Kayak Paddle Length: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Size

paddle length

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Kayaking is a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors, but choosing the right gear can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the length of your kayak paddle. The right paddle length can make a big difference in your performance and overall experience on the water. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the perfect kayak paddle length.

Key Takeaways:

To determine the correct length, consider your height, the type of kayaking you’ll be doing, the width of your kayak, and your personal preferences. As a general rule, taller kayakers will need longer paddles, while shorter kayakers will require shorter paddles. Recreational kayakers may want to choose a shorter paddle, while touring kayakers may prefer a longer paddle for more power and efficiency. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for paddle length based on the width of your kayak. Experiment with different paddle lengths to find the one that feels most comfortable for you.

The first thing to consider is your height. As a general rule, taller kayakers will need longer paddles, while shorter kayakers will require shorter paddles. To determine your paddle length, stand up straight and hold the paddle vertically next to your body. The top of the paddle blade should be level with your wrist.

The next thing to consider is the type of kayaking you’ll be doing. If you’re planning to do more recreational kayaking, you may want to choose a shorter paddle that is easy to maneuver. On the other hand, if you’re planning to do more touring or long-distance kayaking, a longer paddle will provide more power and efficiency.

The width of your kayak is also an important factor to consider. The wider your kayak, the longer your paddle should be to reach the water. If you’re unsure, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for paddle length based on the width of your kayak.

Finally, consider your personal preferences and comfort level. Some kayakers prefer a longer paddle for more power, while others prefer a shorter paddle for better control. You may need to experiment with different paddle lengths to find the one that feels most comfortable for you.

Check Paddle vs Oar differences


Factors to Consider When Choosing Kayak Paddle Length

kayak paddle length

Choosing the right kayak paddle length involves a few important factors. Here are the things to keep in mind when selecting a paddle:

Your Height

Your height is a crucial factor to consider when selecting a kayak paddle. Taller paddlers typically require longer paddles to ensure they can reach the water efficiently. As a general rule, the taller you are, the longer your paddle should be.

Your Kayak Width

The width of your kayak is another crucial factor to consider. A wider kayak requires a longer paddle to ensure that the blades reach the water efficiently.

Paddling Style

Your paddling style can also affect the length of your kayak paddle. If you prefer a low-angle paddling style, a longer paddle may be necessary. A high-angle paddling style, on the other hand, may require a shorter paddle.

Skill Level

Your skill level is another factor to consider when choosing a kayak paddle length. If you’re a beginner, a shorter paddle may be more manageable and easier to control. More experienced kayakers may prefer a longer paddle for efficiency.

How to Measure Your Kayak Paddle Length

Paddle Sizing Chart

The chart table below provides a general guide to the right paddle length based on your height and kayak width:

Kayak Width Paddler Height Paddle Length
Less than 23″ Under 5’4″ 210-220cm
Less than 23″ 5’4″-5’11” 220-230cm
Less than 23″ Over 5’11” 230-240cm
23″-28″ Under 5’4″ 220-230cm
23″-28″ 5’4″-5’11” 230-240cm
23″-28″ Over 5’11” 240-250cm
28″-32″ Under 5’4″ 230-240cm
28″-32″ 5’4″-5’11” 240-250cm
28″-32″ Over 5’11” 250-260cm
Over 32″ Under 5’4″ 240-250cm
Over 32″ 5’4″-5’11” 250-260cm

Once you’ve taken the above factors into consideration, you’re ready to measure your paddle length. Here’s a simple method to measure your paddle length:

  1. Stand the paddle up vertically beside you.
  2. Reach one arm up to the paddle blade.
  3. Adjust the height of the paddle until the blade is in line with your wrist.
  4. Check the position of the opposite blade to ensure it is also in the water.


Understanding Kayak Paddle Length

The first step in choosing the right kayak paddle length is to understand the basic elements that make up the length. A kayak paddle is made up of two primary components: the shaft and the blades. The length of the paddle is the distance between the two blades.

Shaft length is another factor to consider when determining the length of your paddle. The shaft is the long part of the paddle that you hold, and its length can affect your comfort and efficiency. A shaft that is too long or too short can make it difficult to control the paddle.

To select the perfect kayak paddle length, you first need to measure your body. Stand with your arms by your side and loosely clasped in front. Measure from the floor up to just below your armpit while keeping your arms at a relaxed angle – this will help you determine what size kayak paddle you need. Generally speaking, paddles come in seven lengths, ranging from 210cm (6’10”) to 250cm (8’2″), but some brands offer shorter or longer lengths as well.

Select a Boat-Specific Paddle Length.

When selecting a kayak paddle length, bear in mind that different boats require different ideas. Generally speaking, sea kayaks and touring kayaks need longer paddles, while whitewater and creek kayaks might favor shorter ones. Always check the manufacturer’s recommended paddle length for your specific boat before purchasing a new paddle.

Understand the Different Types of Kayak Paddles.

There are three common types of kayak paddles available. A Breakdown paddle is typically longer and ideal for touring, sea kayaking, or extended a river trips due to its powerful stroke efficiency and water displacement. A Shorty paddle is shorter and better suited for whitewater or river play. Finally, a Hybrid paddle is the middle choice between a breakdown and shorty paddle, combining elements from both styles for more versatility during recreational flatwater cruising.

Consider Other Important Factors such as Strength and Weight.

Consider your strength and weight when deciding on the right kayak paddle length. Generally, larger paddlers may need a longer paddle while smaller paddlers may be better off with a shorter one. Be sure to keep in mind the type of activities you plan to pursue and their corresponding requirements; whitewater requires more power than flatwater touring, for example. Also check the material used in the manufacture of the paddle shaft and blade to ensure that it matches both your strength and preference for feel.

Measure and Adjust the Length of Your Kayak Paddle Before Use.

When measuring the paddle length before your next kayaking trip, you should be aware that it is adjustable. To ensure optimal performance and safety, you should place the blade in the water vertically and make sure that your hands line up with the center of your rib cage when gripping the shaft handle. If not, readjust and check again until you hit a comfortable spot. And always follow manufacturer’s instructions on proper length and adjustments.

If you’re looking for more advice, consider the following:

Think about how the blade’s shape and material will affect your paddling. Whitewater paddling, which requires more power, is best suited to a wider blade, while touring and flatwater paddling are better suited to a narrower blade. Blades can be fashioned from a variety of materials, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages in terms of weight, durability, and cost.


The shaft can be straight or bent, and the grip can be a T or a palm. The type of paddling you intend to do and your personal preference will determine the grip style you choose. For instance, a club with a bent shaft is less taxing on the wrists and performs better in high-angle strokes, while a club with a straight shaft is more adaptable.


In reference to paddles, “feathering” means adjusting the blade angles so that water flows more efficiently. Adjusting the feather angle on some paddles can improve paddling efficiency and comfort. One technique that can help you paddle more efficiently is called “feathering the blades,” and it can help you overcome wind resistance, but it may take some practice if you’re just starting out.

Taking care of your kayak paddle is like taking care of any other tool you use. After each use, give your paddle a good rinsing with clean water, put it away in a dry, cool place, and keep an eye on it for signs of damage or wear.

The right kayak paddle can be selected after thinking about the aforementioned additional factors.
Check how to get in and out of kayak safely.



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