How to Choose the Right Kayak Paddles

Kayaking is one of the most thrilling adventures in the world. The excitement of braving the rapids and coming out on top is a feeling unlike any other. Even a short tour of the rapids will require thousands of strokes. You are paddling so much that you need to make sure you pick up the right paddles. There are four basic considerations to choosing the right kayak paddles:

  • Length
  • Materials
  • Blades
  • Shaft

Paddle Length

The paddle length is going to going to depend on the size of your boat. The wider your boat, the longer the paddle will need to be. For kayaking, your height will also play a factor in this choice. Kayakers who are tall will require longer paddles.

Fortunately, paddle manufacturers will size kayak paddles using two specific factors – boat width and kayaker height. So measure the width of your boat before you search for the perfect paddle. Then carefully read the specifications before making a purchase.

It’s also worth noting that if you happen to fall between two different sizes, then choose the shorter paddle.

Choosing the Right Materials

There are different materials that are used to craft specific parts of each paddle. The material you choose will depend mostly on your budget. You’re always better off investing in the best possible material as each step up makes kayaking much easier.

Paddle Blade Material

Lightweight materials are going to boost the performance of your paddle because they pay off with a greater reduction in fatigue. It makes the blade much easier to raise. In most cases, you’ll want to choose blades that are infused with nylon, fiberglass, or carbon-fiber. Nylon is the more budget-friendly option here while carbon-fiber is the most expensive. Fiberglass falls right in the middle. Naturally, carbon-fiber blades offer higher performance.

Shaft Materials

Aluminum is the most common type of shaft material in kayak paddles. It’s also the most affordable option. The problem is that it can get so cold that you might need gloves to use it during the winter months. But if you don’t plan to kayak in colder climates, then this is going to be your best option.

You can also find carbon and fiberglass paddle shafts on the market, but they are more expensive.

Blade Design

Almost every blade that is manufactured today is based on an asymmetrical dihedral shape. This angles the blade in a way so that it stays uniform as it passes through water. As a result, the water will flow much more smoothly and helps maintain a straight path. This blade can be identified by a ribbed section going down its center.

Furthermore, they are the lightest on the market and make paddling more comfortable.

With that being said, if you are looking for more powerful strokes then stick with a wider blade.

Shaft Design

You have two choices here – straight or bent shaft. Each one has its own perks. Shafts that are bent have a section where the hands can be positioned. This will give you more comfort during extreme rowing. Plan ahead for your time on the water because the shaft design will depend on your stroke technique.

The diameter of the shaft is also an important factor. If you have smaller hands, then you want a paddle with a smaller grip. Fortunately, there are only two types of diameter shafts here so it’s easy to decide.

Split Shaft Kayak Paddles for Optimal Mobility

Split shaft kayak paddles are designed to provide maximum mobility since they can be broken down for easy storage. That allows you to hike to another location without having the burden of a paddle slowing your journey. For those of you who plan on moving between bodies of water, then you must have split-shaft paddles. However, even if you are not planning that right now, split-shafts are still the best choice since they take up less space.

Kayak paddles will be designed in a way that allows you to rotate them as you are paddling. That way, you can paddle without having to worry about their rotation. The most important factors will always be the blade design and the length of the paddles.

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