Thirty percent of kayakers are first-time paddlers, according to a 2014 study from the Outdoor Foundation (PDF).
Kayaking is a great way to stay in shape, get more in-touch with nature and participate in a friends-and-family activity that doesn’t involve sitting on the couch all day.
As the sport grows in popularity, a number of apps and websites help kayakers have fun and stay safe on the water. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, you can find something helpful in each of these eight apps and websites.
Weather and river conditions, safety tips, gear and technique tutorials, and a community to share your enthusiasm with — read on for a better kayaking experience.
Simple Tides ($1.99, iOS) [No Longer Available]
This app tracks tide and weather information from monitoring stations across the country. A calendar feature allows you to see tide charts in advance. These features will help you plan your next kayaking trip, whether it’s in your backyard or thousands of miles away. You can also use Simple Tides if you need to adjust your plans due to changing weather or water conditions.
Download: Simple Tides for iOS ($1.99) [No longer available]
River Data ($1.99, iOS)
In addition to keeping track of the tides, you’ll need to monitor water levels at the river you’re kayaking on to ensure a safe trip. River Data provides gauge information for rivers across the country. It also offers weather forecasts from the National Weather Service.
River Data will keep you safe in the water and help you plan your trip or change your plans if need be. You can sign up for text or email alerts for any site in the country, so you’ll know what’s happening before you get there. If water conditions aren’t optimal, you can find a better site nearby.
Download: River Data for iOS ($1.99)
Kayaklog (Free, iOS and Android)
Sit back and enjoy your next kayaking adventure. As you paddle, Kayaklog will collect all the data you need such as wind speed, air temperature, trip duration, your speed and any photos you take. You can upload information to Kayaklog’s website, where you can store it for your own record or share it on social media. Kayak instructors can use this app to renew their certificates.
Kayaklog also offers an important safety feature: the ability to identify up to 3 people as “emergency ids” who can view your latest GPS position if you don’t arrive at your destination as planned. The free version of this app allows you to create a maximum of 5 logs. The “pro” version offers unlimited logs for $2.99/month or $1.83 / month with a 12-month subscription.
Kayaking GPS ($1.27, Android) [Broken Link Removed]
This app was developed by kayakers to meet the specific needs of the sport. In addition to planning or following a route via GPS, you can see things like rocks, rest points, danger zones, waves, drops and other important aspects of your route.
Kayaking GPS will help you plan your next trip to maximize safety and enjoyment. Once you’re on the river, you can track your progress and proximity to any areas you want to avoid.
Download: Kayaking GPS for Android ($1.27)
Paddle Ready (Free, iOS and Android)
This app was produced by the American Canoe Association for the purpose of increasing safety and education for the millions of Americans who choose paddle sports. It offers information about river and other environmental conditions such as wind speed and weather.
And unlike other, similar apps, Paddle Ready has the best safety features, including the ability to send your route to friends and family before you paddle, safety and rescue videos to get you ready for any possibility, and access to a database of ACA-certified instructors and courses. This information would be especially helpful for novice kayakers, but it can also keep experienced paddlers up-to-date on safety and technique.
As both a print and online magazine, Canoe & Kayak provides a comprehensive collection of kayaking tips, photos and videos, and stories. For instance — learn yoga poses to soothe your aching muscles, get inspiration for your next trip by reading about others’ adventures, read reviews of the latest gear, and brush up on your kayaking skills.
With regularly updated content freely available online, this website will keep you informed and entertained as you prepare for your first or thousandth kayaking experience.
This is a great resource for beginners. Experienced kayakers will also find helpful information about gear, paddling techniques and safety information. The novice kayaker can proceed through all of the pertinent setup steps. Convenient and easily accessible links will take you through choosing a kayak and paddle, learning how to enter and exit your kayak, basic strokes to get you started, and other equipment and safety information you’ll need for your first trip.
Mountain Buzz (Free, iOS and Android)
What makes the kayaking experience even sweeter? A community of fellow enthusiasts to share your passion with. Mountain Buzz’s website has a variety of forums to meet your every need for help and kayaking friendship. And the app allows you to conveniently take the community with you on your next trip.
You can ask questions from your kayak or campsite, access weather and river conditions, and browse the classifieds for used gear. Mountain Buzz will give you everything you need to safely enjoy your next adventure.
Download: Mountain Buzz for iOS (free) | Android (free) [No longer available]
Start Paddling Today
Now that you’re well-versed in safety and technique, and prepared for any weather or river condition that may arise, stop dreaming and start planning your next kayaking trip today.
How did you take up kayaking? What was your first experience like? What is the one tip you would give to a beginner?
Image Credit: Peter R. via BucketListly