How to choose a paddle for a kayak or canoe

using a kayak paddle

This article will help you to know the easiest choice to choose for kayaks or canoe paddles.A suitable paddle for some may not be right for you and vice versa. That is why we provide basic information here.

The kayak paddle is characterized by: length; area, shape and angle of the blades; weight; material; shape and execution of the handle.


The length depends on the angle of rowing, your height and the width of the kayak. With a low rowing style, when you are off the kayak, the paddle is longer. The low rowing style is the most widespread because it is the easiest and most relaxing one. The high style, when you roam near the kayaks, is more efficient and requires a shorter paddle. If your kayak is very wide, and if you are very tall, you will need a longer paddle.

Low rowing angle High angle of rowing


Table for determining the length of the paddle at low rowing angle
 Height of rower kayak width
under 58.4 cm 58.4 – 71.1 cm 71.1 – 81.3 cm over 81.3 cm
under 153 cm 210 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
153 – 168 cm 215 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
168 – 183 cm 220 cm 220 cm 230 cm 250 cm
over 183 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm 250 cm


Determining the length of the paddle at a high rowing angle
 Height of rower kayak width
under 63.5 cm over 63.5 cm
under 155 cm 200 cm 220 cm
155 – 163 cm 205 cm 220 cm
163 – 183 cm 210 – 215 cm 220 cm
over 183 cm 215 – 220 cm 230 cm



The weight of the bucket depends on the material, the length of the handle and the size of the blades.

For example, if you do 60 strokes per minute (each blade dip is a stroke), you will have 3600 strokes per hour, 14,400 strokes for 4 hours, and so on. If the difference in the weight of 2 rakes is 200 grams and every 2 strokes count for weight lifting, then with the lighter paddle you will “lift” in 1 hour 360 kg. less, and for 4 hours – 1440 kg.

Smaller oars use high-tech materials and know-how. The price of the paddle in this sense depends to a large extent on the weight. Whether to give more money for a lighter paddle depends on how you use the kayak. If it’s fun for a short weekend outing, for family fun, when you’re on the beach, fishing, then a heavier paddle will do the trick. However, if you intend to make long and long-term transitions and you can afford your price, do not hesitate! Right after the first day of rowing you will say, “Okay, I got a light paddle.”


The following materials are used: Aluminum, Polyethylene, Polypropylene, ABS, Fiberglass, Carbon and Wood. In some technologies, materials are combined to achieve the optimal compromise. For example, Carlisle Polar has fiberglass reinforced polyethylene blades to achieve a balance between impact resistance, weight and hardness. The weight, strength, hardness and flexibility depend on the material of the paddle. The weight is good to be small and hardness and strength – large and at the same time flexible enough to preserve its shape. These are properties which, in principle, contradict each other. You will know such oars (unfortunately) at the price. Therefore, it is important to decide where and under what conditions you will make the kayak mostly: fast waters or calm rivers; surfing in the surf, playing at rocks or deep waters. Of course,

Area, angle and shape of the blades

The amount of water in the blades depends on the amount of water you will push on each shot. Stronger people and rowers with sporty inclinations prefer large blades. They are generally more efficient because they allow you to move faster at the same rate of rowing. In long transitions, as well as for physically weaker rowers, generally medium and small size blades are recommended.

The shape of the blades is related to how they swirl the water. The shape depends on whether the paddle will enter the water effectively, whether it will go easily and without “removing” water and whether it will stand steadily or play in the water while weighing. The latter occurs, for example, most often in cheap or doubtful origin oars. If the blade has the appropriate asymmetry for the corresponding rowing style (high or low), it will push up the same amount of water with its upper and lower parts, ie. you will not have to hold the handle to hold the blade vertically in the water. And if there is a properly calculated dehydration form so as to “chase” part of the water and not create a destabilizing paddle sweeper, you will be able to rake correctly by simply pulling the paddle with your fingers without squeezing it.

The paddles of most oars are rotatable at 60 degrees one by one. This is done so that when one blade is immersed in the water, the other has almost zero area provided to the wind if it blows counter. Otherwise, rowing is difficult, and a strong wind can even tear off the bucket from your hands. We have paddles where the angle can be adjusted according to your preference and wind.

Asymmetry Dehydrated form Angle of the blades
Asymmetry Dehydrated form Angle of the blades

Form and execution of the handle

There are two types of handle shapes: the traditional straight handle and a bent shaft. The curved handle has entered the market a few years ago and is gaining more and more popularity. The idea is as follows: when you put the paddle into the water, you stretch your hand forward to the kayak’s nose. If all of your fingers hold the handle tightly at this point, you have to bend the wrist to the torso. This results in damage to the wrist. The curved handle lets you keep all your fingers on the bucket without bending your wrist. Therefore, it is suitable for both advanced and absolute beginners who have nowhere and from who to learn the correct technique of rowing with a right paddle.

The handle may be one piece or be divisible. The second is preferable if you take the paddle as a spare paddle on the kayak deck or if you change the angle of the blades, depending on the wind, if a rake is used by different people or if you have a prefabricated / folding/inflatable kayak and transport the oar in the boot.

Row with straight handle Crawler with bent handle
Row with straight handle Row with straight handle

 In conclusion:

The rake is more important than the kayak. It drives and drives your kayak. An incorrectly selected paddle and the wrong rowing technique can cause damage to the wrist or shoulder. In other words, I do not believe that anyone would feel comfortable in the most luxurious car if its wheel is square, right?

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