How Long Should My Kayak Paddle Be?

Last Updated on July 26, 2022 by Ecorf

The paddle is equally as important as the kayak itself. Some kayaks come with their own paddles while some others don’t. This alone has its own pros and cons. 

Paddles that are bought together with kayaks are advantageous in situations whereby the kayak has been modeled to a particular specification or purpose. This way, the paddle would have been made to fit the kayak model purpose. 

On the other hand, even if the paddle is the appropriate type for that kind of kayak, there is a possibility that it isn’t the best for the paddler. And this is how it becomes a disadvantage. 

However, for those that are still not sure of how long their kayak paddle should be, this article addresses their issue. 

Determining What Length of Paddle Would be Best for You?

Really, if one was to think about this critically, there would be a lot of things that could possibly determine the best paddle length for you. However, there are some common factors that mostly contribute to the length of the paddle.

Stature of Paddler

Common sense already tells you this but it is still worth mentioning. It really wouldn’t be convenient for a really tall person to use a kayak that was made for people of average height, talk less for those that below the average height. So if you want to get yourself a paddle, let it be one that is perfect for your own height.

 At this point, it is important to note that not every one of equal height should be made to use the same length of paddle. This is because some people are tall because of their torsos while some others are tall because of their legs. In such a situation, the torso should be the determining factor in choosing the length of the paddle.

Torso Height Paddle Length Range
22″ 180cm
24″ 180cm – 200cm
26″ 190cm – 200cm
28″ 200cm – 220cm
30″ 210cm – 230cm
32″ 220cm – 240cm
34″ 230cm – 250cm
36″ 240cm – 250cm

Kayak Purpose and Design

As you may already know, most kayaks are modeled to perform most excellently on specific types of water bodies. It is for this reason that we have many types of kayaks, such as touring kayak, recreational kayak, whitewater kayak, and performance kayaks. These kayak types have varying widths, and that is what majorly determines the paddle lengths.

To simply put, a wider kayak would require a longer paddle length. Here again, the torso of the paddler also plays a part. A short person wouldn’t use the same length of paddle as a tall person even if they are both using the same kayak. 

How Long Should My Kayak Paddle Be

Kayak Width Paddle Length Range
17″ – 23″ 220cm – 230cm
23″ – 25″ 230cm  240cm
25″ and more 240cm – 250cm

Preferred Stroke Angle

Generally, there are two-stroke angle categories, and they are high and low stroke angles. High stroke angle places your strokes closer to the side of the kayak and allows for more powerful strokes and better maneuvering. Short stroke angle allows for a more relaxed paddling which is better for long-distance kayaking. 

The stroke angle is an important determining factor because if you prefer a high stroke angle, you would need a shorter paddle than if you prefer a low stroke angle. 


Trial and Error on the Water

This method might be time taking but it is one of the most reliable methods of picking a kayak length for yourself. This involves you trying out different paddle lengths on the water by yourself. After trying out different paddling techniques and styles, whichever length suits you best is the best paddle length for you.

You could go to where paddles are up for rent and try some out in case you were wondering where you would get the paddles you would need for the tryouts. There should be a rep at the rental site who would show you what paddle length to start with. 

However, you should know that you have to use the proper paddling form while testing out the paddles. You don’t want to select a paddle using an improper paddling for. If you don’t know the proper paddling methods and techniques, this video should help you out.

More Crafty Ways of Selecting the Proper Paddle Length

There’s a quick method that helps you to determine the best paddle for yourself with two major methods.

  1. Stretch your arm out wide and bend your elbows at a right angle. Grab the paddle in your most natural form and hold it in that position. If the distance between the shoulders of the paddle blade and your hands are about one-third of the way to the center of the paddle shaft, then you have the right paddle length for yourself.
  2. The other method is to grab a paddle to be tested and hold it vertically beside you. Now, stretches your hand completely until you are touching the tip of the paddle. If only the first joints of your fingers can wrap the paddle blade at the tip, then it’s the best for you. Anything other than this isn’t the best for you. 

Bringing it All to a Close

I have mentioned a few ways to determine the best paddle for yourself using tables and other crafty methods. If you followed any of these methods, you would most likely find the best paddle length. 

However, there is a possibility that the paddle length that falls within your category according to the pieces of information up there still doesn’t feel natural to you. This is because there isn’t a strict rule for selecting a paddle length for yourself.

In such a situation, feel free to try out other paddle lengths of your choice until you find one that is best for you. After all, only you would know what is best for you, isn’t it?

If you have questions, inquiries, additions or anything to say, please feel free to make use of the comment section down below. 

Remember, never stop kayaking!