What Size of Kayak Paddle Do You Need? (and How To Choose One?)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: May 25, 2021
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Kayaking is an ideal way of getting outside and is one way to obtain thrilling experience outdoors. The paddle has a significant effect on water performance because; tours that are short distance require numerous strokes. Therefore, the right propel choice will bring a lot of distinction during kayaking. Also, the blade paddle size and shape will affect your overall competence of the boat.

Besides, a kayak paddle has an extended shaft with the rowing blade attached on either end. When resting, the paddle lies across the kayak, but as you paddle your kayak, you need to balance and rock your grip along the shaft to dip each blade in the water and pull it through the current in turn. Moreover, you need to familiarize yourself with the parts and the design used in making a paddle because they determine the performance of the boat.

Luckily, these write up will enlighten you on all you need to know about a kayak paddle. Therefore, keep reading for more insight and knowledge before buying a kayak paddle.

What Size Kayak Paddle Do I Need?

Look at the following kayak paddle sizing chart to choose the ideal length:

Kayak paddle size chart

Height of the paddlerWidth of the kayak
 Under 23²23² to 27.9²28² to 32²Over 32²
Under 5¢200 cm210 cm220 cm230 cm
5¢to 5¢6²210 cm220 cm230 cm240 cm
5¢7² to 6¢220 cm220 cm230 cm240 cm
Over 6¢220 cm230 cm240 cm250 cm

The ideal paddle is a very crucial element to consider if you want to have a pleasant day on the water. The energy that you will use during kayaking will highly depend on your kayak paddle size. For example, if you decide to use a paddle that is very short or excessively elongated, you will overwork yourself to create the necessary momentum and maintain the kayak on the pathway. Also, a long shaft will blister your hands and make you very exhausted.

Paddle length

 The paddle length will depend on your personal build and kayak width.

  • Personal Build

The height of your body will not influence the paddle size that you want. However, the size of your torso length will manipulate the distance between the water and you in the kayak. For example, if your torso is more prolonged, your paddle should be longer to gather for the distance added. Advisedly, you should sit in your kayak while measuring your upper body, to know the distance from your nose to the top of the seat.

  • Kayak Width

The kayak size you choose should be based on the anticipated use. For example, kayak for entertainment and fishing tends to be wider to enable for its strength and stability while kayak for fast-moving and tours are narrow for improved paddling performance. The wider the kayak, the longer paddle you’re going to need.

Paddle Shaft Diameter

The diameter of a paddle shaft you pick will depend on the size of your hands. For example, if your hands are small, select a smaller shaft diameter. Consequently, it would be best if you went for a kayak that fits well in your hands to avoid blistering your hands as well as overworking yourself. You should also consider using paddle gloves on your kayak trips because if your hands are wet and you are paddling without gloves, you will develop blisters.

  • Bent Paddle Shaft

The kayak with curved design enables comfort and efficiency by offering additional contact among the paddle and your hand, therefore reducing the unnecessary movements of the paddle when in hand.

How to Choose Kayak Paddles?

The paddle that you opt for will affect the performance you will have on the water. Therefore, you go for an excellent paddle if you want to have an enjoyable kayaking trip. For you to choose the right kayak paddle, consider the following factors:

  • Length
  • Materials
  • Blade design
  • Shaft design


The boat height and width will influence the length of the paddle. Choosing the ideal length size is very easy since; if your boat is wider, choose a longer paddle and vice versa. Also, the height of your body will determine the length of the paddle; if you are tall, then you will need to go for longer paddles and vice versa.

Besides, choose a tweener size that is shorter because it will enable you to save you a few ounces. Also, if you want to use your paddle for leisure in flat water, then the low and high angle paddles are ideal for you.


The materials used in manufacturing a kayak are lightweight to improve the performance of your boat, though it adds to the paddle price.

  • Blade materials

Diverse blade materials differ in the transfer of energy to your strokes. For example, if you raise your blade high than your shaft, you will not get tired easily because of the lightweight materials.

