Kayak Paddle For Canoe; Why You Should Not Use A Kayak Paddle In A Canoe (Reasons And Disadvantages)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 29, 2022
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As you transition between kayaking and canoeing, you might be tempted to use your kayak paddle for canoeing. But it is not recommended; kayak paddles are more likely to cause back and muscle aches when used for canoeing. This is because kayak paddles are shorter, and paddlers need more effort to steer a canoe using such paddles.

Key Takeaways

  • Kayak paddles are designed with double blades and can be used for solo canoeing
  • You can use kayak paddles on a canoe to reduce your back pain
  • Canoes are wider than kayaks, and they require long paddles for appropriate paddling
  • If you are planning to use a kayak paddle in a canoe then the weight difference can impact the maneuverability

What Are The Reasons For Not Using A Kayak Paddle On Canoe?

Reasons For Not Using A Kayak Paddle On Canoe

Canoes are designed to be wider than kayaks, meaning you will need a longer paddle to steer a canoe. For canoes meant for more than one person, each paddler is meant to paddle on a single side to ensure the Canoe is balanced and moving straight. This paddling style means that you will only need a single-bladed paddle to steer a canoe. Kayak paddles are designed with double blades and can be used for solo canoeing. But since that is not what they are meant for, they come with disadvantages when used for canoeing. Listed below are some of the downsides of using kayak paddles for canoeing. It would be best if you had them in mind before you go canoeing.

1. Kayak Paddles Can Cause Fatigue And Muscle Aches When Used For Canoeing

Using a kayak paddle on a canoe can cause exhaustion and fatigue quite fast; this is because your body will constantly be in motion to keep the Canoe moving. Using kayak paddles on your Canoe ensures you move with speed, but it will take a toll on your muscles.

It would help if you were physically fit and experienced in using a kayak paddle to use it effectively on a canoe without your body feeling the hit. When canoeing, the positioning of a kayak paddle will be pretty different from when you are kayaking, and this grip can be heavy on your hand muscles. 

If you are not yet self-confident enough in your paddling skills and endurance (staying power), we advise against using a kayak paddle to steer your Canoe.

2. Using Kayak Paddles On A Canoe Increases the Chances Of Lower Back Pain

Most paddlers who have used kayak paddles for canoeing have one problem in common: back pains. Canoes have a more open layout than kayaks, allowing paddlers to move about with each stroke. Since your body keeps on slipping to power the boat, you might start to experience soreness in your back which might escalate to severe back pain.

When using a kayak paddle on a canoe, pay close attention to your back and if you feel any soreness or discomfort, switch back to a canoe paddle or a longer and ergonomic kayak handle.

3. Most Kayak Paddles Are Shorter Than Required For Canoeing

Canoes are wider than kayaks, and they require long paddles for appropriate paddling. Most kayak paddles are designed for paddling narrow kayaks, making them shorter than required for canoeing. If you are willing to try using a kayak paddle for your Canoe, ensure you go for a longer paddle that will work on your Canoe. Some paddlers try to make do with the regular kayak paddles and improvise their strokes by leaning forward. This method works, but it can cause strain on your back and muscles; it can also affect the stability of your Canoe by making it rock from side to side.

4. Kayak Paddles Heavier And Less Maneuverable

As expected, a double-bladed paddle will weigh more than a single-bladed canoe paddle of the same quality. This weight difference can impact maneuverability, especially if you are not experienced. When steering your Canoe in choppy waters, it is not recommended to use a kayak paddle.

5. Kayak Paddles Are Bigger And Not Ideal For Paddling In Tight Spaces

If you are handling lots of tight spaces and corners in your canoeing adventure, you are better off using a single-bladed canoe paddle. Kayak paddles are bigger compared to kayak paddles. This size makes the disadvantageous when paddling in tight corners, rapids, or choppy water.

6. Most Times, You Will Need To Carry An Extra Traditional Canoe Paddle

Another disadvantage of using a kayak paddle for your Canoe is that you will need to carry a backup canoe paddle all the time. If you want to save on space and reduce extras on your Canoe, we recommend using a canoe paddle throughout. This way, you won’t stress about carrying an extra paddle for unforeseen situations.

Choosing The Right Paddle For Your Canoe: Top Tips And Tricks

Right Paddle For Your Canoe

Choosing the right paddle for your Canoe isn’t such a challenging task. You only need to deliberate a few factors, and you are good to go. How the paddle feels in your hands is as important as the material of the paddle and its shape. This section features some key considerations when choosing the appropriate canoe paddle.

1. Weight And Material Of The Paddle 

When choosing a canoe paddle, go for the lightest yet best quality paddle you can find. Lighter paddles cause less fatigue and are ideal for paddling long distances. Paddles made from carbon fiber tend to be lightweight and durable without being too expensive. It is important to note that the price of paddles goes up as their weight goes down because the lighter materials are pricier.

Most canoe paddles are made of wood because of their responsiveness and appealing appearance. Some wooden paddles have a fiberglass layer over the blade to improve strength and durability. Some paddles are made of aluminum and plastic; they are affordable but less responsive and comfortable. There are also canoe paddles made of fiberglass, but this type is expensive and rare.

2. Length 

Another crucial factor to consider when choosing a kayak paddle is the length. Paddles, both bent and straight, come in various lengths, and the best paddle length to choose from will depend on your height. Always ensure you measure the paddle against your height before you buy. You can do this by measuring the distance between your legs and your forehead for a straight shaft paddle or the distance between your legs and nose if you want a bent shaft paddle.

3. The Shape Of The Blade

There are two different blade shapes for canoe paddles; the shape you choose should be guided by paddling. The two different shapes are:

1. Beavertail– these blades are long and slender for ease of maneuverability. They are great if you want lots of control. These paddles are meant for deep waters such as lakes and have more power.

2. Sugar Island- these blades have a combination of square tips and teardrop shapes. They are ideal for most flatwater canoeing due to their smooth entry and exit. They can be used for rivers and shallow water.

4. Type Of Grip

canoe paddles have two common types of grips; an ergonomic palm grip and comfortable for long trips and an at-grip is designed for a sure grip and precise control. T-grips are mostly preferred on children’s paddles and whitewater paddling.

5. Type Of Shaft

Canoe paddles come with either straight or bent shafts. Straight shafts are great for all-around paddling and handle rivers and whitewater quite well. Bent shafts are ideal for flatwater paddling and offer maximum efficiency. A bent shaft allows the paddle a smooth entry and exit and ensures your blades remain in the water at the most powerful instance of the stroke.

Wrapping Up

Finding the appropriate paddle to use on your Canoe shouldn’t be a challenging task. But sometimes, when you are switching from a kayak to a canoe, you might want to use your kayak paddle on a canoe. You can use a kayak paddle to Canoe, but you need to look out for lots of things. If you are not a skilled paddler, we advise against using your kayak paddle to Canoe because it might affect your back and muscles. You might also have a hard time maneuvering tight spots. Just find the right canoe paddle and enjoy your Canoe, knowing you are safe and your health is in check.


  • https://www.quora.com/Is-there-any-good-reason-not-to-use-a-kayak-paddle-in-a-canoe
  • https://www.reddit.com/r/canoeing/comments/tr2adw/thoughts_on_using_a_kayak_paddle_in_a_canoe/
  • https://blackwateroutdoor.com/paddle-kayak-with-canoe-paddle/

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