Speed and Cadence monitors for Kayak Canoe

Whether you are rowing or paddling, and no matter what the craft, speed is a great metric to measure.

Sometimes however, you need a little more.

Measuring cadence (stroke rate) can give you a real insight as to how well (or not) you are training. It can help you whether you train solo, or as part of a team. Add in stats such as heart rate or power (with a power meter) and you can really drill down into your workout data to measure your performance.

Let’s take a look at a dedicated tool, the Coxmate GPS, and compare it to the Kayak Power Meter and Vaaka Cadence Sensor which are aimed at those who love their kayaks.

Coxmate GPS

  • Touchscreen with Hi Bright display
  • Optional heart rate strap
  • Run, Workout & Navigation modes
  • Suction adaptor for easy fitting

The Coxmate GPS is aimed at paddlers who want to improve their training to the max by tracking speed, cadence and distance moved per stroke.

This fully waterproof gadget has various modes and outputs that help you and your crew get better results. Most importantly, it displays speed and ‘rating’ (cadence strokes per minute). And you can also display the distance covered per stroke.

With its touchscreen, it’s possible to easily navigate through an intuitive menu. The default view comprises of 2 variables (rate and speed). However, up to 5 variables can be used on the screen at the same time. You can choose what variable you want to use and its position on the screen. Variables you can choose from include:

  • Rate
  • Speed
  • Time
  • Distance
  • Distance per stroke
  • Average Speed
  • Stroke Count
  • Heart Rate
  • Pace Speed

There’s also a ‘Recall’ function, which allows previous workouts to be brought up on screen.

The ‘Mode’ option lets you select between:

-Run – which is the default normal mode.

Workout – 24 workout programs comprising of workout and rest phases

-Navigation – helps you to navigate a route downloaded from a PC.

An optional extra is a heart rate chest strap. This is vital for tracking just how hard you are pushing yourself physically.

Mount the Coxmate via a suction cup onto your deck – it’s backlight makes the screen easy to read when training in winter darkness or bright sunlight.

The unit is charged (and data synced) via a mini-USB port.

The Coxmate GPS can also very conveniently be used as a ‘compass’ for cycling and hiking pursuits.  And you can upload a route ahead of your workout and run it while paddling – the unit tells you when you deviate from your planned route by telling you to move left or right and the number of meters you need to shift in order to be back on course.

Kayak Power Meter by One Giant Leap

  • Measures Energy Exerted In Watts
  • A useful addition to heart rate and cadence
  • Compatible with selected Garmins & Samsung phones
  • Works with Strava, Garmin Connect and TrainingPeaks

Heart rate monitors are great. For kayaking, they have their place and can show you how much affect your paddling is having on your body, based on your heart rate.

However, heart rate doesn’t tell you how much energy you are exerting at any one time.

This is where a power meter comes in. Power meters first came to the fore in cycling. They were a great way to tell cyclists how much energy they were expending through the pedals and crank of the bike in a reading of watts.

The Kayak Power Meter (by One Giant Leap) takes this concept and inserts it into kayak paddles. It’s a carbon fiber shaft that attaches to your existing paddle (compatible with most models), and tells you the exact amount of energy you expend (in watts), no matter what the weather or water conditions. It comprises of four sensors which utilise strain gauges to monitor shaft bending during each stroke. The more they bend, the more force is being applied. Velocity is also measured at the centre of the paddle. These two measurements (velocity and force) are then multiplied resulting in power (watts).

The Pro model (designed more for teams) has an analysis app that can give in-depth detail on:

-Individual Strokes – shows pulling and pushing force on every stroke down to 50 samples a second.

-Left & Right Stroke Imbalances – this helps outline any differences between the left and right stroke of the paddler. Any offsets by a single paddler can have a serious impact on a K2/K4 kayak team. This feature helps identify if there is a symmetry issue in great detail.

-Stroke Timing – Timing is everything. It’s important that each stroke is delivered on time and in tandem with the rest of the crew.

Vaaka Cadence Sensor

  • Use on single or double bladed paddles
  • Water immersion tested at 3m for 24 hours
  • View data real-time or retrospectively
  • Long battery life (1-2 years)

Using either ANT+ or Bluetooth technology, the Vaaka Cadence Sensor is just that….a cadence sensor! Designed specifically for kayaks and canoes, it can also be used for outriggers, SUPs or even rowing. It is of course, waterproof.

It is compatible with most smartphones and GPS trackers (yes Garmin lovers out there – you included). So, you can clearly see how you are performing as you are working out.

Whether looking at the data real time when paddling, or analysing the data after the workout later on in the app, cadence (stroke rate) is of course, very important.


Real time it’s great to see if your stroke rate is too high, which means you are pushing too hard, or if it’s too low, well…you need to up the pace!

Use Vaaka Analytics software to look at your metrics post-workout. Looking at stroke rate and distance per stroke, you can really uncover a better understanding of how your current training is progressing and what can be done to improve it. Vaaka Analytics is a great way to compare your stroke rate with other data such as speed and heart rate.

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