You will see various lengths, blade types, and materials that make up a myriad of choices for prospective paddle purchasers. Here are some points you should consider before spending any money, and I do mean “any” because if you buy the wrong one, you will not enjoy it.
- What is the paddle made from? The material is a big determinate of the weight of the paddle. If you are paddling properly, your abs are working, not your arms, and north of the abdominal muscles, where you will feel the weight the most is in your trapezoid muscle. The lighter the paddle, the more time you will enjoy being out paddling. Aluminum shafts conduct heat and cold; fiberglass shafts do not. Generally speaking, as paddle weight goes down, its’ price goes up.
- What blade shape is best? High-angle paddling is usually done by whitewater kayakers and by touring kayakers while sprinting. High angle paddles are usually shorter by 10 cm than their touring, or low-angle counterparts. High-angle paddling is the sprint, versus the long-distance low-angle paddling. The high-angle paddle blade is short and fat, which catches more water each dip, so it will require more effort to move. For touring, low angle paddling is less tiring, as you can be doing it for hours. The blade shape for touring is long and lean, which also makes it easier to move. The paddle is approximately 10 cm longer than it’s high-angle counterpart, allowing you to keep your stroke low, avoiding the arm lift.
- Paddle length is determined by 1. paddler height and 2. kayak width. Knowledgeable sales reps will guide you in choosing the best paddle for your needs.