How Long Does it Take to Kayak a Mile?

Traveling in water with a small kayak gives us immense pleasure. It is a fun activity for all, regardless of our age. We have to make some preparations before a paddling session. Knowing the time duration of the journey is one of them. People get ready, depending on it.

So, how long does it take to kayak a mile? It is a common question, which pops into every kayaker’s mind, especially the beginners. Suppose you are paddling on flat calm water. Then, it will take around 30 minutes to cover 1 mile. But it also relies on a few conditions. Without considering all of them, you may end up being stuck in the middle of the trip. Today, we are going to have a look at them.

How Long Does it Take to Kayak a Mile?

How Long Does it Take to Kayak a Mile?
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Kayak Type

The performance of a kayak varies according to its type. Check them out:

  • Narrow-beamed racing kayaks: They measure up to 20-inch in width. The manufacturers make them extra-long to cut through water quickly. As you can assume, they are the fastest kayak of all. Mainly racers use them in competitions.
  • Sea kayaks: They measure approximately 15-ft and 23 to 24-inch in length and beam, respectively. Such a design is beneficial to track well. Anyone can cover long distances within a short time with these kayaks.
  • Touring kayaks: Touring kayaks are slightly wider than the sea kayaks. You can expect better performance from them than recreational kayaks.
  • Recreational kayaks (sit-inside): A sit-inside accommodate our lower body and protect against wind. But you have to sacrifice some freedom of movement. Most of them are 10-ft long and 28-inch broad. They have medium speed.
  • Recreational kayaks (sit-on-top): They allow us to move the body freely during paddling. Yet, they remain relatively stable. The major drawback is their slow speed.
  • Fishing kayaks: Most anglers prefer fishing kayak for catching different species. It is stable enough to stay still in any place. Unfortunately, it is not for speed.
  • Whitewater kayaks: People who love to move their bass boat through rough water go for these. The river streams play an essential role in their speed. Many take them for calm water too, but they become slower there.

A touring model will reach a 1-mile-away destination within 30 minutes. If you replace it with a racing kayak, you may save 5 to 10 minutes. Contrary, fishing kayaks will take ten more minutes.

Factors that Affect Kayaking Speed

Paddler’s Skill

The newcomers often take time to learn the basics. They focus on paddling techniques rather than the pace. Taking 1 hour or more to paddle a mile is okay for them. Now, come to a semi-skilled person in calm water. If he runs the canoe at an average pace, it will barely cross 35 minutes. Gradually, he will be an expert after developing more skills.

Then, he will be able to do it way faster. Besides, many tend to go on water missions in the same lake or river. They get familiar with the current, turns, surroundings over time. Therefore, reaching the shoreline will be faster for them than the first time.

Kayak Material

Heavy kayaks put an additional load due to their weight. Check out some variations and see how their speed is changing:

  • Polyethylene plastic kayaks: At first glance, it seems that plastic kayaks are fast. It is not true at all. Indeed, a few of them are light; the rest is heavy. Despite being abrasion-resistant, the buyers avoid them because of slow speed.
  • ABS plastic kayaks: Durability is their best advantage. The modern units weigh less compared to the polyethylene. Thus, you will notice a slightly faster speed. They are not suitable for multi-day tours.
  • Fiberglass kayaks: They normally lack durability. Professionals suggest bringing them on a short trip only. As they are light-weight, you’ll be enjoying the fast speed.
  • Composite kayaks: Composite kayaks utilizes carbon-fiber and fiberglass components. Both don’t weigh much. Together, they form a combination of durability and high speed. That’s why you have to pay a lot of bucks to purchase them.

Kayak Diameter

Imagine you have the choice between multiple recreational kayaks. Everything is the same except the lengths. Which one should you buy? If speed is your main target, select the longest. Boats, having narrow beams and more extended shape, slice through the water effortlessly. Plus, they go straight to make the tracking task convenient.

Some credits also go to the v-shaped front. It minimizes the resistance while raising the speed. It is the reason why sea kayaks cover more water than recreational counterparts at the same time.

Weather Conditions

All should go to the water after checking the weather forecast. The wind has a significant impact on speed. Light, short and broad brands suffer more from the resistance. We can categorize the wind flow in these following sections:

  • Headwind: It refers to facing the wind against our paddling direction. It arrives straight at the boat. Although it makes the boat stable, we have to compromise on the speed. A nightmare comes when the wind is too strong to handle. You may not move a single inch forward even after paddling so hard. All the hard work goes in vain.
  • Tailwind: It happens in the same way the kayak is approaching. It is responsible for dramatically boosting the speed. Sometimes, the kayak moves forward without any paddling. Yes, it seems like a blessing, but not actually. Slow tailwinds generate manageable wind waves. When it comes to heavy flow, your boat can be flipped. No inexperienced person can handle such a situation.
  • Crosswind: It means that the air is hitting from side angles. The kayak keeps losing its track again and again. Its speed will be slow, as well. Hence, it is the hardest to deal with. Plenty of boats carry rudder to avoid turning. It helps to steer the kayak in the desired straight line.

Currents and Waves

Pay close attention to the tide movements and flow rate. Kayakers often face consequences while roaming in a river. If they navigate in the same direction as the water flow, there will be excellent progress. They don’t need much time to pass a mile at a leisurely pace. A complete opposite state takes place during return time. The outgoing tides block their way. Despite using full force, it will take more time than before.

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