The 5 Best Kayak GPS Systems On The Market – Guide & Reviews

Best Kayak GPS Comparison Chart

Water Rating
Battery Life
Screen Size
Additional Features
Bottom line
Best Overall
Garmin GPSMAP 66i
8.1 ounces
2.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
GPS and Galileo
Rechargeable lithium battery
35 hours (10-minute tracking) or up to 200 hours (power save mode)
Internal Memory: 16GB
External Memory: up to 32GB microSD card
3 inches
Satellite phone capabilities
Direct-to-device Birdseye Satellite Imagery downloads
Altimeter, barometer, and compass navigation
Carabiner clip
Wireless connectivity
Preloaded TOPO mapping, long battery life, functions like a phone, triggers SOS message in case of emergency, can provide weather updates and forecasts, and has a built-in LED flashlight
Here’s a kayak GPS unit that’s highly reliable, accurate, and has everything you need to find your way back, remember your favorite fishing spots, and just be safe on the water.
Best Bang for the Buck
Best with Fish Finder
Garmin Striker 4
8.1 ounces
3.6 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
12V external battery
Approx. 30 hours
Can save up to 5,000 waypoints and locations
3.5 inches
Sonar capable
Fish Finder
Tilt/Swivel mount
Transom and motor mounts
Monitors speed
Comes in a complete portable kit, is affordable, can help you catch fish, very long battery life
Carry bag and the battery can take up quite a space in a kayak
This is a great choice if you’re looking for a GPS that also functions as a fish finder but without the hefty price tag.
Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Nav
60.8 ounces
7.55 x 3.3 x 4.64 inches
12V external battery
Depends on your battery
Can save up to 2500 waypoints
External Memory: MicroSD card
5 inches
Sonar capable
Fish Finder
Down Imaging
Speed and water temperature tracker
GPS/WAAS receiver
Comes with a Navionics+ SD card and built-in basemap, allows you to see a clearer view beneath your kayak, and is designed to help you see and catch fish
The battery and the unit itself can take up quite a space in a kayak
If you’re looking for a reliable GPS with fish finder features and have space in your yak, then this is your best choice.
Best Wearable GPS
Garmin Instinct Watch with GPS
1.83 ounces
1.77 x 1.77 x 0.60 inches
10 ATM
GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo
Rechargeable lithium battery
Up to 14 days (smartwatch mode)
Up to 16 hours (GPS modes)
Internal Memory: 16MB
1.27 inches
Compass and barometric altimeter
Monitors heart rate, activity, and stress
Rugged, compatible with multiple global navigation satellite systems, cool look, comfortable to wear, excellent GPS accuracy, and has a long battery life
Small screen
This is a GPS that you can wear, is portable, looks great, and is accurate in helping you navigate your way back.
Garmin GPSMAP 79SC Marine
9.95 ounces
2.67 x 6.85 x 1.67 inches
Replaceable AA batteries
19 hours
Internal Memory: 8GB
3 inches
Built-in compass
Bluechart coverage
Floats, support multiple satellite constellations, have large memory, and are designed for the water
Can take some time to learn
This is an extremely accurate handheld GPS with an impressively long battery life and designed with everything you need navigate the waters while kayaking. Plus it floats!

Global Positioning System, more commonly called GPS, is one of the most convenient accessories you can take with you when kayaking, fishing, or both. But with several models and brands on the market with varying prices and features, it can be difficult to choose which one you should go with.

To help you decide, we have made a list of the best GPS for kayaking and fishing. We have also included the factors you need to consider when buying one to make sure you’ll end up with the right unit for your needs. 

How We Chose the Best GPS for Kayak?

We have spent hours and hours looking for all the GPS kayak fishing units we could find. Once we have seen what was available in the market, we created a shortlist of all those with the highest ratings and the most recommended by paddlers and anglers. 

To cut down our list, we then put together the products and compared them against each other. We looked at their price, features, functionality, reliability, and overall quality. From there, we discussed among our team which ones to include and which ones to drop. After much consideration, we were then left with only the best GPS kayak fishing units you can buy today. 

So whichever one you choose, we guarantee that it’s the best and most reliable device for guiding you on the water, saving great fishing spots, and helping you find your way back no matter what. 

Top 5 Best GPS for Kayaking

Why we love it: 

  • Large memory
  • Lots of additional features
  • Has a built-in LED flashlight

GNSS Compatibility:


  • GPS
  • Galileo

Our top pick for the best GPS for kayaking and hiking is the Garmin GPSMAP 66i. It has everything you need to get to your destination and back with its ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, and 3-axis electronic compass) and preloaded TopoActive maps (U.S and Canada), allowing you to see coastlines, lakes, rivers, and geographical points. 

