GPS units for Kayaking?
Posted by: paddlinfool on Oct-28-12 1:24 PM (EST) Category: unassigned
Can anyone answer a question about GPS units for a person who has never owned or used one? What features should I look for? I no the obvious reason of exact location but what about knowing how fast you are paddling? Do they have a compass or is it coordinates only? Also, weather info would be helpful, and of course cost is a factor!
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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- GPS units for Kayaking? - paddlinfool - Oct-28-12 1:24 PM
Posted by: manitou14 on Oct-28-12 2:42 PM (EST)
I bought a used map76 gps for use in areas where there are many small islands that mostly look the same. It has many features, but really what i find most helpful is to use it along with a chart or map of the area.
It allows me to pinpoint my location on the map. It has a compass. It shows speed, time, distance to any point, etc.
I dont rely on it solely for anything other than checking day paddle distance covered, but on week long trips its invaluable as a tool with a chart. Keep in mind that you will likely need to buy mapping downloads separately for the areas you will paddle.
It helps me improve my navigation by showing my path during the day and could be helpful by showing a "breadcrumb" trail back to where i put in if fog where to become an issue.
I get about 4 full days use out of a set of rechargeable batteries. I could benefit from a compass navigation course.
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Posted by: paddlinfool on Oct-28-12 4:23 PM (EST)
Thanks for the information, especially the "breadcrumb" trail back feature. This gives me some idea of what to search for in regards to brand, features, etc,.
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On my GPS map76Cx|
Posted by: Andy_Szymczak on Oct-28-12 4:27 PM (EST)
I've had the same set of batteries (lithium) for nearly a year and have logged 612 paddling miles on them.
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Posted by: jbernard on Oct-28-12 4:42 PM (EST)
I don't know where you paddle or exactly what you want out of a gps but if you own a smartphone you should really check into using that. I only use my iPhone now. I use a gps app called MotionX. It cost about two bucks. It shows your position on a map or nautical chart, satellite image, topo map etc. If gives current speed, average speed, distance traveled etc. and more. I keep the phone in a Lifeproof water/shock proof case and am good to go. Good luck.
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Posted by: paddlinfool on Oct-28-12 5:19 PM (EST)
I never thought of my smart phone being able to provide marine GPS duties! I have a Droid Razr that should have an app for that. The Razr is waterproof or at least water resistant. I didn't believe it but a co-worker ran his under a faucet for several minutes, even wetting the speaker, microphone, and camera with no damage at all. Thanks for the info!
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Posted by: jbernard on Oct-28-12 5:38 PM (EST)
yeah, check your app store. I don't think Motion x has a droid version but someone must. plus with the phone you weather and live radar. I use that all the time guiding and teaching in the summer. the live radar has saved me many times. both getting me off the water before a storm and, just as important, allowing me to stay on the water when less informed discretion would have gotten me off the water unnecessarily. have fun
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Can't find so good a Droid version yet.|
Posted by: bartc on Oct-29-12 3:05 PM (EST)
Doesn't look like MotionX does other than iPhone. So far the free or low cost GPS I've found for Droid doesn't seem to have all the same features.
I'm sure I"m missing something .....
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Posted by: jbernard on Oct-30-12 7:44 PM (EST)
too bad. Motion X is really good. Then there's really only one solution- get an iPhone :)
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If you have never owned or used one...|
Posted by: roanguy on Oct-28-12 6:35 PM (EST)
you might want to start with a low end model the way most paddlers start. One like the Garmin Etrex.
It will give you all of what you need and is much simpler and cheaper than a higher end model.
I started with the Etrex, and then went on to a Map-76, and then from there to a Map76Cx.
read the manual and learn it, and then go from there.
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Be sure |
Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-28-12 7:54 PM (EST)
you can navigate your way out of every situation without the gps. Great tool, but they can and do fail now and again and its not a happy time when that occurs if you don't know how to get home without it.
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You might want to go to|
Posted by: mjamja on Oct-28-12 8:44 PM (EST)
the Garmin and/or Magellan websites and see if they have downloadable or viewable manuals for various models. You can learn a lot by reading what is in the manual and even learn what questions you really need to get answered.
Start with manuals for the cheaper units and then compare that to one for a higher end model to see what additional features you can get and how much you have to pay for them.
