Best GPS For Kayaking: 10 Top Picks and Complete Guide

Best GPS for Kayaking

Looking for the best GPS for kayaking?

Undoubtedly, when you are on the water you cannot rely on your smartphone to approach different fishing spots because you can easily drop your phone in the water. Hence, a good and waterproof GPS is a much better option. Furthermore, a GPS system has many other features that your smartphone does not support.

However, the trickiest part here is finding the best GPS for kayaking because there are ample things you should keep in mind like battery life, water-resistance, or navigation features.

As a mad paddler and angler myself, I prepared a handy guide on how to choose the best GPS for kayaking and also found 10 products that will fulfill your needs.

Whether you have a sit-in kayak or sit-on-top kayak, a GPS device is always a good plus. If you are interested in getting a brand new kayak, you can take a quick look at our top picks here.

You should not put off your needs and today is a great day to invest in a useful GPS system. We will start with a detailed rundown of a GPS Buying Guide.

Table of Contents

How to Choose the Best GPS for Kayaking-Things to Consider

best GPS for Kayaking

If you are looking for detailed steps on how to select a good GPS, you came to the right place! Honest confession, these new GPS systems can be quite tricky and most paddlers are not really familiar with them.

You should know that GPS systems for kayaks are similar to fish finders. There is no doubt that a fish finder will give you more options when it comes to fishing, but some GPS devices feature not only mapping and navigation characteristics, but also bottom structure imaging. 

The combination of modern technological advancements and science created helpful devices. A few years ago it was almost impossible to locate fish, view an almost photo-like view of the great underwater world or navigate with a small device that can be also mounted on a small vessel. Many years ago, a GPS was definitely not a must-have item for two reasons.

Firstly, there were extremely expensive and secondly, they were too heavy. 

Fortunately, in the last ten years, many fish finders and GPS systems became affordable so you do not have to break the bank to get a cutting-edge device. Don’t worry! We can help you out. We will start from the basics and move on to more complicated details you should know.

It goes without saying that if you are fishing with your kayak, you definitely need a GPS system. If you are looking for a good fishing kayak, we have a detailed buying guide that will help you out. Click here and find out 

 Fish Finder and GPS Combination – The philosophy behind this incredible technology

Gone are the days when fishermen had no idea about the underwater world and blindly tried to find out the depth. They could not mark a spot and could never find exactly where they were fishing. Today, we have these effective tools. There are numerous GPS options on the market and some anglers may feel confused.

 Hopefully, our article will be able to answer your questions and concerns and analyze some basic features. 

In a few words, the device consists of a simple screen (main unit with an in-built signal receiver) that shows you the depth, fish, bottom structure under your boat. Furthermore, there is a transducer device that is mounted on the boat.

Just to start out with, the main unit produces a high voltage signal (600-2000 volt) and the transducer converts it into mechanical energy. The transducer (also called eye) sends (emits) the signal and it bounces off the fish or seabed.

This signal (pulse) returns to the transducer and sends the information to the main unit. You should know that the accuracy of the signal depends on three factors. Power, screen resolution, cone angle, and sonar system. If you are interested in getting a fish finder with incredible features you can click here

Battery Life

Just to start out with, since you are on the water, you will need a long-lasting battery. Most GPS devices are compatible with simple AA batteries (two or three), but others come with rechargeable batteries.

We would not recommend a GPS with rechargeable batteries especially for you kayak enthusiasts for one reason. When you are kayaking, you will not be able to charge your device. On the other hand, if you have a GPS with AA batteries, you can just replace them with new ones. 

Moreover, a typical GPS will last almost 20-25 hours (with GPS enabled) and up to 40-50 hours in the saving mode. You should always check the battery runtime of your device before selecting a GPS. 

Select a Waterproof Device

Dirt, dust, mud, rain, and water could damage your device within a few days if you do not select a waterproof GPS. When it comes to kayaking with a handheld GPS, you should look for an absolutely waterproof GPS with an IPX7 waterproof classification. IPX7 means that the GPS will be protected from immersion between 5-inches and 40-inches in depth.

