Electronics in the endurance sports will become more and more important and useful as they continually improve over the years. We are finally at a point that their are some major advancements that can specifically help the canoe racer out there. Since we see a lot of maglite flashlights and 10 year old GPS units on canoes out there it is time to help you get more out of your fancy carbon fiber shells and paddles with the latest innovations in electronics
Basic GPS Units
Garmin Vivoactive 4
The vivoactive4 is Garmin's latest version of the very popular vivoactive series of fitness trackers. The big advantages of this watch for the marathon paddler are paddling specific workout types that track stroke rate and DPS along with great battery life. This is a GPS watch so no need for your phone but if you do decide to bring your phone along this watch also has capability of sending your location to your contacts or emergency services.
Garmin Vivoactive 3
With the newer version just released, this is a great option for those looking for a GPS unit at a lower price point. Although this will not have as many features as the newer version it still will record speed, stroke rate and DPS. It will also automatically sync with 3rd party apps such as Strava and Training peaks. If you are not worried about having the latest and greatest this would be my top pick as it has the biggest features/value ratio of any other unit i have seen on the market.
NK Speedcoach OC2
For those of you that do not want a wrist based GPS unit this is a great alternative. This just like our other suggestions will count stroke rate and DPS along with basic GPS functions such as speed and distance. The screen is bright and super easy to read. This was designed for outrigger canoes and very popular in this market but I have yet to see many of these on marathon canoes. The major downside to this unit is the cost but if that is not an issue this is a unit definitely worth checking out.
Magicshine MJ 902
This bike light combines functionality with a great price point. I personally have the next version up but if I had to get a new light this would be it. It comes with the head that pumps out 1600 lumens a battery pack that will be able to last you all night and wireless remote all for around $100. You will have to figure out how you will mount this to the front of the canoe as it was designed for bike handlebars but is a great option for races like the ARCM.
Magicshine MJ 906
If you are looking for a light with a lot of punch, this is the light for you. Just like the next version down it comes with a wireless remote and enough battery power to last the entire night this head pushes a crazy 5000 lumens on max. This is the light that I personally have and this would be my top pick except it is too bright if you can believe it. For the Ausable I had this on the lowest setting
Flash light option
For those of you that still prefer to have everything housed in a single unit for their canoe light a flashlight is a tried and true option. The Fenix TK35 is the flashlight that I personally used for my first ARCM and has a very good lumen output with great battery life. The only consideration that should be made when thinking of using a flashlight is your mounting options on the front of your boat. This light is a good balance between price and performance in the flashlight segment.