Paddle Choice Basics

For those of you who are new to kayaking, listen up: the choice in paddle makes all the difference. For those veteran or seasoned kayakers, if you've ever used the wrong paddle you know how exhausting and frustrating it can be, leaving you physically drained and frustrated at your end results. Dependent on the size of your inflatable kayak and the water situation, the paddle you choose can help you navigate through with less effort and more comfort.


There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a kayak paddle and which one is right for your particular situation. Consider the following aspects when choosing a proper paddle:

  • The size of the blade. the wider the blade, the bigger the bite. A wider blade will help you manuever through the water and make turns quicker than thinner blades. However, a thinner blade lets you kayak at longer distances as it takes less effort to pull through the water. Generally, if you are looking to move through water at a fast pace, choose a wider paddle.
  • The shape and "feathering" of the blade. Check the angle of the blade as smaller angles are easier on the wrists where larger angles give greater efficiency when moving through water. 
  • The length of the paddle. Your paddling style, your kayak and of course your personal height all come into consideration when choosing a paddle length. When standing next to the paddle, you should be able to reach up and touch the top but not be able to reach your hand over the paddle. 
  • The weight of the paddle. Economy, recreational, performance and composite paddles all have different weights, and widely varying price points. Making the decision to spend the extra dollars on a performance paddle, with its more lightweight form, could make all the difference after a long day of kayaking but only you can make that call.
  • The shape of the shaft. Paddles are available in both straight-shaft and bent-shaft models. The need or desire to go with one over the other is largely personal preference and use of both during certain times or situations is likely.

At Air Kayaks we'd be happy to help both beginners and pros with their paddle choice. We welcome any of your kayak questions or comments at 707-998-0135. 


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