GPS Suggestions

Started looking at GPS units and the choices seam staggering. I’m interested in a unit I can use in my kayak. Primarily for telling speed and distance traveled. My son would love to try geocaching. I’d also like a unit that can be used to find addresses and directions on land in a vehicle. Waterproof, portable and floatable is a must. Color would be nice. Doesn’t neccessarily have to be a low price unit. (Tax deductible business expense and all.)

Any suggestions from experienced GPS users on models I should consider would be greatly appreciated!

Search Archieve
I am also looking at GPS. I tried searching the archieves and it seems the two are:

  1. Magellan Meridan Marine
  2. Garmen Map 76 (S)
  • topographic CD recommended

    The Garmen 76S has a compass and barometer. I am interested in the compass for night navigation.

    neo from SC

Garmin GPSmap 276C
I think the model you want is the GPSmap 276C. Its coming out (new) in a few weeks; its pricey at $699, plus software but has got it all I think, color screen, LiON batteries. Bigger than a standard handheld (which is good for viewing in the car)

Check it out at or

fyi I own the Magellan SporTrac Pro handheld

Peter McLaughlin

Plymouth, MA

garmin 72

– Last Updated: Jun-02-04 10:06 AM EST –

is all you need,forget the high priced stuff, 159.00 at west marine with more options than you'll know what to do with, submersible and floats and accurate with 1 byte of memory,easy to use. has compass and can download maps from your computer

Garmen GPSMAP 276C
I have been looking at this one too. I find the pocket GPS screens too small. I like being on the water at night and it looks like this might be much better. You can see it at:

The 2 disadvantages is that it does not appear to accept the CD data of the Topo and others. It does not have a compass.

I have found a handheld waterproof lighted compass so the two would work well together.

Go simple
A GPS you will actually use kayaking in difficult situation will be small, easy to carry and without tons of functions, and able to operate with one hand. You can’t have built in maps or street addresses with these models but maybe you want a different GPS than in your kayak. To get started you can get an ETREX for $99 bucks and see if you think you need all the rest of the stuff later.

Garmin Map76
Check it out.

What Compass???
I went to West Marine and no compass mentioned. I looked through the Manual and no compass.

Perhaps you were looking at the picture? I believe this shows your direction.

Form follows function
The trouble with most hand helds is just that they are designed to be held. The trick is to find one that is also designed to be set down. My Garmin GPSV allows me to use it for both. I can strap it (with a tether) to the deck of my kayak and place it on the dash of my truck. I also use it for geocaching. It has 18 mb of space and really works great. Alos it is waterproof.

my 2 bits


What seadart said…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-04 10:03 AM EST –

We have two of these units and while they are simple (no maps, no download capability) they will give you direction, speed, mileage and are a bright yellow (easy to find if dropped in the water) and water resistant to a great degree. They come with a nice lanyard that will hang around your neck or you can buy a mount for them that I know would work on a deck of a yak but I don't think I'd want one there, just because it might get in the way at critical times. They are also very reasonably priced.

We bought ours for geocaching purposes but will likely take them in our yaks once we get them.

GPS V is a great model
That’s a great GPS. I’ve used it for all sorts of stuff from turn-by-turn driving directions to finding my car in a big football stadium parking lot :slight_smile:

I’ve got a couple Garmin Rino 120s too…they’re great for camping, hiking, paddling (especially in fog with 2 people) etc…but they’re not as functional as the “V”

my 72 has a compass page.

– Last Updated: Jun-15-04 10:29 AM EST –

you have to be moving for it to work but it's definately there on mine; often software changes within a paticular model from time to time maybe ours may be different?

garmin map76
The map 76 has done well for my paddling. It is small, floats (has had a few immersions), and does download/uploads with my topo software. It works fine sitting on the deck (but clipped onto bungee). I have 2 sets of rechargeable batteries but have never even used up on on a day trip.