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Posted by: RobG on Oct-28-12 10:22 PM (EST)
I have an old Garmin GPSMap76S (B&W model) that I might have to try that lithium battery trick in, once I find the cable so I can update the maps in it. But hopefully I'll pick up a newer Garmin Montana 650T in a few months instead.
I have an iPhone, and a waterproof case (Lifeproof) but you have to have bare fingertips to use the phone, and it's hard to read in direct sunlight. Add to that the fact that the battery goes quick especially when using it as a GPS, so unless you plan to carry some other power source with you or have access to A/C power to recharge, the best you'll do is maybe one day of paddling.
I've read in various places that salt water kills GPSes. Is that really the case, even the ones that are advertised as waterproof?
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We use Delorme...|
Posted by: tjalmy on Oct-28-12 10:43 PM (EST)
I'm sure Garmin is a great product, but I like Delorme for the software included in the purchase, combined with the option to overlay aerial photos on the topo maps. Sometimes the photos show the oyster bars and channels between the islands in the Gulf better than the maps.
Between the wife and I, we have the PN20 , PN40, and PN60. A good product with good tech support.
We often paddle salt water with these on the deck, or the occasional dunking, with no ill effect.
A useful tool.
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Posted by: RobG on Oct-29-12 11:42 AM (EST)
Garmin now offers the ability to include aerial and satellite photos.
I have a Delorme PN40SE. It's one of the biggest pieces of CRAP I've ever owned and it was a waste of a ton of money. The POS locks up constantly when trying to use it. Been doing that for the past two years, of course now that it's out of warranty. It's utterly useless.
Their so-called support is a joke. If you post to their web forum, one of their moderators, based up in Washington, will EDIT YOUR POST if he doesn't like how you phrase stuff because he's very easily offended.
On top of that, they STILL do not support the Mac and apparently have no plans to do so. Even Garmin has started providing Mac-compatible software.
DeLorme's "Topo USA" software has the worst UI of any program I have ever used. It doesn't follow any UI standards and is just painful and frustrating. It's powerful, but the learning curve is just too steep, and I'm a techie!
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Some GPS links and my pick|
Posted by: castoff on Oct-29-12 9:32 AM (EST)
I have used a handheld GPS for about 15 years now. My old unit died and I recently purchased a Garmin eTrex20. Lots of other good units even one that floats, but the eTrex20 was about the best for the least for my use at about $160.It allows aerial and satellite overlays. I have also downloaded free topo maps that have good coastal marsh maps for my new GPS.
I have added four links. The first link is to a GPS site that has reviews of GPS units. It is the eTrex20 review on the link. The second link is for a free downloadable map site. The last two links are for GPS android apps. I have yet to download any smart phone apps so I canít tell you much about that.
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Trying to decide myself|
Posted by: dc9mm on Oct-29-12 12:58 PM (EST)
Garmins map76Cx which is a discontinued model or the Etrex 20. Both about $160. The map76Cx floats Etrex 20 doesnt. They both seem very close in specs but more saved routes on the etrex.
Waterproof, humm there all rated to IPX7 30 minutes rating, no idea what my Delorme PN-20 was but it died after I failed a roll and had to re-enter kayak (cowboy scramble). It wasnt long maybe 60 seconds in water but that killed it.Screen fogged up and I shut it down let it dry out with desacant stuff in bag, still dead.
So not sure if Etrex 20 or the Map76Cx would be best for kayaking. Iam thinking since the Map76Cx floats it might be a bit better sealed. Any thoughts? Which would you buy between the two?
Oh what map software I see Garmin has Blue Charts , Garmin Lakes, US inland Lakes. Topo USA. Thinking the Blue Chart would cover the most??
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both are good|
Posted by: castoff on Oct-30-12 11:43 AM (EST)
My paddling partner has the 76x without buying the marine chart card and it works fine. I like the compact size of the etrex20, and it has some marine map info and coastal tides installed like the 76x.
I would keep either in a clear dry bag and not fully trust the 7 waterproof rating on saltwater. As for floating I just add a foam float to the lanyard to float my camera and one to float my GPS.
Also there are ways to make custom maps from marine charts and load them to a GPS.
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Posted by: ShadyClip on Oct-29-12 1:34 PM (EST)
I agree with above recos.
gpstracklog.com is a good site for learning about handheld GPS, maps, and product reviews. They do seem to like the Garmin units more than others. If you are willing to spend the time on that site you should come out with a better idea what you might want.
My Oregon 450 is currently loaded up with a number of free topos from GPSFileDepot for the PA, NJ, and Del area. I have also found some nice POIs, trails, and rail trail maps on there.
