Before you buy a kayak paddle, here's a few things you should know to find one suited to the kind of paddling you will do.
So, you're in the Yick-Yak Kayak Store and the helpful salesperson says "Dude, what kind of paddle do you want with that kayak?" ... you freeze up, intimidated by the dozens of paddles on the wall and say ... "uhh, uhhhhhhh".
You see expensive paddles, cheap paddles, carbon paddles, wooden paddles and a paddle cargo bag to carry your paddle in! There are long paddles, short paddles, wide paddles, narrow paddles.
What to choose ...? Not to worry - here's some help ...
Of the gazillion types and brands of paddles there are, for recreational kayaking, it boils down to only a few considerations - type, blade shape and length. Your height and strength are the main determination - beyond that, here are the basics to understand ...
Type of Paddle Blade
The blades are in the same alignment or position along the shaft.
The blades are turned at angles to each other along the shaft.
It allows more efficient movement because the blade that is not in the water is cutting through the air (reducing resistance). Some paddlers like this - some find the additional wrist twisting of a feathered blade bothersome.
To simplify the choice here - I've used an aluminum shaft, adjustable paddle for years. I find it is lightweight - comfortable - a good compromise. It can be used either way with a simple click. I can reposition the blades at any time. Because it breaks down into two sections, it's easy to store and transport - I highly recommend it.
Blade Shape There's a lot of fuss about blade shape that is beyond the initial concerns of a beginner. For anyone starting out in recreational paddling, I feel a flat blade with either blunt or tapered ends will suit your needs for a while.
Paddle Length Kayak paddles are basically in the small, mid-length and long categories.
- Long for folks who are tall - upward of 6' or over.
- Mid-length is for well, those who are in between tall and short.
- Short is fitting for small adults or kids.
In addition to human height considerations - a longer paddle is more effective to paddle wider boats or sit-on-tops. In the alternative, a shorter paddle will provide greater turning and maneuverability.
Paddle Materials Just a few words about the materials used in paddles. Paddle materials vary - each behaves differently by weight, flexibility and cost. It is wise to gain some experience before you deliberate over more advanced paddle characteristics - you can always trade up.
A paddle should feel comfortable and natural.
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