Personal GPS...

I’ve noticed a couple of responses to different questions, referring to personal GPS devices (i.e. direction, speed, etc…) If you use one, are they of any use to the average kayaker? If so, what? Any suggestions on brands/models?

Thanks in advance…

GPS Is Great
If you are interested in your speed, average speed, or distance travelled, GPS is the answer. If you are concerned about getting lost, again, GPS solves the problem. I like the Garmin MAP76. It’s waterproof, floats, maps, and you can add detail to it.

Take a look at Has loads of info on GPS—including tutorials.

Stay safe on the water

I second the…
… Garmin GPSMAP 76

Bigger screen, big on features - even though I really only use it for a speedometer and odometer.

I hat to admit it,

– Last Updated: Sep-21-04 1:39 PM EST –

but I pull mine out when there is fog on the sea. If I can, I would lend it to a companion, navigate by chart, compass, and tide and have the friend on the GPS as back up.

GPS is really nice for marshy areas but beware they do fail from time to time.

gps - ok but don’t forget your compas
I have a gps that I use daily and it is very helpful in many ways, not the least of which is accurately find direction. However, remember that a gps uses batteries and if you’re going on a trip of more than a couple of days you really need to have a compass and know how to use it. Using it in conjunction with the gps will help you understand the value of each. Don’t forget to take extra batteries or rechargable type with maybe a solar charger. Then keep it turned off when you aren’t using it.

By the way, my gps has a feature that gives the best hunting and fishing times (I like to fish) and phases of the moon. Check out several. Decide on a price range and features you feel are essential. Like they say there’s “something for everyone”.

Personal GPS
I’ve been using a Garmin GPS 72 for Geocaching, but since I got into kayaking I clip it onto my PFD. after a day of paddling I can download my track, and see how far I paddled, my average speed, fastest speed, and of course time paddled.

I use mine ninty percent of the time…
It is invaluable in training for races.

It is also invaluable for heading out into the Everglades, (10,000 Islands), estuaries, or swamps.

It is also invaluable in doing an out and back course on an unknown river to let you know how much longer it is to be back at the start.

I have used every feature on mine, and I think on one trip I used in excess of fifty way points.

One of the fun things to do with it is to learn navigation, by using a chart, and then plotting a half dozen bearing points, to get to a particular designated spot, plugging them into the gps, and then setting up a route, and a “go to”.

I have the Garmin Etrex, which is the cheapest and has the smallest screen which kind of sucks, but my life long paddling partner whom I don’t leave home without has the Garmin Map 76 which is a excellent one.



mine wasn’t waterproof
On the second trip of the summer (1st was a long weekend, 2nd was an 8 day trip) my GPS went bad. It couldn’t find satellites and screens froze. I’m waiting for an RMA # so I can return it, but I sure did enjoy having it and getting the maps downloaded from the long trip.


Very useful
I find mine very useful for all the reasons listed above, plus a few more. The ETA function is great for decision-making when the stuff hits the fan and you need to know how long it’s going to take to get back to your home beach versus putting ashore for rest/repairs/first aid etc.

I used mine in a dense fog to lead a group on a 2km crossing in unfamiliar waters this summer, and loved the way we came out of the mist 50 metres away from the bluff we were shooting for. (We had several spare compasses along, and two paddlers with deck compasses had given me a reciprocal to paddle if necessary before we started out, I would never rely solely on a piece of electronic gear.) It’s also great for evaluating different hulls and paddles on demo trips.

one advantage of the eTrex and the reason I picked it is the battery life. The eTrex has the longest battery life of any GPS available.

One thing to remember about a GPS. NEVER depend on them. They can and will break down. Always carry a map and compass and know how to use it.


One use
If you want to make a detailed map of a river. Turn one on and mark you significant points–good lunch stops, take outs etc.

you can then overlay that onto a topo map if you have the proper software. It creates a true to form map of the creek–or at least your path down it.

use mine
for trips. Also for hunting , hiking and Geocaching. Works great. As mentioned above a map and compass are really required for back up.

Not for our little lakes out here
in Colo. But, I have managed to take my asparagus hunting to a new level of technology by marking waypoints for the best stands and other small offerings. It’s a competitive endeavor around these parts. The GPS is more of a hiking and other landed use tool for me. Marking good picnic/campsites and etc. Measuring hikes, watching weather, finding back roads,…whatever.


fun for awhile
I have a couple and find that they are so innaccurate that I can only use them as a guide.

While resting on the water, my GPS (which was accurate to 14’) started saying I was 14’ above sea level, then it started to drop unti lI was 14’ below sea level. It never could decide that I WAS at sea level.

But one thing I found that was good was that I did my normal paddle that I can do all day and saw my speed at 3.5 mph.

Then I kicked up to my racing speed that tired me out quickly and saw my speed was 4mph.

So I decided why kill myself for a simple 1/2 mph?

Many many uses
but I find the most valuable use is the ability to mark places that I WILL be traveling before I ever sit my butt in the boat. I like to preload lat/long waypoints of interest from digital maps into my gps especially on my intended route I will be traveling. This way I have a picture in my head and waypoints that I can recognize in the pitch black of night or the unbelieveably thick fog that can happen during the day. I will know where I am in relation to my intended route. I can navigate without any visual contacts. I can tell how far I have to go to get to the beginning, middle, or end of my trip. I like to predesignate waypoints by entering them into my gps by picking spots, about a mile apart or by a point of land or a bouy or geographical feature I will recognize when I see it. Takes a few minutes to set up a route beforehand. Never had a need for an expensive mapping gps. The most basic model will do what I need it to do.

I find my odometer reading always come up short. I find my altimeter completely useless but I really don’t need an altimeter on the ocean. I like having a speedometer. I like having a bearing and heading reading to help me assess currents while I attempting a crossing in wind and currents. I like knowing when the sun will rise and go down. my cheapo gps is pretty cool.

14’ is pretty darn accurate…

– Last Updated: Sep-21-04 6:47 PM EST –

...on x, y, or z axis! GPS calculates a 3D fix - so of course altitude will vary as much as NSEW.

Hard for me to sympathize/relate with someone complaining about 14 feet as if that's an unacceptable error in a Nav device! I mean really - you're joking right?

I'll withhold comment about that 4mph "race" speed! *L*

I was kind of thinking the same
I wonder how accurate his compass would be putting him at a location eight miles away.

Thinking about it, the information coming from a satellite is a hell of a lot as close to precise as you can get.



is fairly accurate. Want better ? Join the military. As for the 4mph race speed, I can hit that in my 9’ rec . boat.

so where do you keep yours?
while you’re paddling? In a dry bag or on the deck under bungees. Are they really waterproof and I just got unlucky (no submersion, salty spray for 8 days with a fresh water rinse from the water bottle at night).