The paddle you choose will make a huge difference in your comfort and energy level while you kayak. Watch this short video to learn more about what kind of paddle you need to maximize your experience out on the water.
Kayak Paddles range from 210 cm to 260 cm in length. The correct size depends on your height, the width of your boat and your personal paddling style. Low-angle paddling for instance, is relaxed with a slow cadence. This is a good method for longer trips. The ideal blade shape for this kind of paddling is slim and slightly longer.
High-angle paddling is more aggressive and faster. This is a common style for whitewater paddlers who need to make quick maneuvers in swift-moving water.
Taller paddlers need a longer paddle, so for example someone who is 6’1” with a 25” wide boat would want to a 230 cm long paddle for a low-angle style, whereas a 5’ tall paddler with the same-width boat would be better off with a 220 cm paddle.
The chart below, courtesy of Werner Paddles is a good place to start when deciding on your paddle length.
Low-Angle Paddle Sizing
|Under 23″||23″ to 28″||28″ to 32″||Over 32″|
|Under 5′ tall||210cm||220cm||230cm||240cm|
|5′ to 5’6″ tall||215cm||220cm||230cm||240cm|
|5’6″ to 6′ tall||220cm||220cm||230cm||250cm|
|Over 6′ tall||220cm||230cm||240cm||250cm|
High-Angle Paddle Sizing
|Over 26″||Under 26″|
|Under 5’1″ tall||200cm||220cm|
|5’1″ to 5’4″ tall||205cm||220cm|
|5’4″ to 6′ tall||210cm||220cm|
|Over 6′ tall||220cm||230cm|
Although the lighter the paddle, the easier it will be to go the distance, the best paddles offer a balance of lightweight and strength. Where weight is one of the biggest concerns for touring kayakers, whitewater boaters should look for a strong paddle blade that won’t break on rocks or snap in swift currents.
This is a high-end material for the lightest paddles and it has a distinctive woven look, almost like fabric. It’s feather-light and the right choice for multi-day trips or for those who like the finer things.
Both durable and lightweight, this is a great choice in the middle of the price range.
If you are looking for an affordable and durable paddle, these materials will do the trick. Perfect for beginning and recreational kayakers, they are a bit heavier but will get you where you need to go.
Blades come feathered or nonfeathered. Nonfeathered blades are perfectly aligned with each other, whereas feathered blades are at an angle to one another. Feathering reduces wind resistence and wrist fatigue. As one blade pulls through the water, the other slices through the air. The angle is typically between 30 and 45 degrees and most touring paddles allow boaters to adjust the shaft themselves.
Almost all paddle blades have an asymmetrical dihedral shape, which are relatively narrow and support a more horizontal stroke. This shape creates a built-in angle, similar to an airplane wing. This allows water to flow smoothly and evenly over both halves of the blade.
Most paddles have straight shafts and can be shaped either oval or round, with oval shafts offering a more comfortable grip. Some shafts are “kinked” where your hands woud grip to put the arms at a more comfortable angle, which minimizes fatigue and is easier on the shoulders. Two-piece shafts break down for storage and these are a great choice as a backup paddle on longer trips. Smaller people may opt for a small-diameter shaft.
While a paddle may seem like a secondary piece of gear in comparison to your new boat, many would agree that it is best to spend a little extra on a paddle for a more enjoyable overall experience.
Here is are some examples of paddles we carry here at Tumalo Creek for every price range:
From the BB Website:
Great entry-level paddle – and a great value. For tooling around the lake or spending a day with friends on the river. Strong aluminum shaft and durable two-piece construction.
Featuring Aquabounds exclusive abXII blade and all carbon shaft, the Sting Ray Hybrid kayak paddle has our most popular blade style, for flat and slow-moving water.
From Werner’s Website:
The Cyprus is a High Angle design that fits the widest range of paddlers. Our most advanced blade designs including a buoyant paddle blade with a smooth back face offering moderate power and effortless linking strokes.