Choosing The Kayak Paddles-Every Single Thing You Need To Know Before Buying

Truth be told, any paddle is going to make your kayak moving, but you may want to take out of the best of your kayak by using the right paddle for it.

What counts the most when selecting the paddle?

The most important aspects to consider when selecting the kayak paddle is the paddle’s length and the size and shape of the blades.

  • Paddle length

Your own size, the type of your kayak and the width of your kayak are truly important when selecting the paddle. No matter the price you’re paying for your kayak (here are great selections for kayaks less than $500 or less than $600 , you want to make sure that you’re having fun while paddling it.

Proper Paddle LengthHere are some tips on this one:

  • The rule of thumb is that you need a smaller paddle if you’re a smaller paddler, whereas a longer paddle is going to be a better choice for the larger paddlers.
  • In addition, the wider your kayak is, the longer the paddle is going to have to be. Keep in mind that the sit-inside and sit-on-top kayaks (recreational kayaks) are the widest out there so make sure you choose right.
  • Remember that a sit-on-top kayak is going to put you higher off the water, so take this aspect under consideration when selecting the paddle.
  • Go with a shorter paddle for a touring/sea kayak as it’s a narrow type of boat.
  • If you’re paddling more than one boat, it’s best that you go with a telescoping ferrule system so that you may easily shorten/lengthen the paddle. Use this type of paddle if your seat is adjustable or if there are other people using your boat.
  • Blade size and shape

The shape and size of the blade matter when choosing the paddle. Here’s what you need to remember:

  • Short and wide blades are a better choice for the more aggressive paddling or for the occasions when you’re carrying a lot of gear. There are the high-angle blades.
  • In the case of long-distance paddling, some thin and long blades are going to make the better option. Known as the low-angle blades, they’re a solid choice for the easy days on the water and the long rides as well.

Note: high-angle vs low-angle blades

An entry level kayaker may think that all paddles are alike. The differences in paddles could very well make a whole difference for your performance too.

The angle your paddle is going to enter the water counts for the performance of your blade and the kayak:

  • High-angle paddling is more vertical and it gives speed. A fast and whitewater kayaker is going to use the high-angle strokes a lot more often. It’s easier to handle the narrower kayakers too.
  • More horizontal (around a 20-30degree angle), the low-angle paddling is common for the recreational and wider kayaks. It’s nice to use in relaxed paddling and it’s less strenuous than the high angle. As the kayak moves slower, your technique isn’t fundamental.

Paddle Blade Materials

Let’s take a closer look at each of the categories of paddles, when it comes to angles:

  • High-angle kayak paddles- they’re typically shorter and wider than the low-angle type. They’re supposed to catch and maintain the water for the more aggressive strokes, helping your kayak move quicker
  • Low-angle kayak paddles- they’re longer and narrow. Thanks to this design, you may pull them through the water a lot easier and with less effort. If you’re planning a long ride or simply want to enjoy a more relaxed paddle, the low-angle kayaking is going to be the more appropriate option.

What else should you consider when selecting the paddles?

The size, length and the shape of the paddles count, but there are also some other aspects to pay attention to:

  • Ferrule system

The ferrule system is what links the two halves of the paddle together. The most common and most affordable system is the snap-button system. this system allows 1 or 2 feathering angles, easing the connection at the same time.


Paddle Ferrule SystemYou can also find ferrule systems that ensure countless feathering angles and very good rust-free connection. Don’t forget that if you’re looking for amazing versatility, the telescoping ferrule is going to provide you many feathering choices and adjustable length as well.

Note: What’s the paddle feathering?

If you’re determined to get better at kayaking, paddle feathering is a concept you shouldn’t skip. Here are the most important aspects to remember when it comes to paddle feathering:

  • Feathering the kayak means that you’re adjusting the ferrule on the shaft so that the blades come at an angle to each other instead of being straight
  • In the case of a snap-button ferrule, the feathering options are going to be restricted by the angles that the holes allow. You may find snap button ferrules ranging from 0 to 60 degree angles. Most affordable paddles are going to feature this sort of ferrule system.
  • Some ferrules are going to provide impressive number of feathering angles which makes the customizing astonishing. A high-quality ferrule system is going to let you go through many feathering angles in an easy way, even when you’re out in the water.

Why pay attention to the feathering?

Feathering the kayak paddle is really about your personal take; not all paddlers like to feather, but here’s why you should at least try it:

  • In the case of high-angle feathering, you’re going to see that feathering makes it easier for your wrists, especially if you go out for a long time. you may want to give it a try to see if it’s ok for you or not. If you have countless feathering choices, it’s not a bad idea to try many angles just to get an idea about it.
  • When the wind is at your face, you can try feather the paddle, adjusting the wrists so that blade out of the water is flat and not broadside to the wind. You’re going to experience less wind resistance by doing so. When the wind is at your back, it’s best that the wind catches the blade as it’s going to push you forward with every stroke. The best option is not to feather in the first place.
  • Feathering may offer you a bit of edge in paddling speed, especially if efficacy and speed are essential (a fishing tournaments or a racing session).

Feathering the paddle isn’t about doing it wrong or right, but more about if you like to do it or not. You may find kayak paddles (let’s say it’s the only thing missing on your new kayak- here’s an interesting selection to check that come with adjustable ferrules. They give you the possibility to adjust the feathering as you go, according to a specific situation.

Many kayak paddles may be feathered between 15 and 60 degrees. 60 isn’t the common (it’s more for the whitewater paddlers), and 30 to 45 degrees win the popularity contest as they’re able to take the tough conditions. Best option for you is to simply give it a try, in many conditions to see if you like it or not.

  • The kayak design

Suffice it to say it, the wider your kayak is, the longer the paddle you should use. You need to maintain the right blade placement in the water, which means you have to be capable to get beyond the gunwales of the boat, while keeping the right paddling form. You sure don’t want to bang the knuckles on the deck or get too much/too little of the power face of the blade in the water.

The kayak designSome aspects are going to matter as well:

  • A shorter paddler in a wider kayak is going to have to go with the same length of paddle as a taller paddler uses in a narrower boat.
  • Paddles in tandem kayaks are longer than the ones for the solo kayaks
  • The height of the seat surface also matters. For instance, two paddlers of similar height may need to use different paddles if the seat height is different from one boat to another.
  • Budget

Kayak paddles range from less than $100 to more than $400. The build of the paddle is going to weigh tremendously when it comes to final price. Performance, weight, and life span are really connected to the build of the paddle.

However, the more you’re willing to pay, the lighter your paddle is going to be and the better the performance for sure.

Try not to get cheap with your paddle as it’s always a wise thing to pay a bit more upfront.

Two tricks for the road

Now that you have all the info you need for selecting the paddle, here are some fast ways to see if the paddle is the right fit for your needs:

  • Choose a paddle that you estimate it has the proper length, standing it upright alongside you. Extend your arms entirely, placing your first finger joints over the tip of the possible paddle. If you’re capable to get completely around the top edge or if your fingers don’t reach the top-it’s best that you keep on looking!
  • Hold your arms out, making sure that your elbows bent at proper angles for normal paddling position. Grasp the paddle as you’d typically do it. Your hands have to be around 2/3 of the way from the center of the shaft, right to the shoulder of the possible blade.