Kayak Paddles 101

When choosing a kayak paddle, there are three main things you’ll be looking at: it’s length, what it’s made of, and any extra features it has.

Let’s take a look at each one of these…

kayak paddles 101

Paddle length

The paddle length you choose will depend on both the type of kayak you’ll be paddling and your height.

Recreational and sit-on-top kayaks are built for stability, so they’re wider. You’ll need a longer paddle to be able to reach the water comfortably and easily. 230-250cm will be a good range.

Touring and sea kayaks are built for speed, so they’re narrower. You’ll want a shorter paddle since you won’t have to reach as far to the water. 210-230cm will work great for this.

If you’re taller, you’ll want a longer paddle. If you’re shorter, you’ll want a shorter paddle. It's ideal to find the paddle that will fit you, personally, best.

kayak paddle length chart

(Check out this article for more details on paddle length.)

Paddle Materials

Kayak paddles are made from a variety of materials. As you might guess, the lighter or stronger the materials used, the more expensive the paddle.

The three materials used for our shafts are:

Aluminum: Entry level material

Fiberglass: Will keep your hands warmer than aluminum can, weighs less, and more durable

Carbon: Tougher and lighter than both options

As far as our blades go, our blade options include: fiberglass reinforced nylon, carbon reinforced nylon, compression molded fiberglass, and compression molded carbon. All great materials, but you'll see that one of the biggest differences comes down to weight. Fiberglass reinforced nylon being the heaviest of those options working our way to compression molded carbon which is the lightest. If you're looking for durability, consider looking at our paddles that have carbon reinforced with nylon blades. If you're looking for blade patterns that will radiantly stand out on the water, check out our compression molded fiberglass options like the Tango Fiberglass.

Kayaking with Tango Paddle
Agua Tango Fiberglass

If you’re just starting out or have a limited budget, our Sting Ray or Manta Ray Aluminum are a great place to start.

If kayaking becomes a life sport for you, you can always upgrade. Check out our Performance selection!

Paddle Features

All kayak paddles have a ferrule system where the two ends of the paddle connect in the center. Aqua-Bound paddles have two different types of ferrule systems.

  • The snap-button ferrule has a 3-hole snap system similar to most standard paddles. There are a couple feathering angles available—turning each blade to allow for ease of use.
  • The patented Posi-Lok™ ferrule system is easy to use, strong and metal-free. With this, there are unlimited feathering angles available. Check out all its benefits here.

Our ferrules also allow for tighter (versus wobbly) connections. This tightness reduces fatigue and deficient strokes.

Another key feature our paddles have is a blade dihedral that runs horizontally across the middle of the blade. Having this provides a smoother, more fluid like stroke through the water compared to what a flat blade would provide. The dihedral also deters fluttering and improves torque (aka blade efficiency).

Blade Dihedral

One other thing to look at— paddles can either be broken down into two pieces or four pieces. If you’ll be doing a lot of traveling and need to pack it down into tight spaces, you’ll want a 4-piece. Otherwise go for a 2-piece.

Are you ready to look at specific paddles and prices? Click here.

You may find this video helpful, too.