Handheld GPS For Kayaking Suggestions?

Any suggestions on a great handheld GPS unit to use while kayaking? Of course, waterproof is a must. Would prefer a color screen as well.

Garmin eTrex20
This is a topic that comes up frequently and everyone has their favorite. I like the Garmin eTrex20 and describe my reasons in this thread:


I keep mine in a Pelican case.

eTrex 20
Absolutely no experience with GPS units, so I decided to try the Garmin eTrex 20 because of the price. Color screen and more bells and whistles than I’ll ever need, but it does what I want it to do so far. Can’t wait to use it on the water.

My biggest difficulty was not trying to swipe the screen to get to a different menu selection (I have an iPad which I use heavily). Once I got used to the buttons, no problem.

The Garmin documentation stinks, so here are a couple of links if you want to watch/read about it:



The video link was very helpful when I accidentally deleted something instead of moving it.

If you can find an older model 76CX. If not get the newer equivalent model.

Jack L

I like the high end Garmin units.
But they are all good. On the other hand, be prepared for a learning curve and don’t go anywhere you can’t get out of if the gps fails you.

Another Gps 76 benefit
is that they float. Has come in handy more than once. Not sure of any current Garmin models that have that feature.

Just upgraded to new one
I have had handheld GPS units over the years. What is ALWAYS the problem is seeing the darn screen in the sun.Overcast days no problem, sunny makes it hard to see. The best small screen GPS was a delorme PN 20 I had. Had several garmins last one was a Dakota 20. Friend has an etrex 20. Both of these models are very hard to see in the sun, at least for me they are. So I decided to get the top of the line Montana 600, the 650 model is the same except has 5 meg camera built in which I hear stinks.

Now I still have my Dakota 20 and when I compare them to each other its HUGE difference in screen brightness.Now of course the Montanna 600 has a big 4 inch screen way bigger than the Dakota/Etrex but its the screen brightness that makes all the difference in the world. Now I found some youtube videos comparing screens but you cant really tell much from them. If I get a chance I will take some pictures of both units side by side to show how much brighter the Montanna is. You can actually see this screen in the sun.

Oh there on sale too I got an email for the Montanna 650 new model for $369 but of course I bought a refurbished 600 for $330 before I got that email. The one I got looks like a brand new unit. Same one year warranty too. Now its alot more money but I think its worth it.

Get FREE maps for Garmin over at GPSdepot.

The 78

– Last Updated: Dec-04-14 7:34 PM EST –

sports a gimbaled compass mechanism, a 76 does not.

If I explain the non gimbaled prob to you, we would be here for the required 10 minutes finding where the XXXX we are and how to get there, if possible.

You could send the refurbished model back.

How's battery life with the bright screen ? heavy ? Are you wearing polarized lenses ?

The 76 I traded in was good inside but the UBS connector was corroding. I tape all seams with 3M 33 after isopropyl wiping then place the unit in a dry bag shock corded to the spray skirt.

Picture of Dakota and Montanna
I took a picture of my Dakota 20 and Montana 600. The light level looks low but its typical room lighting.

Same maps same 300 mile zoom level. Backlight at max on both units. Its a huge difference. Nothing is wrong with the Dakota as I have compared it to friends Etrex 20 and they look exactly the same. Batteries are fresh in the Dakota the ones in Montana are about at half level. the Montana comes with a rechargeable lithium battery but also can use 3 AA batteries. I have tried it with AA and its the same but last much longer with AA batteries since there 3 of them. Supposed to be 20 hours with AA and 10 with the lithium ion battery.


Avoid touch screen units

– Last Updated: Dec-07-14 2:16 PM EST –

Touch screen units like the Garmin Montana, Dakota and Oregon series are hard to see in the sun. But my Delorme PN40, Garmin 76CSX and 72S are actually easier to read in the sun than they are on cloudy days and the brighter the sun, the brighter the display.

The 76cx has worked well for me for the past 6 years or so. Keep in mind you’ll also need to buy the charts for your area which I think come on a microsd card.

I’m with you
We tried the 78 and then returned them. Who ever programmed them made them less user friendly then the 76CX.

We then bought six 76Cx so we would have them for a long time.

Jack L

Garmin Edge 810
I’m new to kayaking, but I’ve used both my running watch (Polar RC3) and my biking computer, a Garmin Edge 810. I’ve decided I really like using my Edge, even though it isn’t geared towards kayaking. I already had it due to being into cycling and just created a separate profile on it for kayaking. It shows me all the basic info like other units; like current and avg speed, distance covered, heading, time, etc. You can have multiple pages that you can customize with whatever info you want. It also has a map mode that shows your current location on a color map. Additionally, it stores all this information over your paddle to upload to your favorite sports tracking website later (ie Garmin Connect, Strava, MapMyRide, etc). And honestly, for some reason I enjoy tracking stuff.

Another feature that is nice is that it will Bluetooth to your phone and offers what they call LiveTrack. You put in an email or your facebook stuff and it will e-mail/put up a link which allows whomever you gave access, via the link, to click on it and see where you are at the moment. This is nice because my wife can see where I am and know when to start making dinner/expect me home.

I’ve used it quite a few times now and have been out for the better part of a day without having battery problems. The unit is IPX7 certified (1m/30min), but I err on the side of caution and put it in one of those generic cell phone waterproof sleeves and attach it to my deck straps. It’s about the size of an old flip phone. I do believe that messes with the barometric altimeter as temperature fluctuations change the pressure inside of it, but really I’m at sea level so who cares.

Not sure if this will help anyone, but this is what comes out of it…