What’s great about this GPS is that it also supports Birdseye Satellite Imagery, so you can download high-res and photo-realistic maps directly to the device without paying an annual subscription. This makes it easier for you to create waypoints, find trails, and more. 

Another thing we like about the Garmin GPSMAP 66i and why we also think it’s the best GPS for sea kayaking is that it features inReach technology. With a satellite subscription, you can exchange text messages, post on social media, and communicate with anyone in the field. You can also use it to send an SOS message in case of an emergency and share your location. 

So in cases where there’s no cellular coverage, Wi-Fi, and the internet, you’re sure to find your way back, know where you are going, save your fishing spots, and always stay safe with this GPS device. 


  • ZFunctions like a phone
  • ZTriggers SOS in case of emergency
  • ZProvides weather updates and forecasts
  • ZLong battery life


  • QPricey

Why we love it: 

  • Easy to install
  • Includes a carry case, rechargeable battery, and CHIRP transducer
  • Has built-in flasher
  • Has Fish Finder
  • Has Sonar

What it is best for:

  • GPS

The Garmin Striker 4 is an easy choice for one of the best GPS kayak devices on the market. With it, you can save and go back to your favorite hot spots, docks, and boat ramps with ease. At the same time, it also has a CHIRP sonar. So you can track the conditions under your kayak and find fish. 

This fish finder with GPS can also help you check your speed. This is a handy feature that can help make sure you’re trolling at the right speed for the particular fish species you’re trying to catch and the lure you are using. Plus, it’s equipped with a flasher. So you’ll see the depth, fishes passing through, your lure, and how the fishes are reacting to your lure. Thus, you’ll have better odds of catching a fish, especially when you’re ice fishing or vertical jiggling. 

Not only is the Garmin Striker 4 a fish finder and flasher with a high-sensitivity GPS, but it also comes with everything you need. It includes a rechargeable battery, a CHIRP transducer, and a portable carrying case, making it easy to take on your fishing trips. It also comes with a tilt/swivel mount and transom and trolling mounting kit, so you’ll have no problems putting it in your kayak. What’s even more surprising? You’ll get all these at a surprisingly affordable price. 


  • ZComes with everything you need
  • ZAffordable
  • ZVery long battery life
  • ZCan be used as a fish finder


  • QCarry bag and the battery can take up quite a space in a kayak

Why we love it: 

  • Widescreen
  • CHIRP sonar
  • Down imaging

GNSS Compatibility:


If you’re looking for a GPS and fish finder combo with plenty of features to help you with your fishing game, then consider the Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Nav. It has a 5-inch widescreen LED-backlit display, which is the biggest screen size on our list. More importantly, it includes a Navionics+ SD card, so you’ll have access to map coverage of over 21,000 lakes and waterbodies in the U.S. and Canada. 

Aside from its GPS feature, this device is equipped with a CHIRP digital sonar to help you see fish. It also has a down imaging feature that can help you see what’s happening below your kayak. So as you go around, you can see brush, rocks, timber, and other structures with amazing detail. 

Furthermore, the Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Nav has an enhanced built-in base map. It is based on freshwater data from NOAA and LakeMaster, which are the most trusted salt water sources. That said, you’ll have accurate maps at the tips of your fingers. You’ll have a clear view of the underwater terrain and identify hazards, marinas depth markings, contours, and many more. 

Take note, however, that this GPS requires an external battery. It’s also a bit bigger than many GPS devices. If you have plenty of space in your kayak, then this wouldn’t matter. For small kayaks with very limited storage, however, you may want to reconsider. 


  • ZCan be used as a fish finder
  • ZHas map coverage of over 21,000 lakes and waterbodies
  • ZVery accurate


  • QThe battery and the unit itself can take up quite a space in a kayak

Why we love it: 

  • Preloaded with kayaking activity
  • Has a 3-axis compass, barometric, and altimeter
  • Monitors heart rate, activity, and stress

GNSS Compatibility:

  • GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo

If you prefer a GPS device with a lighter and slimmer profile, then you might want to consider the Garmin Instinct Watch with GPS. It’s a wearable GPS with a wristwatch style, which means it won’t take up any space in your kayak. This also means that you’ll always know where it is, and there’s a lesser chance of it getting dropped on the water by accident. 

This is a durable and very rugged GPS device. It’s built to the U.S. military standard 810 for shock, thermal, and water resistance. It’s rated 10 ATM, which means you can use it for diving, snorkeling, swimming, showering, and doing high-speed water sports. The fiber-reinforced polymer case also adds to its durability, and the chemically strengthened display is scratch-resistant yet readable in the sunlight. 

