How To Choose a Kayak Paddle

If you’re looking for the perfect paddle to use on your kayaking journeys, then you’re in the right place. Going places with your kayak is almost impossible without one, unless you’re planning to use your bare hands to set a world record. So what’s the perfect paddle?

It’s non-existent. There is no such thing as a perfect paddle. It depends on a lot of factors, and we will try to figure out what paddle works best for your style.

  • Paddle blades – The first question to ask is if you are the type who likes to paddle fast or you just want to cruise slowly to enjoy the view. Paddle blades come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the style of the paddler. As a general rule, and aggressive paddler should choose wide blades with an asymmetrical shape to get the most speed out of your cadence or your number of strokes per minute. If you are the type who enjoys long distance tours with easy strokes, then go for long, thin and lightweight paddles.
  • Paddle materials – This factor is taken in when considering the weight of the paddle to choose. Paddles can be made from basic wood, carbon fiber, graphite, aluminum and fiberglass. Consider trying out the different types to know which one would best fit your paddling style.
  • Length – While there are basic guidelines as to which length to choose, the main consideration is the paddler’s torso length. A basic rule of thumb is a person with a short torso must get a short paddle and vice versa. You can also try lifting the paddle and resting its center on top of your head. Make a 90-degree angle with your elbow while holding the paddle shafts with your hands. The blades should be about 5 inches from your hands.
  • Paddle design (feathered vs. non-feathered) – Modern paddles are either feathered or non-feathered, and these determine the paddle’s wind resistance. Usually, blade angles range from 45 to 90 degree angles, and the basic guideline to follow is that smaller angles are easier on the wrists, while bigger angles help a paddler get the most out of cadence considerations. There is no better angle. It would all depend on how you feel while holding the paddle and stroking it.

In choosing your paddle, it is also important to consider your kayaking preferences. Are you going to use your paddle for your basic touring, whitewater kayaking, or surfing?

  • Touring paddles – Choose lightweight, asymmetrical blades to create a comfortable cruise.
  • White water paddles – To make the most out of every stroke, choose short, heavy duty paddles to withstand rough-style kayaking.
  • Surfing paddles – These are lighter and shorter in comparison with white water paddles, but offer the same efficiency while on the water.

After choosing your paddle, it is equally important to remember that proper maintenance and careful usage are the keys to prolong your paddle’s life.


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