While kayaking can be done low tech – there is a selection of applications or programs you can put on your phone that can be immensely helpful for any kayaker. In this post, we’ll cover some of the best kayaking apps for 2023 and beyond.
Is There An App for Kayaking?
There are tons of kayaking apps out there, but not all of them are created equal. Let’s take a look at the best kayaking apps to help enhance your next paddling session.
1. Polaris GPS
Available only from google play here
This app is only available on android, but it’s free to use and takes advantage of your phone’s built-in GPS signal technology. This is a great app to help plan your kayaking journey, and can give you access to marine charts, as well as useful things like accurate water depth readings.
One thing to be aware of with the Polaris GPS app, however, is that sometimes default battery saving settings can mess with the GPS tracker function that’s built into your phone. This can cause the app to give slightly inaccurate GPS readings. If you plan on using this app, it’s something to take into consideration.
However, this is a small downside and is mostly made up for by the fact that this kayaking app is completely free!
Available here for both apple and google play here
RiverApp is another fantastic kayaking app that keeps you updated about vital information like water conditions, water temperature, and water levels, and allows you to look at different river routes or detailed maps.
This is considered one of the more popular kayaking apps and for good reason.
There is a free version and also premium options. You do get access to more features for spending a little cash – but regardless, it’s a great app for any kayaker and considered one of the best apps for accurate, up-to-date knowledge about rivers in not just North America but in Europe as well.
3. Go Paddling
This is another free app that offers information on over 25,000 paddling routes to plan your next kayak trip. The Go Paddling app offers detailed information on existing routes, and it can also help you locate a good launch point for different routes.
Users can also add their data and information that others can make use of.
4. NOAA Weather Radar
Most smartphones have weather information services built in, but when it comes to being on the water – you need something a little better. This is where the NOAA Weather Radar app comes in very handy.
The NOAA map gives you some detailed radar images, and useful weather information that’s updated in real-time – all great information for kayakers! If there are any storms close enough, you’ll get information on their predicted path and figure out what your options are or change your plans.
The app also gives severe weather warnings so you won’t be accidentally caught up in a dangerous storm.
5. River Data
Available only on apple here
This kayaking app (although it’s also used by everyone from fishermen, to scientists, and all sorts of other paddlers in between) provides tons of data on over 14000 rivers. Anything from the water temperature to how oxygenated the water is!
The information is regularly updated meaning this can be an invaluable app for all kinds of river kayaking trips. It’s a great tool to learn about water conditions before you’re even in, and it can help you navigate different routes.
This app has both in-app purchases and carries a fairly hefty price tag ($49.99) on the app store. However, if you’re an athlete or dedicated to kayak fitness then this app is a complete package.
This is a kayak-tracking app that tracks just about everything – including using GPS tracking to calculate your overall distance and speed. It also gives you detailed data on your overall stroke rate and your heart rate.
Among the hardcore and coaches, it’s one of the most popular kayaking apps. However, for anyone not too concerned about maximizing performances for competitive events, this app might be a tad overkill (unless you’re fascinated by data).
7. Stream Map USA
Only available on apple here
This app goes for $9.99 depending on how many regions you want to purchase on the app store, but this is one of the best kayaking apps for getting a comprehensive view of all the waterways in the USA.
While some apps focus on rivers, this app has everything – from rivers to small creaks. This app has navigation tools and you can also log your journeys. You can store maps for later use if you so wish – it’s a very good tool for planning.
Only available on google play here
This app’s original purpose is to provide data for rowing – including heart rate, calories burned, distance, speed, and stroke rate. It can also be used by the more dedicated kayakers who are looking into metrics to improve performance.
BoatCoach comes with a maps feature and you can also live stream your workouts onto social media (if you’re into that sort of thing).
9. Paddling Magazine
A bit less functional and a bit more entertaining. This app is the online version of the similarly named magazine.
You can download it for free but also sign up for a yearly subscription and enjoy updates about all kinds of paddle sports as well as some incredible stories and photography.
Paddling Magazine is one of the more popular publications in print for paddlesports and has a fairly large readership across the world.
