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15 Best Portable Depth Finders For Kayaks

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15 Best Portable Depth Finders For Kayaks

Kayakers don’t need to worry about running aground as much as owners of the best offshore fishing boats under 30 feet. Still, it pays to know about the best portable depth finders for kayaks, especially if you have one of the best fishing kayaks with a trolling motor.

Depth finders are a simple way to identify shallow and deep waters when you’re paddling. For anglers specifically, this can help you make the right choice of which bait to take out of your kayak tackle crate and rig up.

It can also help you identify where fish may like to congregate on certain lakes, rivers, or ponds you frequent. Fish can frequent different areas at different times of the year depending on water and air temperatures.

So, overall, having a portable depth finder will help you learn more about the body of water you’re paddling on. Today, we are going to help you choose the right model for your needs and we will also review 15 of the best portable depth finders on the market right now.

Photo by ilmarinfoto via Shutterstock

Best Portable Depth Finders for Kayaks

  1. HawkEye DepthTrax 1B
  2. HawkEye DepthTrax 1H
  3. HawkEye DepthTrax 2BX-TM
  4. AdaLov Handheld Depth Finder
  5. RICANK Depth Finder
  6. Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Depth Finder
  7. Lakco Manual Depth Finders
  8. N/C Portable Depth Finder
  9. Thill Manual Depth Finder
  10. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
  11. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7
  12. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv with Transducer
  13. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5
  14. Atibin Handheld Fish and Depth Finder
  15. LUCKY Portable Fish and Depth Finder

Buying Guide for Portable Depth Finders

Photo by ilmarinfoto via Shutterstock

Before we dive into the details of the best portable depth finders for kayaks, let’s talk about their features and how they will impact your buying choice. Ultimately, you should prioritize these factors based on your personal preferences and how you envision using one of these depth finders.

Capabilities

On our list below, you will find units with only depth-finding capabilities and others capable of depth-finding, fish-finding, and more. So before you make your choice, consider the full scope of capabilities you are looking for.

If it comes down to two units that only differ slightly in price, you should consider spending a little more to get a unit that can do more for you. Even if you’re not paddling one of the most stable fishing kayaks right now, having a unit with fish-finding capabilities will allow you to adapt without having to buy an entirely new model.

Depth Range

You should also consider how powerful the sonar technology is in a depth finder before finalizing your decision. In the simplest terms, you can consider that technology based on the maximum depth the unit is capable of detecting.

If you only paddle on shallow waters, it might not matter to have a depth finder that can pick up readings several hundred feet down. Conversely, if you’re interested in offshore fishing and you know that certain species like to hang out at a given depth, having accurate readings down further will be more important.

Similarly, you should consider how much accuracy a unit provides in very shallow waters. If the unit isn’t going to tell you the difference between 2.5 feet and six inches deep, it isn’t going to be very useful to help you identify when the water is too shallow to navigate in your fishing kayak.

Display Type

For the most part, you will find depth finders with either a liquid crystal display (LCD) or a light-emitting diode (LED) on our list. The main difference is that LCD displays utilize fluorescent lamps at the back of the screen while LEDs use, well, light-emitting diodes.

For the purposes of viewing your depth finder, you just want to make sure the unit you choose includes some features that reduce glare so that you can see the display in direct sunlight. That could include screen polarization or some sort of shade cover to block the sun.

The ability to adjust screen brightness is also a nice feature to have on these units. This allows you to brighten the screen during the day and dim it while paddling at sunrise or sunset to conserve battery.

