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Gps For Kayaking?

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Hi Folks-


I am a relatively new kayaker. While I am competent with chart and compass, this summer I will have the opportunity to kayak around Cape Cod, areas of which are notorious for the quick onset of pea-soup fog. I thought it might be nice to have a GPS as a back-up. Ideally, it would be a simple unit - I would really just be looking to mark a starting location as a waypoint and then in a pinch pull the unit out to get me back to that point. At present, I am considering the eTrex and the Explorist 100. Any big pros/cons that anyone can see? The main issues I guess are this:


-I need a unit that will function reliably in fog.

-Durability is an issue.

-I realize that both units are "waterproof", but since it's only to one meter

I would have to bag the unit as well.

-I don't think I need any other bells or whistles...


I would also use the unit for backpacking and caching as well. I don't need to use it in an auto at all- I have a StreetPilot (which I love!) Any guidance is much appreciated!




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i have a 60C that i use for everything including kayaking... i have a VOYAGER drybag (dry w/flotation) for it that attaches to my deck bag which keeps it right in sight... i wanna say i got the bag at REI but dont recall...


1) i'm pretty sure i haven't encountered fog that think but i dont believe the signal would deteriorate to nothing... i also use a glisson ext. antenna while driving & sometimes while caching in heavy cover, for $20 it's a great addition...


2) durability is not a problem...


3) drybag


4) ok


while caching/hiking i use the belt clip attached to a shoulder strap to keep the unit close at hand & safe when climbing etc... where i need both hands... i have no experience with the 2 units you mentioned... hope this helps...




edit: here's a small look at the case, not where i got it but gives you an idea...



Edited by rokclimber
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I used/abused my Etrex Venture for caching and kayaking and it held up well. I've been swimming with it a number of times and kept it submerged under several feet of water for minutes at a time with no problem. Don't know a thing about fog, but the Etrex has a bad rep for reception under treecover. I recently killed two Magellan SportTrak Maps after brief swims (they recovered later, but they aren't really submersible). I still like to use my beat-up Etrex for kayaking.

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Just about any consumer GPS receiver will meet your basic requirements. I haven't found fog to noticeably affect signal reception, but there can be an indirect problem if a layer of water builds up on the drybag over the antenna. But you can easily wipe this off and restore reception. My GPS is an eMap which is one of the few that is not at all waterproof, so I always use an AquaPac waterproof pouch for it when kayaking. This still lets me see the screen fine and operate the buttons and its waterproofness has been field tested numerous times over the last 5 years. It also traps enough air to ensure flotation and has a nice long lanyard that is handy for securing it to the kayak.


I'd strongly recommend getting a model that lets you connect it to a computer. This would let you easily download waypoints and tracklogs showing key features in the area and possibly items like shorelines, island, reefs, etc. It also lets you download the tracklog after a trip and plot exactly where you went on a map or aerial photo view of the area. For example, here's a paddle we did to look at a meteor shower from a small beach [the screen shot is from the freeware USAPhotoMaps - http://jdmcox.com]:

http://home.comcast.net/~prathman/Screen.jpg Since the paddle was at night I wasn't sure exactly where the beach on which we landed was located until I plotted the tracklog. The jog in the path indicated the location of a sandbar with a sunken wrecked ship. In some urban areas even more detailed color aerial views are available:

http://home.comcast.net/~prathman/Screen08.jpg shows our paddling path under the Zampa bridge across the Carquinez Strait of SF Bay.


Since you already have a StreetPilot model and presumably the streetmaps for that, it may make sense to spend a few more dollars and get a mapping model, like the eTrex Legend, that could use those same maps. I've found the Garmin street maps, like MetroGuide and CitySelect/Navigator to be quite useful when kayaking. Here's another night-time paddle:

http://home.comcast.net/~prathman/Image32.gif in the Sausalito area. Although my eMap didn't show the color view and has a smaller screen, I found it useful to know exactly where we were located relative to the city streets, and the map also showed a number of possible take-out places.

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Here is a link to some Garmin eTrex Vistas on eBay.


The Vista has the compass and the altimeter and 24 MB memory. The Legend, which only has 8 MB of memory, would also be sufficient for your purposes and it has been selling on Amazon for around $135.00. :anicute:


I like the small size of my Vista. Before I take it out on my kayak however, I think I need to get one of those cases so I can clip it securely to my deck bag. I don't want this to happen to my GPSr. :anicute:

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I'd eliminate the eXplorist 100 because it doesn't have a data port. You can't dowload detailed maps, waypoints or even software upgrades. eTrex is a nice unit. The eTrex Legend is a good deal these days and it has mapping which makes the unit much more useful. The problem is that they sink like a rock, which could be a problem when using it on the water. Their compact size however makes them a great choice for backpacking.


The Garmin Map 60, or GPS 60 might be good choices, as they do float (barely) and aren't overly bulky, so would be OK for backpacking. The Garmin 76S might be a better choice for the kayak, as it floats quite well and has some marine specific features, but its on the bulky side for backpacking.

Edited by briansnat
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Garmin has implemented the NOAA charts in mapping software they call BlueCharts. I use this inshore and offshore. It looks fantastic on a color GPSmap 60CS. I would also recommend the Garmin GPSmap 60 and 76 series since they both include tidal predictions.


Here's a screen shot of a NOAA 11523 and the tidal predictions of my 60CS.



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