How far can a kayak travel in a single day?

It’s crucial to know how far you can go in a day when planning to any place on a kayaking trip.

If you underestimate the distance, you’ll be sitting in your boat at 11 p.m., hoping nothing jumps out of the shadows and eats you.

how far can you kayak in a day

If you underestimate the distance, you’ll arrive at noon and have to paddle in circles for several hours. This is critical if you have a child or a pet on board.

So, how do you avoid this issue and figure out how far you can paddle in a day in a kayak? To begin, take a measurement of the length of your boat’s waterline. This will assist you in determining your kayak’s top speed. After that, we’ll evaluate your fitness level, paddling technique, weather conditions, and the number of hours you’ll be on the water. You can estimate how far you can paddle your kayak in a day using this information.

An experienced kayaker can paddle between 10 and 20 miles per day in a canoe of average size. It is, however, complicated.

How far can you kayak in a day?

How far you can kayak in a day is a question beginners frequently have. And the answer depends not just on one single factor, but on many as one would expect.

kayaking top speed

World-class paddlers, as you might expect, can cover a great deal of ground in a short amount of time.

On flat water, the longest distance a kayak has traveled in 24 hours is 156.4 miles. Over the course of 24 hours, this equates to an average speed of 6.51 mph. Sebastian Szubski of Poland was the first to do so in 2019.

In the same time period, a kayak driven by a woman covered the longest distance on flat water, which was 125 miles. That translates to a top speed of 5.2 mph, which is still incredible. Angeannine Lees from Australia is the winner.

These are the maximum distances that a kayak can cover in one day. The majority of us are unable to maintain such a high level of activity.

How fast can a kayak go?

To determine how far you can travel in a day in a kayak, you must first determine your boat’s top speed. That is, how quickly you can travel from point A to point B, assuming there are no portages necessary and you do not have to carry the kayak on your shoulders on dry land.

This is what the formula will look like if you type it into Excel.

Maximum Speed = (SQRT (Waterline Length)*1.34 This isn’t a perfect calculation, but it’ll get you started on determining how fast (and how far) your kayak can travel.

The table above shows the relative maximum speeds that kayaks with various draft lines can achieve.

The length of the draft line is the length of the kayak’s lowest part that is submerged.

The longer the kayak, the faster it can travel. Keep in mind, however, that there are other factors that influence a kayak’s speed that aren’t taken into account in this simple equation.

how far can you paddle in a sea kayak

Also keep in mind that in order to move a longer kayak as quickly as possible, power must be increased proportionally.

How fast can you paddle your kayak?

Recreational kayakers run their boats at an average of 33-50 percent of the calculated maximum speed, according to smart people who think about these questions (depending on boat length).

how far do we kayak in a day's time

The table above not only shows a kayak’s maximum speed at a given draft length, but also its actual speed (measured in miles per hour) at light, medium, and heavy effort levels.

These “effort” columns can be used to estimate paddling technique. In other words, if you are an experienced kayaker with good paddling skills, you can take advantage of the “high effort” column at high speeds.

You can expect an average speed of 2-3.5 knots if you paddle a touring kayak medium to long distances with light to medium effort. The paddling community is already aware of this, but you are aware of the breakdown of the numbers.

Your speed depends more on your skill than on your strength. You really need to know how to kayak to achieve top speed. As anyone who has kayaked will be able to tell you, this isn’t about having plenty of muscles and lots of strength. In fact, you will not be using most of your biggest muscles while kayaking. It’s more about technique, efficiency and the right equipment.

What other factors affect a kayak’s paddling speed?

The wind can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how you use it. Your paddling time will be significantly reduced if you have a strong wind at your back. You will reach your destination with far less effort than you might expect if you can maneuver your kayak comfortably with the wind at your back.

Of course, this is a two-way street. A strong wind in your face can have a significant impact on your paddling for the entire day.

As a result, when paddling into a tailwind, a paddler’s average speed increases, whereas when paddling into a headwind, it generally decreases. This can result in a significant reduction in some cases.

how fast can a kayak travel

Be aware of the wind conditions in a coastal area if you’re paddling. The effects of coastal winds and waves are described in this article. The wind is usually responsible for generating waves. Waves can be a lot of fun if you want to have some fun, but they usually don’t contribute much to your average speed.

Of course, if your ride is over and you end up on the backside of a wave (assuming you don’t hit them on the way in), your average speed may improve a little. When sailing, however, the waves increase your energy consumption and reduce your average speed.

Although the current feels like wind, it does not cause your helmet to fly off. The current’s force can either sweep you along at an exhilarating pace or bring you to a complete stop.

On your whitewater adventure, you and your companions can travel at a fairly average speed.

