GPS Purchase Advice Requested

I am requesting forum member advice on buying a GPS for my father. Thank you in advance for your advice:

  1. My father is 72, lives on a large lake in South Carolina (very large lake).
  2. He kayaks everyday, approximately 15 miles per day, but has done 25 (+) mile day trips.
  3. He has a custom built 22 ft carbon/Kevlar kayak w/ skeg from a builder in upstate NY.
  4. I would like to get him a GPS so he can track his speed, average sped, distance, etc. Not really for navigation. My Dad was an avid sailor so he is comfortable navigating and using his small compass.

    Do you have any recommendations, I am not looking to waste money, but am willing to spend up to $450 range.

    I would really appreciate the thoughts of fellow kayakers on the pros/cons of various GPS models for use with kayak.

Any gps will do
Any gps will give you the info you have described. A Garmin E-trex would work just fine. Now take the extra $350 and hook him up with a carbon wing.

Second that …
I’ve used mine all ove the world. Cost less than $100.

Especially if he uses a map a compass, no need for all the fancy maps etc that drain batteries. You enter landmarks and way points for the area you are interesting in before hand, takes about 10 minutes . Put some velcro on the back of it and glue some velcro to your boat or skirt. Operates with one hand easily on the water.

eTrex Legend with map
For a few bucks more ($116 at Amazon) you can get him a nice unit with base map of North and South America built in. It’s enough to help navigate in the car when I’m in new territory. This unit is not great under tree cover, but on the lake that’s no problem. It’s waterproof, though I put it in a cell phone dry bag and clip it to my bungie as insurance.

has an informative web site & good return policy.

Ditto Legend
I’ve had a Legend for several years. Just loop lanyard around deck bungies and forget about it. Mine has taken both salt and fresh water dunkings and hasn’t quit yet.

Also Check out GPS72
Similar features and price to the E-trex but screen size and pixel count is a little better. GPS72 has a large text option for its data that is easier for me to read while paddling. Not sure if E-trex has the feature or if it does if it has as large of text available.

Buy the way I got mine from GPSstore and was pleased with service and price.


I am the same age as your Dad
and paddle similar to what he does, and I am sure our eyesight is probably similar

Please don’t get him the Garmin Etrex.

It is a great GPS for the price, but the read out is tiny. Too tiny. I know I have one that I don’t use any more.

Get him a Garmin Map-76.

The read out is big and he also can fit everything that he wants for his training,

( distance, speed, moving average speed, overall average speed) on one screen

You can also put the “Maximum speed”, which I like to see, when I am sprinting.

If he is into record keeping he can transfer all the data to a computer.

It runs on two AA batteries. You can get up to

three days out of a set. the rechargeble ones don’t last as long.

I keep Sam’s Club in business, but it is well worth it.

Have I guessed right when I say he has a Westside boat

What ever you get for him congrats on being a thoughtful son



(GPS) - I am the same age as your Dad
Wow thanks for all the thoughtful replies - keep them coming, I am getting great ideas.

Good tip on the size of text on screen.

As for the maker of my dad’s kayak, I will have to get back to you, you are probably right.


– Last Updated: Jun-17-07 9:49 PM EST –


Get him a Garmin Map-76.
The read out is big and he also can fit everything that he wants for his training,
( distance, speed, moving average speed, overall average speed) on one screen
You can also put the "Maximum speed", which I like to see, when I am sprinting. / END QUOTE////

Which model of Garmin 76 do you have? there is a color, and Black/white screen.

We have the black and white
I got mine at Wally World.

After using my wifes, I retired the Etrex and just keep it as a spare when we are in the wilderness exploring.

Yesterday we were swapping boats on the local lake, and when I changed from my kayak to the canoe, I left the Map-76 on the kayak for my daughter and she left her Etrex on the canoe for me. That more than solidified my disike for the read out on the Etrex, plus the fact that you can’t get all the good info on one screen.

For what it is worth, when we were up at the Westside Boat shop a few weeks ago, Doug showed us his wrist Gizmo which not only was a GPS, but a heart rate monitor.

I don’t know much about them, but someone might want to comment on that. Especially if he uses a heart rate monitor.



Basic GPS
Being cheap and also not wanting/needing all the fancy mapping stuff, I got a Garmin Foretrex GPS on eBay for 50 bucks. It can be worn on the wrist but I just hook it to the bungies like a little dashboard. Shows 4 parameters at once like speed, avg speed, paddled distance, max speed, etc. Waterproof (so far) and works great.

Hey Jack
The E-Trex Legend can select large text. I use it all the time and my eyes ain’t so good.

They must have changed it then.
or you don’t have the little yellow one, or you are not comparing it to the read out of the Map-76

My Etrex can only put a read out of about a quarter at a time without changing the screen and it can only do one function at a time without changing the screen


E-Trex Legend
The Legend is blue and comes with adjustable font. The Yellow E-Trex is the bare bones entry model.

GPS Determined
Thanks to your help.

I am going with the GARMIN 76. Thanks for all your advice.

I am a little late but I’ll toss this
idea at you. The form factor of the GPS76 will require a custom mount as would almost any GPS. If he went with a Forerunner from Garmin he could wear it like a watch and forgo the mounting idea. My problem with kayaking and GPS has always been where do you put it so you can see the info while paddling?

Garmin GPSMap Csx
Anyone have any experience with this model? Or the Cx? They have a more sensitive receiver which is supposed to be better with overhanging trees. Some of my paddling is on small rivers and I could use all the sensitivity I can get.


If you want I’ll be glad to write a written description

Attach the hooks to each side of your kayak safety lines.

Many on the forum have copied this in one form or another.



GPS Advice

Thanks for the photos. Excelent and simple idea that does not mar boat, and can change if not working as anticpated - thanks!