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Choose the Right Kayak Paddle Length

August 11, 2021 5 min read

Choose the Right Kayak Paddle Length

The importance of selecting the right paddle is underestimated by some. Choosing a Kayak requires a great amount of thought, consideration, and money. After putting in that work, you'll want to make sure you equip yourself with the other resources you'll need to make the most of your time on the water.

It's not just about making the most of your strokes, though that's an important part of it! A paddle that is too small can cause you to smack your hand against the kayak's edge or force you to lean into uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. It can lead to a loss of control over your kayak just when you need it the most. Learn how kayak paddle sizing works, get some ideas for what lengths to look at, and understand how the type of kayaking you do can determine which paddle is the ideal size for you by reading on.

How to Size a Kayak Paddle

Paddle length figures refer to the distance between the blade's tip and the shaft's centre. While inches are occasionally used, metric measurements are the most prevalent. Paddles typically range in length from 180 to 260 cm (which is roughly 6 to 8.5 feet).

Your length is determined by a number of things. The most typical sizes range from 210 to 250 cm, however there are a variety of reasons to go to the extremes of the size range. When choosing a kayak paddle, keep the following factors in mind:

Torso Height

The first thing to think about is your height when you're sitting. People have various proportions, therefore two people standing at 6'4" may be very different heights when they sit. This is due to the fact that some persons have higher leg height while others have more torso height. When measuring paddle length, it's a good idea to utilize torso height because that's what actually affects you when you're paddling a boat.

Take a flexible tape measure and run it around your back to determine your torso height. The bony bulge at the base of your neck, where your shoulders connect, is the top of your torso. Between the tops of your hip bones, the bottom of your torso is square. (By the way, this is the same figure you'll need to size a backpack, so it's useful to know about yourself no matter how you enjoy the outdoors.)

Two women paddling sit on top kayaks at sunrise in the marsh.

Kayak Width

The width of different boats varies. The width of the kayak will influence the length you choose since you want your paddle to clear the sides of the boat and hit the water at a favourable angle.

Stroke Angle

People paddle in a variety of ways. The blade is kept close to the kayak by a high stroke angle. It allows you to make faster and shorter strokes. It makes the kayak travel faster, but it might be exhausting unless you paddle very precisely.

A low stroke angle is more relaxed, making kayaking more enjoyable. Your top hand stays below shoulder level when you use a low stroke angle.

A shorter paddle is required for a high stroke angle, whereas a longer paddle is required for a low stroke angle. Some blades may be shaped particularly to maximize the benefits of a high or low stroke. That's something to think about while shopping for kayaking paddles, but it's not as important as getting the right size.

Kayak Types and Paddle Lengths

The style of kayak you use, along with your torso height, is one of the most important factors in determining the paddle length you want. The function of the kayak will influence its breadth, and wider boats will require longer paddles.

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are often the widest kayaks available. A wider profile offers them more room to store gear and gives them more stability when fighting fish. Because they need to make room for the pedal propulsion, pedal kayaks are usually the widest of all kayaks.

A paddle with a width of 260 cm is wide enough to assist you control such a large boat. Remember that even if you have a pedal kayak, you'll need to carry a paddle with you. It's uncommon to do all of your moving with your feet on the pedals.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are usually 6'-12' long and 26"-30" wide. They're designed to be stable and simple to operate. Because of the proportions, it's easy to control, but you might need a longer paddle. The Kayaks are available in lengths of 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm, which is probably close to what most people will require in a kayak that broad.

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are typically longer and wider, with lengths of roughly 13'5' and widths of around 23". The kayak's performance is improved by the slimmer profile, which nevertheless leaves room for comfort. They tend to get longer as you get into performance kayaks. These kayaks are firmly in the 220 cm range for the majority of folks. The lightweight structure and drip rings on these Kayaks assist keep your hands dry and minimize blistering.

Kids’ Kayak Paddles

Paddles for children will undoubtedly need to be smaller. But that isn't the only factor to consider. A decent kid's paddle will be lightweight and easy to use, as well as durable enough to withstand mishandling and young zeal.

Choosing a Length in Person

If you have the opportunity to try out a paddle in person, a simple approach to gauge comfort is to hold it over your head and then lower it by making a 90-degree angle with each of your elbows. This is excellent paddling technique. It's a positive indicator if you can reach the water with ease and good form.

Is the paddle a good fit for you? In your hands, how does the weight feel? Is it easy to control and at a suitable distance from the boat? Is it too far away and cumbersome?

Some claim the ideal approach to choose a paddle is to stand next to it with your arm in the air, checking that the tips of your fingers are even with the paddle's top. However, that is no longer a reliable indicator. Kayaks are now generally wider and taller than when the advise was offered. Start with the kayak paddle sizing charts in the charts and work your way up from there. That's usually a more reliable method of locating things you like.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Paddle selection is critical, but it's also simple. All of the graphs and categories are intended to assist you in making sense of a sea of alternatives. There are numerous factors that go into finding the ideal match. While they're intended to assist you in determining where to begin, the most important thing is to pick a paddle that feels comfortable and functions well for you.

Kayakish has a wide range of paddles for you to choose from. Check out our Kayak Paddle & SUP Paddle Collections. 


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