Do you know how to select a kayak paddle? This is a question that I have received from most of my readers in the last few months. But before I get down to it, I have a few things that I want to say. Kayaking is an awesome activity. But to enjoy it, you must learn how to choose the right kayaking gears. From choosing your life jacket to settling down for the right paddle, the process plays a crucial role in getting a memorable experience when out kayaking.
That’s why, in this post, I have chosen to show you how to choose a kayak paddle, which is one of the most important kayaking equipment. Read on to find out every detail involved in how to choose the right paddle for your kayak. But first, let us look at what a kayak paddle is. I will explain it in the simplest way so that you get every fact right.
What’s a Kayak Paddle?
A kayak paddle is like an oar. But unlike the oar, the kayak paddle comes with two blades. One blade on either side of the shaft. As such, you can hit the water simultaneously on either side of your kayak without having to change your paddling position.
Selecting a Kayak Paddle
With that said, do you know how to select a kayak paddle? That’s what I will be talking about next. I will show you how to make the right choice when it comes to a kayak paddle. Here are some of the factors that you must consider.
The first most important thing that you should keep in mind when choosing the perfect paddle for your use is the length of the paddle. Make sure that the paddle can easily reach the water on both sides. Please do not pick a paddle that forces you to lean over so much or one that leaves you with so much weight due to its length. A good paddle length leaves you with a smooth paddling experience and an even quicker stroke.
What Determines the Length of the Kayak Paddle?
As a rule of thumb, kayaks that come with the wider breath will require paddles that are longer. The same rule applies to kayak paddles/ kayakers who are tall. So if you are taller, you should focus more on getting a kayak paddle that’s longer around the handle.
What Happens If the Paddle is Incorrectly Sized?
If you are taller and using a smaller paddle or if you are shorter and using a longer paddle, then you could face some challenges paddling. The same thing will take effect on a wider kayak that comes with a shorter paddle and vice versa. Some of the most conspicuous challenges that you will face in case you don’t use the right side of a paddle are the following.
- Blade not reaching into the water
- Having to lean over a lot when paddling
- Tired back, hands, and constant backaches
- Additional weight
- Poor or lesser control when paddling
- Constant banging of knuckles against the kayak (from the inside)
Note: Every manufacturer will recommend a slightly different length. But that should not confuse you. Just know the tips above and, more importantly, that the length of the paddle is measured in centimeters but not inches.
Now that I had mentioned something about the kayak’s width above, I guess you already anticipated this. Well, that’s the truth. If you want to get the right length of the paddle for your kayak, it’s important that you measure the width of your kayak too. This way, you can get the best possible paddle for your personal use too.
To have a much more accurate idea of which kayak paddle fits you best, it is important that you get your height and the width of the kayak. These two are fundamental factors that’ll leave you with a better result. So like I mentioned before, if you are tall and have a wider width, look for a longer kayak paddle for your use.
Another key thing that you must pay attention to is the paddling style. When it comes to this, there are two types of styles that have been used by kayakers ever since, and they are the following.
- High Angle Paddling
- Low Angle Paddling
The low angle paddling is a much more relaxed type of paddling. This style is best for recreational paddling and is not as powerful that it might tire you faster. To have a good experience with this type of paddling, you’ll need a longer paddle. High-angle paddling, on the other hand, is a very aggressive form of paddling style. It is suited for very demanding rides, such as when weatherboarding. It is good at generating power strokes and, as such, requires a shorter paddle.
Since aggressive kayaking is not as common, the paddling that most people do is low angle paddling. It is comfortable, and you will hardly realize it when you are paddling. If you buy a paddle and the manufacturer doesn’t specify which type of paddling their kayak paddles are geared to, chances are they are designed for the most common paddling, which is the low angle paddling.
How low is your kayak’s seat? A lower seat means you will sink in more. A higher seat raises you a little above the kayak’s floor. The same can be said of sit-in kayaks and a sit-on-top kayak.
If your seat is set high above the water levels, such as those on the sit-on-top fishing kayaks, then you’d have to compensate for that increased distance from the water on your kayak paddle. On the other hand, if you have a sit-in kayaks with a lower seat, then you may have to decrease the length of your paddle or simply get a shorter paddle.
When looking at the design of your blade, you should focus more on the size and the shape of your paddle’s blade. So, do they play a crucial role in how to select a kayak paddle? Yes, they do.
The Shape of the Blade
Do you prefer low angle paddling or high angle paddling? For low angle paddling, the blades are often narrower so as to provide a comfortable and casual paddling experience. In the same way, they’ll again allow for long-distance paddling. High angle blades are the short and wide blades. They are designed with that touch to provide more powerful strokes. This is possible when you paddle at very high angles. So, what shapes do we have?
For the blades, we have the following:
These two are the most common kayak paddle shapes. Even so, I personally find comfort in using dihedral blades. They are easy to use and will allow water to run through so smoothly. If you want a dihedral blade, you should focus on a blade shape that has a ridge running along the center of the blade.
The introduction of the ridge is what helps the water to have an even flow once it comes into contact with the blade surface. The blade doesn’t therefore flutter and, as such, leaves you with a much more comfortable paddling. On the contrary, the soon blades will scoop more water. In so doing, they will develop more force. But this causes them to flutter more in the water, so you will use more power and get more thrust.
Size of the Blade
Apart from the shape of the blade, we also have the size. So what about the size? If the blade is larger in size, it will offer more bite. As such, it will generate more power but at the same time, leave you feeling exhausted. Moving a smaller blade through the water requires less strength and eliminates any form of strain around your body. So depending on what you need and again your strength, you can choose any what suits your needs.
The material from which the paddle has been forged is again very important. It determines the weight, price, durability, and performance of the paddle. Here are some of the most common materials from which kayak paddles are made:
- Composite shaft/blade
- Reinforced plastic
- Carbon fiber
Choose a material that will maximize your performance, assure you of high-end durability, and leave you with a manageable weight.
How Do You Paddle a Kayak Straight?
Now that you’ve seen what to consider when buying a kayak paddle, here is how you will use your paddle to paddle the kayak straight.
- First, engage your core
- Now twist your torso in a comfy position
- Next, lean forward.
- Put the paddle blade into the water
- Make sure it is fully immersed
- Keep the paddle near your feet
- Pull back into the seat
- Use the blade.
- Alternate how you paddle
- The kayak will start to move
- Use the paddle lightly in water to guide the kayak on a straight line
These tips that I have given show you how to select a kayak paddle? They are simple to follow and will give you a better experience. Make sure that you focus more on your height, the size of your kayak, and what your paddle is made of.
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