Inexpensive GPS

I am going crazy with trying to figure out which GPS I need–So I’m asking the pros on this site–I need one for the water of course, i.e. Ohio River, Kentucky River and Florida Keys to use while I kayak–Give me suggestion please !!!

Thanks !

I need . . .
. . . the same information to find the river course in the upper reaches of the Mississippi. The Garmin eTrex H might do it. It doesn’t have maps. The Garmin Hcx will do it for sure. The basic eTrex is only about a hundred bucks the Hcx is closer to two hundred.

what functions
What functions do you want? Just one that you turn on and later can view on a map where you went. Or do you need one that shows where you are on a map on the screen?

Any preferences for types of battery or battery life (important if you do multiple day trips).

What level of waterproofness do you need? Will it only be exposed to occasional splash, or will it be on your deck when you go through whitewater or surf or rolls?

Get Up Off That Fat Wallet
Check out Garmin’s site and order yourself a floating, waterproof marine model. Don’t buy anything that you have to try to use through a bag.

Trust me.

I need to
. . . find the Mississippi River channel either through points I enter manually or buy following a map that is loaded. The speed function sounds like it would be useful.

The Garmin eTrex H is waterproof and will do what I want if I can figure out how to get waypoints in.

Lowrance GPS handheld

check out the H20 colour screen GPS …perfect for the water

And Beware the Fine Print
GPS makers have been known to tout their wares as waterproof…

except for the battery compartment

wicked easy to enter manually
go online to view a digital map and get coordinates and plug em manually using the instructions. It’s wicked easy.

Google earth will give you decent coordinates.

I’m sorry.
I just cannot resist with a title like that.

map and compass?

forgive me.

kf4,you beat me to it.

more on what he is after
He sent me a message with the following info about what he is looking for:

I appreciate your reply-I would like to have one that shows my location and a view of my suroundings–I need one that will keep me out of trouble (being lost)–I currently own a Santee 116 by Hurricane and it has a trylon hull which is highly reccomended “not” to use in white water,plus I’m 64 and don’t need that whitewater rush, I do want one that is waterproof,I do have a tendency to get wet

The Garmin GPSMAP series come to mind, though at $300-500, not sure if they would be considered inexpensive.

I do second what was said above about checking waterproofness. Don’t go by the marketing hype saying waterproof - dig down to the specs. Garmin (for one - others also) will call their units waterproof, where they are IPX-7, which is actually only dustproof. True waterproof (for kayak purposes - not for SCUBA purposes) is IPX-8.

IPX-7 would probably survive in light splash use, but you never know. If you do go IPX-7, one with an internal, non-replaceable battery is likely more waterproof than one that works off of AA or AAA batteries.

The eTrex Lengend HC . . .
. . . or HCx might do it. That is what I have been researching. You need the TOPO map card or CD which adds a hundred bucks. It ain’t truely waterproof. I think the eTrex Summit HC and HCx adds barometer/altitude.

The MAP Series From Garmin
I bought the MAP76 several years ago and it’s been great. I bought the Atlantic Blue Chart mapping and it works well. I think I would have preferred the simplicity of a card for mapping but I really don’t know.

Check Garmin’s site.

76CSx is what I have and have been quite happy with it. Go on their website and check out the features of the different models.



– Last Updated: Nov-02-08 7:13 AM EST –

I agree, the Lowrance iFinder H20 with a color screen is by far the best value.

This is an excellent waterproof GPS. I had both the Lowrance and Garman but the Lowrance had a stronger signal. The maps that came with the Garman that was more expensive lacked any detail. Major rivers that had channel markers were not there. I live on the coast so that went straight back. The Lowrance not only has a better built in map, you can also get the Nautic Maps for $70 that includes all of the coastal areas in North America, and Great lakes. You get the depth, tide speed, river speeds, etc. It has incredible detail in some very marshy areas that are not marked. For example the Mississippi River is covered to Batton Rouge in the Nautic Map. This will give you the deapth. However the built in maps for the Lowrance has the entire river , all marked roads and highways, so just the built in maps would be fine for what you want. The Topo maps are also inexpensive and have all the inland detail you could want. Mine included that but I haven't had a chance to intall it because I'm on a Mac.

I went up the Smokey mountains with just the built in map and it was really nice on the road, lakes and trails. I went on a complicated bike trail and was glad to have it along. I set a trail so I could tell where the turns were on the trail maps.

Hodges Marine has the H20 C for $216 and the Nautic Maps for $70. thats where I got my map. I found an Expediton C for a great deal a few months ago that came with the topo maps and a car cig plug.

Slight learning curve to it. I just go to "trails" and activate a trail when I want one, instead of the auto trail. Then reset the trip calculator in utilities. you can custom set what you want displayed. I have my average speed, max speed, trip distance, and time, all on one row on the bottom. I activate a trail when I start and follow it back if necessary. you can save trails, have them active, waypoints are no prob, you can navigate to them if desired. what else ya looken for?

If you want to save a $100 the mono screen is the same unit for $119. Longer battery life and you can instal the same maps.

I know people love their Garmin but the Lowrance is a really good GPS also. I've beat the crap out of mine strapped to the back of the mountain bike.

Edit: IPX-7 is submersible down to 3 feet, while IpX-8 is submersible 3.5 feet. I tested mine for 30 minutes underwater when I bought it. Sometimes I use a waterproof bag for my VHF and GPS. A lot of serious kayakers also use a bag for the extra protection. I'm in salt water so it keeps it new and I only need to look at the GPS briefly to make sure I made the right turn or in a pinch. Don't worry about the water vapor in the bag if any water gets inside. I've done that also without any prob. It's not a camera.IPX-8 would be better but Im not aware of any and not convinced it offers more protection.

Sorry for the long post but sometimes people make claims when they haven't tested anything other than the product they bought and which sits on a shelf.

Make sure you get the colour screen as I have the black and white. I like Garmin, but you need to sink $100 for every map you want. The Lowrance comes with a base map included with North America. You add the marine upgrade and you are good to go.(Approximately $50) Bass Pro sells these units fyi.

Garmin Venture HC
You can get the Venture HC for a bit over 100 bucks and it’s a great value. It won’t give you turn by turn driving directions, but has great reception and 24 megs of memory.

If you want more map memory go up in the line to a Legend HCX which will run you about $180.

the unlock codes
from Garmin are $100 for each 200 mile area. Their built in maps don’t have enough detail, while the built in Lowrance has all the channel markers included. The Nautic Path map for $70 has the complete nautical maps for the entire US. The Lowrance H2O has SD cards that you can use up to 2GB.

Now that Lowrance has done away with the “unlock codes” and sell the entire nautical maps for less than one unlock code from Gamin there is no comparison in value.

The Lowrance was also stronger signal so no dropped signal in your car, under thick trees.

Also,regarding water vapor in a bag. If I take the GPS out of the bag when kayaking I just leave it out, so as to not seal it back in wet and create vapor. I have done this before without any problem in the hot sun, but try not to seal a wet GPS in a hot bag. I can strap the bag down and prop it up with a water bottle instead of using a mounting bracket and when using a bag I don’t have to wash the GPS or VHF, because most of the time I’m just taking them along in case of an emergency and can just hose off the bags with the rest of the gear.

I thought . . .
. . . Garmin sold the TOPO map CD for a hundred bucks or the SD cards for one region for slightly less.

Garmin legend CX plus topo on ebay

Great price at 159.00 w/ free shipping.

I’m selling my vista to get this.

Not much time left, but look at the guys store…he may still have it.