Introduction to Choosing a Kayak Paddle

by Rod

in Kayak paddles


Kayak paddles

I am going to tackle this subject, but to do it justice, it is going to take a couple of bites at the cherry. I heard a good saying a couple weeks ago. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ” I’ve done a little research and on one kayaking website,, they listed what I believe must be a very comprehensive list of paddle manufacturers and the models. There were 76 manufacturers and each manufacturer had an average of a dozen models with a couple of the big ones like Werner who had 36 models. Then with a lot of the manufacturers you could ask for pacific features such as lengths, angle of blades or left hand control. The type of material is usually unique to the model. This sounds like a absolute mind field, but once I sort through a couple deciding factors it will become clearer.

What sort of paddler are you?

I hope that didn’t sound rude, but lets start at the beginning. The stage of growth you are at has a huge  bearing on what you should be looking at. If you are a learner, beginning your paddling adventures buying a $600.00 paddle and saying that you’ll grow into it, is ridiculous. So lets start in a more practical price range of say $100-150. This will provide you with a fibre reinforce plastic blade with a fibre glass or aluminium shaft. This is a practical place to start. While you are learning a fibre reinforce plastic blade is not going to break or chip if you push off the bottom or jam it into a rock. If it does it’s not as much of a problem to replace. These sort of things do happen more while you are leaning. Once you do become more proficient and do want to upgrade you will have a better knowledge on what type of paddle you want to spend your hard earned money on and get the best benifit from your chose. As well as that when you do upgrade you will still find that second paddle will come in handy maybe for when you want to take someone else out with you who hasn’t got any gear or just to keep as a spare.

What sort of paddling are you going to do?

Lets start as if you are going to be doing some touring or casual paddling on rivers and dams on flat water. The main factor I am describing here is how to come to decision on the length for the paddle. If you stand upright and hold your arm up straight above your head in a comfortable position and curl your fingers over. That is the length of your paddle, so when you hold your paddle you should be able to cup your fingers over the end of the paddle blade while it is standing vertical beside you. Now it gets interesting. If you want to do longer distance flat water paddling or racing or sea kayaking the length of the paddle can increase by 10 – 20cm. The reason for this is so we can get a longer straight stroke through the water. If you are going to paddle white water especially slalom, canoe polo or play boating the paddle length is shorter by 10-20cm. This is so we can produce a short strong responsive stroke and quickly change the direction of the blade if necessary.

Next I am going to tackle shaft Diameter and blade size and shape, but I am going to leave that for another post.


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