How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

The movements and control of a kayak depend on the paddle. That’s why this is one of the most required items to complete your kayaking journey. As you have to rely on it, choosing the wrong paddle will lead to disappointment. Though thousands are available in the market, they may not fulfill the satisfaction of all people. We are presenting the criteria for finding a perfect paddle to remove your confusion.

Things You Have to Consider Before Buying a Kayak Paddle

Paddle Length

The first thought that pops in our mind while buying a paddle is its length. Determining the kayak length is not a difficult task at all. You can figure it out by measuring the kayak length and your height. Taller persons and longer boat owners feel comfortable with longer paddles. Here is a chart describing what the length should be according to these two factors.

Height of the kayakers 23 to 28-inch kayak width 29 to 32-inch kayak width Wider kayak than 32-inch
Shorter than 5’5’’ 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
5’5’’ to 5’11’’ 220-230 cm 230-240 cm 240-250 cm
Taller than 6’ 230 cm 240 cm 250 cm

If anyone falls between two options, they can pick any of them. We recommend going for the shorter one.

Low or High-Angle Paddles

The low-angle models utilize little bit tilted shafts. People who love recreational kayaking should prioritize these paddles. Comparatively, the high-angle paddles consist of a more tilted shaft. These aggressive counterparts assist in having more speed. The majority of the professional paddlers and whitewater kayakers prefer this type. But if you are learning or like relaxed paddling, they are not for you. Because you have to handle them with ultimate precision, otherwise they may cause shoulder fatiguing.

How to Choose a Kayak Paddle
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Materials of the Paddle

The cost and performance of a kayak vary according to the elements. Each of them has unique properties and offer different services as well. Let’s check out their details.

  • Plastic or nylon: Durability and affordability are the main reasons for their popularity. But they are more prone to damage when exposed to sunlight. Due to their flexibility, they can be a wise selection for newbies and recreational paddlers. But they don’t deliver sufficient efficiency for moving through waves.
  • Fiberglass Blades: These light-weight paddles offer impressive performance and longevity. They can be slightly expensive but save bucks in the long run as they are less likely to crack.
  • Carbon-Fiber Blades: They consist of carbon and fiberglass, which make them stiff, light-weight, and flexible. Yes, they are expensive but worth every penny for sure. With such a blade, you will achieve top performance for a couple of years.
  • Wood blades: They feel a little bit heavy yet famous for their liveliness and warmth. They require regular maintenance and may not be the perfect one for fast traveling.

Blade Material

The blade material can also be responsible for its speed and functionalities. Let’s take a look at the variations:

  • Polypropylene blades: The high-impact plastic construction can survive rough conditions. They don’t usually break but can bend because of hitting obstacles. The recreational paddles use them for their relaxed service and low price.
  • Fiberglass-polypropylene paddles: They hold the benefits of both complementing materials. Such combinations are responsible for their durability, light-weight, and stiffness. As you can assume, they are not too flexible and therefore provide more efficiency with every stroke. They are like the best friend for the users who spend multiple days on the river to explore new areas.
  • Carbon blades: The manufactures use carbon fibers for their production. Therefore, they are long-lasting, light, and pricey. They are worth the expenses if you want to continue paddling for several days with minimum effort and shoulder pain.

Materials of the Shaft

  • Plastic: Plastic shafts are not always available. Flexibility and sturdiness are their key advantages. Try to avoid exposing them to the sun because it may degrade their shape.
  • Aluminum: They are one of the most affordable models. Along with a longer lifespan, they give the expected services too. They get quite hot during summer days. So, don’t forget to use gloves to grab them on hot days.
  • Carbon and fiberglass: These are the strongest, lightest, and one of the most robust shafts of all. They help to maintain the right gesture with incredible speed to move through waves.

Blade Design

You will find blades with either symmetrical or asymmetrical shapes. The second type is relatively narrow. If you notice carefully, you will see a shorter blade on one side. On the contrary, both sides are the same in the case of symmetric kinds. Most of the modern, high-quality blades feature asymmetric shape to avoid fluttering or twisting. Besides, the majority of the blades may fall into two categories, called spoon and dihedral. Spoon blades supply instant power where the others deliver smooth and stable strokes.

Blade Size

With different-size blades, we can apply the various levels of power on the water. The large blades enable us to paddle with the ultimate strength. In the case of regular boating, a moderate blade can be okay. Remember, the size should match the height of the users. The shorter users feel severe pain on joints when they try to handle bigger blades.

Shaft Structure

The shafts can be straight or bent with a kinked portion. With a bent shaft, you will experience comfortable angles and least soreness. Even if you are making powerful strokes for a long time, your hands will be okay. You can expect the same advantage from a straight-shaft paddle.

Use Cases

You can’t use the same paddle for multiple purposes because they are made to perform well under certain conditions.

  • Recreational kayak paddles: These super stable and wide kits are for exploring slow-moving water sources. They don’t bite the water aggressively. They have less powerful strokes and less abrasion tolerance. Most of them fail to withstand rugged conditions.
  • Fishing kayak paddles: They have all features to cope up with wide fishing platforms. These boats often feature high seats that improve targeting fishing spots and casting nets. You will need a long paddle to get the best outcomes for kayak fishing.
  • Touring kayak paddles: These traveling boats are narrow but helpful in covering distant places. Many of them are strong to cast powerful strokes to go through the water. They are often long, durable, and suitable for multi-day journeys.

Final Words

Now that you know how to choose a kayak paddle, buy the most suitable one and start practicing. If you already have several paddles, try them out to check which one is working the best.

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