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Paddle Logger SUP Activity Tracker on your Apple Watch with David Walker

Paddle Logger is the GPS tracking app for your iPhone that Chris from the TotalSUP team is using this year, you can find his TotalSUP app review on the site here. Using the app is now part of Chris’ paddle routine but, so far he has only been able to test one part of the Paddle Logger family, there is a feature-rich Apple Watch app as well. Who better to tell us about this and more about Paddle Logger history than David Walker, Paddle Logger CEO.

David Walker, Paddle Logger CEO

Hi David and welcome back to TotalSUP! Let’s start with a variation on the question you asked us, when did you start to SUP and where?

I started paddling over a decade ago back in 2010/2011. Probably the first ever time was on the South Coast of the UK and then in South Africa. Before moving to Cornwall and starting to put some real hours in on the water as part of a small community, borrowing boards and kit. Before getting my own stuff and exploring a bit further and getting involved in racing and touring on my trusty 14” inflatable!

Like all sports, SUP has evolved massively over the years, it is interesting having moved back to the same town I started paddling in recently. Where there were a handful of paddlers, there are now a handful of rental locations and clubs. With hundreds of paddlers taking to the water. Inflatables have really democratised the sport enabling many to have greater access to water at a more affordable rate. With this comes its challenges of course, especially when it comes to water knowledge and water safety – something we started to try and address for paddlers in 2016/17 with the development of PaddleLIVE®, a system which automatically keeps paddlers in touch with loved ones in case of emergency.

Paddle Logger – PaddleLIVE®

What drove you to start Paddle Logger back in 2014 and how long did it take to move from an idea to an app?

2014 was a great year for paddling for me, Summer was basically on the water every day and with that I started to wonder how many miles I had been clocking up. A few years earlier Strava had launched and people were starting to become aware that personal fitness data was becoming more accessible than ever. I started looking for a system I could use for my paddling that would work well while on the water. As paddlers, water is a common occurrence. Water and touch screens do not mix. There was nothing out there on the market that was suitable for me as a paddler. I mocked something up and set about getting it built, meeting Lewis was an absolute win for me. He is now Paddle Logger’s CTO but at the time, from my perspective acted as a mentor and navigator for this new tech landscape I was getting involved in.

The first version was very simple, it recorded where you went and gave some data in a logbook. Sounds simple, however, there were some key elements that have remained core to this day such as a clear UI and large buttons for aforementioned wet hands!

As we have evolved over the years with a loyal paddler base, we are led by suggestions from our community. To build a tracking product that is simple to use while on the water, and doesn’t overload you with data and information when all you want to do is focus on your time on the water. That isn’t to say the detail isn’t there, it is just presented in a way that is more considered. As you found from your initial review of the Paddle Logger iPhone App.

I have been using the iPhone app for 2 months now and am impressed with it. Sadly I do not have an Apple Watch but I am guessing you do and who better to tell us about the watch app. What are the benefits of having the Paddle Logger app running on your wrist?

The biggest feedback we had from the early days was if we could show a heads-up display. Smartphones can be quite restrictive about where you show data, back in 2015/16 there was no Lock Screen Widget or Live Activities which we are now able to utilise. So when the Apple Watch first launched we were very quick to adopt with our platform native approach. Being able to glance at your wrist enables checking data & progress without breaking stroke.

As the iPhones have developed so too have the Apple Watches become some serious bits of kit which are highly capable. If you have a Cellular Apple Watch for example, you can now utilise every function on the Tracking side of the Paddle Logger iPhone App on your wrist, including upgrading to a Subscription. (There are even a few more Apple Watch only features!).

While paddling you will be able to see how far and for how long you have been paddling, you will also be able to see your current Heart Rate and Speed and Average Pace (the latter two are modifiable if you prefer a simpler interface). Along the bottom of the screen, you will see a PaddleLIVE® status. If you are utilising Race Mode you will also see a distance to go countdown. All these metrics at the glance of a wrist allow you to optimise your paddling performance.

