River GPS Advice

Howdy all!

Not sure if such a GPS exists, but I would like to find a hand held waterproof GPS that can navigate rivers in the US. To track river miles and show me where I am in regards to pullout point so I can gauge my progress on longer trips. Also, would NOAA weather updates would be an awesome feature to have as well.

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Yo Han

Map 76CSX
Nearly any handheld GPS will do that for your (except the weather update part).

I suggest the Garmin Map 76CSX because its a great unit and also because it floats. You’ll need mapping software to show stream detail. Garmin’s Mapsource Topo will do the job nicely. They also sell an Inland Lakes map software that has streams. Topo might be a bit more versatile if you are also a hiker.

With this unit you can also use it for turn by turn driving instructions with the proper software installed (City Navigator).

Any of them will do just what you want
If your budget is low just start with the Garmin little yellow Etrex.

Be wary though: after three or four months in hot sun, they are not water proof any more.

I don’t much care what anyone else will tell you here.

I fried a Etrex and my wife fried a Garmin map 76.

I am not talking about the battery case, but the glue that keeps the case together breaks down.

We now keep ours in clear plastic watertight pouches, that still enable us to easily operate and read them.

On the NOAH radio, I found the most reliable after many years of trying the little ones is my VHF radio.

I can almost always pick up the local forcast.



any gps will do
I just completed a 215 km (about 120 miles) trip on my home river. I navigated the entire route using a very basic Garmin Geko, which has only a small monochrome screen and no mapping capabilities.

What I did was to set up a route down the river by clicking on various waypoints (bends in the river, put-ins, bridges, etc) on Google Earth, save the file as KML, then convert to GPX and upload to the GPS unit. A bit tedious, but it did the trick. Note that it’s impossible to get lost on this river, and a careful watch of the paper river map always gave me a good idea of where I was anyway. But it’s nice to see speed/distance data directly.

I used a similar technique to lead a group through the Broken Islands Group on the West Coast. I scanned the marine chart, plotted the contours of each island digitally and uploaded to my GPS. I’m a prairies boy and have no real experience with even elementary marine navigation, so having a detail digital map was reassuring (espcially sicne I hade six other people relying on my routefinding abilities!).

Newer / more expensive models will have maps built in , so that can save a lot of work.

I bought a small cell-phone type holster for the Geko which allows me to press buttons and see the screen, but also secures the unit to my deck bungy cords. The only problem I’ve encountered is a bit of corrosion on the contact points on the rear of the GPS, which I lightly sanded off.

You may wish to look at soft cases that keep your unit dry while allowing you to manipulate buttons. Sometimes sticking the GPS in your map case will work too.

For my money, Garmin seems to make the best units. If you’re looking a mapping unit, bigger and full colour screens are the way to go. Carefully evaluate their readability in full sunlight. The message forums at http://www.geocaching.com/ are a source of lots of good GPS info from enthusiasts.

The previous advice is corrent in that most GPS’s will perform this function but you’ll need some reference as to the pullout points and some method to get them into your GPS.

When I did my last trip, I found a good reference on the net to various points of interest along with their lat/long points. I joined google earth and was able to upload these into their site and make both paper maps (for backup) and then I downloaded these points into my old Garmin V.

Worked like a charm - rarly did I pull out the Garmin - I used the papermaps instead. An added bonus was the ability to print a map for each day and leave that with my wife and buddies in case I needed help. Each one had the start/stop point along with contact info for the local sheriff’s department. Yep - it was probably overkill but it gave my wife some peace of mind and that’s hard to put a value on.

If the GPS quit, I would have been fine w/ the paper maps also.

All you need are the coordinates…
which you can take off any of the State Delorme Atlases that they sell in Wally World and many other stores.

the boat launches are represented by a little boat icon.

With a couple of triangles you can take off the coordinates. Then punch in a way point, and change the existing coordinates that you punched in to be the ones where you want to go. Then do a “go to”

The GPS will tell you how far it is and your estimated ETA. - Just follow the arrow.

You can do all that you want and make a route, with as many way points as you want.

Keep a good supply of batteries, since you will only get about two full days out of a set.

I wrote a basic tutorial on “coordinates” a few years ago for a P-net poster, and if any one would like a copy I will be glad to e-nmail you one.



Thanks all!
Great points on using google earth or a paper map with gps coordinates. I have an old geko so I could just punch way points in on top of having a paper map and save me some $$. Thanks all for your inputs!

Yo Han

It will save you money, but there is nothing like having the detailed map right on your unit, so you can see where you are in real time on the river and how far the next stop or campsite is.