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HawkEye DT2B DepthTrax
HawkEye DT1H Handheld Depth Finder with Temperature, 300 Feet
Handheld Sonar Depth Finder, AdaLov Portable Ice Fish Finder with Temperature, Depth Sonar Transducer Fishing Finder LCD Display Handheld Waterproof Fish Detecto, 300 Feet
RICANK Depth Finder with Temperature, Portable Ice Fish Finder Contour Readout Fish Depth Finder Handheld Fishfinder Depth Readout LCD Display Fish Detector Device Lake Sea Boat Kayak River Fishing
Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Sonar Depthfinder 24Deg 2-200'
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HawkEye DT2B DepthTrax
HawkEye DT1H Handheld Depth Finder with Temperature, 300 Feet
Handheld Sonar Depth Finder, AdaLov Portable Ice Fish Finder with Temperature, Depth Sonar Transducer Fishing Finder LCD Display Handheld Waterproof Fish Detecto, 300 Feet
RICANK Depth Finder with Temperature, Portable Ice Fish Finder Contour Readout Fish Depth Finder Handheld Fishfinder Depth Readout LCD Display Fish Detector Device Lake Sea Boat Kayak River Fishing
Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Sonar Depthfinder 24Deg 2-200'
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HawkEye DT2B DepthTrax
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HawkEye DT2B DepthTrax
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Prime Status
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HawkEye DT1H Handheld Depth Finder with Temperature, 300 Feet
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HawkEye DT1H Handheld Depth Finder with Temperature, 300 Feet
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Handheld Sonar Depth Finder, AdaLov Portable Ice Fish Finder with Temperature, Depth Sonar Transducer Fishing Finder LCD Display Handheld Waterproof Fish Detecto, 300 Feet
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Handheld Sonar Depth Finder, AdaLov Portable Ice Fish Finder with Temperature, Depth Sonar Transducer Fishing Finder LCD Display Handheld Waterproof Fish Detecto, 300 Feet
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RICANK Depth Finder with Temperature, Portable Ice Fish Finder Contour Readout Fish Depth Finder Handheld Fishfinder Depth Readout LCD Display Fish Detector Device Lake Sea Boat Kayak River Fishing
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RICANK Depth Finder with Temperature, Portable Ice Fish Finder Contour Readout Fish Depth Finder Handheld Fishfinder Depth Readout LCD Display Fish Detector Device Lake Sea Boat Kayak River Fishing
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Prime Status
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Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Sonar Depthfinder 24Deg 2-200'
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Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Sonar Depthfinder 24Deg 2-200'
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Reviews of the Best Portable Depth Finders for Kayaks

1. HawkEye DepthTrax 1B

HawkEye DT1B DepthTrax 1B

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 2.5 to 600 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 1.86 inches
  • Unit Weight: 1.7 pounds

The HawkEye DepthTrax 1B is a super-compact depth finder that can be mounted to the deck of your kayak. It is equipped with sonar technology that allows it to receive accurate readings through solid fiberglass and up to one-eighth of an inch aluminum, so it will have no problem receiving readings through plastic kayaks.

The polarized display on this unit reduces glare so that it is easy to see the depth reading on bright, sunny days. Plus, it is programmed with specific algorithms that help to prevent false readings and improve depth accuracy.

The warning system on this depth finder includes three stages to signal your attention. There is an audible alarm, a bright red LED warning light, and an LCD alarm indicator to tell you when readings exceed certain thresholds.

2. HawkEye DepthTrax 1H

HawkEye DT1H Handheld Depth Finder with Temperature, 300 Feet

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 1.5 to 300 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Item Dimensions: 8” x 2” x 2”
  • Unit Weight: 1 pound

The HawkEye DepthTrax 1H is a handheld depth finder that, at first glance, almost resembles a flashlight. It’s great for paddlers that don’t need sonar accuracy down to great depths and it’s super simple to operate.

In addition to depth readings, this unit will also provide information on both air temperature and water temperature, which you can program to display in Fahrenheit or Celsius. It also offers a SoftGlow backlit display that makes it easy to read when paddling at night.

This unit is also manufactured with inductive switching technology (IST) that allows it to be waterproof up to a depth of 200 feet. Still, keep it connected to your wrist or your kayak using the attached lanyard if you want to avoid finding out how deep the water is the old-fashioned way.

3. AdaLov Handheld Depth Finder

Handheld Sonar Depth Finder, Adalov Portable Ice Fish Finder with Temperature, Depth Sonar Transducer Fishing Finder LCD Display Handheld Waterproof Fish Detecto, 300 Feet

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: Down to 300 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Item Dimensions: 9.45” x 3.5” x 2.72”
  • Unit Weight: 0.75 pounds

This handheld unit from AdaLov is a depth finder with basic fish-finding capabilities. It is primarily used for ice fishing, but can also be employed to meet the needs of those of you customizing your kayak for fishing.

This device is used by simply shooting the sonar down into the water and it can even work by aiming it through the bottom of your kayak if you don’t want to get your hands wet. In addition to depth readings, it provides temperature readings that are accurate to a tenth of a degree.

This depth finder is also waterproof up to 100 feet and it runs on four AA batteries that are easy to replace. Most interestingly, it includes two colors of bait lights that are designed to attract fish species that are uniquely sensitive to light.

4. RICANK Depth Finder

RICANK Depth Finder with Temperature, Portable Ice Fish Finder Contour Readout Fish Depth Finder Handheld Fishfinder Depth Readout LCD Display Fish Detector Device Lake Sea Boat Kayak River Fishing

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 2.5 to 300 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Item Dimensions: 7.7” x 2.1”
  • Unit Weight: 1.04 pounds

The RICANK depth finder is actually very similar to the AdaLov model, but this unit is slightly more compact. In addition to depth readings, it will display information on fish groups and fish size, as well as water temperature.