As the watch is designed to be relatively standalone, you can add emergency contacts, and set up a Race or Countdown on the watch and it will sync with your iPhone. Apple’s own Waterlock is on by default, as water droplets can cause havoc with a touch screen. However, you can also modify this in the Paddle Logger Settings. While powerful, these devices have some quirks and can take a bunch of getting used to, to get the most out of them.

Here are David’s top 4 tips for using Paddle Logger on an Apple Watch:

  1. Waterlock. As soon as you start a session the Waterlock will come on. This means to end a session can be a faff, a real nightmare if you want to record a precise time. While a trip is running pressing the physical buttons (Side and Crown) simultaneously will instantly pause the tracking. This means you can stop tracking as soon as you cross the line. Then get off the water, dry your hands and unlock Waterlock and end the Session at your leisure.
  2. Race Mode. If you are a racer, set a Countdown in-line with the Starter’s warning signals. (Usually 1 minute, 30 secs, 10 secs). This means you can start the app with 10 seconds to go and the app won’t start tracking until the starter begins. This means you can focus on the best start possible.
  3. Heart Rate Data. Heart Rate (HR) is a powerful tool. Take some time to understand it. Apple Watches are able to measure HR and once you have given Paddle Logger Read & Write Permissions the app will be able to deliver more accurate Calorie Burn data as well as HR graphs. Ensure the strap is tight and directly on your skin otherwise, the device will not collect accurate data and we can only work with the data the device gives us. Another option is an Apple Health enabled HR monitor.
    We will be releasing greater HR data analysis imminently at the time of publishing. So keep an eye out!
  4. Crop Feature. Remember, the App does have a Crop feature. So if you don’t remember to stop or pause your paddle (or are too exhausted after your race!)  you can view the trip on your iPhone and use the visual editor to ensure precise timings.

Good tips, especially for anyone new to the Apple Watch. Finally, this year you introduced ‘Goals’ to the free and subscription versions of Paddle Logger, I have a quote from you

We want more people taking to the water as possible. Motivations are good

How are you getting on with your goals for 2023?

Honestly, not that great, injury has seen me off the water for a little over a month. However, I am starting to get back into it and ticking off the numbers! The year is long, the days are getting longer, I am looking forward to those evening sessions as the sun goes down!

Thank you David for that insight into using Paddle Logger on the Apple Watch and we’re all glad to hear you are getting back into it after your injury. Hopefully, you will stay injury free through the rest of the year and you will be able to make up the time to hit your own goals in 2023, I am well on the way with mine!

Racing with Paddle Logger – 5m Time Trial

Last month I borrowed an Apple Watch for a couple of paddles from a friend so I could try the ‘Race’ function, I used it for my March 5km Time Trial with great success. The Race feature worked flawlessly and I found that the layout of data on the watch face made it very easy to see while paddling hard. I wish I had spoken to David sooner to get his button tip but cropping on my iPhone when back on dry land was a good way to check that the data from the phone seamlessly synced with the phone. 

From my very limited experience with an Apple Watch I can confirm that the Paddle Logger implementation on your wrist has been done with the same focus on paddle sports as the iPhone app. It is very easy to start tracking your stand up paddle activities with the app and it works seamlessly with the iPhone app. Getting the best out of the Apple Watch takes a little more work, but if you already have one and use Apple Health, you’re good to go.

You can find out more about Paddle Logger on their website, Facebook Page and Instagram channel. The Paddle Logger app is available from your local Apple App Store for the iPhone and Apple Watch

About the Author

Chris Jones

Chris is the driving force behind SUP My Race, a distance challenge group for Stand Up Paddlers on Facebook. He is a super-keen paddler who has been on the water for nearly 10 years now and shows no sign of stopping. When he isn’t logging data on his laptop he can be found on the lakes and coastal waters in south west Sweden.

To follow Chris:

  • Facebook Link