Choosing a Kayak Paddle

Posted by Taryn on 2020 Apr 6th

Choosing a Kayak Paddle

There are a few things to consider when choosing a kayak paddle. Not all paddles are created equally and there are so many options to choose from so how do you decide?

In this post we’ll look at some of the key points to help filter through the possibilities.

First, consider the type of paddling you do. Is this for recreational use or for touring? Paddles designed for recreational use are cost effective but tend to be heavier. Their features may be less refined in terms of how they feather (twist to assist with wind drag) or break apart for transport. On the other hand, touring paddles offer a lot of choice in terms of materials and design, but these features come at a premium.

Most recreational paddles will have an aluminum shaft and plastic blades. There is not a lot of choice in terms of blade shape or adjustments on the shaft. Some will feather at set increments, usually with a push lock. These paddles are tough, but they are on the heavier side.

If your looking for something more suitable to longer trips or something a lighter and more comfortable opting for a fiberglass shaft is a great choice. A fiberglass shaft is both light and feels warmer on the hands. These paddles can have plastic or fiberglass blades. Fiberglass blades shave weight as well but increase the cost. If your looking for the premium option than a carbon fibre may shaft be what’s right for you. Carbon is strong and extremely light. Coupled with a fiberglass blade makes for a lightweight, extremely comfortable paddle that is ideal for those long trips or for anyone dealing with injuries or wrist issues. These premium paddles often feather at smaller increments to fine tune to the users needs. The buttons to allow these adjustments are smaller, smoother and more refined. Another shaft feature to consider is a bent shaft. The ergonomics of this feature lessens fatigue and strain on the wrists.

The shape of the blade has an affect on its overall performance. Narrow blades are more comfortable for longer tours since they are designed for low angle paddling. This low angle stroke conserves energy but there is less power in the stroke. Wider blades are designed for a high angle stroke or power stroke. This type of blade allows for quick acceleration and, it’s for this reason that, kayak surfers often opt for this type of paddle.

Once you have decided on the type of paddle that best suits your needs, you’ll need to find the appropriate size. The length of the paddle is decided on based on the height of the user and the width of the boat. The following chart demonstrates this:

Happy Paddling! Whether you paddle at the lake or head out on a multi-day coastal tour there is a paddle to suit your needs. Stop by River and Trail or check out our online store to see the options we have for your next adventure.