Selecting the size of a kayak paddle is essential and makes a whole lot of difference while on water. Using a paddle that’s slightly longer or shorter than it should tend to make kayaking much more stressful, thus kayak paddles should be correctly and adequately sized to ensure the best experience on water.
This article is therefore for basically just that: measuring a kayak paddle.
Essence Of Sizing A Paddle
Some say a kayak paddle is like an extension of the kayaker’s hand. Treating it as such, we must have complete control at all times and with ease to be able to use them efficiently. Sizing a kayak helps in selecting the perfect paddle for both your body structure and your kayak size.
Kayaking with a paddle longer than it should lead to a whole lot of unpleasant experiences. First off, you tend to exert extra energy building more speed in the kayak. In using the right paddle, you can easily attain a certain speed due to the perfect reach and control you get.
Maintaining stability in kayaks is also really difficult when a longer paddle is used. This instability puts you at risk as your kayak can easily capsize, also, your hand moves along the shaft which generates blisters especially if the shaft is made of wood or iron making kayaking very uncomfortable.
A short kayak, on the other hand, destabilize the kayak as you have to move more from left to right while paddling in order to make contact with the water.
What Size Works Best?
Selecting a kayak paddle is almost as challenging as selecting a kayak itself, and as always, some factors must be considered to get the right kayak for you.
Professional kayakers can attest to the fact that even the littlest variation in the size of a paddle blade can have noticeable effects. Bigger blades tend to add more weight to the paddle thereby effectively reducing the speed.
Using the same effort, a kayaker with a smaller blade size would go faster than one with a larger blade size.
Feather angle represents the twist from one blade relative to another blade. It is a major factor to consider when selecting a kayak paddle, most of the sea kayak paddles available have adjustable ferrules that allow you to set any feather angle you want from 0 – 90 degrees. Left or right in fifteen-degree increments. This provides the choice to change the feather angle to any angle that suits you.
Blade style deals with the variations of the ratio of blade length to width. High angle paddles which have wide blades are most efficient for every grade of kayakers. They are more forgiving of mistakes made during turning and bracing.
Most cases of kayaks capsizing are caused by mistakes made from misjudging the blade angle to the surface of the water. The high angle paddles reduce the risk of such cases even if this error occurs.
For similar reasons, wide blades also tend to make rolling easier. Although an expert can do anything with any paddle regardless of the style, we all can’t be experts.
Paddle Shaft Diameter
As stated above, shaft diameter is one of the most important considerations to make when selecting a kayak paddle. This is because if you get a paddle with a shaft that does not fit comfortably in your hand, it would be extremely difficult to use.
Kayakers with smaller hands should consider selecting paddles with smaller shaft diameters. For those kayakers with bigger hands, a kayak with a slightly bigger diameter would suit you perfectly. Selecting a kayak with an inappropriate shaft diameter can lead to blisters.
Bent Paddle Shaft
We all at some point must have seen a bent paddle shaft and immediately felt the paddle was broken. Some paddle shafts are intentionally designed with a bend and for good reason.
Bent shaft kayak paddles consist of several bends on either side of each hand grip area making the shaft look something like the crankshaft in an engine. Some people actually call it the crankshaft paddle and rightly so.
The bend increases contact between your hand and the paddle, improving comfort and effectively reducing movement of the paddle within your grip. It also keeps your wrist better aligned with your forearm at the beginning of your forward stroke. A lot of science for just a couple of bends, right?
This is the most important factor to consider in choosing a paddle and also answers the question “what is the best size for a kayak paddle?”
Paddle size should be chosen by considering the length of your torso and the width of the kayak; like the math bros would say, paddle size is a function of torso size and kayak width. The longer your torso and the more width of your kayak, the longer the paddle length to choose.
Measuring your torso length is quite easy, you just have to take note of the length from the top of the kayak seat to your nose.
Some torso size and their corresponding paddle length are shown below:
|Torso Height||Paddle Length Range|
|24″||180cm – 200cm|
|26″||190cm – 200cm|
|28″||200cm – 220cm|
|30″||210cm – 230cm|
|32″||220cm – 240cm|
|34″||230cm – 250cm|
|36″||240cm – 250cm|
How To Measure A Kayak Paddle
Sizing a kayak paddle might be a little bit difficult but it’s a really necessary process to carry out in choosing the best kayak paddle.
A paddle used mostly for average-sized recreational kayaks is mostly about 230cm in length, for an average-sized person but if you wish to measure the paddle yourself you would have to try it out on the water.
The best way to measure on the water is to hold the paddle in a horizontal position with your hand being about two-third of the way between the paddle shaft center and the shoulder of the blade. The kayak size should also be considered.
Using a shorter bend shaft kayak paddle tends to give extra comfort while kayaking. A kayak paddle with a double blade is mostly longer than other paddles with a length of about 250 – 270cm. These paddles keep you drier since the action of the blades on the water is relatively far from you but it’s much more heavy and tiresome, it’s also difficult to control.
The perks of measuring your kayak paddle can’t be overstated as it’s a major factor in selecting a suitable paddle.
Make sure to drop all questions and inquiries in the comments section.