Articles, Skills

How Far Can You Kayak In A Day (Kayaking 101)

A kayak is an efficient way to explore rivers, lakes, and oceans. A day’s worth of paddling usually ranges between 10 and 20 miles.

Many beginners may start to ask this question usually. Once you fall in love with kayaking then this question becomes natural. In your vacations or when you have a full day off you can explore new waterways in your region. There are many factors involved in determining how far any kayaker can kayak daily.  We would try our best to provide you with some captivating information that would assist you in exploring how far you might be able to kayak in a day.

Actual Speed of a Kayak

man kayaking

An inexperienced or a beginner kayaker should anticipate being a bit slower than 2-2.5 knots. On the other hand, a highly experienced kayaker can significantly go faster than 3 knots per hour. A paddler who is physically fit and has great experience and strength can reach maximum speeds of 5 miles per hour. However, with some moderate fitness and skills reaches an average speed of 5 kilometers per hour. Various factors affect the speed of a kayak such as paddling techniques, wind speed, endurance, construction, and length of the kayak. 

With a long kayak, an experienced kayaker can also cover a speed of 6 to 7 kilometers per hour. Moreover, the maximum speed of the kayak is determined by the hull speed according to the theory. Hull speed is estimated by multiplying the maximum speed of your kayak by the square root of the waterline of the kayak by 1.34. In a World record book, a superhuman named Nelson has reached the speed of 244.4 miles in 24 hours. Distinctly, longer kayaks can operate at higher speeds. Other factors impact the speed of the kayak that is not mentioned here.

How Quickly Can a Kayak Move?

man woman kayaking

Kayakers paddling mid-to-long traveling kayaks at light-to-medium effort can be anticipated to travel at speeds of 2-3.5 knots. Beginner kayakers operate their boats at 30%-50% of their calculated maximum speed. Moreover, in a calm situation, a beginner can go 3-6 miles in 2-3 hours in the sea. If there would be wind or the seas are rough expect to skip kayaking that day or go only 1-3 miles. You may read more here about sea kayaks.

The highest possible speed is 9 kilometers per hour at a waterline of 4 meters. On the other hand, a kayak that is 5.5 meters long has a maximum speed of 10.55 kilometers per hour can be covered. We should note that hull speed is limited in a 4-meter kayak. Kayak who is experienced and skillful can cover this speed and are restraint accordingly. Few experienced and well-trained kayakers can cover the speed of 10.55 kilometers per hour in a 5.5-meter long kayak but most kayakers are not capable to cover this speed.  If you are indented for high speeds or want to ride extended tours, it is best to use a high-quality kayak that is at the same time not too massive. Fixed kayaks made of fiberglass and co cost a little more, but are also much faster.

Factors Influencing the Speed of Your Kayak

DriftSun Rover Kayak

Many factors affect the speed of the kayak. So let’s discuss a few of these conditions. We would discuss each of them separately so you can cover them again if you need to:


Water currents are the current flow of water in a specific direction. You have ever seen the fishing line move in a certain direction after throwing it into the river. That is the current of the river. As the water flows downriver to the ocean, it takes stuff along with it like pebbles, sand, and even kayaks. Less would be speed when the current would be stronger. If a river has a strong current, you might find it impracticable to travel upstream. Current has the most effect on the distance you can travel in a kayak. (1)


Wind can be your worst enemy. At your back when the stiff wind hit, it would reduce your paddling speed. If you manage to control your kayak comfortably, then a breeze at your back would assist you to go where you are going and expend less effort than you have expected. You should learn about your particular location if you spend time paddling in coastal climates. (2)

Kayak Weight

The weight of the kayak would lower the speed but enhance the stability if it is correctly packed. Usually, kayaks sit deeper in the water if it is heavier. The lower kayak sits, the more water it is forced to displace and the slower your average speed. If you are paddling in choppy water, then the extra weight of your kayak can improve your stability. As a result, this elevated stability can enhance your speed of kayak as compared to choppy water.

Water Conditions

Water conditions, current, and any obstacles, along with the weather, can influence your paddling speed by 1 to 2 miles per hour either negatively or positively. Paddling downstream would assist you to raise momentum, and you will be capable to paddle faster, and elevating your speed per mile, particularly if you add fast-flowing current into the mix. The same happens in flat and calm water. It may not elevate your speed of kayak but it will make paddling a lot easier as you would not need to battle the water.

How to Plan and Spend Time Paddling the Kayak?

kayaker woman

If you are traveling in a group of other paddlers, then you could move slower than if you are traveling individually. In every special place, everyone wants to take picture of something different. It is natural, that life just moves slower in a group which is fine and you need to expect it. Another factor may be motivation, some people set out on the kayak for a specific number of paddling. Other people set out to do only the required amount of paddling to get to the rest stops and campsites where they relax and eat food. Other factors that impact the seat-time on kayaks are fitness and trip duration. All this information is to say that the amount of time you are capable to spend in your kayak paddling is influenced by numerous factors. Some of these factors are still in your control.

How Much Can You Paddle a Kayak in a Day?

tandem kayak

Suppose that you are an intimate, or physically perfect paddler. Your kayak boasts a 16-foot waterline length, the boat is empty (except for you) and the weather is mastered. Thus, you expect to be capable to function your kayak at about 50% of its measured maximum speed. Such as, 5 hours of paddling at 3.1 mph will enable you to cover about 15 miles. Moreover, 10 hours of paddling will get you to 30 miles. This is not intentional to perfectly anticipate how distant you will be capable to paddle your kayak on any given day. Nevertheless, it does provide a framework of reference when trying to program your next trip.

Tandem Kayaks: Special Case


Consider the special case of the tandem kayak, if you genuinely want to speed across the water fast and far. You would need a skilled and experienced paddling partner to enjoy all the advantages of a tandem kayak. Furthermore, to accommodate two paddlers they must be lengthy by definition. A long waterline length is proportional to its length. A longer waterline length results in a greater potential maximum speed. Strong-paddling tandem kayakers eat up liquid real estate at an alarming rate. Operated at full capacity, this same boat could travel as far as 65 miles in a day.

Here’s our product guide for the best tandem kayak in the market if you’re interested to buy one.

Wrapping Up

I hope that you find this article helpful and somewhat illuminating. If you are wondering how far can you paddle a kayak then this is an informative article for recreational or beginner kayakers. You can also gain more strength and master your expertise and techniques of kayaking, you will certainly be capable to kayak further in a day. Generally, it ought to take you around 30 minutes to paddle a mile but this would depend heavily on your abilities, the condition as well as your kayak. I hope that you would find these tips for figuring out how far you can kayak in daily use, as always, we promoted all of our readers to kayak responsibility. If you want to share this article with others please do not hesitate to figure out your limits and then struggle to outstrip them.

(1) Water current –
(2) coastal climates –

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About Julian Thompson

cb787c59d2808e1f609076e790ca977e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Kayaking Instructor (AKA)
Education: American Kayak Association
Lives In: Denver Colorado

I am a kayaking expert/instructor who has been fishing for over 15 years. Fishing is my passion, but kayaking keeps me on the water. I love to share my knowledge of techniques and tips with others. I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids and own a small kayak rental business On Grand Lake where I rent and instruct.