opinions on GPS

Thinking of buying a GPS for kayaking. Looking at the Garmin Etrex and the Etrex legend.Just loking for other opinions on these or others.

Waterproof Is Good
If you can afford it, spend the extra money and get the the Garmin MAP76. It’s waterproof. Unless things have changed in the last couple of years, the Etrex is not waterproof. You have to try to use it in some kind of sandwich bag.

E-trex series IS waterproof
I have a Garmin Legend (of the E-trex series) and it works great. It is absolutely waterproof (to IPX7 standards – sorry Kudzu, but it’s exactly the same waterproof specs as the Map 76) and has spent a couple of years and many, many miles sitting on the deck of my kayak without any type of protection. In fact, I think it’s a mistake to put your GPS in a bag or waterproof box as the temperatures get so high if exposed to sunshine that it will damage the unit (I had a problem with my first Legend because of overheating as a result of putting it in a bag).

The Legend is a great unit – it’s small, has mapping features, is easy to operate, and is quite resonably priced.



I like my e trex
and it works well. But have heard of a few problems. I know Coffee’s screen will go blank and need a restart sometimes. Caught mine doing this once. Occasionally I will find the e trex is off direction wise to a varying degree.

Is gret for paddling. Bigger screen. Bigger buttons. Much easier to work quickly on handed, floats, etc.

Search the archives here and you’ll see a lot of satified customers. Garmin also has several mount options.

Etrex is a toy for hikers! L


– Last Updated: Apr-24-05 3:00 PM EST –

I don't have any experience with a Legend. I owned the basic yellow Etrex and the manufacturer's manual said the battery compartment was not waterproof but the rest of the unit was. What the hell good is that?! I spent some time using the Etrex in a sandwich bag before I got disgusted enough (and wealthy enough) to get the MAP76.

Etrex and others.
I have the basic yellow (collecting dust) and a Garmin 60cs. The basic yellow is a great unit that has no bells and whistles. If you want to simply mark interesting spots along a trail or river that by all means this unit will do it and do it well. If you want something with bells and whistles take a look at the Garmin V. I had one of these before I replaced it with my 60cs and it was great. You’ll get mapping software and it will autoroute for you so you’ll never be lossed again. I think the Garmin V can be had for around $300 now. It’s a great unit that you can take anywhere. The 60cs is another great unit. It offers a color screen more memory a compass that will work standing still and a barometer. It also does autorouting. I take my 60cs everywhere. I’m a truck driver so I use the mapping all the time to find my stops it’s priceless in my book. You can also buy topo maps for either the V or the 60cs.I think the 60cs is around $400 or $500 I can’t remember. The cool thing about the V and I wish the 60cs would do it is that your able to change the screen to Landscape mode which gives you a wider layout and the gps sits lower and is less prone to get caught on something. hth.

One more thing… If anyone is having troubles with their etrex series units shutting off on them just “shim” the batteries with paper or something. The battereis wiggle and sometimes loose contact.

Magellan Meridian Marine

– Last Updated: Apr-24-05 4:23 PM EST –


You might consider the handheld gps units designed specifically for the marine environment. I think there are several.

One I know of is the Magellan Meridian Marine. It's not cheap like the etrex's. But, my understanding is that it does allow you to do mapping/course plotting, etc. from a digital nautical chart as a opposed to a land map. This could be very handy at times. And, generally these marine models float and have a submersible rating (more stringent than waterproof--An IPX7 designation means the GPS case can withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.), from what I've seen. This may or may not include the battery compartment, so buy carefully.

I've carried a couple of models of gps that don't offer any mapping capability for several years. I dutifully enter in waypoints, do cross-track-error stuff if I'm dealing with shipping lanes, etc. but have yet to actually need a gps while kayaking. That being said, if I did get caught in a persistent sea fog on the open coast for some reason, having a gps that is plotting your course on an actual nautical chart could conceivably be a tremendous advantage.

Are you sure?
My wife tossed my paddling jacket in the washing machine in the laundromat in Kirkwall Orkney last summer with my Etrex in the pocket. My Etrex came through getting washed just fine. I’ve dumped inthe surf with it several times, no problems.