Practically, when you are paddling, your device will get wet. On the other hand, if you will use a mini GPS or a deeper pro GPS which connects to your smartphone you will need a waterproof case and kayak mount. Another thing that you should know is that some GPS models are not only IPX7 waterproof but they also float on the water like the GARMIN 78S.

Choose a Device with Pre-loaded Maps

Since we are talking about the best GPS for kayaking, we should mention that almost all models come with an in-built map or you can easily download maps. For example, most GARMIN models have two versions (with maps or not), but believe me, the price difference is small.

If you are a kayak angler, you should definitely select fish finder-GPS models like the Garmin Striker 4 .

They will show you more details about the bottom structure, currents, and fish activity under your vessel. You can download additional maps on a Micro SD card or download them directly if the device supports Wi-fi connectivity. 


Receiving automatic downloads when it comes to geocaching is a huge plus for all kayakers who want to explore hidden treasures. Garmin for example features the Garmin Express app. You have to download the app, search for geocaches, and send them to your device. 

More specifically, geocaching is a worldwide outdoor game! There are millions of containers hidden all across the country and you will have to search for them with specific coordinates, find the container, sign the logbook, and put it back. 

Waypoints-Trip Planning

Another thing that you should keep in mind is that you will need a GPS that offers you the feature to create waypoints and mark spots. If you find a good fishing spot that holds big fish, you can save it. There are some devices on the market that give you the option to share your fishing spot coordination with your friends through Bluetooth. 

Furthermore, I would like to inform all kayakers that safety comes always first! Before every fishing trip, you should plan and enter your route manually on the GPS, so if you get lost, you will easily find your way back to the shore. 

A GPS will Help You to Create Your Own Paddling Profile

Modern GPS systems are equipped with numerous features that can help you understand your paddling style and how different factors affect you. A speedometer is absolutely necessary if you want to check your speed. Personally, I am a kayak angler since I was very young and I was using two different paddles. I never realized that with the curved blade paddle I was paddling too slow! I had to test different paddling styles and realized that I had to pull the paddle early from the water right after the stroke. 

Best GPS for Kayaking| Top 10 Devices Reviewed and Tested

There are many places waiting to be explored and it is time to take control of your fishing adventures. So, you are looking around for the best GPS for kayaking and you are like “Good, I cannot decide which is the best one”. We are here to save you all that time! Here are the best GPS systems for your vessel which do not only offer navigational aid, but also many other plus features. 

1.Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4



  • Display Size: 4.3-Inch
  • Sonar Depth:  320 ft (20) 455 kHz, 600 ft (20) 200 kHz
  • Mounting: Inside Hull Installation or Transom
  • Waterproof Class: IPX7



We will start with a classic Humminbird model, the Piranhamax 4 which offers a really clear and sharp image LCD display. Thanks to the dual-beam sonar you can choose between two beams, the narrow one and the wide one. 

Additionally, it is like a portable fish finder with tremendous features for all kayaks. There is a tilt and swivel mount and you will not need a big battery to power this unit. 


  • Features DownScan
  • High-Quality LCD Display
  • Excellent Mounting Options for all kayaks



  • No navigation option

2.Garmin eTrex 20x 



  • Display Size: 2.2″
  • Resolution: 240×320 pixels
  • Routes: 200
  • Waterproof: YES and Fully Rugged 



A good an inexpensive kayak GPS  is a huge plus for every paddler. The GPS system of this device is highly sensitive and it offers excellent navigation and you will never go off-trail. You can create GPX files and you will not have to input coordination manually. 

You can just plan some routes, send them to the device and you are ready to explore another great place with your kayak! The device is really small so you can even store it in your kayak hatch or your backpack. 

Another thing that you should keep in mind about this GPS is that it is perfect for kayaking as it is fully waterproof and rugged. If you drop it accidentally, you should know that the screen will not smash. 

