mileage measuring input needed

Aside from using a GPS, how can I go about measuring my mileage when out kayaking? If a GPS is really the only way, which GPS would you recommend? If I were to get one, I would need one that could still get a signal when between rock walls and under trees. I’m not looking for one with lots of features because I want to keep the cost down as much as possible. Basically, one that shows mileage, speed and routing. If it could also be used for backpacking/hiking, that would be a plus, but it wouldn’t be necessary.


Google Maps has a measuring tool. Of
course, it does not measure the distance you travled.

Estimate on Map
Mark your route on a map with connected straight lines. The more short lines the more accuracy. Use the conversion ruler on the map (1" = 1 mile, e.g.). This gives the length of the ideal route, not the actual route.

I can get very accurate, just by using
the map chart or scale, and then breaking that down to a half or quarter mile, and then stepping off the distance on the chart.

Lots of times I do that prior to a trip. Then my wife will check it on “Blue chart” on the computer, and we are almost always within a half a mile or so on a fifteen or twenty mile trip.

jack L

Map resolution
Use HIGH zoom level and lots of connecting dots for most accurate estimate.

GMAPS pedometer is pretty accurate.

I still do it…
the old fashioned way. USGS topo maps, and I have a measuring tool that is a little wheel connected to a dial that shows the distance. Just run the little wheel along your river route and it tells you the mileage.

A couple of different ways:

  1. Good ole’ navigation with a map.
  2. Know how fast you travel (see map) multiply by the time paddled.

    For gps units, I’m a big fan of Garmin’s eTrex Vista HCx ( It’s small, light, has great battery life, waterproof and you can get free topo maps. (Google: free garmin topo maps)

google maps
I check google maps when I get home and relive my trip. It may not be exact, but it gets you close enough

Measure with a piece of string on maps
I use a piece of string that I fasten to the map at my putin point then lay it down on the route I will be taking (in my case it is always a river or water route). After laying out my path I mark the string at the takeout point then straighten the string out and measure it and convert using the scale at the bottem of the map. Works pretty good for rough guesses.

Where did you get the device with the wheel? I’ve been thinking that it would be nice, especially since I’m a maps kinda guy.

I use
Google Earth

Use: Tools–> Ruler–> Path

Use your mouse to trace your route. Simple and extremely accurate.

makes one:

milage measuring
Use Google Earth. Find the area where you paddle and click on the ruler. Change the tab to Path and drill down on the Google Earth map until you can easily click for each length of line you want to use to retrace your path. When completed the Ruler box will display the length of the trip. You can save the image for future reference too.