How fast do you cruise?

So, I’m reading bowler1’s post on canoes and speed and he’s paddling 4.5 mph all day! Now, if he says that’s the speed he can manage in his canoe I believe him. But it leaves me feeling like a big Salley! Granted, I’m not generally out to eat up miles but paddle for pleasure and I usually manage maybe 3.5mph with a stroke I could sustain for…a good while. I know I can sprint up to about 8mph. My numbers are by gps.

Anyway, it got me wondering how fast y’all cruise. Y’know, just a steady pace. What kind of speed do you get? And while we’re at it, what kind of boat, paddle and stroke.


Current Designs Sirocco

Aquabound Carbon/ABX 220 Eagle Ray

Low Angle

I cruise at
5.3 to 5.4 mph but most of it is because of the boat. I paddle a KajakSport Artisan Millenium. It is a nice 18’3" foot length greenland style boat. With my 16’ Perception Captiva I was a FULL 1 mph less with the same effort.

Jeff P.

getting faster
I basically started kayaking (mostly ocean) about a year ago and could only do about a bit over 3.5mph or so. I got out quite a bit (twice a week or more for months) and now I can do 10+ miles at about 4.5mph. A lot of that was improved form and some from improved strength. Not sure about full out sprinting.

lily dip at
3.5, Cruise solo at 4.5 to 4.9 Sprint at 5.4+ for short spells. In a tandem it depends on the canoe and partner. I have cruised at 7 mph for hour on flat water in a Cruiser, 6mph in a stock boat( Interesting time that. Randy and Iused a Metronome after the first 4 miles so we kept our cadence and speed up

for the whole 40 miles)

lily dip…
I like that.

Our group usually cruises at 3.5-4 mph.
I have pushed my boat up to 6.0 ,but can’t sustain it.

4.5 alone, 3.5 w group

Check Freya’s blog :wink:

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 10:16 AM EST –

Check her spreadsheet (and Paul Caffyn's #s are in there too).

It is very educational to see. She's making only slightly more than 3 miles per hour each day on the water, on the average, if my math is right. In one of the fastest sea kayaks available. But fully loaded... And she is a very strong paddler.

With the same paddle she's using (Epic mid-wing) but in a much slower boat (Perseption Sonoma 13.5), today I made 4.5 mph average over 10 miles (I'm faster, see!) with some energy to spare at the end but not too far off my "mild race pace" either - heart rate was in the low 150 beats per minute this last time, most of the time. Couple of weeks ago I managed 4.2 mph average over 12 miles at about 140 beats per minute in that same boat and a greenland paddle. But I am tired after that and would not be able to do that every day for a year ;(. And it's only 10-12 miles. In that same boat I can cruise with virtually no effort though at 4 mph in good conditions though (but I get bored so I usually go a little faster and thus tire much faster ;).

That's on mostly flat water (less than 1 foot waves) with some wind and tide but since I'm doing a round-trip it averages out.

Moving and rough water is another story. In a much faster boat (CD Extreme, loaded with me plus may be 50 lb of winter/spare/safety gear and food/water) I managed just over 3 mph or so over a 6 mile crossing: going may be 75 degree against mostly 2 foot with many 3 foot waves with white caps and may be 10-15 mph winds with the occasional 20 mph gust, some light tide against me as well, so I was probably doing 4+ mph actual speed. Got there barely tired - I was planning to paddle back after a short rest and was not really sure how tired I would be or if the wather would turn worse, so I preserved my strength on the way out and did not hurry on the first leg. If I had paddled harder, I still doubt I could have done much better than 4.5-5 mph in these conditions though and still have enough energy to get back for the second 6 miles safely... If I had to do it "all day" I think I could not do more than about 4 mph average in good conditions with almost no load in the boat...