Now, what’s great about the Garmin Instinct Watch is that it can access multiple satellite systems, including GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS. This allows you to track and navigate your way even in challenging environments. It also has a Tracback Routing feature that can help you navigate the same route back to where you started. You can even use it to train better in kayaking through its preloaded activity profiles. 


  • ZRugged
  • ZCompatible with multiple GNSS
  • ZLong battery life


  • QSmall screen

Why we love it: 

  • Can float
  • Has built-in compass
  • Bluechart coverage

GNSS Compatibility:

  • GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and SBAS

Our last, but certainly not the least, pick for the best GPS tracker for kayaking is the Garmin GPSMAP 79SC Marine. It’s built specifically for the water with its IPX7 water rating and fog-proof glass. Plus, it is one of the few GPS devices that are designed to float. So there’s no need to worry if in case it goes overboard, especially in rough waters.  

What we like about this GPS device is its memory, which allows you to save and track over 10,000 waypoints, 300 fitness activity files, and 250 routes. It is also preloaded with BlueChart g3 coastal charts. So you have access to leading-edge coverage, including the U.S. and the Great lakes. Not only that, but this unit can last up to 19 hours in GPS tracking mode, too. 

The best thing about the Garmin GPSMAP 79SC Marine is its accuracy. It supports most of the satellite systems available in the world, including GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, SBAS, and QZSS. So you’re sure to get accurate and reliable tracking and know exactly where you are at any time. 


  • ZVery long life
  • ZDesigned for the water
  • ZLarge memory
  • ZVery accurate tracking


  • QCan take some time to learn

What to Look For When Buying What to Look For When Buying the Best GPS Device for Kayaking?

A kayak GPS tracker is a great accessory for kayak fishing. It can help you with the planning, tell you where you are, and guide you to some amazing fishing spots. It’s also the perfect device for paddling across foggy conditions. Furthermore, a GPS can provide you with accurate information on how you are moving on the water, and give you an idea of how you can improve your paddling. 

That said, not all GPS are made equal. Depending on where and how you’re planning to use it, some are a much better option. So to help you find the right one for your needs, here’s everything you need to look out for in a GPS for kayak:


Since you’re going to use the GPS on the water, it has to be waterproof. This is so it will still be fully functional even if it gets splashed, submerged in the water, or when you capsize. 

A GPS’ waterproof level is measured through the IP code system. Generally, the higher the IP rating, the more water resistance it has. For kayaking, you’ll want something that’s rated at least IPX7. According to USA Today, this means it can “survive submersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.”

Take note that if you’re going to choose a GPS with a lower IP rating, then consider getting a waterproof case, too. 

On the other hand, if you can’t find a waterproof GPS device that you like, you can also choose one that’s water-resistant. You’d want something rated 10 ATM as it can withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 100 meters. This means that you can use it while swimming, diving into the water, showering, and in high-speed water sports. It’s also able to handle rain or snow and splashes. 


A GPS tracker or GPS navigation system receives data from satellites to determine their location. Now, there are 6 Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) around the earth. Here’s a quick overview of each of them:

  • GPS: Operated and maintained by the USA, and features 31 satellites. Provides worldwide coverage
  • GLONASS: Russian system with 24 satellites and provides global coverage 
  • QZSS: Japan’s satellite system. Only offers regional coverage
  • Galileo: This is the EU’s version and features 24 satellites with global coverage
  • BeiDou: China’s system, which uses 35 satellites, and offers global coverage
  • NavIC: A system from India with 8 satellites and only covers their region

So why is this important? Well, when shopping for a GPS unit, you want something compatible with as many systems as possible. This would give you the most coverage for your kayaking adventures no matter where you are in the world. 


This is an incredibly important feature to consider when looking for a GPS. Since you’ll be heading out on the great outdoors, you’ll need something that can provide you with the most accurate information. This is so you won’t take wrong turns and veer far from your course. 

Sure, most GPS devices are designed to be as accurate as they can be. However, some companies go the extra mile to improve their product’s accuracy and reliability. Some use Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which is a technology designed to address minor errors in readings. Some units also feature HotFix, which can help speed up their loading times. Thus, making them better at predicting your position. 

That said, watch out for these features to make sure you’ll get the most accurate GPS possible. 


GPS for kayak comes in different designs, such as:

  • Handheld: These are like old phones with small bodies and small screens. They are usually waterproof and rugged. Furthermore, they have a rubber or synthetic rubber material around the plastic casing for durability. Such a design also makes them easier to grip with wet hands. 

