How to choose the right kayak paddle length

When many people first start off with kayaking, they assume that you can use any size paddle with any vessel. In fact, after picking your kayak, choosing the correct sized paddle is one of the most important aspects of getting to grips with your new vessel – if you choose the wrong size it could make paddling extremely difficult!

With a vast range of kayaks for sale, the team at Cambridge Kayaks has lots of experience in not only just helping people pick the right kayak for them but also the best paddles to suit their kayak and ability. In our latest blog post, we’ll be taking a look at some of our top tips to ensure that you pick the right paddle for your needs.

What could happen if I have the wrong size paddle?

Paddles are the single most important part of your kayak equipment after the vessel itself. As a result, it’s important that you get the most out of your paddle when you’re out on the water. Getting maximum output from your strokes is one of the most important aspects of your paddles, however this isn’t the only thing you need to consider.

Picking the wrong size paddle could result in hitting your hand against the edge of the kayak, which could be extremely painful particularly in cold weather! You could also find yourself having to lean in awkward positions throughout your expedition which could lead to backache, neck ache, or other pains. Ultimately, the incorrect size paddle could result in a rather unpleasant trip on the water.

How to size your kayak paddle

There are a number of different elements you need to take into account when you work out the size paddle you need for your kayak. There are a variety of different paddle lengths based on the size of your vessel and also your body shape, ranging anything between 180m to 260m.

Think about how tall you will be when you’re sitting in the kayak. Different heights and proportions mean that you’ll probably need a different length to your friends or family members. The length of your torso should reflect the length of your paddle as this is the part of your body which will be exposed out of the hull, and is also indicative of your arm length. So before you start to go paddle shopping, make sure you measure your torso!

You also need to think about the width of your kayak. Again this can have a big impact on the length of your paddle. You need to ensure that your paddle clears the side of the boat and has a good angle compared to the level of the water. Also consider the type of kayak that you have – sit on top and sit inside kayaks will have different paddle requirements, as well as fishing and recreational kayaks.

Finally, think about your stroke angle and what is most comfortable to you. If you have a low stroke angle which is more relaxed, you’d be better off with a longer paddle, whereas if you have a high stroke angle you would need a shorter paddle.

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