Marine GPS recommendations

Hi folks,

I’d like to break down and buy myself a decent color marine gps for my kayak for some trips I’m planning.

I’d prefer not to spend an arm and a leg - what would you experts recommend is the perfect price point and model?

Thanks, as always…


Don’t bother …
The simple, least expensive GPS units work great for kayaking, they are waterproof, easy to use, and you are not out a lot of money if you lose it.

Waterproof? Not likely.

– Last Updated: Mar-30-08 12:15 AM EST –

Actually model GPS matters.

I sold my Garmin Vista CX because of the 'joystick' mode of operating it (which does not work well inside a drybag). In addition, it does not accept Bluecharts and does not calculate nautical terms.

I use a Garmin 60CSx. Surface pushbuttons work through a drybag (which I highly recommend - they are not waterproof). It accepts Bluecharts.

Love My Garmin MAP76
I had a cheap Etrex and it took on water. The MAP76 is waterPROOF. I routinely roll with it bungied to the deck. No problems. It also accepts detailed mapping… Blue Chart.

I’ve had it several years. I think there is another model out there now that’s similar. MAP60 maybe?

Garmin 60CSx not waterproof…?
I don’t what anyone else has, but I regularly use my waterproof, color, bluechart-compatible (not 3G) Garmin 60CSx in a standard dash mount commercially velcroed to my deck without a dry bag while paddling off the shores of Long Island and it works like a charm. I just rinse it off with tap water when I get home.

Waterproof and Floatable
My Garmin 72 is waterproof and floats. It’s not color, but that doesn’t matter to me.

A question about the Garmins…
Thanks for the good advice. I’m definitely a GPS newb. Those of you with the Garmin 60 or 72 - Can you type in a latitude and longitude and it will get you there?

Not up on the recent ones but
I have a Magellan Meridian Marine. I like it because:

The coastline maps included are very detailed - enough to be useful.

The buttons are on the front so it can be operated through a dry bag - supposed to be waterproof but…

Maps include NavAids

The antenna is far superior to the Garmins available at the time.

Etrex - Mine is water proof.
Actually survived being put in a washing machine, owned it several years, no issues. You need to make sure that all grit is removed around the battery case seal when you put the batteries in.

Any GPS can do that.

Far as I know all GPS units do that. With mapping units you don’t have to punch any numbers in. You put your cursor to the spot on the map where you want to go and push a button to create a waypoint. Or… just display the map and go where you want without fooling with the waypoint.

Of the two that I have I prefer the GPSMAP 76S over my etrex Vista C, primarily because it has the celestial data feature that shows tide information, and it floats. However, the etrex is half the size, the color is easier to read in sunlight and the battery life is twice what the 76S is. Guess it good to be able to switch back and fourth.

I have the Garmin eTrex Legend Cx which I understand is a fine GPS. Received it as a gift a bit more than a year ago, but it’s really not suited to my needs since all I really use are the distance/speed functions, and own a Mac computer, which makes attempting to obtain charts, etc. a hassle trying to find a PC to do it on. It does operate perfectly and is waterproof; I like the large, clear color display.

That said, a 305 would better suit my needs, and I’d sell this one with the optional marine mount, if anyone’s interested.

Garmin Etrex Vista HCX
Small, light, no water issues yet, great battery life, bluechart and city navigator loaded together with 2gb card. I tie it to my deck rigging with the lanyard and save all of my tracks to my computer for future reference. Great antenna with little or no interference. I just bought a Uniden VHF with integral GPS, model is called Mystic. I will not part with my Garmin even though I now have two. It works the best and it works everywhere I take it, and you will want to take it with you because it is so small. My daughter trains for cross country with it. I am sure that by now you are painfully aware that I cannot say enough good about it.

Thank you, all…
Hey, thank you for all of the very useful advise. I just picked up a Garmin 76CS Plus on eBay, which is a model that was made for West Marine. It should be awesome.

My head has been spinning, so I’m gland that I was able to put this one to bed, and get on with my paddling activities. Thanks again, all.


Nice pick, the tide feature is really cool.

60CSX is waterproof
The 60CSX is waterproof to IPX7 standards, which means it should be able to withstand 30 minutes under 1 meter of water.

OK you can’t go SCUBA diving with the thing, but it should survive a rainstorm or a kayak rollover.

Garmin Map 76CSX
Great unit and it floats. You can use it in your car for turn by turn driving directions (using City Navigator), in your boat in coastal waters with Bluechart, hiking using Topo and in inland waterways with Inland Lakes.

You can run all the software simultaneously on your unit and switch between each one as needed.

Garmin 76CS Plus
So, this is a re-branded Garmin - anyone know which one it really is, or are there variations in these models? I can’t figure it out!




– Last Updated: Mar-31-08 11:24 PM EST –

I never heard of it. Perhaps it is re-branded 76CS made for a major retailer or maybe it's just packaged with maps, or some sort of other package like vehicle mount.

Just be aware that the 76CS is NOT the same thing as the 76CSX or 76CX. The 76C and 76CS are discontinued units that don't come close to the performance of the newer 76 X models. Among the differences are the high sensitivity receiver in the 76X models, as well as expandable map memory.

Garmin also has the Map 76 and Map 76S in their line which also have older technology.

Look for the X in the model name.