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How Long Does It Take To Kayak A Mile?

Mark Armstrong
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When you’re planning your adventures on the water you’ll probably want to know how far you will be able to go and how long it will take you.

One of the most important questions you might be asking yourself is, how long does it take to kayak a mile?

How Long Does It Take To Kayak A MilePin

Well, how long it will take you will depend on a number of factors but in this article we intend to address some of those factors to help give you a better idea of how long it might take you to paddle in your kayak and the distance you can travel.

How Long Does It Take To Paddle A Mile?


One of the main factors affecting how long it will take you to paddle a mile will depend on how fast you are physically able to paddle. An average kayaking speed for an experienced paddler would be around 3 miles per hour, but this very much depends on other factors.

The lighter the load in your kayak the faster you will be able to travel. On the other hand, if there are two paddlers in the kayak, you may be able to travel faster, providing your overall weight load is not too heavy.

Beginners, and those who are just out for a leisurely paddle, will usually average a speed of around 2 miles per hour. But of course, the more experienced you are, the faster you’ll be able to go, particularly if you’re racing your companions.


Weather and water conditions play an important role in determining how fast you’ll be able to paddle. If the water is calm and there are no currents, you’ll be able to travel faster than if the water was choppy with strong currents and if the current is not in your favor.

Similarly, if you’re paddling in windy conditions this will significantly affect your speed, whether you’re traveling against it or with it. A lot will depend on whether you’re out in the sea, a river or a lake. If the current and wind direction are in your favor you could travel at around 5 miles per hour.

Your Kayak

Another important factor to consider is the type of kayak you’re paddling in. The narrower and longer the kayak, the faster you’ll be able to travel, which is why racing kayaks tend to be more streamlined for speed.

It will also depend on how light your kayak is to start with combined with the type of cargo you’re carrying.

Kayaks tend to have a maximum speed that they can be paddled at, which is considered to be 1.34 multiplied by the square root of the length of your hull at the waterline.


So how long it will take you to paddle a mile in a kayak will differ for everyone. As a general guideline, it ought to take you around 30 minutes to paddle a mile, but as you’ll see, this will depend heavily on your personal abilities, the conditions, as well as your kayak.

Generally, if you’re paddling for a long period of time, you may find you won’t be able to maintain a quick speed for the entire journey. If you’re planning a trip, it’s best to use the 2 miles per hour average as a guide and always remember to factor in stops.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and we’ll do our best to answer them.

11 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take To Kayak A Mile?”

  1. I have been kayaking for just about a year. We live on a lake. I can kayak 4.14 miles in 59 minutes would you consider this good. I kayak every day I’m addicted I just want to be faster.

    • [email protected]
      What is good for one maybe slow for another or fast for someone else. Kayaking is a wonderful workout! If your more interested in speed and competing than sightseeing while kayaking than you may need to upgrade you boat and paddle. My current setup is a Carbon fiber West Side Boating EFT 19’ 30 lbs kayak and Epic “Wing” paddle. In comparison I typically average a 9:30-10 min mile. I compete a four mile race every year and average about 40 min to do. Out of about 25 kayakers this time places me 3rd or 4th. If comparing yourself to others your time would be in the back of the pack. 46 min seems to the average. As you can see there are so many levels of speed out there. After all said, the main thing is to continue what you love… kayak

      • Wow that is the best advice I have gotten yet. I am in a Hobie 13. Not a good paddle either. I’m set up to buy a new kayak. I would love a suggestion. I flat water kayak about 4-5 miles a day on a lake for exercise love it want more speed. Would love to maybe do a little 4 mile race someday. My budget is about 1200. That doesn’t include a good paddle. Would also buy a used one. Saw a used Epic v7 thought that might be a good fit. I love this sport. I am so fit after just a year. Any suggestions from you would be awesome

  2. Without knowing your boat specs (length, width, hull shape) or paddle (greenland, epic wing?) it sounds like you are on top of your game.

    • Hi Alan. Thanks for commenting.

      This is more of a “Rule of thumb” type article. We hope it’s useful for those who aren’t going to be competing in events or endurance distances.

  3. Guess I am doing pretty well. I do 5 miles in 50 minutes when it’s calm on Narragansett Bay. Rough conditions with a complex swell adds 3-5 minutes. I have a (poly) North Shore Atlantic. Poly is a good material around here because of the numerous submerged rocks. I kayak @ 330 days a year.

  4. Take it easy on those tendons now. Wear gloves, keep loose hands. I actually prefer sailing gloves (Harken) and Ice Climbing gloves in Winter. There is an optimal boat speed beyond which additional speed requires diminishing marginal returns of effort. Find it. It is when you can paddle easy and maintain good boat speed, but you will need to develop a feel for finding it. You will quickly discover this point once you are aware. Link up those strokes, quiet in, quiet along, quiet out. Smooth and continuous. It will not take long to develop this. To go faster, don’t paddle harder unless you are fully conditioned and experienced about how and when to do it(takes years), paddle faster.


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