Do you really need an app for that?
Mobile technology can be a great companion for our water adventures. However, just like in our daily lives, it can also become a major distraction.
This is especially true when your app doesn’t work well, is buggy or slow, and you spend more time fiddling with your device than appreciating the moment.
When you’re out on the water, enjoying the peace and serenity of paddle boarding, this is the last thing you need.
But there are times when a high-quality app can genuinely improve our overall SUP experience. That’s why we wrote this post. A good SUP app should include the key features designed to improve your overall experience on the water.
This could mean accurate marine GPS navigation and tracking, real-time wind updates and weather forecasts, fitness monitoring and goal tracking, and even social sharing or other connectivity options.
Unfortunately, we don’t know of any single app that handles all of these features well, is updated consistently, and is designed specifically for the stand up paddle boarding community.
But there are plenty of apps that handle one or two of these functions really well. These apps work well with a variety of outdoor recreational sports, including SUP.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite apps for SUP. Each app excels at certain tasks and is supported by consistent updates and bug fixes. Check them out below.
Our Picks for the Best SUP Apps
When you need a GPS app
This is one of our favorite apps for comprehensive GPS tracking. This app has a full set of features and can be a very handy tool for your upcoming SUP adventures.
GPS Tracks features recording capabilities so you can see previous routes, waypoints and locations, speed measurements and more. You can also play back routes or export your routes and data in various reporting formats.
For navigation, the app includes a compass to guide you while paddling and also provides bearing distance to your next waypoint. When you’re out on the water, your current locations can be sent via email or text message. This is a nice safety feature for longer paddles.
This app includes four map formats and many other recording, tracking and customization features.
The only con is the price.
At $7.99, GPS Tracks is more expensive than several of the GPS apps out there, many of which are free. The difference is in the reliability, functionality, and comprehensive features with this one.
MotionX is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts. At only $0.99, it offers a comprehensive list of features, including route tracking and recording, performance monitoring (i.e. speed, distance, live speed), location/waypoint saving, navigational tools, social sharing and more.
Unfortunately, some users have reported excessive battery usage and slower processing. Many users are also unhappy with the updated interface.
However, for the low price, this app offers a pretty extensive list of features and overall quality. We’ve found that it would be more than adequate for most SUPers.
When you need a weather app
Having real-time updates on wind direction and speed is a very important feature for many of us, especially if you’re planning a downwinder. WindAlert is the best app we know of for current, accurate and location-specific wind forecasting.
This app uses over 50,000 weather stations to provide real-time local wind observations and global wind forecast data.
You can create and save wind profiles, receive wind alerts via text and view nautical charts. In addition to its usefulness for stand up paddleboarders, WindAlert has been tested and approved by some of the toughest critics: it’s used by hard-core windsurfers and offshore fishing charters for wind forecasting.
The WindAlert app is part of a free wind update and forecasting subscription service. You can purchase monthly subscription upgrades through several plan levels with a slew of added features.
Upgrades start with the plus plan at $3.99/month. However, most recreational SUPers will be quite satisfied with the free plan.
Along with current wind data, it’s important to have real-time radar information too. NOAA Weather Radar provides you with real-time animated radar imaging to see if there’s any bad weather coming your way now, or in the near future while you’re out on the water.
This app also provides 24 hr and 3-day forecasts. This app focuses on giving you short-term weather information in a clear and clean format. It is not stuffed with excessive features and news updates like other weather apps.
Other useful features include location saving, satellite imaging and background maps, detailed weather data (including pressure, humidity, wind speed, and visibility details), animation speed control and much more.
The NOAA app is reliable and comprehensive. And it’s free, so definitely give it a try.
When you want to track distance and fitness goals
Many apps excel at providing fitness data, tracking goals and integrating social media for group updates and motivational support.
While we don’t know of a SUP-specific fitness app, luckily we can borrow from some of our other favorite sports, like running and cycling. Apps designed for these sports can work well for many other activities, including SUP.
Update: There finally is an app specifically designed for paddle boarders. Paddle Logger allows you to easily track, analyze and share all of your paddling activities. I got a chance to test it and wrote a full Paddle Logger review.
You can read more about Paddle Logger here.
Runtastic is an easy to use all-in-one solution for tracking and monitoring your fitness goals.
After manually adding SUP as one of your activities, you can keep track of your progress by recording duration, paddle distance, calories burned and more.
It also provides GPS functionality for mapping routes and keeping track of your current location. Lots of users also really like the ability to share progress with others via social media integration.
This is a great way to stick with a fitness plan and keep it interesting. You can also customize the dashboard and keep tabs on your other fitness activities and health habits. An added bonus is the ability to sync the app with your music accounts, including Pandora and Spotify.
Just like Runtastic, this app provides a full range of fitness tracking features. Cyclemeter also enables you to find and add different activities to your dashboard and fitness tracking plan.
Among the many features are GPS mapping, route tracking, social sharing, the ability to export your fitness data, and much more.
Both Runtastic and Cyclemeter have proven to work pretty well with tracking fitness and distance goals on our SUPs. Choosing between the two apps, and many of the other high quality and supported fitness apps out there usually comes down to a preference in interface design and ease of use.
What are your favorite apps for SUPing? Did we miss anything? Feel free to share below!