A bad tide, on the other hand, could add an hour or two to your planned journey (especially at the end of the day when you are already tired).

Consider the sections of your hike that are most likely to be affected by wind, waves, and currents when looking at the speed tables in this article. Then, to match your goal, adjust your average speed.

Your kayak’s weight will reduce your average speed while increasing your stability (if properly packed). The deeper the kayak sinks in the water, the heavier it is. The deeper the kayak is seated, the more water it must dump and the slower its average speed becomes. When compared to paddling in ideal conditions on smooth water, this is also true.

The added weight of the kayak, on the other hand, increases stability when paddling in rougher water. In wavy terrain, this increased stability also results in a higher average speed.

The kayak must be properly packed to take advantage of the increased stability. This means putting the lightest gear at the far end and the heaviest gear in the middle of the kayak. Pay attention to lateral balance as well.

How much time do you want to spend kayaking?

Keep your expectations in check. How much time will you spend in the seat or behind the wheel doing something productive?

Groups take a long time. You will be slower if you are in a group of other paddlers than if you are alone or with a companion. Everyone wants to stop and photograph various things. They also don’t plan ahead of time to synchronize their bubbles. In a group, things move slowly. That’s all right. All we have to do now is provide the means.

The reason for this is different. Some people also go kayaking to get in a lot of paddling time. Others paddle to rest stops and campsites in order to eat and sleep. What kind of person do you consider yourself to be? What about a travel companion?

The amount of time you spend in a kayak will vary depending on your physical condition and the time of year you travel: if you’re in your 20s, you’ll probably be paddling long and hard four days out of three.

Things may be different if you’re 50 years old. Your endurance may be the same as it was 20 years ago, but your muscle tissue is weaker, and you may paddle slower.

Your body may also require more recovery time than usual.

In conclusion, the amount of time you can spend kayaking is determined by several factors. You have some control over some of these variables. Others, on the other hand, aren’t so sure.

How far can you kayak in a single day?

Let’s pretend you’re a seasoned and fit paddler. Your kayak has a 16-foot draft, no one else is in it (except you), and the weather is ideal. As a result, you should be able to maneuver the kayak at half of your calculated maximum speed (in the previous table, this combination corresponds to a speed of 3.1 mph). Take a look at the table on the right. You can row for about 15 miles if you row for 5 hours at a speed of 3.1 mph; if you row for 10 hours, you can run 30 miles.

This isn’t an exact calculation of how far you can paddle in your kayak on any given day. It can, however, be used as a planning tool for your next paddling trip.

How long does it take to go one mile by kayak?

Consider the preceding example once more. Your kayak is in 16 feet of water, and you’re a strong and experienced paddler who’s traveling in perfect weather. A mile can be completed in less than 20 minutes if you travel at a speed of 3.1 mph.

In the same conditions, a recreational kayaker paddling a 14-foot kayak will likely reach a speed of around 2 mph. In less than 30 minutes, this paddler will be able to paddle one mile.

Exception for tandem kayaks

Tandem Kayaks’ Features You’ll need an experienced partner to enjoy the benefits of tandem kayaking. But let’s pretend you already have one.

Tandem kayaks have a long length. It must be long enough to accommodate two paddlers by definition.

The length of the waterline is proportional to the length of the kayak. The longer the draft line, as shown in the model above, the higher the potential top speed.

The problem with large, long boats is that steering them at top speed requires a lot of power from the paddler. The load is cut in half when two people paddle together (and paddle efficiently). A long tandem kayak is much easier to maneuver around its top speed with two paddlers. Due to the length of tandem boats, their top speed is higher than average to begin with.

A tandem kayak with power paddles absorbs water surprisingly quickly. According to the table above, a boat with a length of 18 meters (very long) and a top speed of 67 percent can cover a distance of over 40 kilometers in ten hours. This boat can travel up to 65 miles in a single day when operating at full speed.

How long does it take to travel one mile by kayak?

You may be wondering how far you can go and how long it will take if you are planning a water adventure. “How long does it take to paddle a mile in a kayak?” is one of the most frequently asked questions.

The length of time it takes depends on a variety of factors, but we’ll look at a few of them in this article to help you figure out how long it takes to kayak and how far you can go.


The speed at which you can move is one of the most important factors in the time it takes to go a mile. An experienced paddler’s average speed is around 3 mph, but this is highly dependent on other factors.

The faster the kayak moves, the lighter the load. On the other hand, if two people paddle together, they may be able to paddle faster because their combined weight is less.

Paddling at about 2 mph is typical for a beginner or recreational paddler. But, especially when competing against other paddlers, the more experience you have, the faster you can go.


The weather and the water conditions have a big impact on how fast you can paddle. You will make faster progress if the water is calm and there is no current than if the water is rough and the current is fast and flowing backwards.

