GPS Units and Salt Water

Do you have any concerns about exposure to salt water and the life of your “waterproof” GPS unit. Really thinking logetivity. Assume will rinse with tap water at the end of the day.

My GPS unit (Delorme PN-40) can’t handle southern summers in a sealed dry bag. Really the only reason I have used the dry bag was concern for salt water degradation (of things like the buttons, UBS connection, display screen, vs. non-concern for fresh water.

I assume I am being too paranoid about it and I should just use the thing and rinse it well at the end of the day.

What do you think? What do you do in salt water in the summer?

Bill G.

Mt. Pleasant, SC


– Last Updated: Jun-29-09 4:49 PM EST –

Some Paddlers get away with no waterproof cover for years and just rinse and inspect battery compartment each time.

But quite a few units fail and even more leak into the battery compartment

For me, since I regard this as a must work item 100% I always put it in an aquapac


salt water killed my garmin
I’m lucky I paid for a replacement policy on my Garmin 76s. At 6 weeks of sustained use in salt water the battery contacts dissolved. I also had a Garmin Etrex Vista as back up. Aside from the fresh rinse, I started taking all the backs off all my electronics every day to help dry out the internals, as well as cover any exposed contacts with clear nail polish. The Etrex is still going…

Just Rinse at the End of theDay
And open the battery compartment occasionally in case any moisture got in. Water hasn’t been an issue for my Garmin MAP76. Dropping it on the pavement has.

No problems with an Etrex
Have had it several years, no problems. I don’t use a case and I get wet when I paddle. 100% Ocean kayaking.

I just get the cheap ones.
I have one where the screen is going bad. Other waterproof electronics have had various deaths. These days the $100 units are just as good as the best units available years ago. But, I’m a GPS and a waterproofed chart kind of guy with a water proof list of way points as well.

My old Magellan has only been used in salt water. A quick fresh water rinse in the sink is all the maintenance it gets…

Same here, the etrex was my back up and it worked better for me.

Waterproof Vs water resistant
But the new forrunner (30m waterproof) there is no such a think as GPS handheld waterproof; sooner of later (generally sooner), they will leak when expose to rain or surf…

A few years ago I had an e-trex, used it once in Maui and it got wet (naturally) failed and Garmin responded , though luck. Their customer service was a LOT LESS than satisfactory. I’d never buy another Garmin product.

after losing 3 to moisture
and not being able to see the display or use the buttons well enough through the Aquapac, I found that removing the batteries and keeping the unit and batteries separated in my tent each night worked for up to 3 weeks, the extent of my experience.


use a dessicator
use of a dessicator pack, (looks like a packet of salt) can get them in camera shops prevents fogging and allows you to see it clearly.

the newest Aquapacs are quite allot clearer and allow touch through operation. I have one for my camera, gps, iphone and VHF. Work very very well for me at least.