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Posted by: ShadyClip on Oct-29-12 2:27 PM (EST)
If you just want a general idea where you are, a rough approximation of speed, distance, etc then just using apps on your Android phone are fine. Google Maps just added terrain visualizations and the ability to see sat imagery where you are is always nice. Google MyTracks adds more GPS handheld type functionality. There are probably other apps out there now but just starting out with the free Google apps is good way to start. The cell phones apps are nice that as long as you have wireless coverage you can have the most recent maps and info that you need.
The downside is unless you preload some maps, you can easily loose wireless coverage in the boonies, which can map the app useless or reduced. If you want speed, distance, etc then the GPS needs to be on all the time which will burn down your batteries. The phone really needs to be in a waterproof bag or box. My phone really gets hot when inside one of the Aquapac cell bags with the GPS on. Probably not the best for the longevity of your phone. Overall, the phone isn't bad --you usually have it around and it is nice and easy to use but I found it best to leave off and only use it on occasion. I would never count on it working in an emergency but nice to have for backup or for fun.
The handheld GPS units are build more for the trail. Pretty much all of them claim to be waterproof, rugged, battery life is better plus you can take along extra batteries if needed. The maps are pre-loaded and they have better hardware/software for dealing with poor GPS signals they are better for more rural areas or water where you may be far enough from cell towers. You can depend more on the handhelds then the phone versions. Still would want a map and compass as backup.
Don't expect a handheld to work like your auto GPS, which is fire it up and you are good to go. But for a handheld GPS often the basemaps are useless. You will need to spend sometime figuring out what maps you want to add and buying map packages can get expensive and you may have to buy maps again if you need updates. You can also be disappointed to find out that coverage in your area is spotty with say trails, points of interest, roads, lakes, fishing spots, etc, after spending a $100 on a map. There are free maps -- gpsfiledepot but you need to spend time finding what maps you like and need.
I have yet to dunk my Garmin Oregon but even though it seems that most GPS are waterproof the word on the street is you should keep them in waterproof bag, even the GPSMAP76 or 78 which are some of the few that float.
Overall with the handheld you get a much more customizable unit but you will need to invest more time and money. If you expect to just turn it on and leave it at that then I would stick with the cell phone or a basic GPS.
I went for recently for kayaking, hiking and biking a Garmin Oregon 450. I have a number of free topos from GPSFileDepot and paid for the Garmin BirdsEye sat imagery subscription. I downloaded the sat imagery for the areas I bike, hike and kayak and use them with the topo maps. This seems to serve my needs for kayaking on streams and lakes around here. I don't do open water so not sure what maps are best there.
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I like my Garmin Oregon.|
Posted by: yaknot on Oct-29-12 2:58 PM (EST)
I had it for three years now replacing an older Etrex. I've been a member of SAR now for four years and use my GPS quite a bit. Most California/Oregon (CORSAR) units use the 60 series. Not saying they're the best but they are a good unit. I like having a 1:24k map on the unit. I've been many searches where we didn't have good maps or simply walked off the map and had to rely on the GPS map.
I frequently use the navigate-to-a-destination feature even when ground pounding out on a search. It works like the car units but doesn't talk just beeps when coming to an intersection. It works great on a trail. I just set a way point and tell it to navigate on a trail. The GPS will tell me exactly how far I am from my destination and which way to go. You can also customize the data fields to give you whatever information you think is useful.
We wouldn't send a SAR team out without at least one GPS. Incident Command keeps track of the teams by having them give their GPS location. Also tracks are downloaded to a computer by the Search Mangers to determine how well an area was covered. Knowing how to use tracks not only can keeps you from getting lost but also save you lots of money when you drop a radio or a trekking pole since you can backtrack to find whatever you lost. Been there, done that.
It doesn't do you any good unless you know how to use the GPS. Learn about the different datums. The older maps use NAD27 and UTM so that's what we used until recently. All CORSAR units now use WGS84/UTM. Air units still use Lat/Long as well as cellphone companies (ping coordinates) but in a different format. It helps to be on the same page when giving coordinates. You don't want to find out that all that time trip planning was for naught when you used NAD27 instead of WGS84.
Use common sense with using the GPS and don't disengage your brain from the navigation problem. The GPS is just a great tool but isn't infallible. We have lots of call outs because people dumbly follow their GPS into remote logging roads and then can't turn around or get stuck.