A fellow paddler (ordinary guy, not a fitness nerd) did a 6.6 mph average over about 10 miles in his last race a KayakPro Marlin. In my much slower boat I could not do more than 5 over this same distance and I would be *very* tired at the end. And by much slower I mean it - in my faster sea kayak I can sprint to a little over 7 mph and may be maintain close to 6 mph for an hour without too much trouble. In this - max speed as well as max sustained speed has been at least a mile per hour slower for me even though I can apply more power in it due to its better ergonomics... So the boat makes a big difference but the paddler and conditions add a huge uncertainty to the equation.

So it varies a lot. The best thing is to get a GPS with a heart rate monitor if you are interested in this. Really helps to fine-tune your technique and also when comparing equipment. You can see easily where your boat begins to bog down this way - your heart rate starts to go steeply up while your speed barely increases... There is too much added effort in paddling beyond the point where your boat just wants to slow down back to its "cruise" speed...

So lots of factors.

I’m guessing about
3 mph on my Torrent, but that’s with a 2 or 3 mph current. On flatwater, especially when I get left behind, I can cruise much slower.

I understand wanting to go fast at times, I just don’t understand those that never want to go slow.


I don’t like to get my heart up to Kocho’s 150 beats per second…I would die. Just too old to handle 9000 beats per minute I guess…lol. In all seriousness though, I will usually run at 3 mph upriver on the Red, and around 5 downriver. I have run up to 7 mph for shorter distances, but prefer to keep a slower pace I can maintain

Depends on which boat
If I take my CD Caribou, I cruise around 4.3 mph solo. With my BBK Recluse, just over 4.5, and with my Anas Acuta, right around 4.1 if the GPS is to be believed.

I’ve had the Recluse and the Caribou up around 8 mph, but I collapse in a heap after about 100 yards of that. The Anas yells “Cut it out” around 6.4.

Of course, since I paddle mostly in salt water that’s usually moving, and preferably textured, speed varies day to day.

It’s good to know how fast you do go and can go (Esp for trip planning and navigation), but don’t obsess on it. If the speed you paddle at is fun, that’s all that really matters.

Oh no…

– Last Updated: Mar-15-09 9:14 AM EST –

I'm definetley not obsessed with all. I just find it curious, like a science project, to hear what others have experienced related to this topic. I'm generally a mid to high 3mph cruiser. I suppose I could go faster, maybe mid 4's for a good bit but that would be too much like exercise. Seems I saw this quote here and liked it, "I get enough exercise just pushing my luck."

Good stuff y'all, thanks.


Yesterday 6.3 mph
Paddling steady but easy. We had a heckuva push from the tide. When I tried to slow down by paddling really easy, I was still doing 5.3.

Sea kayaks of various brands. Mine is a WS Tempest 170 poly with three times the normal surface area on the bottom due to scratches and crevaces and gouges.

Seriously it was a heckuva push for 16 miles (except for Paul who was restless in the morning and decided to go both ways - 32 miles - starting out in the fog and dark) in the middle of a very wide river pushing out to sea.

That won’t happen again. As we spoke yesterday, in a few weeks that same river will be full of those that rely on motorized transportation and we won’t be able to paddle down the middle and we will lose the big push.


Mt. Pleasant, SC

Cruising about…
in a Placid RapidFire, 4-5.5 depending who I am paddling with. Have had my RapidFire to 6.3,but only short distances,and never all day long. YS solo usually 3.5-5 max. It’s more of a river poke boat.


Corrected the bps to bpm :wink:

After the last trip a sea kayaker
commented “that boat is pretty fast, isn’t it”. The RF.

"3 mph on my Torrent, but that’s with a 2 or 3 mph current. "

Thats with one foot pushing in the mud? Right?



I don’t have a GPS but by distance
covered, I’d say 4-4.5 MPH.

I calculated
my distance of a trip on google earth- 6 miles. I did it in just over 2 hrs with a break in the middle. Not counting the break, it was 2 hours or maybe slighty less. And 6/2=3 miles in one hour- 3mph with my dad.

My cruising speed is 4-4.5 mph without my dad, but I slow down for him because he likes to take it easy. Hes almost 50, and getting old.