How To Buy A Kayak Paddle
Knowing how to buy a kayak paddle that works for you is a matter of balancing length, blade shape, paddling style and type of boat you’ll be paddling. A double-bladed paddle is measured by blade length and width, shaft length and total paddle length. On-line suppliers have a wide variety of paddles you can order, but you’ll want to know exactly what you want first.
What You Need:
- Tape measure
- Sample paddles for test fitting
- Your kayak
- Measure your height. You’ll want to add or subtract a few inches depending on the length of your torso. If you have short legs and a long torso, add two to three inches to your height. If you have long legs and short torso, subtract a few inches.
- Determine the proper broad range for a paddle for someone of your adjusted height from step one. Paddlers under 5’2” should select a paddle between 188 to 194 centimeters. Paddlers between 5’0” and 5’8” should select a paddle between 191 and 197 centimeters. Paddlers over 5’6” should select a paddle between 194 and 200 centimeters.
- Measure the width of your kayak just in front of the cockpit. Select toward the higher end of the range if you have a wide boat over 25 inches wide. Choose a paddle toward the lower end of the range indicated above if your boat is under 22 inches wide. Select from the middle of the range if the boat is 22 to 25 inches wide. The paddle must reach the water from the center position.
- Select a blade shape that suits your style of paddling. If you paddle so that the shaft is at a low angle, you’ll need a longer, narrower blade. If you tend to paddle so that the blade strikes at a high angle, you’ll want a shorter and wider blade for better control. If you’re somewhere in the middle, choose a blade that is a compromise between long and narrow and short and wide.
- Test fit paddles of the length determined in steps one to three above. Go to a store that sells double-bladed paddles and select one of the length indicated. Grasp the paddle shaft a little more than shoulder width apart. Hold it over your head with the exact center resting on top of your head. Your elbows should form a 90 degree angle. Your hands ought to be about two hand widths from the throat of each blade, where the blade meets the shaft. If you have a high paddling style, you’ll have a shorter blade and the throat may be a bit farther than two hands because of the shorter blade style. If you use a low angle style, the throat may be closer to your hands because the blade is longer.
- Select a material you like. Double-bladed paddles are made of wood, aluminum and plastic, exotic alloys or carbon-fiber. The material you choose is a balance of factors such as weight, strength, durability and beauty. Wood’s the prettiest, aluminum is light, alloys and carbon fiber paddles tend to be stronger.
- Now simply shop in a paddlesports shop or outfitter or on-line supplier for a paddle with your ideal blade style and with a shaft that is a comfortable length and made of the material you prefer. Select a paddle that has the feathering style you. Feathering is the degree to which the blades are offset from each other and can be anywhere from 30 to 90 degrees to allow for reduced wind drag by the paddle blade that’s out of the water and being recovered forward.