Kayaking is a great form of low impact exercise which is easy to learn, great for flexibility and a great way to get fit. In the early days you won’t need any fancy equipment and you may even double up with someone more experienced to get into it and share equipment. As time goes on, you will of course get better and want to push your training to new levels. This is where we can you help you by giving our views on the best fitness tracker for kayaking.

Why would you want a fitness tracker for kayaking?

The answer of course is it depends. People have got by for years without any tracking equipment and managed just fine. The main thing that becomes apparent is that if you do want to find the best fitness tracker for kayaking the plain and simple accelerometer versions just won’t cut the mustard. Technical limitations with the way that fitness trackers work mean that the algorithm won’t work out that you are paddling and interpret your kayaking workout as steps. Not what anyone wants and it could be very frustrating.

To get round this limitation it is widely accepted that instead of a basic fitness tracker it is best to use a fitness tracker that makes use of GPS. This will then give you the following benefits:-

  • Safety – not so much of a concern if you head out in an enclosed lake but much more important in sea kayaking is the ability to find your way back to where you set off
  • Progress tracking – the ability to train to a heart rate and monitor your pace and progress with instant feedback will enable you to push your kayaking fitness to the next level
  • Keeping track of the time – ideally you don’t want to be out in the dark so a good old watch that tells you the time makes sure you don’t stay out into the dark

What functionality should you look for in a fitness tracker for kayaking?

In general terms, GPS watches that are suitable for tracking kayaking can also be useful for tracking other activities such running, open water swimming and stand up paddle boarding amongst others. That being said here are the specific functions you should look out specifically for kayaking:-

  • Waterproof – this one almost goes without saying. As you will be using your device almost entirely in the water it needs to be able to cope with a bit of a soaking
  • Good battery life – there is nothing more frustrating than being out on the water and your tracker has run out of charge. A tracker that keeps hold of a charge but for a reasonable amount of time will be important
  • GPS – the addition of a GPS will give you the ability to keep a track of your routes and starting location as well as a much more accurate assessment of your overall pace
    Large visible screen with customisable screens -ideally a screen that is visible in sunlight and nice and large so that you can see it at a glance. Along with the ability to customise the screens so that they suit your training methods.
  • Durable – kayaking is going to put your tracker through the mill so you need a tracker that will take a battering with a good strap that doesn’t come undone easily
  • Smartphone notifications – not crucial but a quite useful feature if your phone is stowed away in the dry bag and you are waiting for an important phone call

Best fitness tracker for kayaking – the options:-

After looking around the internet we came up with the following proposed options as the best fitness trackers for kayaking:-

1. Garmin Fenix 5

Garmin Fenix 5

One of the most advanced and expensive watches of modern times. The Fenix 5 is designed for an outdoors life. Waterproof to 100 metres it comes preconfigured for multi-sports and can track both indoor and outdoor rowing. In addition, the tracker can also connect to Ant+ and bluetooth sensors of every bent. Outside of this, the mapping functionality on the Fenix 5 is second to none and will allow you to return your original location with little or no problem.

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2. Casio Pro Trek PRW-3500

Casio Pro Trek PRW-3500

A sophisticated watch water resistant up to 200 metres. It comes complete with an altimeter, barometer and compass. With more detail than you can ever hope to deal with the Pro Trek also features some newer features such as a  stop watch and the facility to collect data about your current and future location. The final cool bit of technology of this watch is the ability to gain a charge using the perpetual battery life where a solar charger makes sure that you have enough juice.

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3. Polar M400

Polar M400

A great waterproof watch with a great battery life and  a clear screen that gives instant feedback on performance by making use of its on board optical heart rate sensor.

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4. Garmin Vivoactive HR

Garmin Vivoactive HR
Primarily designed as a running watch the vivoactive hr has several features that make it ideal for kayaking. Waterproof, gps and a great screen that is clearly visible in bright sunlight. Make sure you get the HR version to benefit from the optical hear rate monitor

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5. Suunto Ambit

Suunto Ambit

This watch is at the higher end of the market and is more than likely to be chosen for a major game. Even though the Ambit is a little more expensive than you would expect the extra money results in advanced features such as the ability to track your heart rate and breathing rate plotted against your speed and stroke rate. Invaluable for kayak sessions in recent times.

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Other notable mentions go the Polar V800 , Garmin 305,Garmin Quatix or TomTom Multisport watch. If however, you still feel that these devices don’t give you everything you want you may want to consider something specifically made for kayaking that attaches to the paddles such as the Motionize activity tracker.