    You can store a handheld GPS tracker in your pocket or pack. Most units also have clip rings or lanyards that allow you to attach them to your PFD or are worn around your neck. 

  • Mounted: As its name suggests, this type of GPS device is designed to be mounted to your kayak. It requires a mounting system, which can be either universal or specific to the unit. It also has a bigger screen that allows you to see the maps better and mark your location more accurately.

    Mounted GPS devices are the priciest. Not to mention that some may require specialized mounts. But if you’re looking for the easiest to navigate with and the most kayak-specific, then this is a great choice. 

  • Wearable: These types of GPS units look and function like smartwatches. Aside from GPS functionality and having access to GPS maps, they also have fitness and heart rate monitoring capabilities.

    Since you’ll be wearing them on your wrist, these types of devices are less likely to get banged around, dropped, or fall off into the water. However, they’re not very durable, and their tiny screens make them harder to use for navigation. 


Since you’re getting a GPS solely for kayak, where you will have limited space and weight capacity, consider something compact and lightweight. This will make it easier to carry along with your yak and the rest of your gear. 


The last thing you want is for your GPS to die on you when you need it the most. So to avoid that, look for a unit with long battery life. More so if you are planning to use it on multi-day excursions. 

You should also consider the type of battery and the unit’s power requirements. If a GPS runs on lithium-ion batteries, for example, it’s rechargeable. So when it’s empty, you’ll simply need to plug it in. However, if you don’t have access to electricity or a power bank, then this might be a problem when you’re out on the water. 

On the other hand, some GPS uses AA or AAA batteries. They’re more convenient to use when kayaking since you can just pop out the old batteries and put in a new one. Plus, they’re a lot cheaper too. Just make sure to carry some spare batteries if you’re planning on longer trips. 


Usually, GPS devices have built-in memory. Some allow you to insert a memory card for more storage. For others, they offer both built-in memory and the option to add a memory card, which is often a micro SD card. 

Memory is an important factor to consider when choosing what GPS to buy. See, the bigger the memory, the more maps, trails, and waypoints you can save. When such data is stored, you can access them anytime even if the device loses GPS coverage. So make sure to get one with ample memory.


When you’re choosing a GPS, you should also check the screen size. See, those with larger screens can display more data at once. They’re also easier to read and, thus, navigate with. However, they use more power. So they run out of batteries faster. 

This is something that you should consider. If you’re looking for something with a longer running time, you may want something with a smaller screen. But if you want the most readability, then consider one with a big screen. 

Detailed Maps

To find the best GPS for kayaking and hiking, look for those with some maps or basic mapping packages already installed. You should also choose those that offer the option to install more. See, the more accurate maps a device has, the easier it is to navigate. 

If you’re planning to go to a specific destination or traveling up or downstream, you’ll need topographic maps on your device. This will allow you to assess the river and lake, plus the land around it. With it, you can see the valleys, flatlands, mountains, canyons, and others. Thus, it’ll be easier to mark waypoints accurately and chart paths that will allow you to get to your destination safely. 

On the other hand, some devices allow you to access more maps through a subscription service like the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. While this is more expensive, it’s a great way to get all the maps you need. This is a great option and a smart investment if you travel and go kayak fishing in different places a lot. 

Additional Features

Other GPS features that can come in handy while you’re in the water can include: 

  • Clip/Carabiner/Lanyard: If you’re going with a handheld device, it is best to look for something with a clip/carabiner/lanyard or at least offer the option to attach one. This will allow you to keep your hands free to paddle while still having the device easy to reach so you can quickly check your position on the map.
  • Altimeter and Compass: An altimeter and compass are navigational tools that can help you chart where you are and help you find your way back safely in case the GPS map somehow fails. 
  • Fitness Tracking: If you want to improve your paddling performance, consider getting a GPS with fitness-tracking capabilities. This will give you an idea of your speed, time, and distance traveled. It’s also a great way to monitor how your body responds to your paddling. Usually, you’ll find such features on wearable GPS devices. 
  • SONAR: Through Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse (CHIRP) Sonar, you will be able to see the underwater environment. Not only will this help you find fish, but it will also help you know the depth of the body of water you are in. Thus, making it easier to see any dangers below. This feature is typically found on mounted types of GPS units. 
  • Satellite Phone: You might also want to consider getting a GPS device that functions as a satellite phone. While it can be expensive, this type of device will help you keep in touch with your family and friends no matter where you are in the world. So you can always update them on your whereabouts and ensure them that you’re safe. 

More importantly, some GPS devices that double as satellite phones can even save your life. They usually have a button that you can quickly push when you’re in trouble. This will trigger an SOS that goes directly to a search and monitoring center.