Furthermore, it works with two small AA batteries which will give you approximately 16 hours runtime. When I first tested the device, I was surprised how quickly I could mark different waypoints and find them within seconds.  If you want to extend your battery runtime, you can bring two additional batteries with you and replace them while on the water. 


  • It is waterproof
  • Easy-to-handle device
  • Superior construction
  • Lightweight and Small


  • Could have better resolution

3.Garmin eTrex  10 Handheld 



  • Display Size: 2.2″
  • WAAS: Enabled GPS Receiver
  • Waterproof Classification: IPX7
  • Power: 2 AA Batteries



This is a device that will take you to wonderful trips with their “sweet words” as it features revolutionary characteristics. When you turn on the device you will see a detailed menu with some options like map, mark waypoint, compass, trip computer and you can check your battery condition. 

It is a great device with up to 25 hours runtime. In addition, it contains a worldwide basemap, but you can also load your own maps as it supports geocaching GPX files. If you are interested in a simple GPS system, we would strongly recommend this Garmin eTrex 10 device. 

This GPS is IPX7 certified which means that water splashes will not damage the device and it can be immersed in the water for some time. 


  • Accurate Compass
  • Highly Sensitive GPS
  • Long Battery Life
  • Easy to setup


  • There is no belt clip so you must hold it in your hands or install a GPS mount

4.Venterior Portable Fish Finder with Sonar


  • Power: 4 AAA batteries
  • Runtime: 5 hours
  • Sonar Included: YES
  • Warranty: 2-years



This is not a GPS, but it is a handheld small fish finder which is the most inexpensive option for kayaks! It detects accurately water depth, fish, and water temperature. The LCD display enables you to read in direct sunlight which you will not find even in many expensive fish finders. 

The sonar frequency is 200 kHz and emits a 45 angle beam. Additionally, there is one thing that I could not believe until I tested it myself. It is able to show depths up to 100 m! I did checked it in 100 m, but in 70 m and the accuracy surprised me. 


  • Portable
  • Incredible accuracy when it comes to depth
  • Lightweight sonar
  • Sonar does not need any installation



  • No GPS
  • No bottom structure imaging

5. Garmin Striker 4 GPS Combo


  • Display Size: 3.5-Inch
  • Fish Finder with GPS: YES
  • Transducer: Included



Explore the water with the best GPS for kayaking and it is the GARMIN Striker which combines a strong GPS and a fish finder. Undoubtedly, it is a device with high-end characteristics that refer to serious paddlers or anglers who want to invest in a good tool. 

The GPS can detect your position quickly and you can mark many waypoints and fishing spots. Another thing that you will definitely find helpful is that there is an in-built speedometer to detect your vessel speed! Additionally, it benefits from a cutting-edge CHIRP transducer. If you want to learn more things about fish finders, you can click here.

Once you turn on the device, there is not much to be set. You can see GPS Speed, GPS Heading, and Depth. There is no doubt that it is a handy tool that will add value to your fishing arsenal.


  • Combination of GPS and fish finder
  • You can mark your fishing spots with one click
  • Lightweight construction which can be easily mounted on your kayak
  • Affordable


  • You will need an extra 12V battery which you will have to store in your vessel

6.Deeper Pro Smart with GPS and Lakebook Mapping 


  • Connection: Wi-fi
  • Depth Range: 260 ft.
  • Maps: Lakebook and Deeper bathymetric maps



Weighing only 0.75 pounds, it is one of the best GPS for kayaking as you do not need any extra devices to use the Deeper Pro except for your smartphone or tablet. Actually, it is a small ball that works as a sonar and GPS at the same time.

Another great thing that you will enjoy is that you can create your own bathymetric maps from your kayak. The sonar sports an in-built GPS so you can create the maps even from the shore.

Additionally, you will like the fact that it is not only a GPS but also a small fish finder. You can easily learn the topography, depths, structures, and spots. Personally, I used it several times when I was kayak fishing in Weaver Lake for some fall bass and I was impressed how accurate the GPS was.

