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What To Look Out For In A SUP GPS

SUP GPS - Big Blue Guide

If you enjoy stand-up paddling, at some point you’ll want to know exactly how far you’ve gone or how many calories you’ve burned. Especially on extended day trips with a lot of water time, the desire to track your tour with a SUP GPS increases.

The best GPS gadgets are suitable for outdoor sporting activities so they’re waterproof and UV-resistant. Good ones come with a native app to track and evaluate your paddling, including advanced metrics like distance per stroke or number of strokes. A compass, a barometer, and a heart-rate monitor can change your GPS game.

However, compatibility and device integration can be an issue. Some SUP apps are only available for iOS or only for Android. Similarly, some only work on cell phones, while others run strictly on smartwatches.

Sounds confusing, but don’t worry! We’ll give you an overview of the SUP GPS market and help you choose your device.

(Big Blue Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision.)

What is a SUP GPS?

SUP GPS technology is about tracking your tours. This means recording distance, duration, and speed, often along with fitness data like heart rate and calories. Also, it contributes to your safety by recording coordinates, providing weather forecasts, and getting you back to your starting point!

The best way to make use of it is a GPS watch or a tracker app on your smartphone. These are lightweight, everyday solutions that are as simple as can be. They’re super convenient, user-friendly, and help you optimize your workouts.

Moreover, there are special GPS for SUP like the NK SpeedCoach SUP and the MAKAI VELOCITEK GPS. These are small performance monitors that you attach directly to your board and use solely for SUP tracking. You can view all data in real-time on a simple high-contrast LCD display.

Sources: Macai, NK SpeedCoach

How to Choose a Good SUP GPS

There are some features that every SUP GPS simply must have:

  • Time
  • Lap time
  • Average pace
  • Distance (km)
  • Average speed
  • Max. speed

As a general rule, a regular sports smartwatch should do the job perfectly, provided that it’s waterproof and shock-resistant.

Other functions of GPS trackers that can be useful depending on personal preferences include:

  • Total number of strokes
  • Average/maximum strokes per minute
  • Average stroke distance
  • Heart rate (with a chest strap or an optical wrist sensor)
  • Training effect (aerobic, anaerobic)
  • Calories consumption
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Sport Watches

With some multisport watches, the sport Stand Up Paddling (SUP) is already built-in, so you can start recording directly.

With other GPS watches, you have to create and name the sport SUP yourself. Unfortunately, you then do not get the additional data (stroke frequency, distance per stroke, etc.).

If you insist on these features, we recommend a Garmin watch that has the sport pre-installed.

For better accuracy, you can configure the GPS sensor in the system settings to receive a GPS signal every second. This way, you can reliably record even small changes in direction, which can certainly occur during SUPing.

SUP Monitors

Standalone SUP performance monitors provide paddlers with accurate, high-contrast information on speed, cadence, glide power, and calories. They allow you to program workouts in advance, record training sessions, and even hold races “on the fly.”

The big numbers on the monochrome display inside a waterproof housing let you see speed, distance, and elapsed time at a glance. This lets you set your pace and fine-tune your technique without interrupting your stroke to look at your watch or phone.

All data can be wirelessly uploaded to a computer or mobile device for deeper insights over time.

SUP racing
Source: APP World Tour

How Much Does a SUP GPS Cost?

The price of your GPS tracker depends on the device and the number of features you want. Sports watches range from $180 to over $500, depending on the built-in sensors and features.

Other GPS trackers tailored specifically for SUP cost around $400 and up, but offer the most detailed and clean SUP features.

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What are the Best SUP GPS-Tracker Apps?

Apart from a tracking device with a GPS sensor, most often you will also need an app to view and analyze your recorded data afterward. These are available to install on your smartphone, desktop PC, or open in web view.

There is a multitude of GPS apps on the app market, so here’s a list of the ones with the best SUP integration:

1. Row SUP Kayak

The SUP companion app is available for the GARMIN Connect IQ platform as well as for iOS and Android devices. It offers comprehensive features for SUP and other water sports that go beyond the integrated SUP tracking of GARMIN watches.

You need to install the app on your GARMIN sports watch to record your SUP trips. For statistics and insights, get the app for your smartphone and sync it with your watch.

After a limited free trial, you can get the premium version for $3.

Row SUP Kayak
Source: Garmin App Store

2. Paddle Logger

Press GO and start paddling! This standalone Apple Watch app tracks advanced SUP metrics with a single touch. It also provides live tracking shareable with contacts, as well as weather and emergency alerts.

You can sync trips from other apps, export GPX tracks, and participate in virtual SUP race events.

The full-featured Pro version is subscription-based and helps you get even more out of your paddling.

Source: Paddle Logger


The GeoSUP app prides itself on offering the most exact GPS location regardless of whether or not you have a phone signal. The map view is available in two formats (outline and satellite). Moreover, the recording screen can also be modified to show only the metrics that you need.

It’s the optimal training tool, letting you analyze vast data and work on your performance.

Apart from this, you can create and share tours, interesting places, photos, and videos, or get inspired by the community.

Set up a SUP tour wishlist and get inspired for travel and adventure!
Available on the App Store for $4.99.

Source: GeoSUP

4. Runtastic

Hardly any athlete doesn’t know Runtastic by Adidas Running. As it turns out, it’s actually also super useful for stand-up paddlers. With the app, you can track almost everything on your SUP tour.

You can create your own workouts, participate in virtual SUP challenges, and exchange ideas with the Runtastic community.

Click here to see which watches and devices Runtastic is compatible with.

Source: Runtastic, Canva

BONUS: Paddle Monster

Now, this app doesn’t offer SUP GPS tracking features but think about it as a nice add-on to enhance your general experience.

It can be particularly interesting for beginners as it features live or downloadable training videos by SUP experts.

Yet, anyone could improve their technique with it, there’s no shame in always learning! Training plans, coaching, and even nutrition information are available for all levels of SUP experience.

The Basic plan is free and offers a ton of content, access to the community, races, etc.

Source: Paddle Monster

Final Thoughts

GPS for SUP is a great way to record mementos of great trips you took. How about taking it one step further? Set training goals and track your SUP progress! Get faster and stronger, optimize your stroke, log your speed and monitor your fitness – it’s all possible with a good SUP GPS tracker.

For a very accurate pulse, think about coupling the tracker with a chest strap, because the optical sensor often provides incorrect values.

The most important thing is an accurate GPS sensor to record the route reliably. However, those who can do without the special SUP data such as stroke frequency or distance per stroke will also be happy with a simple running watch.

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