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How To Choose A Kayak Paddle?

Choose a Kayak Paddle
Written by Derrick Riley
Last Update: August 14, 2023

The benefits of kayaking are indescribable. If you have already bought you a new kayak, it’s time to choose a paddle. Your performance on the water depends to a large extent on the efficiency of your kayak paddles. You will need to use it as long as you are on your kayak in order to keep you in a stable position. So, you must think twice before buying one.

Here, we have attached some criteria that you can consider when choosing the best kayak paddle for you. You can prioritize your list depending on your preference. So, let’s have a look at them:

Types & Sizes

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Types of paddles

Before you choose a paddle, it’s essential to know about different types of paddles. Here are some widely known paddle types you can choose from:

  • Performance kayak paddles- for those who seek for lightweight, excellent and latest kayak paddling innovations.
  • Touring kayak paddles- comfortable for a full long day on the water.
  • Recreational kayak paddles- good for short trips with family or friends for fishing or trip.
  • Whitewater kayak paddles-perfect for rugged condition of whitewater use.


Paddle length and size

The length of your paddle should be selected according to the width of your boat. The larger your boat is the longer paddle you will require. If you are tall, you should longer paddles likewise. These two factors are needed to determine the paddle length. You should go through the specifications of different brands to know about their length.

We would suggest you to pick shorter size, if you are confused between two sizes. This will certainly prevent you from putting more effort.

You should also select between low and high-angled paddles. Low-angle focuses on recreational kayaking with relaxation. Here, your top hand remains below the shoulder level and strokes are made with the shaft being only slightly tilted. On the other hand, high-angle paddles need more shafts comparatively and offer more speed. You have to stroke properly and with shorter paddle and wider blade compared to low-angle strokes.

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The size of paddles you will need in accordance to the kayak paddle types are:

  • Recreational kayak: width of 26” to 30”
  • Touring kayak: width of 22” to 25”
  • Performance kayak: width of 19” to 22”
  • Whitewater kayak: matches with any paddler’s height.



Blade materials

When selecting the materials, you should watch over the weight and price of the material. As blades are raised higher than the shaft, lightweight materials should be more preferred. Plastic or nylon blade is used for the recreational paddlers as it costs less. But it may not be durable enough. Fiberglass blades are neither cheap nor expensive. It is more lightweight, durable and powerful than plastic. On the contrary, carbon-fiber blades are the fanciest, ultra light and offer top-notch performance.

Shaft materials

The most common budget-friendly and solid material for shaft is aluminum. Be careful to use it in different weathers. Wear gloves when it is cold, and keep it in cool places when it is hot. Carbon and fiberglass shafts are also considerable materials that is said to be lightweight and sturdy. You can make a pair with any of these shaft materials with either of those lightweight composite blade materials to create an inexpensive, most lightweight and useful paddle.

Blade design

Recently, most paddles come with asymmetrical dihedral shape which is shorter on one side and also more précised. It is made in a way that the surface area of the blade goes well with pushing through the water.

Dihedral blade can be differentiated by the rib down its center. You can use it without any hassles as it allows stable flow of water and evenly over both halves of the blade. It has flutter that lets you track straight.

Narrower blades being lightweight are more easy to use for long stretches of paddling and wider blades are good for strong strokes.

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Shaft design

Shaft designs are both straight and bent. While straights are average, bent-shaft paddles are positioned to make powerful strokes more simple and comfortable. Another category is two-piece and four-piece shaft. They are formed for simpler storage with variations in the size of the sections. Four-piece have shorter sections compared to the two-pieces. Small-diameter shafts for people with short hands and need paddles so that they can grip easily.


Between feathered and matched blades, matched are more uniformed with each other. Feathered are created to prevent wind resistance as they are at an angle to each other. Mostly all paddles lets you rotate them to be matched or feathered. You can also adjust the amount of feathering.
These are the factors you should consider before deciding on a kayak paddle. Also, you need to know about the safety rules of kayaking with a paddle. Hopefully, we have been able to make your buying decision simpler and effective. Hurry up, grab your kayak paddle and go for a thrilling ride!

About the author

Derrick Riley

I’m Derrick in my early 40s, but planning to bag from every saltwater source in America. In practice, I’ve explored over a dozen bodies of water that hosted almost all of the saltwater game fish. My personal favorites are brook trout and striped bass though. I don’t mind catching bluegill and white crappie either.

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