SAR is now into the lost-hunter season (5 call outs in two days), next, the lost-mushroom hunter season (last year a group was lost for six days -- we started thinking alien abduction!) and after that is the lost-DIY-Christmas-tree-cutter season. We've been really busy with call outs lately plus quite a few evidence searches. We get called out on a lot of assists so you never know where you'll end up searching. You could end up bushwhacking on the coast in the dense coastal forest or up on the PCT up by Crater Lake in the snow.
I like to use Google Earth to plan trips and then copy the way points into my GPS.
Give Geo-caching a try. Lots of fun. I did it on lakes using my canoe.
It doesn't make sense to buy more than you need since the technology is constantly improving. There is a major upgrade coming in a couple of years using satellites having a stronger signal which will give an accuracy to a meter.
Check out some of the new units also have the Russian system on the GPS along with the US system.
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Posted by: Celia on Oct-29-12 3:09 PM (EST)
Marine version if near the ocean, so you can load charts.
Ability to read the display in sunlight - take it outside of the store if you can and look at it there.
Those are the big ones. Then you learn to use maps and a compass and stick the thing in the day hatch....
If you are looking for something to primarily track speed and distance, you can get wristwatch sized units that do that quite nicely without the size of add-on chart costs of a larger one.
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Prefer a dedicated GPS|
Posted by: Andy_Szymczak on Oct-29-12 3:12 PM (EST)
I've got the Garmin map76Cx, another GPS for the car for directions and my Android phone.
For paddling the Map 76CX floats, is waterproof, accepts a memory card and for my purposes does all I need it to do. I have a 16 gig card in it, with the entire eastern half of the US on it. I can change what maps I have if I want using my set of Map source cd's that I have for the entire US.
The reason I prefer a dedicated GPS for paddling is that I can keep my eyes on it at all times. Particularly when I'm tracking my speed. I have to keep my phone tucked away and battery life is now where near as good as the Garmin with lithium batteries.
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Touch screens and cameras|
Posted by: medawgone on Oct-30-12 2:05 PM (EST)
I have a Garmin 60Cx. It has served me well over the past few years. It is starting to have a few issues. I am planning to get a new one over the winter. I plan to keep the 60Cx as a backup.
I am looking at several models. The 62, Oregon & Dakota series. Has anyone used the touch screen models on the water. If so, any issues when wet? I have a smart phone in which the touch screen is tough to use in wet environments.
Also some of the higher end($$$)GPS unit have a 3-5mp camera. Anyone used one with a camera? Any issues
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I decided on a Dakota 20|
Posted by: dc9mm on Oct-30-12 3:18 PM (EST)
Walmart has them online refurbished for $159.98 plus tax. Thats was best deal I found online. I have bought refurbished car gps's before and when I did have a proble Garmin replaced it no problem. They come with same 1 year warranty as new one.
I liked the triaxis electronic compass on Dakota 20 which the Etrex 20 doesn't have. Plus it takes micro sd cards but it has built in 850 meg and its only about 700 meg for 100k topo for entire east side of USA. Dakota 10 has no electronic compass and doesn't take memory card but has same 850 meg of built in memory so if thats not important it can be had refurb around $130.
Oh the touch screen gps's have same ipx 7 water proof rating.
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Posted by: ShadyClip on Nov-02-12 6:53 PM (EST)
I usually keep mine in an Aquapac like bag and there is no problem with having the screen respond covered.
Garmin also makes a slip case for the Oregon that has a plastic screen cover. It sits away from the face but still allows you to touch the screen. I keep that on all the time as the cover protects the screen, prevents accidental touches and is just as responsive when you actually do want to touch the screen.
Never used it naked on the water but it seems waterproof enough to deal with a wet finger.
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Garmin's GPSMAP 76Cx|
Posted by: wetzool on Oct-30-12 7:07 PM (EST)
is on sale for $149 at West Marine. It's been discontinued but West Marine still seems to have a large supply. I bought one from them about a year ago for the same price on closeout. It's a great unit for kayaking.
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Posted by: yatipope on Oct-30-12 7:25 PM (EST)
I need to update my older Tom Tom auto GPS with a newer one and wonder if there are units that will perform the functions of both a car-type with good street directions AND outdoor water/land adventures with good mapping capabilities?
