How long should my kayak paddle be - Ultimate Guide

How long should my kayak paddle be – Ultimate Guide

Are you feeling difficulty while kayaking because you don’t know how to choose the kayak paddle? This is a full guide on how to choose a paddle length by considering multiple factors.

As you know one side of the paddle does not fit all. As a beginner, you need guidance on how long should your kayak paddle be. The length of your paddle should be based on your height and the width of your kayak.

This kayak paddle sizing guide will help you choose the correct size paddle for your next kayaking adventure.

There are many different kayak paddles to choose from, and choosing one can feel overwhelming. However, by keeping a few key things in mind, the process can be much simpler.

  • Length: The length of your paddle is determined by the width of your boat and your height.
  • Materials and price: The use of lightweight materials improves performance but increases the price of a paddle.
  • Blade choice: There is impact of the paddle’s blade shape and size on its overall efficiency in the water.
  • Shaft choice: The effectiveness of a canoe paddle can be improved by bending the shaft or feathering the blades.
  • Type of kayaking: Consider what type of kayaking you will be doing. There are different paddles for different types of kayaking, such as whitewater or racing.

we will look into this step by step.

Why does paddle length matter?

Paddle length matters when kayaking because:

  • It affects how efficiently you can move through the water and how effectively you can steer. The longer your paddle, the more distance you will cover with each stroke, which means you can travel faster and cover more ground.
  • Additionally, a longer paddle will enable you to better control your kayak by angling it into tight spots or around obstructions.
How long should my kayak paddle be
How long should my kayak paddle be

Kayak paddle length calculator

Luckily, there are plenty of kayak canoe paddle length calculators out there that can help you figure out what size you need. Just enter your height and weight into the calculator and it will do the rest.

Once you have the right size paddle, you’ll be able to enjoy your time on the water much more. No more struggling with a too-short or too-long paddle – just sit back and relax as you glide through the water with ease.

Right now I am embedding a Full-Screen shot for calculating which paddle is good as per the height and width of the kayak.

How to choose a kayak size

Consider sizing 5 or more centimeters longer if you have two or more of the following:

  • A more relaxed, casual paddling pace
  • A true low-angle (horizontal) forward paddling stroke
  • Abnormally wider boat width
  • Flare, flat-bottom, or V-shaped (usually beveled outward) boat design
  • The high seat position in the kayak/canoe
  • You are taller than 6’ and outside our sizing guide

Consider sizing 5 or more centimeters shorter if you have two or more of the following:

  • A more aggressive, active, or endurance-focused paddling pace
  • A true high-angle (vertical) forward paddling stroke
  • Abnormally narrow boat width
  • Tumblehome (usually beveled inward) boat design
  • Lower seat position than most stock boat models
  • You are shorter than 5’ and outside our sizing guide

The following chart is helpful if you’re in a whitewater kayak. Freestylers and playboaters often use shorter paddle styles. A longer canoe paddle size is best used for river running and creeking. Check out the variety of Whitewater Kayak Paddles here.

It’s always a good idea to try out a few paddle sizes and types before you commit to one. A retailer’s on-water demo is a great way to try before you buy. For a list of nearby retailers, click here.

Paddle length and kayak width

This depends on a few factors including:

paddle length and kayak width
paddle length and kayak width
  • The width of your kayak is determined by the kayaker’s weight
  • The height of the kayaker
  • Your own personal paddling style

Paddle length should be chosen so that when the paddle is held in front of the kayaker, the top of the paddle blade is level with the chin. If the paddle is too short, it will be difficult to generate enough power to move the kayak. If the paddle is too long, it will be difficult to control.

Kayak width should be chosen based on the kayaker’s weight and paddling style. A wider kayak will be more stable and easier to control, but may be slower than a narrower kayak.

In general, a paddle that is too long will be more difficult to control, while a paddle that is too short won’t give you enough power to move through the water effectively.

The width of your kayak also plays a role in determining the ideal paddle length – a wider kayak will require a longer paddle to provide adequate coverage.

Experiment with different lengths until you find the perfect fit for your kayaking adventures.

Paddle length and your height

Paddle length should be based on your height and arm length. The taller you are, the longer your paddle should be.

Your paddle should also be comfortable to grip and hold. If you have shorter arms, you may want to choose a shorter paddle so that you can reach the water easily.

Paddle length is also important for stroke efficiency and power. A longer paddle will give you more reach and leverage, while a shorter paddle will be easier to control.

Paddle length and stroke style

Paddle length should be based on your height and the type of kayak you are using.

For example, a taller person or someone using a sit-on-top kayak will need a longer paddle than someone shorter or using a sit-inside kayak.

The type of stroke you use will also affect the length of the paddle you need. A forward stroke will require a longer paddle than a backstroke stroke. If you are unsure, you can always go with a longer paddle than what is recommended.

Paddle style

Paddle style is also an important factor to consider when choosing a paddle. There are two main types of paddles: Single bladed and double-bladed.

Single-bladed paddles are more common and are easier to use.

Double-bladed paddles are used by more experienced kayakers and provide more power and control.

Double blade paddle
Double blade paddle

Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide: How long should my kayak paddle be

When it comes to choosing the right kayak paddle, size does matter. The right paddle will ensure comfort, control, and usability when out on the water. So what should you consider when choosing a paddle?

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a kayak paddle:

1. Comfort: A comfortable paddle is important for long days on the water. Look for a paddle with an ergonomic grip and adjustable shaft length.

2. Control: A paddle with good control will help you navigate through rough waters and tight spaces. Look for a paddle with a wide blade and low-angle design.

3. Usability: A paddle should be easy to use and comfortable to hold. Look for a paddle with an ergonomic grip and adjustable shaft length.

