Kayaks allow you to travel places that hiking wont. There are many awesome areas to be explored that have solely water access. Many experienced kayakers often enjoy heading out on longer trips and to more rustic waters to continue their adventures. While in many places you can travel through multiple lake systems, you can even venture into the ocean. When doing so it is best to have the best kayak GPS for the sea that will work to give you the most freedom while keeping you safe.

The best gps for kayaking and hiking will allow you to travel further without concern for getting lost. This will help guide your trip and keep you on your planned course.

Your safety is important, that is why it is so crucial to ensure that the GPS you choose is the best kayak GPS on the market. To help you find just that, we found the best that you can get and listed them below.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

How To Choose The Best Kayak GPS – Buying Guide


When deciding on which to buy, it is important to consider getting the top rated gps on the market. When it is your safety on the line, having the best isn’t an option. It is helpful when you begin your search to pay attention to a few key features.

Water Rating

When buying the best kayak GPS it is important to pay close attention to the water rating on the unity. As it will spend a lot of its time in the water, this is an important consideration. When discussing water ratings there are a couple different terms used to describe their tolerance to water. Lots of units are water resistant to a few drops of rain or splashed water. This is not ideal for kayaking as it will likely get wetter than this. Some GPS’s allow you to submerge your device but only momentarily. The best devices are completely waterproof allowing longer exposure to being completely submerged. With kayaking, either of the last two options is most ideal.

Display Size

Similar to other electronics, the display size for your GPS will be measured in terms of inches in length diagonally over your screen. From corner to corner most GPS’s range in size between 2 and 5 inches.

Before deciding what size is best for you, it is wise to consider a few things. First, do you plan to mount your GPS to your kayak or rather have it in your pocket? Mounting it may require a larger screen as it will sit further from your sight. For those looking to use their GPS for a variety of activities, having one with a more compact size may be your best option.


As the primary purpose of a GPS is to track your current location on a map in order to ensure that you know where you are at all times. For this reason, paying attention to the maps on your device should be of the utmost priority.

The device you choose should be equipped with a world base map. Additionally, many quality units offer downloadable additional maps that can be stored on a micro SD card. Ones specifically designed for use on the water will have water detail, often called “blue maps”.

While some units use storage cards to hold their information, this is less ideal as they are too small. This is especially true when looking to save detailed maps. Instead, opting for a GPS that uses satellites will help to give you the best data needed. This type of programming will require you to get a subscription. Most often, the first couple of months will be included with your purchase followed by annual fees.


GPS devices originated in the USA. They utilize 31 US different satellites in order to give you the most accurate tracking of your current locations. While this is ideal, many companies have now paired with GLONASS, a Russian system, which provides even more accurate readings. This is because it combines with the 24 satellites from GLONASS.

WASS, or Wide Area Augmentation System, is a technology used to correct any slight errors in your units readings. This is because the signal is transmitted more often in an effort to correct any imperfect measurements. This is especially ideal when combined with the GLONASS system. A very high end unit will even provide weather reading which can be very useful out in the wilderness.



Q: Why Use A GPS?


GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The US government first developed the satellite technology for locating and guiding submarines. The military technology was so useful that they opened up the technology to the world, and now people are able to track where they are and find a route to their chosen destination. But, why should you use it when kayaking?

A GPS can show you your exact location. As long as your GPS is functioning properly, then you can never be lost. The satellites above are able to give such a precise reading of your coordinates, that it makes it easy to plan your journey. A GPS can also tell you your speed. When you combine the two, you can effectively plan a journey.

If you are starting out at a point, then the best kayak GPS can help you to plan the route between your starting point and your destination. This allows you to calculate how fast you need to go or how much time you need to get there. As you are traveling, you can also track the distance remaining, your speed, and how far you have traveled. This information allows you to better plan your journey when you are mid-route.

Q: What About Using A Phone?


Yes, but not all the time. Most of us use cell phones to track where we are, and to map out a route between A and B. They work well most of the time. The main problem with cell phones is that you need to have wifi coverage or access to a cellular network to access the mapping software. When you are out of range, the map will not work. When you are kayaking, you are often so far from civilization, that your cell phone will be useless.

The other downside is that a cellular phone does not typically have your gas stored. A GPS will have your maps stored on the device, and the maps are being constantly updated. You can also often find that you get a lot more information about your gps than a cell phone will give you.

Q: Kayak GPS Units And Fish Finders?


When you combine a GPS and a Fish Finder, you can get a great experience out in the water. A lot of people think that they are the same technology, but they are very different. GPS map the land above, while fish finders map what is beneath the water. A GPS will use satellites to send and transmit information, but that is useless for below the water. Fish finders use sonar to bounce signals off of the bed at the bottom of the water, or any object in the way (which are usually the fish).

A GPS will help you to navigate through the water, while a fish finder will help you to find the fish. When you use both, you can find the fish with your finder, and mark this information on your GPS.

Q: Where Should I keep My Kayak GPS?


You are going to be in the water, so you should make sure that you keep your GPS dry. If you have a GPS which is waterproof, then you do not have to worry too much about it, but if your GPS is not waterproof, then you should keep it in a waterproof and protective case.

Q: Should I Leave My Compass And Map Behind?


What would you do if the batteries in your GPS ran out? Or if the GPS malfunctioned? A GPS can be an essential part of your kit, but you should always have a map and compass on you, just in case you need to resort to the tried and tested methods.

Q: Can A Kayak GPS Work In The Dark?


It can, but the darker it gets, the less chance your GPS will have of working. If you are kayaking through the day when the sun is bright, then you should have no problems, but when the sun starts to go down, you may notice that the GPS is less effective. The same is true for in the early morning. As the sun is rising, the GPS may not be fully effective until the sun has fully risen.

Q: Does A Kayak GPS Have A Nautical Chart?


It depends on the type of GPS you purchase. The more money you spend, the more features you will have at your disposal (generally). One of this features could be a nautical chart. You should research each GPS individually to find out whether or not the GPS has one. Our recommendation is to try and find a GPS which does have a nautical chart. They are a great addition to your GPS and will give you a lot of additional information. A nautical chart is constantly updated with information which will aid you in your fishing and leisure trips. You can find out about areas with rocks, shoals, marine aids, current information, and more.

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


Yes, you can. Some GPS will come with mounting equipment and some will not. Again, you will have to do a little research on the GPS which you are looking at. We would always recommend purchasing a GPS which can be mounted to your kayak. If you cannot find a GPS which can be mounted to your kayak, then you can always find a protective cover or case which can be mounted.

Globo Surf Overview

When choosing the best kayak GPS, it is wise to consider what you plan to use your GPS for. For those, that plan to use it often on a variety of different activities, opting for a higher end GPS may be worthwhile. Be sure to take into account what types of activities you plan to do before deciding on your ideal unit. Whenever possible, opting for a fully waterproof one will be incredibly beneficial.

More Kayak Reviews:


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Do you use one of the kayak GPS that made it on our list? Talk to us about how you find it in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!