Best Garmin handheld GPS

I have fragged 2 Garmin GPS units in the past 5 years. The first, a 76csx, I lost due to corrosion of the battery contacts. The second, a 76cx, just got moisture inside and stopped working. I have too much invested in Blue Chart micro-sd maps to change brands. I have been placing the units on my deck right in front of me where I can constantly read them. Between the heat and humidity of southwest Florida and the tidal whitewater of the Bay of Fundy, they just don’t last. I hate putting them into a plastic case because it makes it harder to read. I talked to the Garmin rep and he just said that the handheld units just aren’t made to withstand that much exposure to water. He told me no one unit was more waterproof than anther. At least he was honest.

What Garmin GPS do you recommend? I thought about getting it off my deck and putting it in my lifejacket. The 76cx would be too big for that. I may have to break down and just keep it in a case all the time.



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– Last Updated: Feb-24-14 11:31 AM EST –

I would take 30 seconds and contact Garmin directly.

In the past Garmin has come out in forums/internet
and mentioned they test 100% of units for the
waterproof standard per IEC529-IPX7.
They acknowledge marine environment can be very harsh.
Even the brass contacts with nickel plating
and gold over that will eventually corrode
if left exposed to sea water long enough.
That's the best contact material available,
and Garmin uses it on all external power contacts.

Take some digital pics and contact Garmin,
maybe they'll throw you a bone for your time and honesty.

They "may" ask about the maintenance of the seal.
The seal is rubber and over time and wear/tear ,
will not be able to maintain as good of a seal
as when it was new.

Testing costs cash.
I doubt we'll see a Level 8 waterproof anything.
The industry standard at 7 is submersion
to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
It is for temporary (i.e. accidental) immersion.

my experience with Garmin warranty
I warrantied one about 5 years ago (a different model, but also JIS7 rated) that had water entry. They did warranty it, but said that it would not be warrantied a second time if it had water entry, as it was not made for it. Ever since then I have pretty much kept the units in dry bags.

I use a Garmin Oregon 450 but I keep it in an Aquapak Whanganui case when on the water and throw in a silica gel pack. I can still use the touch screen and the case doesn’t make the screen visibility any worse than normal.

Supposedly they improved the sunlight visibility on the Oregon but it is still bit tough to see in bright sun at times.

Are you dripping water on it ?
I have a 76Cx and don’t have that problem,since I don’t drip water on it, but my wife does with hers, and constantly drips water on it.

I keep mine on the deck on a little high density foam wedgie thing that I made.

She has to keep hers in a clear soft pouch and replaces that every couple of years.

The key is to not drip salt water on it, and then rinsing it in fresh water after the paddle, but immediately after rinsing it needs to be dried off and I keep blowing on the keys until there are no more drops.

We paddle between eight hundred and a thousand miles a year

Love the 76Cx and don’t want any other

Jack L

Same Oregon
fully exposed when in use, not in dry bag or otter Box… Its clipped to me.

Rinsed in fresh water and batteries removed in between uses and stored in dry box with silica dessicant between uses.

Salt air is a huge enemy… This is its second season. Because of heavy exposure to salt air I expect it not to last forever.

You might consider buying the cheapest if the lifecycle is short.

I got my Oregon for $179 at Cabelas on sale.

if technically-minded
"hack" it. You’d be surprised how much difference Aquaseal, thin strips of neoprene or thin rubber sheet “aquasealed” over the buttons (with symbols drawn on with marker) and desiccant packets inside might to to an electronics unit.