How Fast Can A Kayak Go

How Fast Can A Kayak Go

Typically, the top speed of kayaks is five to six mph. Higher speeds will be difficult to maintain for long periods of time. Kayak paddles are designed to be used at a higher stroke frequency than those used for rowing or canoeing, which means that more power is required for each stroke. In addition, the kayak’s shape requires wider paddles and a higher paddle angle to sustain any level of speed beyond five mph.

If you’re considering racing your kayak against others, then other factors such as distance and current will affect the race result. Also, endurance is important because it involves the number of miles you can maintain a consistent speed.

Factors that impact the speed of a kayak


The wind affects the speed of a kayak, so it’s important to find a sheltered area to race in.


Kayaks are typically propelled by water, so if you paddle against strong currents, you’ll need more power to overcome the resistance.

Sea conditions

Warm or choppy water will cause your boat to be more difficult to control and less responsive. Conversely, calm waters make paddling much easier.

Tip: When racing, try to measure your speed from four points on the board–your left foot on the deck, your right foot on top of the hull, your centre of gravity on the seat and where you place your hands on the paddle. These four points will give you a true measure of your speed.

Of course, the best way to find out the speed of your kayak is to race it. This will let you experience the feeling of hard paddling against the water’s resistance and will help you determine what type of kayak is right for you.

How fast can a kayak go? The answer depends on several factors including its size, shape and design, as well as where it’s being paddled. Typically, the top speed of kayaks is five to six mph. Higher speeds will be difficult to maintain for long periods of time.


The lighter the kayak, the faster it will go.

Keel/traditionally-shaped kayaks

These tend to be intended as recreational kayaks and have less overall drag than boats with deeper hulls. Keel shape keeps the centre of the boat above water, reducing drag.

Hull design

Some designs result in more turbulence over rough water, which reduces speed even if the boat weighs less than its competitors. This is because of changes in air pressure that affect both buoyancy and drag during paddling.

Water temperature

Warmer water holds less oxygen, which makes it harder to breathe. It is easier to be more aerodynamic when your body uses less oxygen.

Weather conditions

The wind is always an issue on the water, and depending on current, it can affect your speed. Wetter conditions will make it more difficult for the boat to maintain a steady course or even move if waves are high.

Needless to say, you don’t want a situation where you capsize as this will make maintaining a high speed impossible. The fundamental design of the kayak has an impact on how fast it can go and what sort of speeds it would be capable of with different paddlers at the helm.

Kayak speed is determined by its hull size, the shape of its hull, the length of its hull and several other factors. The average speed for a kayak is about three to five miles per hour. Still, this can vary greatly for a wide variety of reasons that will be touched upon below.

How long does it take to kayak 2 miles?

It can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on the current, wind and paddling skill. As water traffic increases, the time required for a 2-mile kayak race also increases (one hour of actual paddling time is equivalent to 20 miles of highway driving). If you’re participating in a Class C or higher race, your kayak can maintain a close to five mph.

To cover more than two miles in one hour helps to keep paddling strokes within 150 feet of each other (approximately every 30 seconds). In addition, it’s helpful to have someone else monitoring your progress by watching the distance between the stops. This will ensure that your paddling rate is consistent.

How long does it take to paddle 10 miles?

Depending on the current, wind and paddling skill, you should plan for about an hour per mile (to cover 10 miles you must paddle at least 10 hours). If you want to cover more than 10 miles in one day, you’ll have to maintain a higher stroke frequency. This will result in shorter strokes and allow you to go faster.

Can I race in a kayak?

Yes. If your goal is a cross-country race then it’s best to participate with other racers with similar goals and expectations. Some kayak races use the same rules and course as canoe races.

How far can you kayak in one day?

You’ll want to plan for at least one mile of paddling per hour. For example, if you plan to kayak 40 miles in one day, you must paddle at least 80 hours. This type of goal requires some serious training and endurance.

The Average Kayak Speed You Can Paddle

One hour kayaking at a minimum speed of five mph covers around 10 miles. This means that you can go about 10 miles in one month of paddling. Beyond that, it may take a few months to build up endurance for 10 miles a day.

What’s the average kayak speed?

The average kayak speed is 5mph. This type of paddling takes approximately 1 hour to cover 10 miles. The fastest kayakers can achieve speeds of 8mph in Class C races and 6mph in Class A races. In addition, 10 mph is the World Speed Record for recreational racing on open water (equivalent to a record distance of 50 miles). Can you imagine how many calories does kayaking burn in a day when you are on average speed?

How Many Miles Can You Kayak In A Day?

Paddling with a minimum 5mph speed for 1-hour covers around 10 miles. Beyond that, it can take a few months to build up endurance for 10 miles per day.

How Many Miles Can You Canoe In A Day?

