When it comes to kayaking, choosing the right paddle is as important as selecting the right size for the vessel. Now, which are the things that need to be taken into consideration before buying? This article will detail which are the best length, material, design, and offer recommendations for them so that it’s much easier able to know How To Pick A Kayak Paddle.
How to pick a kayak paddle?
A paddle can have a significant impact on kayaking performance. When it comes to choosing the right model, there are a few things to consider:
This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s important nonetheless. The boat’s width and height will determine the length of the paddle. The wider it is, the longer it will need to be. Another thing that is a factor in choosing the right paddle is the size of the user. Taller paddlers will need longer paddles, so on and so forth. When it comes to size charts, each brand has its own, so it’s important to check them before buying.
If the buyer falls between two paddle sizes, it’s recommendable for them to use a shorter model since either of them would work but this would help them save money. Someone who is proportioned with a shorter torso would be better off with a longer paddle, mainly because the added reach will be more useful for them. On the other hand, when it comes to low and high angle paddles, there are different ways to do the strokes, but more on that later.
The top hand staying below the shoulder level allows a low-angle stroke by slightly tilting the shaft. This one is perfect for recreational kayaking in flat water. Then, there’s the high-angle stroke, where a more tilted shaft and close-to-boat blade path provide the kayaker with more speed. Since the stroke is both precise and fatiguing, it requires a shorter paddle and a wider blade than the one that would normally be used for a low-angle stroke. The following chart is for low-angle paddling and it gives an idea of what the sizes would be for a paddle that belongs to the Werner brand:
Paddle length guide
- 210 cm (Boat width under 23″); 220 cm (23″ to 28″); 230 cm (28″ to 32″) and 240 cm (Over 32″).
- 215 cm (Boat width under 23″); 220 cm (23″ to 28″); 230 cm (28″ to 32″) and 240 cm (Over 32″).
- 220 cm (Boat width under 23″); 220 cm (23″ to 28″); 230 cm (28″ to 32″) and 250 cm (Over 32″).
- 220 cm (Boat width under 23″); 230 cm (23″ to 28″); 240cm (28″ to 32″) and 250 cm (Over 32″).
Materials and Price
When it comes to materials, lower weight means an equally low cost but a high performance. A lighter blade reduces fatigue, mainly because the paddler tends to raise it higher than the shaft. On the other hand, different materials mean different ways to transfer energy to the stroke, so the paddler needs to be careful while selecting them.
Plastic or nylon blades are the least expensive and are often used by recreational paddlers since it is said that they’re incredibly resistant. However, it can crack and they degrade when left in the sun. Flexibility is one of the advantages of using this material, although it diminishes the efficiency of the stroke.
Fiberglass blades are next on the list of the most affordable ones, mainly because they’re in the middle of the price range, often offering great performance and durability. They’re also more light than their plastic counterparts and they don’t usually crack all the way through, despite the possibility of them chipping. However, rigid fiberglass blades are one of the most efficient in the water. On the other hand, carbon-fiber blades are the most expensive of them all, but the high energy strokes, performance and lightness it provides will be worth every penny.
Now, when it comes to the shaft, it’s rare to find those who are made of plastic. Aluminum is the most affordable and serviceable, despite the fact it can get extremely hot or cold, prompting the paddler to wear gloves beforehand. The carbon and fiberglass shafts are the most durable and lightweight of all, creating the most efficient option when combined with an equally lightweight blade. This might get pricy but the performance will make it worth the while.
The most common blade design is the asymmetrical dihedral, which is relatively narrow and shorter on one side, providing a uniform stroke. Its dihedral counterpart can be spotted by the rib down its center, which allows the water to flow smoothly on both halves. Blades without this design are more fluttery and difficult to use when tracking straight.
On the other hand, narrower blades are the most comfortable for long stretches of paddling, which makes them helpful during a full-day tour and a multiday trip. Finally, wider blades provide quick and powerful strokes, often preferred by kayaking surfers. There are even specialized fishing blades that include a J-shaped notch to retrieve fishing lines and hooks.
When it comes to the shaft, two and four-pieces can be broken down for easier storage. Those with a small diameter have a less fatiguing grip for paddlers with small hands. Now, when it comes to choosing whether straight or bent shafts, the latter has a section that position hands at a more comfortable angle during the stroke, minimizing joint fatigue.
The boat’s width and height, as well as the size of the paddler, will have an impact on which will be the best option for them. If they fall between two scales, it’s recommendable to use a shorter model, whereas longer ones can work wonders for those who are proportioned with a shorter torso, mainly because of the added reach it provides.
On the other hand, lightweight materials provide a lower cost and high performance, although carbon-fiber blades will be worth every penny due to their durability. The asymmetrical dihedral design is very common, although narrower blades are more comfortable.