GPS? Car and Kayak

Looking to purchase a new car, many now seem to come with navigation systems of some kind. Could be useful for my work as I travel 4 days a week. However, I would love a GPS for kayaking–I am just getting started and would love to know my speed, distance etc.

Anyone use one for those things that also works in your car?

Many handhelds work in your car, but the monitor and graphics can’t compete with the dedicated car GPS. I use my garmin, suction cup mount to the windshield, and car charger cord. Works fine with the optional software (but no sexy voice to tell me to turn left).

'Never seen one . . . .
I doubt there is. I have one in the car, and it has an instinct to locate me on a known road when in car mode (or at least trail in bike mode). If I’m in a new neighborhood, for example, it jumps from this road to that one and back as it keeps putting me on the nearest one in it’s database.

Wouldn’t work for going down a river for example, because it assumes cars and bikes don’t float. The kind you’re looking for are set up completely different than one for a car.

may I ask which garmin you use? Thanks, I really would prefer being able to use it on the water and not have all the extras. I wondered about the voice part giving you directions – oh well!

Yes, but watch out for theft
In some areas it’s become real popular to break into cars if there is any sign of either an on board or a mount for a hand-held GPS. You may need to think about details of where it’ll live in the car if you are in an areas where that is prevalent.

The Garmin Quest series
has a large enought screen and the features you would want in a car. Can run off of it’s own rechargeable battery and is water resistant (they use this model on motorcycles) so it should work on the kayak. Note- I doubt the Quest is actually submersible so you would probably want it in some kind of a waterproof enclosure.

My Garmin 2720
comes with a “beanbag” mount that workes realy well and can easily be stuffed under the seat or otherwise hidden.

Point about marine versus land
Above has a point - if you want full details of land like elevations or nearest hospital, that’s one set of maps. If you want a chart with buoys andlighthouses, that’s loading another chart. Or popping in another memory card, depending on how the unit is set up.

So - if you really want the bit of being able to find the nearest hospital or italian restaurant or whatever for the car, it may be best to have the onboard for the car and a hand-held for paddling. Especially if you want it to work with a car that talks to you.

We use our Garmin Map -76
on the interstates.

It will tell you what motels and gas stations are at each exit.

We originally purchased them for paddling, and found out quite by accident that they also have that feature.



Hey Jack
With free software from Garmin you can connect the laptop to the GPS and use the laptop for the screen and have a voice talk to you. The software is called N-Route.

With my luck it will say:
“We apologize for the delay, but all our sattellites are busy with other customers. Please stay on the screen and as soon as a satellite becomes available your screen will show your route”



Not there yet…
Car nav systems and trekking GPS units are still two different animals it seems. The nice car units have 4 inch screens or better, voice commands and have no need to be waterproof or pick up well under heavy tree cover. The hiking/kayaking models are much better in the outdoors where portability, good reception, and waterproof are important.

There are units that do both, but the compromises make them substandard.

Nav. systems are still in there infancy in many respects. They work well, but there is still a lot of potential to do things better.


Garmin 60CSX
I use my Garmin 60CSX for hiking, paddling and driving. As others mentioned it’s not perfect for driving when compared to a dedicated automobile unit, as the screen is a bit small, but it gets me to where I need to go.

For paddling the Garmin Map76CXS is a good choice. It’s nearly identical internally to the 60CSX but it floats.

note on 60 vs. 76 for driving
I think the 76 series has the edge for driving. The having the screen on the bottom and the buttons on top puts the screen right on your sightline (just like the speedometer) with the unit on the steering column. With the 60, the steering wheel blocks the screen. A steering column placement seems to be the best place to see such a smallish screen. And, the buttons on top are quite handy in this application.

I stand corrected. This just in . . . .
I read this in Pop Mechanics last night. It was one of their “Best of” picks. Seems like it fits the bill . . . .

Popular Mechanics site:

Magellan’s site:

I want one now. Anyone have any experience?

Or maybe not.
I checked the specs. IPX-4 water proof, not the best for paddling applications.

Test Level Definitions

IPX-3: Protected against spraying water - Water spraying up to 60 degrees from vertical at 10 liters/min at a pressure of 80-100kN/m2 for 5 min.

IPX-4: Protected against splashing water - Same as IPX-3 but water is sprayed at all angles.

Ipx-7&8 are required for submersion. Can’t have it all, I guess . . . .

My recommendation

– Last Updated: Nov-21-07 1:03 PM EST –

I'd recommend a Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx (I have a 60CSx, but that is more for trail use while the 76CSx is more for use on water).

For car use get a 12VDC power cord and a RAM suction cup mount. I put mine on the left side of the windshield so the GPS is in the lower left corner where it won't interfere with the view of the road. You'll also need the MapSource City Navigator North America NT. It will do a GREAT job of routing while driving.

There are two points of debate:

1. Regarding the map software, I prefer buying the software pre-loaded on the SD cards, since it is easier, you get the entire set of maps on one card, and if you get a second GPS you can easily switch the card. Others (maybe the majority) will tell you to get the CD. On the plus side you can look at maps on your PC, rather than just the GPS. On the negative side, as I understand you can't download ALL the maps from the CD to an SD card, and you can only use the software for one specific GPS. I haven't heard what you do if you buy a new GPS. I supposed you'd have to contact Garmin.

2. Many will tell you that the electronic sensors (compass & altimeter) are not necessary. I used to think that myself, but after getting the 60CSx with the electronic compass I find myself using the electronic compass while standing still so much that I now consider it an absolute requirement. Now it won't help much in a car since it requires the GPS to be level, but in the hand it is wonderful.

Not Worth it doing both
My advice is use Garmin 76CSx for marine use only. Use the money for City Navigator map towards the purchase of a NUVI 350 (map included) for auto.

Garmin 76sx
I have a Garmin 76csx. If you do not buy the City Navigator or the marine software you need to rely on the base map that is built into the unit.

Shore lines wit just the base map are very jagged (like CGA monitor vs SVGA monitor). By this I mean that curves are represented by lines vs. arcs. If your intent is to just monitor,/record speed direction tracks etc… then the base map is ok. If you wnat detail of the shorelines you need to add software.

Without the software, the unit is not really worth having in the car. It only knows about major roads.

I bought City Navigator and it give me shoreline detail and does turn by turn directions in the car. The screen is a little too small for car use, but is workable. It does not have voice but beeps twice to warn of an upcoming turn and then beeps once when you need to turn. You really need a mount of some type and a DC power cord for the car. I have a mount that clips onto one of the AC vents. The unit is a little low and over to the side, but it also is low enough so it does not broadast that I have one.

I have seen the ones specifically for cars and they are so much nicer for car use.