Paddling in the wind, whether upwind or downwind, slows you down significantly. Whether you’re in the ocean, a river, or a lake makes a big difference. You can cruise at about 5 mph if the current and wind are in your favor.


Another important consideration is the kayak you are paddling. Because kayaks are narrower and go faster the longer they are, racing kayaks are usually trimmed for speed.

It also depends on the initial weight of the kayak and the amount of cargo it can carry.

A kayak’s top speed is 1.34 times the square root of the hull’s length along the draft line.

The low-angle stroke is done with your top hand slightly below shoulder level and the shaft slightly angled downward. This stroke is ideal for recreational kayaking on flat water.

The high-angle stroke, which has a more angled shaft and blade path that is closer to the boat, is one that some paddlers progress to for increased speed. If performed incorrectly, the stroke necessitates precision and is exhausting. It necessitates a narrower blade and a shorter paddle than a low-angle stroke.

There are feathered and matched blades available. Matching or unfeathered blades are aligned with one another. Feathered blades are not parallel to one another; instead, they are offset at an angle, reducing wind resistance on the blade above the water.

Almost all paddle shafts can be feathered or rotated to match. They also make it simple to adjust the amount of feathering, which is usually done in 15-degree increments. Several of them can be adjusted to any angle you want.

While shorter paddles are becoming more popular for paddling and racing, 205-220 cm is the most popular range of paddle lengths.

The kayak’s blade size and speed

A teardrop-shaped blade allows for a more secure catch at the start of the stroke. Similarly, the blade size can be adjusted based on your paddling distance and strength. For the most part, a smaller blade will provide more consistent power over a longer period of time. You should use a blade that is lightweight and has a low swing weight.

The kayak’s forward stroke

In a sea kayak, you spend 99 percent of your time paddling forward. With a cadence of 50 full stroke cycles per minute, a paddler can make 3,000 strokes per hour. This means that even small changes to your forward stroke technique in your kayak can result in significant gains in overall progress.

More than just speed is important when it comes to stroke technique. While a more efficient stroke will get you to the beach in the same speed of time, it will do so with less fatigue, muscle strain, and joint pain, allowing you to save energy for times when you need to paddle faster or longer.

While mastering the forward stroke is essential for speed, you’ll also need a strong support stroke to avoid capsizing if you lose your balance or are hit by a wave.

Keep an eye out for changes in temperature, wind speed, wind direction, and approaching storms while kayaking. You’d have to keep an eye on the speed and direction of the wind.

Any wind less than 10 knots (roughly 11.5 mph) is generally considered safe for kayaking, regardless of direction.

How fast can you paddle in reality? Theoretical hull speed

A kayak’s hull is the bottom half. A performance kayak is between 18 to 19 feet in length with a 20-22-foot beam and requires average paddling ability. A length of 17 to 18 feet and a beam of 24–26 inches are typical for all-around kayaks. At higher speeds, the extra drag created by a shorter or wider boat is noticeable, but it may be less noticeable at slower speeds. While the differences are insignificant at slower speeds, a smoother ride is noticeable after a while. Experienced paddlers would use narrower boats; narrow boats appear to be much faster, but on longer trips, a more relaxed and rested paddler in a wider boat can easily cover more distance. Choose a narrow kayak if you are athletic enough to benefit from it at speeds greater than 5-6 mph. You have a choice once more.

The designer’s balance of speed, stability, turning ease and tracking are all important factors in making you feel at ease while paddling. Even with wider beams, narrow kayaks with flat rectangular cross-sections can be quite stable, whereas cross sections with a low wetted surface to minimize drag may be unstable. There are no limits to what you can do.

Rudders are commonly used to reduce the amount of effort required to maintain direction, but they add some drag. While it may be despised by some designers, there are alternatives.

Another thing to think about is the amount of human endurance required to maintain a certain level of effort. There have been numerous studies on this for a variety of sports, but there have been few for kayaking, where the upper body works with little help from the strong leg muscles. To put things in perspective, the horsepower required at 3-4 knots (3.5-4.6 mph) is 0.02-0.05 HP. A healthy person capable of walking can maintain that range of effort throughout the day. The seductive 5-6 knots range, which requires 0.1-0.2 horsepower and can be maintained for hours, is an athletic feat to maintain.

Bow and stern waves are generated as speed increases, resulting in a complex pattern of wave drag. At different speeds, the bow wave can interact with the stern wave, increasing or decreasing drag. Wave size and speed are proportional. As displacement hull boats accelerate, they generate larger and larger waves until the generated wave’s speed equals the boat’s speed, causing a single wave to travel along the hull and catch the boat. The hull speed is the name given to this speed.

