Comes preloaded with US coastal maps
- Large screen display
- Combines GPS with fish finder
- Records water bottom with sonar
What We Don’t Like:
- Pretty costly
Can I read the screen display of a GPS tracker at night?
Yes, you can! Most GPS units come with a screen brightness adjustment feature, which comes is useful in dark environments.
Where is the Perfect Place to mount my GPS while Kayaking?
You can keep it in the front of your kayak where you can see it.
The Closing Words
With our comprehensive guide and top three picks, you can make the right decision when buying your kayak GPS. it all boils down to what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend on the best GPS for kayaking.
We are itching to hear from you: which of the kayaking GPS trackers do you prefer? Are there other favorites you didn’t see here? Keep us posted as you drop your comments below!