How To Choose A Kayak Paddle

There are a few questions to answer to help you zero in on the best choice of kayak paddle for you.trey logo1There are a few questions to answer to help you zero in on the best choice of kayak paddle for you.

You can have it strong or you can have it light. Pick one.
You can have it light or you can have low cost.  Pick one.

Cost, weight, strength–You can maximize any two of those choices but not all three.
low cost + strong = heavy
high cost + low weight = less strength

Paddle length.
Your choice for paddle length depends primarily on 3 factors:  The width of your boat, your forward stroke style, and the environment you’ll be paddling in.

Boat width For sea kayaks and recreational kayaks, a wider boat will benefit from a slightly longer paddle.  There is substantially less width variation in whitewater kayaks so that really isn’t a factor in picking a paddle length

Forward stroke style There are 2 dominant styles of forward stroke, high angle and low angle.  In a high angle stroke, your top hand is somewhere around chin to eye level during most of the forward stroke.  This style is most efficient at propelling the kayak forward in a straight line but can also be more tiring on the body.  A low angle forward stroke keeps the top hand below chest high throughout the stroke.  Low angle style is effective for “poking around” but because it tends to make the kayak veer on each stroke, it is less efficient at moving forward in a straight line.

As the environment you’re paddling in becomes more demanding, the more a shorter paddle becomes an advantage.  The more you need to make fast transitions between strokes and the more you need to increase your cadence, the more benefit you see from a shorter paddle.

So weighing the factors of the environment, the craft and your paddling style, how do you begin to zero in on the best kayak paddle for you?