I’ve had no leaks
I’ve had no problem with water getting inside the E-trex Legend and I can tell you that it’s been very wet from time to time – I tend to enjoy rough water and the Legend sits right on the deck and gets very wet. I’ve also never noticed any water in the battery compartment.

I did have a warranty problem with it during the first year and Garmin dealt with it by sending me a new unit – and they did it quickly – I’m very impressed with their customer service. I suspect that my warranty problems were a result of putting the unit it plastic bags – it simply gets too hot and the rubber around the outside became loose – I also had the screen problem that has been mentioned – I also attribute that to keeping the unit in a plastic bag.

For the price, the Legend is a great deal – if I were to purchase another unit and wished to spend a few more bucks, I would likely look at the 76 series or the GPS 60 series – the larger screens are definitely nice.



No battery problems anymore
My first Legend had the wiggly battery problem, but when I received my second Legend, I was told by a Garmin rep that the battery problem had been corrected. After two years with a replacement unit, I’ve experienced no trouble with the batteries whatsoever.



Don’t dis’ the yellow eTrex…
The latest version has a 10,000 point tracklog, configurable tracklog recording, and is WAAS capable - excellent capability for a non-mapping unit. List price $106. WalMart $89.

I’ve got an old version and still use it for hiking, mountain biking, bc skiing, paddling, and off-road adventuring on my dual sport motorcycle. Off-road riding is my most demanding use for a GPS and I use it with paper topo maps I print out for the area I’m exploring. This is actually preferable to a mapping unit because dirt roads/trails disappear from the screen when you zoom out any more than the .5 mile scale on a Garmin 60CS. This means I can only see a ~10 square mile area on the GPS compared to 375 square miles per map page I print out. In this situation panning the map on a GPS unit can be a PITA. Plus using 3D topo software like DeLorme TOPO USA is fun and a great planning tool.

Mapping GPS units are nice but depending on how you use a GPS non-mapping units can be very good too.

Garmin GPS72…
If you do any coastal paddling, you may want to checkout a Garmin GPS72. It has a marine points database and can also show tide prediction graphs. It’s a non-mapping unit. List price $159.

You’ve been lucky.
My Legend died twice from the water. The first time it was fixed under warranty. The second time was a month out of warranty and Garmin said they would repair it for almost what a new unit costs.

I replaced it with a Map76. Haven’t regretted it at all.

Got htat right
good high res screen, well built, popular backup for servicemen and women. When my wife said get the best it’s what I got.

I rarely use it, though it’s been a comfort to me in fog a time or two.

Garmin warranty
dosen’t mean squat. I had an e-trex that got wet in my SOT and rusted the wire battery contacts. They said they would repair it for about what I paid for it plus shipping costs. Some warranty. I now have a Magellan.

Have you considered a Foretrex?
I had an eTrex and used it all the time. It told me almost everything I wanted to know (direction, speed, etc.) but it didn’t tell me the length of a trip. So I eventually bought a Foretrex which is designed to wear on your wrist. The unit is smaller than an eTrex but the display is as large or larger than eTrex. Garmin says it’s waterproof up to 1 meter. I attach it to my deck bungees or to my deckbag. The wrist strap allows for a variety of ways to mount the unit. It gets soaked just about every time I paddle - and has not been a problem.

my etrex…
‘lived’ in a pelican drybox lashed to the center seat of our boat on a fishing trip up in Canada–more for flotation/impact protection than water protection. On sunny days, the drybox would greenhouse the gps, and the screen would turn completely black from overheating. My remedy? Submerse the entire unit–sometimes even while moving at a fast trolling speed (read: more water pressure on the unit) until it cooled down and the screen returned to normal. Never any signs of water damage to the unit, batteries were changed daily and no moisture got inside the compartment (even after being greenhoused in a damp drybox)

Have no complaints with the unit (etrex legend), been using it for two years now, it’s put up with quite a lot and keeps coming back for more.

Don’t need one…
GPS is very cool technology, but I can’t see needing one for my particular paddling which is in lakes and rivers. I can do visual navigating perfectly well and am never out of sight of land. Am I missing something other than the “Gee whiz” factor?

Don’t need one…
GPS is very cool technology, but I can’t see needing one for my particular paddling which is in lakes and rivers. I can do visual navigating perfectly well and am never out of sight of land. Am I missing something other than the “Gee whiz” factor?