It is also waterproof down to 100 feet and comes with a two-color fish-attracting lamp for light-sensitive fish. Like the previous model, you can point it directly down into the water or through the bottom of your kayak to get depth readings.

5. Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Depth Finder

Vexilar LPS-1 Handheld Sonar Depthfinder 24Deg 2-200'

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 1.8 to 200 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Item Dimensions: 10” x 3.5” x 2”
  • Unit Weight: 0.5 pounds

The Vexilar LPS-1 is waterproof down to 150 feet, but it also floats so you don’t have to worry about diving down to get it if you drop it in the water. That said, it also comes with an attached lanyard so you can tie it to your wrist or your kayak.

The backlit display works well for night use and it has a built-in 22-degree transducer that uses 200 kHz frequencies. It uses a single nine-volt battery and the operation simply requires turning it on and pointing it down into the water.

With every reading, the depth displays for a full 10 seconds before shutting off to conserve battery life. The great final note on this handheld depth finder is that it is supported by the company’s two-year warranty.

6. Lakco Manual Depth Finders

Lakco Depth Finders - Red-Orange - #832 (2 Packs of 2)

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These manual depth finders are a little different than most on our list. Instead of relying on sonar technology, you will have to go back to the analog method of dripping your line down and measuring it to find water depth.

The good part about these depth finders is that they are only limited by the amount of line on your reel. You simply clip one to the end of your line, let the line out until it hits the bottom, and then measure to set the depth of your bobber or jig.

Measurement can be a tricky part of using these manual depth finders, but the good news is that they are easily the most affordable option on our list if you don’t want to spend more on a sonar-driven unit.

7. N/C Portable Depth Finder

NC NC Portable Handheld Ice Fishing Sonar Fishfinder Depth Finder with Temperature

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 2.5 to 300 feet
  • Display Type: Highlight LED
  • Screen Size: 1.85 inches
  • Item Dimensions: 7.7” x 2.1”

This portable depth finder from N/C is basically a carbon copy of the RICANK and AdaLov models. It’s waterproof down to 100 feet and displays accurate readings on depth, fish groups, fish size, and water temperature.

8. Thill Manual Depth Finder

Thill Depth Finder/Marker

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This manual depth finder made from Thill must be employed in the same manner as the Lakco depth finders above. It’s a must-have for slip-float fishing, but you may need to get multiple so you have a replacement in case one gets lost.

9. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: Down to 1,600 feet in freshwater (750 feet in saltwater)
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 3.5 inches (diagonally)
  • Unit Weight: 0.5 pounds

The Garmin Striker 4 really steps things up from the handheld portable depth finders on this list. It can be mounted directly to your kayak, but it’s still compact and lightweight enough to be used as a portable unit.

It is equipped with a CHIRP sonar transducer and a keypad that make it easy and convenient to operate without worrying about touchscreen sensitivity. While it provides accurate depth readings, it also supplies information on water temperature and device voltage.

Plus, it is equipped with GPS and fish-finding capabilities, which makes it a major upgrade from a basic depth finder. It even allows you to track your routes and mark waypoints so that you can return to your favorite fishing spots with ease.

10. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7x SplitShot - 7-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer, GPS Plotter

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: Down to 500 feet
  • Item Dimensions: 10.12” x 7.76” x 8.86”
  • Screen Size: 7 inches
  • Unit Weight: 1.25 pounds

Like the Garmin model above, the Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7 is a fish finder with depth-finding capabilities. In other words, it will do a lot more for you than just tell you how deep the water is underneath your kayak.

It is equipped with a split shot transducer that will give you clearer imaging of the water and topography under your kayak. That includes high-resolution imagery to show you the location of fish and where they’re hiding on the bottom.

This model is a slightly larger unit, but the mount can be permanently attached to your kayak. Or the unit can be packed in a small dry bag and taken out as needed.

The HOOK Reveal 7 is also equipped with CHIRP sonar technology that comes with an auto-tuning feature so you don’t have to manually recalibrate. It also works with an easy-to-operate keypad that you’ll be able to use even if you’re wearing kayaking gloves on a colder day.

11. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv with Transducer

Garmin Striker Plus 5cv with Transducer, 5" GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional and ClearVu Scanning Sonar Transducer and Built In Quickdraw Contours Mapping Software

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: Down to 1,600 feet in freshwater (750 feet in saltwater)
  • Item Dimensions: ​​7.4” x 2.1” x 4.5”
  • Screen Size: 5 inches
  • Unit Weight: 1 pound

The Striker Plus 5cv is a considerable upgrade from the Striker 4, even if it does come with a much higher price tag. It’s a more compact unit than the HOOK Reveal 7, however, while offering many of the same functionalities.

