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Kayak Paddle Sizing | What Size Paddle Do I Need?
Kayak Paddle Length | Size does Matter!
Kayak paddle size does matter! Buying the right kayak paddle and the right size kayak paddle is an often overlooked task for the beginner kayaker. We spend a lot of time looking at kayaks, sitting in them, and adjusting the fit. We buy the helmet and life jackets based on feel and, let's not kid ourselves, by what looks cool. But then when it comes to selecting a paddle, we just buy the paddle the first cheapest paddle that the salesman at big-box 'r us gives us.
When I talk to beginner kayakers I always stress to them that if they want to enjoy the sport they will need to invest in a decent kayak paddle. Sometimes this means buying a less expensive boat so you can buy a better paddle. Paddle size, weight, construction, materials, feather, and blade symmetry, are all things you need to be aware of when buying a kayak paddle. Admittedly, some of those things really don't matter to a beginner and won't benefit the paddling they do starting off. While these are all things you need to consider when buying a kayak paddle, this lens is going to focus on just one thing... what size kayak paddle do I need.
Kayak Paddle Size
What size do I need?
Purchasing the right size kayak paddle isn't as complicated as you think, but it is one of the most important decisions you will make. The size of paddle you need is based on the type of kayaking you will be doing, your height, and the kayak you will be paddling.
What kind of kayaking will you be doing? Are you going to be Whitewater Kayaking? Or Recreational/Touring?
Whitewater Kayak Paddles are shorter because whitewater paddlers takes a high angle more aggressive paddle strokes, whitewater boats are narrower, and the shorter paddle allows for higher stoke rate. Whitewater kayak paddles are typically 188-203cm in length. The taller the paddler the longer paddle is needed (it is further from the water).
Touring/Recreational Kayak Paddles are longer than whitewater paddles. Recreational Kayaking is a more relaxed sport, and most recreational kayaks take a more relaxed low angle paddle stroke. Low angle strokes are easier on the wrists and shoulders allowing the paddler to travel longer distances. 230 cm is the most popular "recreational kayak paddle" size for the average height kayaker. The more aggressive of a paddler you are the shorter the paddle you will want, you will be looking for a 210-220cm paddle. The shorter length paddle will be easier for you to use at a faster cadence.
Low Angle vs High Angle Paddling - Werner Paddles
Check out this video by my friend Danny Mongno from Werner Paddles on Low Angle vs High Angle Paddlling. Danny explains the differences between Low Angle and High Angle paddling styles as well as offering tips on proper kayak stroke technique.
Kayak Paddle Sizing | Kayak Width - Don't forget about width... kayak width that is!
Not only does your height, and your paddling style determine what size kayak paddle you need, but so does the width of your boat. Some kayaks are wider than others and some kayaks are narrower. The wider your kayak the longer the paddle you need, typically kayaks over 29" wide you need to increase your paddle length by 10cm. Use the above kayak paddle size guide to help determine what size kayak paddle you need based on your height and boat width. Remember this is just a guide, not the bible.
Great Kayak Paddles on Amazon
Looking for more Information?
Here are some of my favorite web sites for purchasing kayak paddles and kayak paddle information.
Kayaks.net is the ultimate online kayak shop. Offering kayak paddles from top manufacturers like Werner, Bending Branches, and Aqua Bound. Guaranteed lowest price on the web, and free shipping on all orders over $99!
- Werner Paddles
Werner Paddles - Ultimate Paddle Performance since 1965! Don't forget to check out their interactive Paddle Fit Guide, and Werner TV for more information on the perfect paddle for you.
- Bending Branches Paddles
Bending Branches is the worlds largest manufacturer of kayak paddles. My favorite paddles from Bending Branches are the wood paddles... check them out!
- Kayak Paddle Lengths, the Long and Short of It | How To Articles | GuideLines: Paddling.net
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