When it comes to kayak paddles, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” Just as there are different sizes and shapes of people and different styles of kayaking, so there are different types of kayak paddles.
You paddle can either add to or take away from your enjoyment when kayaking (photo courtesy of Dan Kennedy)
If you want to get the most out of kayaking in general and your kayak paddle specifically, don’t make these six mistakes…
Mistake #1: You Choose a Kayak Paddle that’s Too Long or Too Short
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the length of your kayak paddle doesn’t matter—as in “I’ll just use the paddle that came with my [box store] kayak” or “I’ll just pick a cheap one up on Facebook Marketplace.” In reality, the length of your paddle is the most important factor when picking one out!
For recreational kayaking, the length of the paddle you’ll buy depends on two things:
- Your height—generally, a taller person will use a longer paddle and a shorter person will use a shorter paddle
- The width of your kayak—generally, the wider the kayak, the longer your paddle needs to be while the narrower your kayak, the shorter it needs to be
Mistake #2: You Choose a Paddle That’s Too Heavy
The price of kayak paddles is mainly determined by the materials they’re made from. And the materials they’re made from determine their weight. It may not seem like a few ounces can possibly make that much difference—and it probably doesn’t if you’re young, healthy and will paddle just an hour or two here and there.
But if you’re an older paddler, are concerned about shoulder and wrist health for the next couple of decades, and know you want to be able to paddle for at least a few hours (or even days) at a time—those few extra ounces can cause quite a lot of extra fatigue.
A lighter paddle will cost more, but will be well worth it in the long run. The materials aren’t just lighter, they perform better and allow for the right amount of flex for efficient strokes.
Consider a bent shaft kayak paddle for extra ergonomics (photo courtesy of Andrew Strain)
Mistake #3: The Ferrule System is Sloppy
A kayak’s ferrule is the mechanism that fits the two halves of the paddle together in the middle. Cheap paddles have cheap ferrule systems. They can be a bit wobbly if the parts aren’t fitted just right.
A well-fitting ferrule system should be snug, with no wobble, but still easy to adjust and take apart.
For avid kayakers, consider a paddle with our Posilok® Ferrule System. This system will never rust, and allows for an infinite number of feathering angles. That means you can adjust your blades in windy conditions to make it easier on you.
Mistake #4: It Has the Wrong Blade Shape
Yes, blade shape matters, too! There are two basic styles of kayaking: high-angle and low-angle. A high-angle kayak blade is squat—a little shorter and wider than a low-angle blade, which is long and slim.
High-angle blades are best for kayakers who are aggressive—like kayak surfers and whitewater kayakers. They’re also best for kayak anglers and others who’ll haul a lot of weight in gear with them on the water. They have a lot of pull.
Low-angle blades are best for kayakers with a more relaxed style, who’ll be on the water for several hours and travel long distances. They’re efficient and effortless to use.
You want to be sure to buy a kayak paddle with the right blade shape for the style of kayaking you want to do the most.
Mistake #5: It’s Not Portable Enough
This isn’t always a mistake, but it is if you plan to travel often with your kayak and paddle, especially if you have a small vehicle or you plan to fly. Or you may want to pack it along with a packraft in your backpack or on your bike.
Some kayak paddles don’t break down at all, although these are more specialty paddles. Most break down into two pieces. But if you want to travel a lot and space is at a premium you’ll want to choose a 4-piece paddle. These break down enough to fit into your checked bag at the airport, or into the trunk of a small car.
Your paddle is your motor, the gear piece you handle all the time (photo courtesy of Five2Nine Media)
Mistake #6: You Spend Too Little
It’s interesting how most people—new kayakers, especially—assume the kayak is the most important piece of gear, and the paddle can come out of whatever budget is left over.
In reality, consider this: your paddle is your motor. It’s the gear piece that’s most responsible for your comfort and enjoyment (except for possibly your kayak seat!). You hold it in your hands constantly, so you want it to be comfortable.
When you think of it that way, the paddle becomes an important consideration in your overall budget. We believe you should buy the best paddle you can afford, even up to 20-30% of your total kayak budget. You won’t regret it!
Kayaking is an investment in both your enjoyment and your health. A quality kayak paddle will last for many years of active use. It’s worth it to choose one that fits you, fits your budget and fits the type of kayaking you want to do.
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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