It may be much easier to maximize speed when rowing than when paddling. Theoretical hull speed is extremely similar to actual hull speed. Only your strongest power strokes may be able to exceed hull speed by a few tenths of a mile per hour, and it usually drops to hull speed or a tenth of a mile per hour below hull speed before the next stroke can begin. When the maximum output is averaged out, the hull speed should be very close to theoretical.

There are a variety of ways to go faster than the hull speed. The most obvious way is to use overwhelming force, as in motor boats that “plane” by rising up on their hulls and leaving their hull speed wave behind. Very light sailboats with large sails and “planing hulls” can also enter planing and exceed their theoretical hull speed by skipping stones across the water’s surface if the wind speed is high enough. Planing speeds are used in both surfing and wind surfing. Light catamarans with their narrow knife-edge hulls never notice their hull speed thanks to their large and powerful sails.

A sea kayak is primarily a displacement hull, with displaced water providing the majority of the lift. This may not seem revolutionary, but it puts kayaks in the same category as heavy sailboats, battleships, and ore carriers, all of which have a top speed limited by the length of their water lines.

The faster a boat can go, the longer it is, but only if it maintains lift through water speed.

Inflatable kayaks are wider than sea kayaks, and they have either removable bladders enclosed within a tough outer skin or a single skin similar to rigid inflatable boat construction. And at a much slower pace.

Consider enrolling in formal skill-sports training to avoid developing ingrained errors and bad habits that will be difficult to break later in life. This type of training is necessary for skill development. Enroll in those courses, which are taught in a classroom setting by certified instructors and cover a variety of aspects of the sport, including safety. The British Canoe Union offers a wide range of courses at the Annual Great Lakes Sea Kayaking Symposiums and across Canada.

You’ll want to make sure you’ve received the necessary training and acquired the necessary skills before embarking on your next kayak adventure with friends on rivers that will put your physical ability to the ultimate test. You should have a well-developed intuitive sense for the sport. You should practice on flatwater before dreaming of whitewater kayaking. Calm lakes and ponds are ideal for beginners. You could look up the best kayak areas and destinations in your area on the internet. When paddling in a kayak, you must always wear a life jacket.

You should also brush up on your kayak theory. The easiest place to start for a more in-depth look is John Winters’ web sites. “Shape of the Canoe,” by John Winters, is a fascinating look at kayak theory. His insights and thoughts on the subject should pique the interest of any avid kayaker.

A couple of kayaking tips

To keep track of your kayak paddling rate, you could use a device like the Moozikpro Metronome. This device uses a ring to produce accurate and loud beats. As a result, your paddling rate will remain constant throughout the race.

You should take frequent rest periods with snacks and water breaks regardless of your physical fitness level or amount of stamina. You’d like to allow your arms and legs to recover from all of the strokes. Also, take advantage of your breaks to observe the wildlife around you. Kayaking, especially in the sun, can be physically demanding. And you definitely don’t want to become dehydrated. Pushing your body to its limit isn’t always a good idea.

When passing through unfamiliar areas, it would also be beneficial to plan the route ahead of time and have a guide accompany you.

Are Kayak plans available for free or for a fee?

You should start with a kayak plan if you want to build your own kayak to maximize speed. Some models allow for significantly higher kayak speed than others. The design and manufacturing process of your kayak have a significant impact on its speed and stability. The kayak you choose, your physical condition, and skill level all play a role in your performance.

Several backyard boat builders are going to make their experimental boat plans available for free. Some are fantastic, while others aren’t. There are some truly generous boat designers out there who will both provide you with free plans and help you finish your project.

Many free boat plans can be found in vintage magazines. A large number of Popular Mechanics plans have lost their copyright and are now available for free. The lines may be quite good in these cases, but the suggested construction methods and materials may be outdated. Double-check your measurements because they aren’t always accurate.

Free boat plans are frequently less detailed than paid boat plans, often consisting of nothing more than a table of offsets. Furthermore, purchased plans come with some level of support from the designer, which is rarely the case with free plans, as the designer is frequently deceased. Material lists, supplier contacts, instructions on how to complete specific steps, rig specifications, required tools, and tips are almost always included in purchased plans. Additionally, full-size plans for the various frame stations are frequently included in purchased plans, saving you hours of draughting time.

A well-chosen design will often save you time and money.


As a result, the time it takes to kayak one mile differs from person to person. The general rule is that you should paddle for 30 minutes per mile, but as you can see, this varies greatly depending on your ability, the conditions, and the kayak.

You may not be able to maintain a fast pace for the duration of your trip if you are paddling for an extended period of time. If you’re planning a trip, aim for a 2 mph average speed and always leave time to stop.