GPS for Kayaking


I took my first kayak trip this past weekend through a rental company. We all loved the experience and now plan to buy or own kayaks and take up the hobby. We did however have one problem. The company we rented from told us the 10 miles should take between 4 to 4.5 hours. 7 hours later we arrived at the halfway point. However, we all find it hard to believe that a group of guys in their 20’s took almost twice as long to kayak a distance that everyone else can do in half the time. Even though it was our first time we kept moving almost the whole time. We stopped a few times for maybe 10 minutes at a time but other than that we made what I thought was good time.

After that experience we have decided that we want to include a GPS system in our kayak purchases. Being that we have never used this type of GPS system I was hoping someone could offer some advice as to what we should look for or could make suggestions. Obviously we want something easy to use, water proof, and rather powerful. Money is an issue and we would like to keep the price reasonable.

Thank for any help you may be able to offer.

Search first…

– Last Updated: Jul-10-06 2:46 PM EST –

This has been a frequent topic on this forum, including one thread quite recently. Try a search for "GPS" using the "Search Archive" link at the top of the forum page. You'll be able to spend hours reading through the helpful links and opinions provided in the messages you find. If you want to focus even further, try a combined search for "GPS" and "waterproof"

Edit -- actually, it seems hard to search by GPS and Waterproof at the same time on this site. I tried a couple of searches, and found the best results by entering the name of GPS manufacturers -- try "Garmin" or "Magellan" for starters. Entering GPS alone gets a lot of false results for Greenland Paddles (=GPs)!

I have this one
Garmin GPSMap 76.

It has a built-in base map; major roads and bodies of water. Good enough for some people. I have also loaded nautical charts to mine- more detail and navigational aids.

This is a handheld unit. It runs on two AA batteries. You can buy a mount for your boat or dashboard. It is waterproof. Got mine for $169 at Boater’s World. It interfaces with my pc.

It is not a color unit. They cost more, but are easier to read charts with. Mine needs software for map loading. Others use data cards, ‘chips’.

If you had one this weekend, you could have seen your ‘track’ and whether or not you stayed on course. Mine also gives ‘speed over land’ readings.

To become familiar with it, I carried mine with me, everywhere, for a few weeks- in the car, on walks, at work. That way, I wasn’t trying to learn how it functioned on the water, with everything else going on.

There are many other GPSs out there. You have to figure out what you want and how much you want to spend. There is one for you. Tell us your needs.

I ebayed a Garmin Geko 201 and Magellan Explorist 100 for 160$ canadian delivered to my door,both brand new in packages. Tried them both hiking, decided the Geko wouldnt be waterproof(battery lid had a bit of play in it even though its supposed to be waterproof) and in general the Geko gave much jumpier readings. So i sold the Geko for 120$ so in the end, the Explorist 100,which costs 150$ at the store only cost me 40 :slight_smile: I’ve been using it for the last month and happy as can be. Very basic but all i want/need/would realistically use. I have it in mini drybag with a big clear window when paddling because i dont feel like testing it’s waterproofness and so it floats just in case.

BTW, 10 miles should take about 3 hours to cross at very mild pace unless you had considerable headwind or current.

I use a gpsmap76 from garmin

– Last Updated: Jul-10-06 3:42 PM EST –

highest res. hand-held display.

Technique is very important in sea kayaking. Force comes from the torso, not the arms. Lots of force gets transmitted through the feet. And then there is tide current etc. I know quite a few guys in their fifties (virtually and in person) who can paddle circles around me, and almost any 20 year old newbie. Enjoy a sport with a future!

Non sequitor
"It took us longer than expected, so we want a GPS"

I don’t see the connection.

OK - I have to ask
1. Where was this 10 miles?

2. What sort of gear did they rent you guys?

3. Where were the kegs strapped on? Above or below? L

Need some context before I do the math on what would be about a 2 hour paddle for me, and a leisurely 2 1/2 hours on my old SOT. Maybe 3 - 3 1/2 with my 1st kayak - a Stearns IK 116.

Long days can be fun, but sounds like you may have exceeeded that point.

My question:
With or against the tide?

It sounds like you just want it, so …
you will know the distance that you have paddled in which case the little El Cheapo yellow Garmin Etrex would fit the bill for you.

You can usually get them for around $99 on sale.



GPS and Kayaks
We want to be able to have some point of reference. We hope the GPS will allow us to see how fast we are moving relative to the distance.


We kayaked a section of the Salt River close to Louisville, Kentucky.

All of us used Perception Sparky 9.5 kayaks.

I’ll apologize for my ignorance, but what are kegs?

Thanks for your help.

We were kayaking in a river but the water was for the most part completely still. We had no help whatsoever from the water itself. The whole 10 miles was done with the paddle.

Like I said we enjoyed ourselves but it just didn’t seem rational that we took almost twice as long as most people.

Thanks for your help!

Agree with JackL Garmin Etrex
I’m curious too! What kind of boats did they rent you. 10 miles is not that far. I’m a 54 year old that can do 10 miles in 2.5 to 3 hours without working much of a sweat. Doesn’t that make you feel worse! lol… But then again I paddle a long skinny kayak.


Now THAT is hard to believe!
A goup of 20 somethng guys that don’t know what a keg is!?

KY must still be in the Bible Belt and this must have been a church group outing! L

Garmin foretrex 101 or 201
If you want distances, speed, training times, waypoints, and routes, and waterproofness (but no maps or charts to download), consider the Garmin foretrex 101. They’re tiny and fit on your wrist, and they’re designed for training and sailing. They’re no more expensive than the basic etrex model, but they seem more functional for kayaking. I use a garmin vista, but I’m not yet convinced its worth the extra money and weight just for the maps.