I cast it from my kayak and the device turned automatically on! You will see a small satellite icon on your smartphone screen and once it’s green, it found your location. Remember to use a strong monofilament line to cast out the Deeper Pro. If you are on the shore and want to create maps, cast it out and retrieve the line slowly. 


  • Portable Device
  • Excellent Mapping Accuracy
  • Excellent for kayaking
  • Afforable


  • The only downfall here is that you will have to use your smartphone as a display so you will need a smartphone kayak mount

7.GARMIN GPSMAP 78S Navigator


  • Display Size: 2.6-Inch
  • Mapping: Worldwide Basemap 
  • Compass: YES
  • Memory: 1.7MB
  • Power: 2 AA Batteries (included)



With a construction that fuses durability with high-sensitivity sensors, the GARMIN 78S deserves a place in the list with the best GPS for kayaking. But the most amazing thing about this GPS is that it floats on the water!

When I tested the device, I dropped it in the water and it did not sink! That’s really amazing if you are a watersport fan. The device features a 3-axis tilt compass and you can save your waypoints and spots easily. 

Moreover, if you saved a good fishing spot you can easily send it to your friends through your GARMIN device. Despite the fact that we are living in the age of the smartphone, this GARMIN GPS continues to be a best-seller item. The built-in charts are really helpful and they are highly-detailed marine charts with shorelines depth contours, harbors, marinas etc. 


  • Floats on the water
  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • Contains maps but you can also upload more
  • You can share data with your friends
  • Barometric Pressure feature (predicts weather changes)


  • Quite expensive

8.Garmin InReach Mini GPS



  • Device Size: 1.27 inches
  • Charts: US NOAA Charts
  • Display Resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
  • Wireless connection with Smartphone: Bluetooth



This is not just a GPS device, but also a satellite messenger which is extremely helpful if you are in danger and you cannot use your smartphone for some reason. You can pair it with your smartphone and get full access to a detailed full-size map where you can see your position and mark spots. 

This is a device you can rely on if you like exploring different waters. There is an optional weather forecast service that you can use to get weather updates. 

Additionally, you will not need to buy batteries for this device as it includes a rechargeable battery that will last up to 50 hours. However, if you select the power saving mode the battery will last up to 20 days. 


  • The most lightweight GPS
  • Battery included
  • Best device for emergency situations
  • Accurate GPS


  • If you want to use the device as a satellite messenger you will need a subscription plan which you can get on annual or monthly basis




  • Display Size: 3″
  • Satellite System: Multiple Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
  • Compass: YES
  • Barometric Altimeter: YES
  • Maps: TOPO US maps
  • Flashlight: YES



First of all, this is one of the latest GARMIN GPS models and comes with preloaded maps so you can use it immediately after purchase and you don’t have to download maps. The topographic maps are really detailed and they include numerous lakes, rivers, and coastlines. 

There are two GARMIN 66 models. The 66s does not include any maps and the 66st comes with preloaded maps. We would highly recommend the 66st because there is not such a big price difference between these two models. 

I am a big fan of GARMIN and their products always last a lifetime. The device feels great in the hand and the exterior is fully rubberized. Lastly, I would like to outline the feature that GARMIN offers Birdseye Satellite Imagery for free. It is a great way to get photorealistic pictures of your current position directly downloaded to your GPS device. Click here to learn more about GARMIN Birdseye


  • Tremendous Accuracy
  • Easy to use
  • Compact Design
  • Excellent GARMIN customer support


  • Some people claim that Birdseye view offers bad quality location pictures

10.GARMIN Touchscreen GPS with preloaded maps



  • Display Size: 3-inch
  • Maps: TOPO US or Canada maps included
  • Screen: Touchscreen
  • LED Flashlight: YES
  • Camera: YES 8 MP


If you are looking for a great option and you have the convenience to invest in a good device, the Garmin Touchscreen model is the best GPS for kayaking when it comes to plenty of functionalities. 

Firstly, the device seems more like a smartphone than a GPS. However, it is much sturdier than a smartphone. 

