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Replacement handheld GPS


Mar 24, 2009
My old Garmin GPS MAp60CsX packed it in on a recent trip to D'arcy Island. Any recommendations and experiences with handhelds that are waterproof enough to mount on the deck of my kayak, have decent battery life and can be backed up to save Waypoints.
I really liked the details and features of software like Garmin BlueChart to navigate the coast of BC. A few years ago my copy fried itself and I discovered the handheld was out of date to load the newer versions. I found an old copy at Trotac Marine of a version of Bluechart that had only the West Coast of Vancouver Island and around to South of Nanaimo. That kept me going to sea for a few more years but not any longer I am afraid.
I use (and prefer) the Garmin GPSMap 78 handheld. The similar GPSMap 64 works well for me also.
Features I like:
Real buttons with labels on the face (unlike the eTrex units)
AA battery power
Can export (and import) .gpx files via USB cable without using a website

I've dealt with gpscentral in Calgary for radios and GPS units and gotten good service from them.
A Bluechart SD card with coverage of all of N America including the west coast of BC and all of AK can be found on eBay for well under $100.
Search for HXUS039R

There have been a few discussions here about GPS choices and Bluecharts. Probably the esiest way to find them is via Google.
"GPS Garmin Bluechart site:https://www.westcoastpaddler.com"
in the search box.
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Agree with JohnAbercrombie about the GPSMap 78.
I recently bought the newer version, the GPSMap 86 (w/out inreach option).
Stick with the 78 unless you need the inReach capability.
The screen is more difficult to read on the 86.
It has an internal battery - longer battery time, but you can't just pop in a new battery. (good for daily use, not good for extended trips)
Note: even though they are 'waterproof', I always keep mine in a drybag (I use a 'Sea to Summit TPU Accessory Case')
A couple of examples of saved tracks from previous trips
* a long one (though, these tracks are from a GPSMap 76 from 2009):
* a shorter one (from a GPSMap 78sc):
An alternative is to use an iPad Mini or your smartphone. Usually, they present a larger screen. In my case, the iPad doesn't have the cell phone feature so it also doesn't have built-in GPS. I use an external BadElf GPS that BlueTooth connects to the iPad. Because the iPad is for navigation, not communication, I'm not so concerned about battery life - but I do carry battery pack backup.

Chart sources are from the apps Gaia and iNavX. Though each has a subscription, I believe the NOAA charts for the San Juans (Puget Sound) are free.

That said, I do have an older Garmin and some solid foam I hope to carve into a deck cradle. I'd use the Garmin as a speedometer, arrival estimator, and sundown teller. The iPad is more for onshore planning but if conditions warrant, I can stow it in an accessible place under the deck.

The Garmin is fine, but given its cost and the cost of their charts, it wouldn't be my first choice.