I am directionally challenged, so the breadcrumb track is a comfort for someone who can get lost going from the bedroom to the bathroom. It is nice to have the speed and distance for our recreational paddling.

garmin 72 also
I have had mine for about a year and use it on My kayak and My power boat. I have done a little geocaching with it also. I placed a cache up a spring run off the Withalacooce river near Inverness, FL

Geko 201
I just ordered a Garmin Geko 201…$125.00

I also mainly want it for speed and distance on my kayak. Its very small, lite and waterproof.

It also has geocoaching games on it…

I wanted the new Garmin 76c color model…however…my wife would kill me…at $400+

Good Luck


Hello Goldfish

I paddle with a Garmin Etrex Legend. I have Garmin’s Street Pilot in my truck. The Etrex is a great gps. It can be purchased for @$180. Check GPS City’s web site. I have the Parks and Recreation maps from garmin. This shows both roads, parks, rivers, lakes, islands and shorelines on the gps. My Etrex will: give you breadcrumbs, course to distination with time and distance to go; keeps your mileage, top speed, average speed, trip mileage, etc.; stores your routes to down load onto your computer. Lot’s more. Water proof but enclose it. Good Paddling

I found my Geko 201 worked just fine…
I kept it in an airtight bag as it’s so small it’s easily misplaced…I’ve used it for hiking and it got me back to my campsite at night last week in Voyager’s N.P. I was happy to have it…

Rino 120
I second that vote for the Rino 120. It’s a great outdoors unit with that radio feature and position reporting. I am, however, thinking of adding one of the new Rino 130’s. It adds more memory, electronic compass, barometric altimeter (useful when I’m hiking or biking), and NOAA weather band radio.

What does GPS really do for you?
I’ve been wanting one of these toys for several years. But the rational side of me says that for day paddlers, they are really just toys, not useful pieces of equipment. (Yes, long term expeditions are another matter) Is it possible to get lost on a river (it only goes two ways)? Has anyone ever gotten lost on a lake? Is it hard to keep track of where the coastline is on a coastal day paddle? For the ones that don’t download maps, can they do anything for you other than tell you how to get back to where you started? I need compelling arguments regarding their real utility in order to persuade the wife they are worth the money.

Two example of a benefit
Here is an example of a real-world application (my real-world at least).

We were doing a day paddle in a bay on Lake St. Clair outside of Detroit. I cannot recall the name of the bay (Muscanong or something like that I think). We’d never been there before.

After we put in on Harsen’s Island, we marked the location of our car on our GPS (we owned a Garmin GPS 12 at the time), and started it tracking our progress out of the marsh and into the bay. The marsh was basically a maze of channels through 6’ cat-tails. With the GPS, we knew that we didn’t need to worry about charting our path because we could just follow the track back afterward, so after getting lost, tracking down about 10 dead-ends, and having a great time checking out water fowl, we made our way into the big lake.

A 3 mile open water crossing left our entry into the marsh literally invisible from the opposite shore of the bay, and again, the GPS allowed us (by setting a waypoint) to find it again easily.

Now, I should point out a few things. First, if this was bigger water, or more secluded paddling, I wouldn’t have relied solely on teh GPS (charts and compass don’t run out of batteries). Harsen’s Island, however, has houses and people all over it, so if the GPS died and we ended up lost, we could have just pulled ashore and sought assistance. In a wilderness paddle I wouldn’t do that (But the poster mentioned he/she was interested in day-paddline). To top it off, the marsh we were paddling through would require a pretty zoomed-in chart to mark all the tiny channels, I’m not sure such a chart exists. The GPS, however, removes the need as long as you’re only day paddling to begin with.

So that’s my example. I’d recommend having one for the fun of it more than the utility, however.

Second example: On longer trips (even a day paddle, but maybe a 15+ mile day-paddle) I like to mark waypoints ahead of time. THis gives me the ability to say “how much further to St. James Cove” or something of that nature WITHOUT stopping to check my charts. Sure, the ability to follow progress on a chart is crucial, and I’d never set out on a full day paddle without one…but knowing at a glance that I’m 2.2 miles from the next beach landing is pretty helpful.

In short, a GPS is a great tool, a fun toy, but not the answer when your life is on the line.

That’s my $0.02.