We love tracking different activities here, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding is no different. SUPing can be a phenomenal workout or a leisurely paddle around a small lake. But anytime you are doing an activity including water, choosing the best way to track it has new questions. Here are a few, along with a review of Paddle Logger, one of the more popular SUP tracking apps that we have come to enjoy. Paddle Logger lets you record a workout and share it with Strava, Apple Health, or really any of your favorite workout tracking tools.
Can I Track Paddle Boarding with my Apple Watch or iPhone?
So long as you are comfortable bringing your device with you on the water, yes! The iPhone is water resistant so there is minimal problem, at least in fresh water. Now with the Apple Watch Ultra it is even more of an option thanks to the increased water proofing. Salt water adds an extra layer of concern, but in the first 5 hours of learning to Paddle Board we were never in the water unintentionally!
The bigger issue is what you use to track the activity. For some of the ancillary event activities the Apple watch default fitness option only tracks the time and heart rate. This is fine if you are looking to find out how many calories you are burning while doing a paddle board. Though this may come as a surprise, Paddle Boarding does not inherently burn loads of calories.
Depending on how hard you are pushing, and how high you get your heart rate it may be no more of a workout than simply walking. The upside to this is that it will work a lot of additional core and stability muscles and if you do want to turn it into an intense workout you can do that.
So, does Paddle Boarding burn a lot of calories? On a recent one hour SUP session we were able to burn about 450 calories, or about 50% of what was burned during a moderate run of the same time. Previously though when really working it has been possible to get the average heart rate up to nearly the same level as a long run at which point it does burn a similar set of calories, at least as tracked by a smart watch.
Will My GPS Work To Track Paddle Boarding on The Water?
In remote areas you may loose some cell service, but for the most part GPS will work fine out in the water. In most cases GPS is actually fairly accurate out on the water too, especially if you are still close to land or popular marinas/lakes/etc. One nice benefit of this is that Paddle Logger Pro offers a beacon like service that allows you to check-in with family or have your location tracked. With a real risk of being blown out to sea and getting too tired to get back, this is a handy option.
That said, by default some activity trackers won’t turn on GPS for a paddle board activity. It is no fun to get to the end of your trip or workout only to discover that your beloved data is missing. This is true for both Strava and iPhone. You can still pull up GPS coordinates on other mapping apps, but the data itself does not get logged to the workout activity.
Some users even joke “if it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count”. While that is taking it to another level, we understand the sentiment. The easy solution to this is to start out by tracking a separate event type, one that does track GPS, and then change it after the workout once the GPS has already been stored. Of course the preferred though is to simply use a custom event type tracking.
Paddle Logger Free vs Subscription
There is a free version of Paddle Logger that does most everything you need in terms of tracking a paddle activity and syncing it to your workout system of choice. The GPS is accurate and the single workout will have all the needed stats are available.
Paddle Logger Pro is not free, and at last check was $39.99 per year. That’s not too bad if you are a regular paddler and really that’s who the Pro version is for. The pro version offers things like splits tracking, for anyone doing a structured paddle workout.
Pro also offers the option of turning the app into a beacon service. This allows others to track you during your workout, either for safety or because you are in an event they are spectating.