How to Choose a Kayak Paddle From Real Experience

After your kayak, the paddle is the next most important thing that has a big impact on your kayaking performance and your experience on the water. While there are many paddles out in the market, almost all of them can get you moving. But having the right paddle can make your kayaking so much easy and enjoyable. It matter what kind of kayak paddle you get, if your paddle is too short, your hands will hit the wall of the kayak and if it’s too long, it will put an additional strain in your body and make you exhausted. That’s why choosing the right kayak is very important.

With so many options out in the market, it must be a hassle to choose the perfect paddle right? That’s why we are here with an in-depth guide to help you out with your choice of the paddle. In this guide, we will talk about the category, the right size of the paddle, the blade shape and everything you need to consider before getting your paddle.

So, let’s get started.

What Size of Kayak Paddle Do I Need?

When you are getting a new paddle for your kayak, the first question you need to ask yourself is, “What size of kayak paddle do I need?” The size of the paddle is the most important concern when buying a paddle. The paddle is too short? You’ll have to bend down to make it reach the water. The paddle is too long? Rotating each blade will be much more exhausting. And this incorrect sized paddle will result in giving you less control while paddling. So, how do you determine the size of your paddle?

What you need to consider to determine the size of your paddle are-

  1. Your Height
  2. Kayak Width

Your height is the first thing you need to look at while sizing your paddle. Generally, if you belong to the shorter group, then you should use a short paddle and if you are quite tall, go for a long paddle. Let’s give you an idea of how to determine the size of your paddle according to your height.

Your Height

Paddle Length

Over 6ft 1 inch

196cm to 204cm

5ft 8inch to 6ft 1 inch

192cm to 200cm

5ft 2 inch to 5ft 8inch

190cm to 196cm

Under 5ft 2 inch

188cm to 194cm

Now the next thing you need to keep in mind is the width of your kayak. Generally, the rule is the wider the kayak the longer the paddle. If you have a recreational kayak, be it a sit-in kayak or sit on top type, you’ll need a longer kayak as they are the widest one in the market. Besides, in sit on top kayaks, the seats are on a higher position which require a longer paddle than usual. Touring kayaks are the narrowest kayaks in the market which require short paddles. Let’s give you an idea of how to determine the size of your paddle according to the width of your kayak.

Kayak Width

Below 23’’

From 24’’ to 28’’

From 29’’ to 33’’

Over 34”

Paddler height

Characteristic 1

Characteristic 1

Characteristic 1

Characteristic 1

Over 6ft





5ft 5inch to 5ft 11inch





Under 5ft 5inch





Now you have got the answer to your question, “What size of kayak paddle do I need?” right?

Which Blade I Should Go For?

The next thing you need to consider after determining the size of your paddle is the shape of the blade of your paddle. The shape of the blade depends mostly on your paddling style. There are basically 2 styles of paddling-

High Angle Paddling:

High angle paddling style is comparatively the more aggressive style of paddling. It is used for generation powerful strokes. If you are someone who’s fond of this style, then you have to go for a short and wide paddle which is designed for creating powerful strokes.

Low Angle Paddling: 

Low angle paddling style is the most common type of paddling. It is a relaxed type of paddling. This paddling style is used for a recreational tour or a relaxed experience on the water. It’s not as powerful as high angle paddling but it’s less tiring. If you prefer low angle paddling style, then you have to go for a longer paddle which is comfortable to use.

How to Choose the Shaft?

The size and shape of the shaft are equally important when you are choosing your paddle. So, let’s help you choose the shaft.


Shafts come in different diameters. Most paddlers are okay with the standard shaft size. But if you have comparatively smaller hands then you must go for the smaller ones. So that it will put less pressure and won’t tire you out easily.

Shape- Straight or Bent: 

Straight shafts are usually common among paddlers because they tend to be less expensive. But they don’t provide much comfort in your paddling as bent shafts do. If you do padding often then bent shafts will be better for you as they keep your hands in a neutral position and are much more comfortable. But they can be a bit expensive.


Shafts mostly come in aluminum or fiberglass and carbon fiber. Aluminum shafts are common and cheap but they can be uncomfortable in too much cold or too much hot weather as the temperature of aluminum tends to change easily. But the fiberglass and carbon fiber both are ideal in all types of weather and they are likely to be light-weighed and more comfortable. But you have to pay a lot for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are kayak paddles offset?

If you are in the middle of harsh weather, keeping your kayak paddles offset will help you skip the wind resistance. Besides, it will max out your efficiency and speed. Now you know the answer to, “why are kayak paddles offset?”

Which blade material is the best?

If the budget is not a concern, then carbon fiber is the best for blades as they are the most light-weighed and comfortable.

In short, to choose your kayak paddle, you have to determine the length, the size, and shape of the blade, the size, shape, and material of your shaft. When you are done choosing the factors, you can go for the one that has all the factors and is right on your budget.

Final Verdict

Now it’s up to you, What type of paddles you choose. Just keep in mind when it comes to choose kayak paddle size matter. Hopefully, this will help you to choose a best kayak paddle for you.