There are five basic ideas to consider if you’re choosing a kayak paddle.
- The length and height of your kayak determine the length of your paddle.
- Lighter materials improve the performance of the paddle.
- Cheaper paddles tend to be heavier, so the price is always a consideration.
- Blade size and shape will impact the efficiency it creates for you while in the water.
- Using a feathered blade or bent shaft improve the effectiveness of each movement.
Beyond the kayak itself, the paddle you choose will impact the overall performance and experience you have on the water. Even if your plans only involve a short tour, that means you’ll perform thousands of strokes before the end of the day.
Determine the Paddle Length You Require
Your height and the width of your kayak determine the size of paddle you require. If you’re 5’6” or taller than you’ll need a 220cm paddle for boats up to 28 inches wide, 230cm for 28- to 32-inch boats, or 250cm for a kayak over 32 inches in width.
If you’re under 5’6”, but over 5 feet tall, then you’ll require a 215cm, 220cm, 230cm, or 240cm paddle respectively.
Anyone shorter than 5 feet requires a 210cm, 220cm, 230cm, or 240cm paddle based on the width measurements listed above.
If you’re over 6 feet tall, then your paddle length requirements are 220cm, 230cm, 240cm, or 250cm respectively.
Is a Low-Angle or High-Angle Paddle Better?
Low-angle strokes require a slight tilt to the shaft. Your top hand always stays below the shoulder with this method. It works best of flat water when you’re out to have fun.
High-angle paddles are better for choppy water, extra speed, and requires user precision.
You have three options when choosing the blade materials for either angle: nylon, fiberglass, or carbon-fiber. Nylon paddles are the cheapest, but it tends to crack under pressure and reduces the efficiency of each stroke.
Carbon-fiber paddles give you the ultimate in performance for a price that isn’t what most people would call “budget-friendly.”
Fiberglass blades are a good compromise between the two.
Choose the Best Shaft Materials
Plastic shafts for kayak paddles are rare today. Avoid them if you find them. Your best option is to use an aluminum shaft. It’s durable, usable, and limits corrosion. Remember to protect your skin because the metal can get very hot or cold, depending on your local conditions.
Opt for fiberglass or carbon if you can afford them. These materials will lighten the paddle, reducing fatigue over your tour.
Then choose your shaft type, which is either straight or bent. Each requires a different stroke technique, so use the one with which you are most familiar. Paddles then break down into two or four pieces for easier storage.
By selecting the correct paddle for your kayak, you’ll create more opportunities for fun on the water. It will improve your stroke, create efficiencies in speed, and help you accomplish all your goals for the season.