The device is totally waterproof with a waterproof classification IPX7 and there is also an 8 Megapixel camera to capture a nice kayaking moment. Additionally, there is an accelerometer to measure your paddling speed and a nice and accurate compass. 

Personally, I like the geocaching live feature that sends updates to your device through the wi-fi or Bluetooth link. Moreover, it utilizes animated overlays of the weather and Garmin offers you a 1-year Birdseye Subscription, which you can easily renew if you like it through the official Garmin website.


  • Features a touchscreen
  • 1-year free Garmin Birdseye subscription
  • Camera
  • Preloaded maps


  • Medium Resolution Camera
  • Quite expensive




If you choose a GPS system that implies the use of your smartphone as a display, you should definitely get a bracket mount for your kayak. Paddling and hold your smartphone at the same time is not a good idea. 

Most kayaks have a cupholder so we selected this mount that fits in the socket. You will not need any drills or special installation. The Bracketron Mount fits cupholders up to 3.75″ it is made to hold almost every smartphone size. 

With a 360 rotating shaft, this mount is a perfect addition for your kayak. This versatile kayak phone holder will keep your device safe and sound. Enjoy a hands-free paddling experience without worrying about your smartphone. For extra safety, you can put your phone in a waterproof case. 


  • Handsfree Fishing
  • Rotating neck
  • Anti-skid Surface
  • You can just put it in your cupholder (no installation needed)
  • Affordable


  • Poor quality plastic

Best GPS for Kayaking - In-depth FAQs

Q: Should I select a GPS handheld device or a Fish Finder GPS?

A: Fishfinders are practically made for anglers so they utilize more features than a simple GPS. Fishfinders put a lot of emphasis on topographic maps and usually, you will need a transducer. If you have a fishing kayak, we would recommend a fishfinder with GPS instead of a simple GPS device. 

Q: Can I rely on a small handheld GPS?

A: It goes without saying that these devices are highly accurate, but this depends on the quality of the GPS. Garmin uses the best GPS systems which will not let you down. However, you should never underestimate good navigational skills and you will have to check the weather prediction before heading out to the water. 

The weather can change quickly, so you must be prepared to find your way home even in difficult conditions like fog. 

Q: I need a nautical chart map. Do all models that feature in-built maps have nautical maps too?

A: Unfortunately, most devices with pre-installed maps do not come with nautical charts. This is a feature that you will have to download yourself or look for a device that implies nautical maps.

Q: Do I need a GPS for Kayaking?

A: A GPS is not only the best way to save waypoints and fishing spots but also a necessary tool if you like to explore remote places. If you get lost, you can share your coordination so they rescue team can find you quickly. Moreover, there are some GPS devices that support satellite messaging systems even if your phone does not turn on. (Garmin inReach Mini)

Q: I don’t need a GPS since I can use my smartphone.

A: This perception is absolutely wrong because there are many differences between a handheld GPS and a smartphone and the most important is battery lifetime. A GPS can last up to 25 hours with the GPS option enabled. On the other hand, your smartphone’s battery will last only 12 hours maximum. 

Q: Does screen size really matter?

A: When it comes to kayaking, you should select a device with a good resolution screen. To my way of thinking, size does not really matter, but the quality plays a huge role. You should select a GPS with a screen that can be read during direct sunlight. 



Finally, most GPS models are equipped with different features and navigational options. You will have to pay attention to the different features that will make your next kayaking trip better. If you want to keep track of your speed, you can choose a model with an accelerometer or if you need a model that can predict the weather, you should choose a GPS with a barometric Pressure feature.  

After deciding to invest money in a GPS device, the last thing you want is to pay extra money. Hence, you should select a GPS with already built-in maps.

Lastly, you should know that you cannot rely on a GPS device completely. It goes without saying that they are highly-accurate, but excellent navigational skills are absolutely necessary especially if you are approaching remote places. 

Hopefully, our article helped you to select the best GPS for kayaking. Stay tuned for more Outdoor Stuff Guides..