by Roger

November 9, 2021

How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

Whenever you are dropping into narrow chutes, kayakers require a paddle that they can easily rely on to offer stability and get them back on their feet.

While you’re kayaking for hours or weeks on end, you want to have a paddle that’s easy and efficient on the hands and wrists. Let us dive in and assist you on how to choose a kayak paddle. Here are the key factors to focus on:

  • Blade shape: how your blade is sized and shaped will influence the efficiency and power of the stroke.
  • Shaft length: It all relies on the kind of padding, the width, and height of the boat
  • Materials: They vary by durability, cost, and lightness, as well as how they feel in the hands.

How to Choose the Blade Shape

All high-quality blades are asymmetric in shape. It helps to balance your blade in the water, thus preventing it from twisting or fluttering.

High angle paddle

High angle paddle
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These blades are designed to be handled more vertically throughout the forward stroke. Paddles with a high angle are wider and shorter.

Such paddles are the best choice for kayakers who are paddling or racing on white or rough water. They provide you with a much more powerful stroke that helps you move way quicker via the water and offer extra control in challenging conditions.

Low angle paddle

Low angle paddle
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Low angle kayaking involves holding the paddle extra horizontally and keeping both hands closer together and height throughout the stroke. It’s a type of paddling that is exhausting and ideal for touring because it allows constant paddling.

Such low-angle paddles have skinnier and longer blades than the high-angle paddles, making them an excellent option for multi-day kayak tours or a day trip on flat water.

Wing-shaped blade

Wing-shaped blade
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A wing blade, unlike the high angle blade, is crafted for a much more vertical kayak. It, therefore, makes it an ideal choice for many racers, and it might be too much for recreational paddlers. The blades have a face with such a shallow scoped contour that aids in the power and efficiency of the forward stroke.

Dihedral blade

Dihedral blade
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They are the type of blades with a backward slant and provide a more stable, smoother stroke. Its shape reduces flutter and also the amount of effort needed to hold the kayak.

Simply put, your choice of blade has a different effect while paddling in the water. Kayakers pursuing fast water moves might need very powerful strokes to maneuver; for instance, they can use the Maverick, a larger surface area. The wide surface is vital to catch the water powerfully and quickly.

While on long distances in touring kayaks, you need lighter strokers for the longest period you will be paddling. The vision blade comes in; its surface area is smaller and narrower, longer blades. It makes it less tiring to kayak all day.

Then there is the drift paddle, made for inflatables, recreational kayaks, and sit-on-tops, critically essential for users looking for a bit of everything in a paddle.

How to Choose the Length of the Paddle

How to Choose the Length of the Paddle
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Aside from understanding how to choose the best kayak, it would help determine the length of a paddle to use. Even though the range of approaches is commonplace and fairly narrow throughout the paddling community, opinions differ slightly on the most effective length for a specific paddler.

The size of a kayaking paddle is determined by several factors, including body stature, boat dimensions, and paddle stroke interest. Before diving into those dynamics, let’s talk about how lengths are articulated.

Among the most primary aspects in identifying the appropriate paddle is the length of the kayak paddle. What do you think it would look like choosing the wrong paddle length? With a short paddle, you constantly slam your hands against the edge of the kayak or struggle to access the water using it.

However, on the other hand, kayak paddles that are extra-long have drawbacks. A lengthier paddle weighs more. The extra length and weight will add more strain to the body, raising your chance of injury.

A kayak paddle that is too long implies that the strokes will be farther away from your boat, exacerbating you to move sideways rather than traveling straight, adding a lot of effort.

Body Stature

You might indeed believe that height is the most important factor in paddle sizing. Regrettably, the torso length is more vital when selecting a paddle. To measure the torso, you should sit on a straight-backed chair and calculate the length from the chair to the nose. That’s the torso’s length.

Paddle Designs and Materials

The composition of the paddle is just as important as its size. You should consider the materials used to make the shaft and blade and the paddle design when purchasing your new paddle.