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Posted by: Photobug on Oct-31-12 12:24 AM (EST)
I have a garmin Etrex. I have used it for a decade for sailing, kayaking and flying. I have also crossed the Gulf of Mexico using only an even older Garmin 12.
Even the most basic or oldest GPS will serve you well if you know how to navigate. If you don't the Garmin 76 series with moving map will help more. Some of these won't come with full marine maps, which you may have to buy. It will be worth paying more for model that has a map database included.
I have a droid Razr also and use Edmondo to keep track of my kayaking biking and running. I keep it in a waterproof drybag. It is nice to record my paddles but not as a navigation instrument.
There are some Nav apps for the Droid as well but I do not find it usefull as they are limited and I am not comfortable trusting a navigational need to something not completely waterproof and easily accessible.
The Iphone has better navigation software options, but once again the lack of waterproofing makes it of dubious use.
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just an FYI|
Posted by: jbernard on Oct-31-12 6:46 AM (EST)
lifeproof cases for the iPhone are 100% waterproof
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They are all great |
Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-31-12 7:36 AM (EST)
All the new GPS units are great - not that much difference between them really. Hard to go wrong. They work very well.
A BIG problem though - as pointed out by previous post - is that folks without a map and compass or the skills to use a map and compass use their fancy new gps to get themselves into places and then they can't get out when the GPS breaks or they can't figure out how to use it to return.
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Posted by: bartc on Nov-04-12 3:45 PM (EST)
On somebody's recommendation here I downloaded Endomundo for Android phones. Started it up today on my paddle and didn't know what to expect. So after a 10 second countdown audibly, I put out and paddled.
After a mile I hear a voice coming from below my armpit (where the cell phone is attached to my PFD) telling me my time, distance and that I'm "on target".
That was funny, because I never set a target that I could recall. How did she know? LOL I was certainly startled, as I'd seen not a single human being and it had just been me and the ducks.
At two miles she piped up to tell me the same thing. Same me, only less startled to hear my armpit talking.
However, after stopping to rest and restarting, at 4 miles she started to bitch that I was getting behind target! Shit, I go kayaking to get away from nagging at work and at home....
Since I had to pull out the phone to answer my wife's call at 5 miles, I figured out how to stop the app from running.
When I got home I discovered that it has several settings built in for "nagging" you. Not my style! If I wanted boot camp, I'd have joined the army.
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Posted by: huntly2 on Nov-05-12 12:53 AM (EST)
I own a Delorme PN20, which I've been using for 4-years.I have no problems other that all new Wayponts start with #09 instead of #1. It has saved my ass on several occasions. Usually, I like to check my paddling speed and distance. It writes a track when moving and I like to compare this with my mapping program on my computer. That track once saved me when I was out in the Pacific and didn't notice the fog about to swallow me up until I turned around and nearly panicked. I could see nothing. I followed my track back to the launch site, which was the only safe harbor. Now I never go kayaking without my GPS.
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Posted by: dc9mm on Nov-05-12 11:40 AM (EST)
Just wanted to say I also had a Delorme PN-20. I didnt have it in a water proof bag. Big Mikstake. My screen fogged up after a breef swim and I turned it off and it never did work again. I tried putting it in a sealed bag with desicant but still nothing. So I hope you have a water proof bag for it. As apparentlly IPX7 isnt so good as a water proof rating. Now I got a Garmin Dakota with water proof bag. But I really liked my PN-p20 had it from when it first came out on the market many years ago.
Garmins have so many free maps now online plus support to use with google maps I went with Garmin this time.
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Posted by: paddlinfool on Nov-18-12 8:33 PM (EST)
Thanks to all the poster's for all your input, and diverse unit support. I have a lot to digest and consider before I make a decision! I appreciate the support and advice i received on this board, and I am glad I joined paddlin.net.
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Posted by: rb56 on Nov-20-12 2:24 AM (EST)
RE the post about iphone, i use it also and have i4, a good app for distances is golfgps. i believe it's free and made with golf in mind it's really good for any distance finder. gps marks your spot and you move the cursor to determine length to an object and best i can tell is indefinite. it also has rings from your location that can be set to determine yardage or taken off. it shows 5 rings at 10 yards the outer ring is 50 for example. i've used it to determine how far islands are, opposite coasts other boats, anything. another good tool is commander lite, a compass with a gyro meter. i admit it's complicated to me but has map location, gps, mph, you can mark your parking and locate vehicle...if needed. the gyro is really neat though and shows celestial bodies. makes you dizzy looking at it though.
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