should i buy navionics cards for my navigation system [Answered]


As a paddler, having a reliable navigation system is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. Navionics cards have become a popular option for paddlers who want to enhance their navigation system. These cards provide detailed maps, charts, and other navigational aids that can be displayed on compatible GPS devices. However, with the growing number of navigation tools available, it can be difficult to determine if Navionics cards are the right choice for your paddling needs. In this post, we will explore the pros and cons of buying Navionics cards, discuss alternative navigation tools, and provide tips on what factors to consider before making a purchase.

What are Navionics cards?

Navionics cards are digital mapping cards designed specifically for marine and freshwater navigation. These cards are inserted into compatible GPS devices to provide detailed maps, charts, and other navigational aids. Navionics offers a range of cards to suit various types of watercraft, including kayaks, canoes, and sailboats. These cards feature highly detailed mapping data, showing land contours, water depths, and other relevant information to help paddlers navigate unfamiliar waters with more confidence. In addition, some Navionics cards come with additional features such as weather forecasting and tide information to help paddlers plan their routes better.

The pros of buying Navionics cards

Navionics cards offer a host of benefits that make them a worthy investment for paddlers. Some of these include:

  • Detailed data: Navionics cards offer highly detailed mapping data, allowing paddlers to navigate unfamiliar waters with more confidence.
  • User-friendly: Navionics cards are designed to be user-friendly, making it easy for paddlers to view and interpret the data displayed.
  • Customizable: Navionics cards can be customized to suit the specific needs of paddlers, such as highlighting areas of interest or avoiding certain hazards.
  • Additional features: Some Navionics cards come with additional features such as weather forecasting and tide information, which can help paddlers plan their routes and adapt to changing conditions on the water.
  • Frequent updates: Navionics cards are regularly updated with new data and information, ensuring that paddlers have access to the most up-to-date maps and charts.

The cons of buying Navionics cards

While Navionics cards offer many benefits, there are some drawbacks that paddlers should consider before making a purchase. These include:

  • Cost: Navionics cards can be expensive compared to other navigation tools, such as traditional paper charts or free smartphone apps.
  • Limited coverage: Some Navionics cards may have limited coverage in certain areas, making them less useful for paddlers who frequently travel to remote or less-traveled waterways.
  • Compatibility issues: Navionics cards may not be compatible with all GPS devices, so paddlers must ensure that their device is capable of using Navionics cards before making a purchase.
  • Dependence on technology: Navionics cards rely on technology and can be vulnerable to malfunctions or damage, leaving paddlers without a reliable navigation tool.

Alternatives to Navionics cards

If Navionics cards don’t seem like the right fit for your paddling needs, there are alternative navigation tools that you can consider. Some of these include:

  • Paper charts: Traditional paper charts offer a low-tech alternative to Navionics cards. While they may require more effort to use and can be less detailed, they are often cheaper and can be used without relying on technology.
  • Smartphone apps: There are several free or low-cost smartphone apps available that offer basic navigation tools, such as maps and weather forecasts.
  • Handheld GPS devices: Handheld GPS devices can be used with digital or paper maps to provide accurate navigation information. Some GPS devices also offer additional features, such as compasses or altimeters.
  • Maps and guidebooks: Maps and guidebooks can provide valuable information on waterways, including points of interest, hazards, and unique features.

Factors to consider before buying Navionics cards

Before making a purchase, there are several factors to consider to ensure that Navionics cards are the right fit for your paddling needs. Some things to think about include:

  • Budget: Navionics cards can be expensive, so it’s important to consider your budget and determine if they are worth the investment.
  • Type of paddling: Navionics cards are designed for marine and freshwater navigation, so it’s important to consider the type of water you’ll be paddling on when deciding if Navionics cards are necessary.
  • Location: Navionics cards may have limited coverage in certain areas, so it’s important to ensure that the card you are considering has detailed maps and charts for your intended location.
  • Compatibility: Navionics cards may not be compatible with all GPS devices, so it’s important to ensure that your device can use Navionics cards before making a purchase.
  • Level of expertise: Navionics cards can be a valuable tool for paddlers of all skill levels, but they may be more necessary for those who are less experienced or navigating unfamiliar waters.

Related: How to Use Kayak Lights for Night Fishing: The Ultimate Guide


What is a Navionics card?

Navionics card is a simple plug and play electronic chart device that offer detailed nautical charts and maps of waterways all around the world.

How do Navionics cards work?

Navionics cards work with a compatible navigation system by injecting your electronic device with detailed charts and maps of waterways making navigation on the water easy and safe.

What are the advantages of using Navionics cards?

Navionics cards can provide updated charts and maps, offer easy and safe navigation, and come with a variety of helpful functionalities.

Are Navionics cards suitable for all types of water navigation?

Navionics cards are suitable for different types of water bodies including oceans, inland lakes, rivers, and bays.

Can I use Navionics cards without a compatible navigation system?

No, Navionics cards require a compatible navigation system to function.

What alternatives are there to using Navionics cards for navigation?

Other alternatives for navigation include traditional paper charts, smartphone navigation apps, and handheld GPS devices.

How much do Navionics cards cost?

Navionics cards prices vary depending on the type of card and its coverage area.

Is Navionics the only manufacturer of electronic charts?

No, there are other manufacturers of electronic charts besides Navionics, such as C-Map and Garmin.

How often are Navionics charts updated?

Navionics charts are updated regularly, with more recent updates being available for purchase through yearly subscriptions.

Do Navionics cards work in other countries?

Yes, Navionics cards offer worldwide coverage and are usable in different countries.

Real experience

Kimberly was always adventurous and enjoyed exploring different waterways around the world. She had been using her navigation system for years and felt relatively confident in her ability to navigate her kayak on different waterways. However, she was frustrated with the limitations caused by the outdated and inaccurate charts she had been using.

One day, while planning a trip down the Colorado River, Kimberly stumbled upon Navionics cards online. She was intrigued by the detailed maps and updated charts they offered, but was unsure if they were worth the investment. She hesitated, thinking back to all the times she had managed without them.

But, as she researched further, she learned of the many benefits. Navionics cards came with many functionalities like tracking weather patterns and plotting a safe course even in the worst conditions. The detailed maps also guaranteed she wouldn’t miss any hidden spots on the river that she would have had without the cards.

Finally, after much research and deep consideration, Kimberly took the plunge and bought the Navionics card for the duration of her trip on the Colorado River.

The difference was noticeable almost instantly. The map was up to date, the images were much clearer, and the points of interest were clear in her layout. Navigation suddenly felt much easier, and her confidence grew with every mile down the river.

From that trip on, Kimberly never doubted the usefulness of a Navionics card again. Her next adventure took her to the coast of Thailand, and she felt even more secure than ever before with a map at her fingertips that told of currents and tide schedules.

Navionics cards had helped her discover hidden pockets on different waterways and gave her more safety and security than ever. With a smile on her face, Kimberly decided that every trip she takes in the future would always leave her Navionics card as a key component in her navigation system.

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Navionics cards offer a range of benefits that can help paddlers navigate unfamiliar waters with more confidence. However, they are not the only navigation tool available, and there are alternative options to consider. Before making a purchase, it’s important to consider your budget, the type of paddling you’ll be doing, location, compatibility, and your level of expertise. In the end, the decision to buy Navionics cards will depend on a variety of factors and individual preferences. With careful consideration and research, paddlers can determine if Navionics cards are the right fit for their navigation needs.

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