If you enjoy night or ocean kayaking or will be paddling in large lakes or unfamiliar waters, having the best kayak GPS is crucial. It will give you the freedom to explore without the fear of getting lost. To help you find a kayaking GPS you can count on every time, our reviews below take a look at the best kayak GPS units on the market.

When choosing the best GPS for kayaking and hiking, it’s important to ensure that its accuracy is spot on. Depending on the kind of paddling adventures you enjoy, you can opt for a GPS fish finder, a marine chart plotter, or a VHF radio with GPS. For more information on the options available and how to choose the best kayak GPS  for your needs, be sure to check out the buying guide right below the reviews.

How To Choose The Best Kayak GPS – Buying Guide


Water Resistance Rating

First and foremost, the best kayak GPS should be water resistant to at least the IPX7 rating. This will enable the device to stand up to splashes, rain, and even accidental submersion for a short duration. On top of this, it’s nice if the device floats on water. 

Display Size

The screen on a kayaking GPS device should be large and readable both in direct sunlight and at night. The display size on the compact GPS units for kayaking ranges from 2 to 5 inches. The ideal size to go for will depend on whether you plan to mount the device on your kayak or prefer to carry it in your pocket. A mountable device should have a large screen you can read from the comfort of your seat 


As the primary purpose of a kayak GPS unit is to track your current location on a map in order to show you where to go, the ideal GPS unit is one equipped with high-quality maps of the area you intend to explore. Some marine GPS units even come equipped with Blue g2 charts of coastal waters. Alternatively, the device should allow you to download, upload, or create your own maps.  


It goes without saying that GPS for kayakers should support GPS satellites. Beyond this, a GPS system that also interacts with the GLONASS satellite system is even more reliable in challenging environments. WAAS or Wide Area Augmentation System is also a superior option as this technology transmits the signal repeatedly in order to correct slight errors in the unit’s readings.

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Q: Why Use A GPS?


To avoid getting lost. As long as you have the best kayak GPS and it's functioning properly and you know how to use it, it's hard to get lost. GPS helps you determine where you are and how to get to your desired destination. Your GPS device can also determine your boat's speed and the depth of the water you're in.

Q: What About Using A Phone?


Yes, a phone also works well at determining your position. However, you need to have access to Wi-Fi or a cellular network in order to use the mapping software on your phone. When you are out of range and need a GPS system most, your phone becomes useless. This is why it's important to have a dedicated GPS device that works off the grid.

Q: What Is The Difference Between Kayak GPS Units And Fish Finders?


Kayak GPS systems function as navigation devices that tell you where you are and where you need to go, while kayak GPS fish finders double as fish finders and also show you what is beneath the water. A GPS for kayak will use satellites to determine your location while fish finders use sonar to locate fish.

Q: Where Should I keep My Kayak GPS?


Depending on the type of device you have, you can mount your kayak GPS on your kayak or stow it in your pocket. Regardless of where you keep it, make sure it's secure and easily accessible when you need it.

Q: Should I Leave My Compass And Map Behind?


Absolutely not! You should always have a map and compass as backup even when you have a state of the art kayak GPS unit. This is because modern electronic can fail – the battery can run out of juice and the device can malfunction. Such a situation will require you to resort to the tried and tested map and compass for navigation.

Q: Can A Kayak GPS Work In The Dark?


Yes, kayak GPS units work well in the dark. The satellite systems work even at night and most kayak GPS units have a backlit display that's easy to read at night.

Q: Does A Kayak GPS Have A Nautical Chart?


Some kayak GPS devices have a nautical chart but most don't have one. This is why it’s important to pay attention to what each device offers. If you need a nautical chart, choose a unit with chart plotting capabilities and pre-loaded charts.

Q: How Can You Attach Or Mount A Kayak GPS?


Most mountable kayak GPS units come with the equipment to use to mount the unit on your kayak. If your unit doesn’t come with mounting hardware,  you can always purchase a mount or case to use. If you have a handheld GPS device, you can use clips or a lanyard to attach it to your kayak.

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When it is your safety on the line, having the best GPS system is mandatory. When choosing the best kayak GPS, it’s wise to consider what you plan to use your GPS for and then choose a top rated GPS. Hopefully, our reviews and buying guide have made it easier to find the perfect unit for your needs.

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  1. Wide Area Augmentation System