It is equipped with a built-in transducer with traditional Garmin CHIRP sonar and CHIRP clear scanning sonar. It also includes a mapping capability that lets you save maps with down to one-foot contours covering up to two million acres.

This unit is designed for a mount to be permanently affixed to your kayak, but the screen display itself can remain portable. It also features built-in GPS functionality for marking routes and creating waypoints.

12. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 SplitShot - 5-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer, Preloaded C-MAP US Inland Mapping

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: Down to 500 feet
  • Item Dimensions: 9.02” x 7.13” x 7.52”
  • Screen Size: 5 inches
  • Unit Weight: 0.9 pounds

The Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 is a fish finder, depth finder, and GPS unit. It offers most of the same functionalities as the HOOK Reveal 7 but it comes in a more compact package if the bulky size of the previous model is a problem for you.

It is built with an easy-to-use menu with push-button operation and no concerns over the responsiveness (or lack thereof) of a touchscreen display. Mount it directly to the gunwale of your fishing kayak or keep it portable for other uses.

This unit also comes with a collection of more than 4,000 inland maps, which makes it an excellent choice for fishing on lakes, ponds, and rivers. Study these maps before you even put the blade of your kayak paddle into the water so you can get into fish faster.

13. Atibin Handheld Fish and Depth Finder

Atibin Handheld Kayak Fish Depth Finder Portable Transducer Fish Finder Sonar Boat Dock Fish Finders Display Water Fishing Yellow

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 3 to 328 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 2 inches
  • Item Dimensions: 5.71” x 4.33” x 3.7”
  • Unit Weight: 1.36 pounds

The Atibin Handheld fish and depth finder is a much more affordable model than the other fish and depth finders on our list. It’s also a more compact model so you don’t have to worry about carrying a bulky unit around.

It comes with a transducer that you drop down into the water and then connect to the handheld unit using up to 25 feet of cord length. That transducer can operate from 14℉ to 122℉ and offers a 45-degree beam angle.

The display is backlit when you need it, but that light can be turned off when you need to conserve the four AAA batteries you’ll need to power this depth finder. It also includes additional functions like a bottom contour detector, fish depth and location sensors, and a weed detector to help you avoid getting your line tangled.

14. LUCKY FL068 Portable Fish and Depth Finder

LUCKY Portable Fish Finders Wired Transducer Kayak Fish Finder Kit Portable Depth Finder LCD Display for Kayak Boat Ice Fishing

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Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 3 to 328 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 1.57 inches
  • Unit Weight: 1.26 pounds

This LUCKY fish and depth finder is similar to the Atibin model in a more compact package. It also comes with an external transducer sensor that is 1.81 inches in diameter with a 25-foot transducer cable.

You’ll have multiple options for using the transducer on this model. You can secure it to the hull of your kayak, attach it to your fishing pole, or use floats to extend it away from your fishing kayak if you’ve dropped anchor.

This unit runs on four AAA batteries that will last 4-5 hours when new. In addition to depth-finding, it will show fish location and the locations of weeds, rocks, and other submerged objects.

15. HawkEye DepthTrax 2BX-TM

Basic Specifications

  • Depth Range: 2.5 to 600 feet
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 2 inches
  • Unit Weight: 2 pounds

The DepthTrax 2BX-TM model from HawkEye is essentially the same as the DepthTrax 1B depth finder with a slightly larger screen size and a heavier overall weight. It still boasts the same basic features and functionalities, however.

That includes the ability to mount it permanently to your kayak, programming to reduce false readings, a polarized display to minimize glare, a three-stage advanced warning system, and water/air temperatures readings in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Our Pick – Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer

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If you are going to shell out for a depth finder, why not spend a little extra to get a model that also has fish-finding capabilities. The Garmin Striker 4 strikes a great balance of functionality at an affordable price.

This is a great depth finder and fish finder for novice anglers or boaters that are simply curious to learn more about their favorite waterways. It is compact enough to be used as a handheld unit, but it also comes with a mount that can be permanently placed on your kayak.

That mount tilts and swivels so that you can see the screen from different angles and the unit also allows you to set audible alarms if the depth drops under a certain threshold. Just keep in mind you will need lithium-ion batteries to replace an old battery for keeping this unit powered up.

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Best Portable Depth Finders for Kayaks

Author: Peter SalisburyPete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.