What Shaft and Paddle Options Should You Consider?

What Shaft and Paddle Options Should You Consider

The material of the paddle blade has a significant impact on its performance and the ability to use it comfortably. The following are among the most frequently used materials:

  • Fiberglass: It’s a popular choice among kayakers since it is extremely durable and lightweight, but it’s also less expensive than other materials.
  • Aluminum: Due to its low cost, aluminum material is among the greatest paddle for starting paddlers. On the other hand, Aluminum paddles are often quite hefty, making them hard to wield for some.
  • Carbon fiber: Graphite or carbon fiber are harder to come by and more expensive than other paddles; however, they are among the lightest available.
  • Wood: the wooden paddles are beautiful, strong, and long-lasting, but they are frequently more costly than some other paddle kinds.
  • Laminated wood: It’s designed using strips of wood that are attached using strong glues. They offer more stiffness and strength than pure wood kayak paddles. They will transfer power in a better way than the one-piece paddles but aren’t shock absorbing.
  • Plastic: This is yet another novice paddle material. Though it isn’t as appealing as some other paddle varieties, it is generally cheaper and lighter.

The paddle shaft is the center rod that links the paddle blades and lays your fingers when angling the paddle. A shaft may be made of various materials other than the blade.

Occasionally, the composition will be uniform across your paddle. To increase wrist dexterity and relieve hand strain, shafts have a curvature or are straight where the hands rest. It would help if you tried different shaft and blade combinations to find out what works best for you. If you want to be successful, you’ll need a comfy shaft.

Straight vs. bent shafts

All through the stroke, bent shafts maintain your wrists at a constant angle to the forearms. It helps you generate power more predictably and efficiently by reducing wrist fatigue.

A more natural posture will also make it easier to keep all the fingers in constant touch with your shaft.

On the other hand, straight shafts are stronger and less expensive but will not provide much performance compared to bent shafts.

Straight vs. bent shafts
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One-piece vs. two-piece paddle

Whitewater paddles are the best one-piece paddles. Although their bulk makes them difficult to move with, their sturdy design allows them to be significantly more long-lasting and durable.

While on the flip side, the two-piece paddles are commonly utilized for international travel and limited space below deck. They’re also fantastic as a backup paddle because they’re so portable. Even the most durable paddle could break, so carrying a backup is a good idea.

Stroke Angle

Finally, think about the angle of your ideal stroke. A short paddle is preferable if you desire a high stroke. A somewhat lengthy paddle is only appropriate for the lower stroke angle, common in recreational touring. Learn the basic strokes and how to paddle a kayak.

Adjustable Paddle

Why not use a flexible paddle in case you need a bit of flexibility in your kayak paddle length? For instance, they can typically expand up to 10cm, from 230 cm to 240 cm, giving you more alternatives. The nature of your kayak determines the size of the paddle you will be using, as well as your personal choice.

In general, the lengthier the paddles, the broader the kayak is and the taller the paddler is. Bigger paddles are much more powerful, but they’re still more demanding to use throughout a long paddle.

For them to be the most efficient, every kayak paddle model has small variances in shape. When comparing kayaks side by side, the variations could be subtle, but when you hold it up and paddle, slight variances in size or shape are highly evident.

Final Thoughts on How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

If you are undecided, go out onto the lake and sample out a few different kayak paddles. For relevant demos, find your nearest paddling store or check out for testing sessions for paddles and other gear.

Begin by holding your paddle above your own head, forming a right angle or 90 degrees at your elbows if you do have the option to try before making any purchases. That is where the kayak paddle is held. Once you’re in your boat, try to reach the water without any difficulty.

You should take notes on whether the paddle can stay a bit close to your kayak or if it is too far away from the boat side. And if you have enjoyed this article on how to choose a kayak paddle, you may find interesting and helpful our guide on how to choose a kayak. Enjoy it!

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About the author 


Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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