After having a kayak, what is the most crucial gear? The answer is paddle as it sets the connection between water and you. The experience of kayaking and performance on water largely depends on what type of paddle you are choosing in your ride. So, there is a question how to choose a kayak paddle? Well, it depends on some factors, and from them, length, size, shape, materials are most important. Although these parameters also depend on where you are going to ride what is the purpose.
How to Choose a Kayak Paddle
So, here I will discuss these points and other aspects which you need to choose the right paddle for you. Now, go through this article and pick a suitable paddle for you.
The first and crucial thing for choosing a kayak paddle is its length. So, the exact answer to the question of how to choose a kayak paddle length is the wider boat need a longer paddle. It also depends on your height.
Here you need to remember something. If your seat is high (this is a general case for fishing kayak), then you need a long paddle as short paddle will cause much stress to reach the water. But the disadvantage for a long paddle is, this kind of paddle is heavier and much uncomfortable for the inexperienced person. And for the low seat and narrowboat, you need a short paddle.
The long paddle is unstable at some point because it creates a zig-zag motion. But for casual and long-distance paddling you can choose long paddles, and in this case, it is best.
So, choosing paddle length depends on two-factor paddler height and the width of the boat. Here I am giving a chart for recommended paddle length based on paddler height and kayak width. (You should visit the manufacturer’s website for more information also because there is slight variation in the different brand)
|Paddler Height||Kayak Width|
|Under 23’’||23’’ to 28’’||23’’ to 28’’||Over 32’’|
|5’ to 5’5’’||215cm||220cm||230cm||240cm|
|5’6’’ to 6’||220cm||220cm||230cm||250cm|
[Note: paddler height in feet and kayak width in inches]
If your suitable paddle size is in between two sizes, it is better to choose the shorter one because you can maintain balance and also save some weight.
You will find an adjustable paddle. In this paddle, you can adjust the length. You can choose that kind of particular paddle in this case.
Here, the material is also an essential factor as durability and weight largely depend on the material. As paddle has two parts, blade, and shaft, I will discuss them separately.
You will find blades of different materials in the market. But all of them are not suitable. And the price is also varies depending on which material are used. Usually, you will find a plastic-type blade. But you can also find other blade polycarbonates or other polymers like fiberglass or carbon fiber. You may also see blade made of wood.
Here the material is vital because fatigue reduction and transferring energy with every stroke depend on the material.
Carbon Fiber Blade
At present, the premium blades are made of carbon fibre. This kind of blade is the most lightweight and also rigid enough. This ultra-stiff blade has approximately zero flex in the water; that’s why you will get higher efficiency as its energy transfer compatibility is superb with each stroke. But you have to pay a little bit higher for this particular type.
Mid-range blades are often made of fiberglass. Fiberglass is more lightweight than plastic and gives more performance and durability. Though fiberglass blade is comparatively cheap, it is hard enough and less flex in the water. That’s why fiberglass blade has excellent efficiency in the water.
The plastic blade also is known as a nylon blade. This kind of blade is cheap. And the disadvantage of this kind of blade is, it can crack easily and has higher flexibility, which decreases efficiency in the water. Moreover, plastic made blade degrades if you left them in the sun. But if you want to save money a lot of money, you can buy this kind of blade.
You will also find blades are made of fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene blade, which is durable, lightweight has good efficiency, and lasts long.
Like a blade, the shaft is also made of different materials like aluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber. And based on the material, performance, durability, and price differ.
The aluminum shaft is one of the most popular and affordable shafts. Though this kind of shaft is low-priced, it is durable. You can after-service this kind of shaft anytime.
Suppose you want a combination of lightweight, durability, and flexibility with a mid-range price. Then you can pick fibreglass made shaft. This kind of shaft provides a well-balanced performance. And for growing kayaking skills with minimum gear cost, this can be a great option.
Carbon fiber made shafts are high priced yet give the best performance. The main advantage of using carbon fiber shaft is lightweight. And another advantage of carbon fiber is, you can paddle all day long with minimum pain in hand.
So, from above, we can say that fiberglass kayak paddles are comparatively best kayak paddles for the money if you consider performance and durability. And if you want to spend money on premium benefits, you can go for carbon fiber kayak paddles.
Blade design has also impact on choosing the suitable paddle. You can find two designs, especially narrow and wide. Narrow blades are perfect for a long trip like a full-day or multi-day tour.
On the other hand, the wide blade is suitable for aggressive or fast kayaking. Because with a wide blade, you can generate powerful strokes.
You can also consider shaft design while picking a paddle for you. Most of the shaft is straight, and paddling with a straight shaft for a long time can cause fatigue in hand joints. So, it is better to use a bent shaft. The bent shaft has a kinked section where you can place your hand comfortably.
When choosing a shaft, pay some attention to the diameter. If this is not adjustable to your fingers, then it can cause pain in your hand.
What should I look for when buying a kayak paddle?
You should look at the length, size & shape, and material based on where you want to kayak.
What size of kayak paddle do I need?
It depends on your height and the boat width. I have given a chart to find the recommended size based on paddler height and boat width. You can also check the manufacturer’s website.
What is the best kayak paddle for a beginner?
Werner Skagit FG, Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Posi-Lok, Werner Camano these are the best kayak paddle for a beginner.
Choosing the right paddle can give you the best experience of kayaking. I hope this article will help you to pick a suitable paddle for the next tour. So, as a summary, while choosing a paddle, you should remind this line, “Long thin blades are best for casual or long-distance paddling and for aggressive paddling shorter and wider paddle is best.” I hope you have an enjoyable tour with the perfect paddle.