Paddling with a minimum speed of 5mph covers around 10 miles in one hour. This translates to about two to five miles in one hour with a canoe or kayak and an individual weight of 200 pounds. You can cover more distance (up to double the distance) with a canoe or kayak and an individual weight of 250 pounds.

Are Pedal Kayaks Faster Than Traditional Kayaks?

The popularity of pedal kayaks has been steadily increasing in recent years. These kayaks are faster than traditional kayaks; they also use less energy. Plus, pedalling is a lot easier on your joints. Do pedal kayaks really replace traditional ones?

We asked: “Are Pedal Kayaks Faster Than Traditional Kayaks?”

A lot of people think pedal kayaks are faster than traditional ones. The reason for this might be that pedalling the pedals make the movement of the paddle easier. This is true, but it’s also a bit misleading because pedals can’t replace all types of paddling, so don’t expect to use your pedal kayak only on flat water.

There is no doubt that pedal kayaks not only have a style different from traditional paddlers’, they also require more preparation time before paddling them.

What Are Pedal Kayaks?

Pedal kayaks are kayaks fitted with paddles or an electric motor that can be pedalled to move the boat. Usually, pedal kayaks can be classified as:

  • Touring kayaks
  • Expedition kayaks
  • Runners
  • Blade kayaks
  • Pedal kayaks with fishing features

Pedal kayaks travel faster than paddleboards, though. A paddleboard requires the paddler’s strength and energy, travelling slower.

Another difference between the pedal and traditional kayaks is located in their propulsion system: paddles are used in the pedal, and blades are used in traditional ones. Paddles help to go faster, but their movements are less fluid than blades’.

Touring Kayak Pedal Design

Touring kayak pedal design is different from traditional ones because it features a rudder that makes the pedals’ movement more efficient. This feature comes in handy on big waves and strong tides.

You may say that touring kayak pedal design can’t help paddle speed at all, but you’d be wrong.

Even though it doesn’t make up a lot of difference on flat water, touring a kayak’s rudder actually helps you keep the same speed as traditional paddlers. Also, tourings’ pedal design is already more efficient than a classic rudder.

Touring kayaks are best for fishing because they can’t be carried through rivers and streams. Because of the high friction between paddle and water, touring kayaks’ lines tend to break easily. This is why they should be used on lakes only where the water is thin and calm.

Since the touring kayak pedal design is not meant for long distances, we don’t recommend that you use them in the open ocean.

Are Longer Kayaks Really Faster?

The problem with longer paddle kayaks is they move slower than longer traditional kayaks. This doesn’t mean long paddle kayaks are slower than short ones. The length of a traditional kayak has a direct connection to its speed. There’s also the weight of the paddler to take into account.

Longer paddle kayaks require more strength, and they are more difficult to control. Because of these reasons, we don’t recommend long paddle kayaks for beginners.

You Might Think: “I don’t have to paddle as hard as traditional paddlers.”

We’re not saying you can’t paddle harder with longer kayaks. In fact, some kayaks are much harder to paddle than others. It’s still true that the more effort it takes to paddle a certain kayak, the faster it will go. That’s why touring kayaks can’t be used in the open ocean, while traditional ones can even if their paddles are shorter.

Are Electric Kayaks Faster?

Electric-assisted pedal kayaks have become a popular option for those who want to replace traditional paddlers without giving up any of the advantages of pedalling or setting out on open water completely.

While electric-assisted pedal kayaks are relatively comfortable and easy to pedal, they are not suitable for open water paddling. If you want to use an electric-assisted kayak on the ocean, you’ll have to make sure you don’t get any in your face from angry whales or other marine life.

Is There a Difference Between Hull Shape and Kayak Shape?

Most people think there is a significant difference between hull shape and kayak shape since the latter is determined by the former. In fact, hull shape doesn’t have much effect on kayaking speed because it’s mostly dependent on how much drag there’s between the water and your hull.

Also, when it comes to kayak design, the hull shape doesn’t take as much importance as the deck. No matter what hull shape you have, if you don’t have a good deck, your kayaking will be like taking a canoe on the ocean.

In conclusion, faster kayaks are usually longer ones, and kayaks with shorter paddles that are not adapted to the body of the paddler are harder to paddle than others. The weight of the paddler is also a factor to consider when talking about kayaking speeds. More important than anything else is the deck of your kayak, so make sure you get one that’s appropriate for your size.

As for pedal design, we don’t recommend using a touring pedal design on open water because they include a rudder making paddling more difficult. If you plan on going out on open water without any obstacles, then pedal-assisted sculling is probably your best option.

Now that you’ve read this article, why don’t you try kayaking with a kayak paddle that’s shorter than your usual length? Also, do you have any questions about this topic? Just remember to always wear your helmet and life vest as possible. Please leave them in the comments.