How to Select a Kayak Paddle? Easy Tips for all Kayakers

Are you wondering how to select a kayak paddle? Don’t worry; I am about to show you exactly that. But before we get in there, here is what I’d love you to know.

Apart from choosing the right kayak for your use, choosing the right kayak paddle is equally important. It helps you to have great kayaking experience and comes with some pretty cool benefits.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Easy paddling experience
  • Less exhaustion around the wrist
  • Affordable kayak accessories

Whatsoever the benefits that you need, it is important to have the right kayak and an ideal kayak paddle for the same. Here is how to select the right kayak paddle for your use.

How to Select a Kayak Paddle

To select the right paddle for your kayak, there are several factors that you should consider. In this section, I am going to give you the most vital ones.

Paddle Size

The first thing that you want to work with is the right size of the paddle. As such, paddle sizing plays a very key role. The right size revolves around finding the right kayak length, which is suitable for your needs. To get the right length for your kayak’s paddle, these three things will play a very key role.

  • The kayak’s width
  • Your height
  • Type of kayaking

So what happens when the paddle length of your kayak isn’t the right one for you? Well, if this is the case, the following will happen.

  • A short kayak paddle will mean constant banging of the hands-on the kayak sides
  • A short kayak again means that you’ll find it hard to reach the water using the paddle
  • Longer paddles, on the other hand, are heavy and will leave you feeling quite exhausted
  • Longer paddles may mean paddle strokes that are far away from the boat

NOTE: Heavy kayak paddles come with excess weight and length. A combination of these two will exert more strain around your hand and shoulders. As such, you’ll increase the risk of getting injured.

When the strokes are further from your kayak, you will most likely go in a zig-zag rather than traveling straight. This adds up to a much more challenging kayaking experience rather than a smooth ride.

What Now?

Luckily for you, kayaks come with a size chart. I have included that size chart to enable you to find the right paddle for your kayaking needs. Here we explain those points, which are essential to know.

Kayak Paddle Blade Materials

The next factor that’s very important is the material that the kayak paddle blade is made from. For this same factor, the weight comes so much into play too.

If the material that’s used is light, it’ll help you to enjoy a greater fatigue reduction. In addition to that, different blade materials will also differ in how they transmit energy to your stroke.

Plastic/Nylon Blades

This is a low-priced material. It is common for recreational paddlers. However, it can sometimes crack and will degrade when left under the sun. Plastic is, however, flexible, which is a good thing as it can prevent some form of snapping, but that may sacrifice the efficiency of your stroke.

Fiberglass Blades

This is the middle range material. It offers excellent performance and comes with an awesome sense of durability. The material is light in weight than the plastic. However, it might chip but won’t crack from one end to the next. A rigid fiberglass blade is very efficient when in use.

Carbon-Fiber Blades

If you want a top-dollar performance, then going with the carbon-fiber is the best option. The material is truly ultralight and ultra-stiff. It has an excellent energy transfer and works quite well with every stroke that you take.

NOTE: In general terms, “plastic” here means several variations such as that of the “polymer” or “polypropylene,” and might again mean plastic blends that are infused with fiberglass or nylon too. The term “composite,” on the other hand, is the catchall term that you can use to refer to carbon-fiber and again fiberglass.

Shaft Materials

Another important player when it comes to how to select a kayak paddle is the material from which the shaft is made.

Like you may have guessed, we have plastic shafts, which are very rare, and aluminum shafts, which are the most wallet-friendly shafts. Aluminum shafts are again durable and very much serviceable.

However, the only downside to the aluminum shaft is that they can get really cold or very hot. Luckily for you, there are hand gloves that you can wear before you grab it.

The final materials from which paddle shafts are made of is carbon and fiberglass. These are both durable, light in weight, and strong.

NOTE: if you pair any of these shafts with other lightweight composite materials for the blade can easily give you a lightweight and highly efficient paddle.

Kayak Blade Design

The design of the kayak’s blade is equally very important. Today, most blades feature an asymmetrical dihedral type of shape.

The asymmetrical blade comes with a relatively narrow and even shorter side on a single side. This design will angle it so that the surface area that the blade comes with is much more uniform when the blade pushes through the waves.

A dihedral blade again has a rib down the center, which enables water to freely, evenly, and smoothly flow over both its halves. This is unlike the blades that don’t have this feature and, as such, flutter more.

The dihedral blades are lighter and narrower blades. As such, they are comfortable and work for long stretches easily. The wider blades will give you quick and powerful strokes, which enable you to accelerate faster.

Kayak Shaft Design

Next, the design of the shaft is also very crucial. When it comes to this, we have several types of shafts.

  • Straight Shaft
  • Bent Shaft
  • Two-piece shaft
  • Four-piece shaft

The Bent-shaft paddle comes with a “kinked” section for positioning your hands/ for holding. As such, they eliminate any form of discomfort around the joints. The straight shaft has no kinked section at all.

The two and four-piece shafts, on the other hand, are both designed to provide you with an easy breakdown and easy storage. A four-piece shaft has a shorter section. Even so, the two types of kayaks remain with the same performance.

Blade Feathering

Finally, you can either choose a feathered or un-feathered blade. Un-feathered blades are usually aligned to each other while feathered blades aren’t. Instead, they have a slight offset that comes at an angle with each other and helps to reduce wind resistance around the blade, which sits outside the water.

How Do You Paddle a Kayak Straight?

To paddle your kayak straight, you need to engage your core and then twist your torso so that you can lean forward.

Follow this by putting your paddle blade into the water fully. Keep it near your own feet. And then pull back into your seat using the blade.

Next, remove the paddle from the water and paddle the other side. As the kayak begins to move, you can use the paddle lightly into the water to prevent it from straying off its course.

NOTE: Using the longer strokes from near your feet right to your seat gives you the best way to move forward. Guiding the kayak using the paddle, on the other hand, while switching sides gives you the straight movement. If you don’t do that, you’ll keep moving in a circle.

How Do You Paddle Backwards Straight?

When you want to paddle your kayak backward but in a straight line, you just need to forward stroke but now in reverse.

So set the kayak paddle inside the water and at your seat and then push it towards your own feet before then removing the paddle and again switching the sides.


So are you still wondering how to select a kayak paddle? I hope you’ve got your answer already. Selecting the right paddle for your kayaking style is very important. However, with so many designs out there today, having the right knowledge before you choose your best kayak is really important.

Make sure that you’ve understood your style of riding first before you make any move. More importantly, you must ensure that you have mastered the skill too. Without this knowledge, it might be hard settling for the right paddle for your kayak.

Upon choosing an ideal model, you should take proper care of it too. This is how you ensure that your kayak paddle lasts longer. Make sure that you’ve stored them properly when they aren’t in use and that they are fixed in case they break or chip.

In addition to that, you should follow the user manual to ensure that you end up with great user experience.

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