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Kayak Paddle Length – What Size Do I Need? Size Matters!

Mark Armstrong
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Choosing the right size of paddle is important thing to get right when you’re kayaking. Having the wrong length of paddle can affect your ability to move your yak efficiently across the water. It can also be uncomfortable.

To give you a better idea of the length you might need we have put together some information with a few tips on how to choose the right size of paddle for the type of kayaking you want to do.

Kayak Paddle Length - What Size Do I Need - PinterestPin

What Paddle Length Do I Need For My Kayak?

Width Of Your Boat

One of the main considerations to take into account when choosing the right size of paddle is the width of your boat. If your paddle is too short, you will often find yourself hitting the sides of your yak with every stroke you take.

Video: How To Size A Kayak Paddle

On the other hand, if it’s too long, you may find yourself working harder than necessary to move your boat across the water.

In general, wider kayaks will often require longer shafts and narrower kayaks will usually require shorter ones.

Your Height

Another important factor in determining the right length of paddle is your height. Shorter kayakers will, in general, require shorter paddles and if you’re taller you will probably be better with a longer one.

However, it’s usually not quite as simple as that for everyone as it can also depend on the type of kayak you have and the style of your paddling stroke.

Quick Hands-On Method

There is a quick and easy way you can get a general idea of the correct size of paddle you might need and that’s by using a “hands-on” method.

The first thing to do is stand with the paddle next to you, so that one of the blades is on the ground and the other blade is above your head. Reach up with your arm that’s closest to the paddle and put your fingers over the top of the blade so that the first joint in your fingers wraps over the edge.

If more of your fingers can reach over the edge of the blade, the paddle is too short. If you can’t reach over the top of the blade at all, the paddle is too long.

The next thing you can do is to hold your paddle out in front of you and bring your elbows back so that you make a 90 degree angle with your arms. Position your hands so that each hand is around two thirds of the way from the center of the paddle to where the shaft meets the blade.

If you do this and your elbows are not still at 90 degree angles, then the shaft is not the correct size. If the angle of your elbows is greater than 90 degrees, the shaft may be too long for you.

What About Paddle Blade Types (High-Angle Vs. Low-Angle)?

Low Angle

Low angle blades tend to be longer and narrower to perform better for a relaxed, low angle paddling style. This is where your hands remain at a lower position with each stroke, with your top hand remaining no higher than your shoulders.

Low angle blades are often combined with longer shafts, as the blades tend to be further away from the sides of your boat than if you were to use a high angle stroke.

This type of blade can be useful for recreational paddling, fishing and longer distance touring.

High Angle

A high angle blade will usually be shorter and wider than a low angle one and the shaft will often be shorter too. This is to allow for a faster stroke, where your top hands are above your shoulders and the blade remains close to the side of the boat with the shaft at a higher angle.

Video: Low Angle Vs High Angle Paddling

This can tire out your arm and shoulder muscles more quickly than a low angle paddling style. This type of blade and paddling style tends to be more useful in moving water and whitewater where you may need increased power from each stroke.

Your Body Type

Your body type can affect the size of paddle you need. For example, two people can be the same height but can have different leg lengths. This means that not everyone of the same height has the same length of torso.

The length of your torso can help you determine the length of paddle that might suit you best. Because people with a longer torso will generally sit higher in the kayak, with their arms also being higher, this can mean that a longer paddle might be required.

To find out the length of your torso, sit down and measure in a straight line from between your legs to the tip of your nose.

Kayak Paddle Sizing Charts

Sometimes choosing the right size of paddle is not just about your height and the width of your boat. It can also be about the type of paddler you are and/or the type of kayaking you wish to do, for example, fishing or whitewater kayaking.

We have included some charts to help give you a better idea of lengths based on the types of paddling in conjunction with your height and kayak width.

Low Angle Size Chart (Recreational And Fishing)

Kayak Paddle Length Measurement ChartPin

A low angle stroke can be commonly used by recreational paddlers and anglers as it tends to be a more relaxed technique.

High Angle Size Chart (Touring And Sea Kayaks)

High Angle Paddle Size ChartPin

A high angle stroke can be often used for speed and tends to be a more aggressive paddling technique to cover water quickly.

Whitewater Size Chart

Whitewater paddle size chartPin

Whitewater kayakers generally use a shorter paddle for quick, high angle strokes close to the boat for increased control in rough water.

Torso Height Kayak Paddle Sizing Chart

Torso Height Kayak Paddle Sizing ChartPin

The height of your torso can be helpful in determining the correct size and can be more accurate than simply using your overall height.

More on paddles:

In Summary

Using the right size of paddle can be more comfortable and can make it easier to control your boat. It can also mean less fatigue. Remember to think about the width of your kayak as this can often be a main factor in finding the right size. Your torso height and paddling style may also be significant factors.

Hopefully you’ve found this guide helpful and you’ve been able to use some of the information to help you find the right length of paddle. Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment. And if you found this helpful, share it.

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