GPS THoughts?

I’m primarily a bike rider and planning on getting a cycling GPS. But I also want to use it for canoeing in the wilderness(ish). Any reason I should not use a cycling GPS that has good mapping and zoom capabilities? Or are hiking GPSs far preferable?

I mostly want to pre-set points on my route to alert me to impending quickee marts and low head dams.

What are some of the models you are considering?

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The same GPS can work for both. Be sure that it can accept or has maps for both road and water features. Definitely get one that is waterproof.


If you can access the maps you need and mark your waypoints, routes, and tracks, I don’t see why your activity would make any difference.

I have a Garmin eTrex. It works on land and water…at least when I use it, which isn’t often.

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Something cheap that has visual maps, like the low end Garmin Edge 530.

I prefer paper maps and nautical charts.

Lots of folks do, but the OP is asking a question about which GPS to get.


I want to have both.

I have a small handheld Garmin eTrex 20 that can take a micro SD card. I down loaded free state topo maps at on the card. I also have a Garmin chart plotter on my sailboat with all the coastal charts for the USA on a micro SD card. I use that same micro SD card in my eTrex 20 kayaking at the coast. Works for me.


I think that the 530 is actually a really good unit for cycling, and should work for you on the water. Obviously you won’t be using the majority of its’ features, but I would think the mapping features would work. I know a couple of riders that use the training metrics and performance monitoring pretty religiously. It also has a pretty good water rating of IPX7, which as long as you don’t drop it to the bottom of the lake you’ll be okay.

Thanks! That’s sounding like the best, affordable option.

Of course, I’ll use paper maps too. And of course, one way or another, I’ll end up in the ocean or in a hydraulic below a low head dam!

I’ve used several Garmins over the years and have been very happy with them. Never had one fail with the exception of dead batteries one time. If kayaking in a new area I’ll also print out a map of the area where I am going to paddle using the same source as the maps in the GPS. Makes them easy to compare and, with a compass, eliminates the consequences if the GPS fails. Carry the printout in a zip-loc bag. I’ve still got a working GPS III+ that is 22 years old, although the screen is starting to fail.

A friend once told me “A map shows where you can go, a chart tell you where you shouldn’t go”.


Start with a map and compass.
A GPS can be handy in confusing deranged drainages of the North, on rivers with braided channels, hard to find portage trails etc.
For rivers it is hard to get lost. A GPS is mostly just a gizmo to mess around with. Sometimes measured speed over ground can be surprising.