10. Kayak Tracker
Only available on apple here
This app acts as a notebook or logbook for your kayaking adventures. You can learn the distance traveled and overall speed, and you can also get some information about the overall weather conditions of your journey.
Out of all the kayaking apps if you just want a place to log what you’re doing this is a good choice – it has a clean interface and gives you some space for notes and pictures of anything you saw on your route.
11. Paddle Paddle
Available only on apple here
Very similar to Kayak Tracker – this app also offers information about some routes you might not have taken. You can use this app to both plan and track journeys.
This app can measure your heart rate and gives you some detailed information about your speed (telling you when you were fast and when you slowed down).
Available only on google play here
This is one of the best kayaking apps for smartphones that can support it. You’ll receive almost real-time data on weather conditions and immediate alerts in case of severe weather. If you’re someone who goes kayaking in the ocean then this kind of app is invaluable.
Practically every detail about the weather you could think of is covered – wind speed, wind direction, humidity, chance and volume of rain, visibility, and more. Knowing this kind of information is valuable to any ocean-going kayaker.
The best part is that this app is free! There’s no premium version limiting the important information. However, there are ads and in-app purchases available.
13. TIDES NEAR ME
This app is completely free and gives important information from tidal monitoring stations across the world. You can quickly learn when the time of the last tide, or next tide, will be. Plus, you can get accurate predictions of sunrise and sunset times.
Another incredibly useful app for anyone who likes to go ocean kayaking – plus you don’t have to pay a dime.
Can I Wear My Apple Watch While Kayaking?
You can wear an Apple watch when kayaking, but it depends on a few factors, is the short answer.
Apple watches (even the latest models) are water resistant to a degree, but high-velocity water conditions (like white water kayaking) can damage them.
So, you can wear your Apple watch but if you tip or capsize and depending upon the water conditions, the watch could break.
More gentle forms of kayaking on easier waterways are most likely to be fine but once you start heading into areas with less predictable conditions then there are fewer guarantees.
How to Track Kayaking on Apple Watch
There isn’t a default “mode” you can set your Apple watch to track kayaking, but there are apps you can use. The latest apple watch models (especially the series 8) can make use of some of the Apple-supported apps above.
It’s recommended to download the apps through the watch interface itself because it can filter out automatically which ones will work with the watch.
The apps here have different developers and goals, and not all of them may be designed to work with the apple watch.
Can You Track a Kayaking Workout on Apple Watch?
You can track workouts with an apple watch and at the very least it’ll show you your heart rate and calories burned. However, to track the workout or get more detailed information on the distance you’re probably going to have to look into apps specialized for that kind of function.
They’ll be some that are compatible with the iPhone that will also work with the Apple watch.
How to Record Kayaking on Strava
The Strava app is one of the most popular apps all around for tracking workouts across a whole range of activities, kayaking included.
Using the Strava app to record kayaking is easy:
- Open the app scroll down until you find kayaking and hit the record button.
- Strava will then measure the distance, elevation, heart rate, and speed at which you moved.
- This works on the water just the same as on the ground.
Some people have reported that the app doesn’t work too well on their Apple watches.
Can a Fitbit Track Kayaking?
Technically the answer is yes, you can. Fitbit will attempt to track your kayaking if you wear it on your trip. However, the data you get back will very likely not be accurate – the other option is to log the activity manually but that doesn’t usually give much useful data either.
There’s been a vocal community requesting some kind of kayaking or paddling functionality be added but this hasn’t happened as of yet.
How to Track Kayaking on Fitbit Charge 3
You can use Strava to log your activity as a run from your Fitbit and then once the data is uploaded to your Strava account you can change the activity to kayaking.
The problem with this workaround is that it doesn’t always work – often the heart rate, calories burned, and distance are anything from slightly off, to completely incorrect.
That brings us to the end of the list! There are many kayaking apps available for both Android and iPhone that can provide you with valuable data to do anything from plan routes, log trips, or track your physical activity.
We hope that you enjoyed reading through this list and please share if you have any other apps that have revolutionized your kayaking experience.