Paddle Length

There are many factors to consider when selecting a kayak paddle, such as blade size and shape, shaft materials, and of course, length. Paddle length is one of the most important considerations because it directly affects your paddling efficiency.

There are two main types of kayak paddles:

Low-angle and high-angle

Low-angle paddles have longer blades and are typically used by recreational kayakers who want to cover long distances with minimal effort. High-angle paddles have shorter blades and are better suited for maneuvering in tight spaces or whitewater conditions.


Most kayak paddles are available in “tweener” sizes that fall somewhere between low-angle and high-angle paddle lengths.

Paddle Material

There are a few different types of materials that can be used for both the blade and shaft of a paddle.

For the blade, common materials used are aluminum, polycarbonate, and Kevlar.

For the shaft, common materials used are aluminum, graphite, and fiberglass.

Blade Materials

  • Plastic/Nylon Blades are also lightweight and durable, but it has more flex to them than aluminum.
  • Wood paddles are also very strong, but they are also heavy.
  • Aluminum is lightweight and durable, but it is not as stiff as some the other materials
  • Fiberglass Blades are very strong and durable and provide a great experience, but it is also heavy.
  • Carbon-Fiber Blades are extremely strong and very durable.

Shaft Materials

  • Aluminum is the most common material because it is strong and lightweight.
  • Graphite is also strong, but it is even lighter than aluminum.
  • Fiberglass is not as strong as either aluminum or graphite, but it has a lot of flex to it.

Blade Design

There are three types of blade design to consider when kayaking:

  • Asymmetrical Blades are the most common type of blade found on kayaks. They are designed to provide a balance of power and maneuverability.
  • Dihedral Blades are designed for more stability in the water and are often used by beginners or those who paddle in rough conditions.
  • Wing Paddles are designed for speed and efficiency and are often used by racing kayakers or those who paddle long distances.
  • Narrower blades are usually more efficient, while wider blades have a larger surface area to push the water with each stroke. The width and shape of the blade can also affect how much energy you need to put into a stroke.
  • Wider blades are slower but easier to paddle, while narrow blades are fast but harder to paddle.

Shaft Design

When it comes to kayaking, there are four main types of shaft designs to choose from: straight and bent. There are also two main types of kayaks: two-piece and four-piece. So, which is the best type of shaft design for you?

Straight shaft Vs bent shaft paddles

Straight-shaft kayaks are the most popular type on the market. They are easy to paddle and maneuver, and they are also the most affordable option. Bent shaft kayaks are designed for more experienced paddlers who want more control and speed. They can be more expensive, but they offer a smoother ride.

Two-piece Vs four-piece?

Two-piece kayaks are easier to transport and store than four-piece kayaks. They are also lighter in weight, making them easier to carry.

Four-piece kayaks are more stable and durable, but they can be heavier and more difficult to transport. feathered or matched shafts are important when selecting a kayak.

Small-diameter shafts

Small-diameter shafts are wider and generally more comfortable to use. Smaller-diameter shafts are lighter in weight, making them easier to carry. They can also be a little less expensive than wider shafts. However, they are harder to use and not as comfortable.

Feathered or matched

Feathered or matched shafts are important when selecting a kayak. feathered shafts have blades at different angles to increase propulsion. Matched shafts are almost parallel, and they are better for beginners. Kayaks with feathered or matched shafts are important when selecting a kayak.

Conclusion: How long should my kayak paddle be

In conclusion, the best way to find the right paddle length is to try out different paddles and see what feels comfortable for you.

Kayak Paddle length is a personal preference, so what works for one person might not work for another. Experiment until you find the perfect size for you and then get out there and enjoy paddling!

FAQs | Kayak size paddling guide

How do I know what length kayak paddle I need?

Finding the right kayak paddle length depends on two factors: your height and the width of your kayak. As a rule of thumb, taller people or those with wider kayaks need longer paddles. You can use a kayak paddle sizing chart to help you find the right fit.

Is it better to have a longer kayak paddle?

Not always! While longer paddles are great for wider kayaks or taller individuals, they may be more difficult to maneuver. Using a paddle that’s too long can tire you out faster, so it’s best to find one that suits your height and kayak width.

What is the standard length of a kayak paddle?

There’s no one-size-fits-all in kayak paddles. However, most paddles range between 210 to 260 centimeters. It’s crucial to consider your height and the width of your kayak to determine the right paddle length.

How do I know if my kayak paddle is too short?

If your hands are getting wet or you’re splashing a lot while paddling, it’s likely your paddle is too short. A short paddle might also force you to stoop, making your kayaking experience uncomfortable.

What is the most common paddle length?

For most kayakers, paddle lengths between 230 and 250 centimeters work well. It’s always best to try out different lengths to see what feels most comfortable and efficient for your unique paddling style.

What happens when you use too long of a paddle for kayaking?

If your paddle is too long, you might find yourself leaning side to side as you paddle, which can be inefficient and tiring. It may also increase the risk of hitting the side of your kayak, disrupting your momentum.

Are longer kayaks faster?

Yes, longer kayaks tend to be faster than shorter ones. They have a greater hull speed and glide further per stroke. However, shorter kayaks are typically more maneuverable, making them better for turning and maneuvering in tight spaces.

Does length matter with a kayak?

Absolutely! The length of your kayak impacts its speed, stability, and maneuverability. Longer kayaks are faster and track better, while shorter kayaks are more stable and easier to turn.

Does kayak length affect stability?

Yes, it does. In general, wider and shorter kayaks are more stable and less likely to tip over, making them great for beginners. Longer kayaks, while faster, require more skill to maintain stability, especially in choppy waters.

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