Kayak Paddle Feathering: What is It and Why does it Matter?

3-minute read + 5-minute video

“What is paddle feathering?” That’s a question we get all the time. If you’ve been wondering what paddle feathering is and why it matters, here are the basics…

What is Paddle Feathering?

Feathering a kayak paddle simply means you adjust the ferrule on the shaft so the blades are at an angle to each other rather than straight (as in the photo above).

(The ferrule is where the two pieces of the kayak paddle come together in the middle of the shaft.)

A snap-button ferrule limits your feathering options to the angles allowed by the holes. This is the type of ferrule system you’ll see on the most affordable paddles. Aqua Bounds’ snap-button ferrules offer 0º and 60º angles, both left and right.

We offer two types of ferrule systems that give you unlimited feathering angles for the ultimate customization:

Posi-Lok (left) and Versa-Lok (right ferrule systems

Aqua Bound’s Posi-Lok™ (left) and Versa-LokTM (right) ferrule systems

A high-quality ferrule system will allow you to change feathering angles easily and will have a snug and secure fit.

Why Does Feathering Your Kayak Paddle Matter?

Feathering your kayak paddle is really a matter of personal choice. Some kayakers like to feather and some don’t. Here are the most common reasons for feathering:

  • When you face a strong headwind, you can feather your paddle and adjust your wrists so the blade that’s out of the water is flat instead of broadside to the wind. You’ll notice less wind resistance. On the other hand, if the wind is at your back, you may want it to catch your blade, since it’ll push you forward a bit with each stroke. So in that case, don’t feather your paddle.
  • Many kayakers find feathering is easier on their wrists for long days of touring or fishing. This is something you’ll want to experiment with. Try it and see how it works for you. If you allows for several feathering options, try different angles and see what’s most comfortable for you.
  • Feathering could give you a slight edge if speed and efficiency are important, say in racing or a fishing tournament.

The video below is by our friend Dan Arbuckle of Headwaters Kayak. He shows what it means to feather (or “off-set”) a kayak paddle, and why you might choose to do that:

It’s a Personal Choice

Whether you feather your paddle isn’t a right-or-wrong choice. It’s personal.

Most kayak paddles have adjustable ferrules that permit paddlers to change the feathering angle on-the-fly to fit their specific situation. A 60-degree angle is the most typical, except for whitewater paddlers. They usually prefer 30 to 45-degree angles because of the types of conditions they face.

The next time you’re out in your kayak, experiment with different off-sets. Try feathering in different conditions and see if it helps. Test different angles if your ferrule system allows for it.

Kayak in a strong headwind with both a feathered and non-feathered angle and see if you can tell a difference. Notice if feathering eases pain or discomfort in your wrists.

It’s all about enjoying the time in your kayak on the water!

What paddle questions do you have for our friendly Customer Service Team? Call or email them today: 715-755-3405 or [email protected]

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