Plastic blades

You should go for plastic blades if you want to use it for recreational purposes since they are low in price. However, you should not expose these plastic materials to the sun to prevent it from fracturing.

Fiberglass blades

The blades made from fiberglass are long-lasting, give you better performance, and are not expensive to acquire. Though they are lightweight, it may fragment but not fracture as compared to plastic. Purposely, go for stiff blades made from fiberglass since; they are proficient in the water.

Carbon fiber blades

You should go for carbon-fiber blades if you are not financially limited because they offer top performance. This material is ultra-light and ultra-stiff for exceptional transfer of energy with each stroke.

  • Shaft materials

Aluminum is shaft material that is durable, serviceable, and wallet-friendly; therefore, it is worth it for you to purchase. On the other hand, you should go for carbon and fiberglass shafts that are sturdy, lightweight, and long-lasting.

Moreover, if you pair carbon and fiberglass beam resources with whichever of the above, not massive blade resources, you will have the most not substantial and capable paddle option.

Blade Design

The blade paddle shape and size will influence the general competence of the boat in the water. Nowadays, the paddle blades come in an asymmetrical dihedral shape, which is moderately short and thin on one side. This shape angles it to create a uniform float up of the blade in the water.

Moreover, your blade can be marked using the shred down its center to permit the water to flow easily and uniformly over individual halves of the blade. However, the blades devoid of this flap more, thus making it very difficult to trail straight.

Furthermore, narrow blades are efficient for a whole day or multiday tour since it enables lengthy paddling stretches. Besides, wider blades perform strokes rapidly, thus facilitates you to pick up the pace quickly. Also, other particular blades for fishing come in J-shaped indentation in the blade to get back trapped fishing tackles.

Shaft Design

The paddle shafts are very crucial when choosing a paddle since it permits you to spin them to be matched. A rodcan be bent or straight, depending on your needs. Bent tube paddles eliminate fatigue in the joints and provide more comfort to your hands, thus progresses the paddling efficiency.

Furthermore, the shaft comes in four or two-piece, made to give out a more accessible storeroom. Also, four-piece shaft models have shorter segments; therefore, well, if you are thinking about going for a hike with a portable kayak. Apart from these, shafts also come in small diameter, thus offering less tiring grip for you if you have small hands.

How to Use and Hold a Kayak Paddle?

The way you hold and use the paddle will affect the energy you use and how you navigate the boat. Below are the steps to follow when holding and using the paddle in your boat.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the structure of the kayak paddle since; it has two blades close to the paddle shaft. During kayaking exercise, the propel part that you hold is a shaft, and the parts that offer you support when pulling is the blade.

Step 2: You should hold the paddle 40 cm apart using both hands.

Step3: Ensure that your paddle face the right direction because many beginners tend to make a mistake on which direction the boat is moving to when kayaking.

Step 4: Since many paddles are asymmetrical, you should ensure that the paddle is right to be right side up.; the paddle blade has a bottom and topside. Also, the design of the paddle determines how you hold since the propel top is more horizontal than its base. Moreover, some paddles have even writing on the paddle to remind you of how to keep the paddle appropriately.

Step 5: You should ensure that the blade is in line with your knuckles.

Step 6: Next, ensure that your body is 30 cm away when holding the proper.

 Step 7: You should be well conversant with your grip control. For example, your control grip will be held by your right hand if you are right-handed. Still, your control grips will be held by your left hand if you are left-handed. Also, when paddling, let the paddle revolve and change position in your hand to facilitate each paddle in entering the water effortlessly.

Step 8: Finally, when kayaking, your paddle should be firmly pushed to enable you to go more quickly and prevent it from going too deep.

Proper Technique for Paddling a Kayak

Final Thought

While choosing and purchasing a kayak paddle, you need to put in mind that the main goal is comfort ability when paddling your kayak. In the market, there are many kayak paddles; therefore, pick one that meets your desires to ensure that you have a pleasant day on the water.

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