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The first time buying a kayak is overwhelming enough without also then having to think about the kayak paddle.
It’s a common mistake to think buying a kayak paddle would be a simple purchase. You also may be taken advantage of for thinking so. You might end up with a great paddle by chance but it’s more ideal to know a bit about what kind of paddle will best suit you.
Having a paddle that best suits you and your preffered style of kayaking means you will be getting the most out of your time on the water and the biggest bang for your buck.
So please, let us enlighten you on the 5 things you should think about before buying a kayak paddle.
The size matters. Average sizes for kayak paddles range between 210 cm and 260 cm. The length of your paddle should be determined by 2 things. The size of you, size of your kayak and…Cliffhanger!! That’s the next point.
- If you are taller, you’ll need a bigger paddle to remain comfortable and get the most efficiency out of your strokes.
- If your kayak or one you intend on purchasing is wide, you’ll also need a longer paddle.
Low or High Angle
Low angle and high angle paddles are made to serve different purposes. A low angle paddle is longer and used more commonly for long distance/touring kayak paddling, in a semi relaxed way. A high angle paddle inspires a slightly more aggressive and fast style of paddling, used more commonly in white water or racing situations.
The length of your paddle is also determined by the style, low angle paddles tend to be longer than high angle paddles.
The materials should be considered for 3 reasons also: weight, durability and affordability.
- Depending on your strength and endurance levels, you’ll want to match your paddle weight. Especially as a beginner. It won’t take long to be deterred from kayaking if you can’t use your arms after 10 mins of paddling thanks to having a dead weight paddle. Get something that feels light to you but keep in mind it’s quality.
- The durability of your paddle will save you money in the long run. Where you might need to spend a little extra on quality in the beginning, in the end, it means you won’t need to replace your paddle as quickly.
- Looking for a quality paddle doesn’t mean going and buying the most expensive paddle on the market. Again, if you are beginner testing if kayaking is for you, the desire to keep costs low will be there, so just find a happy medium.
Paddles are generally made of one of three materials. Sometimes a mixture of both where the shaft is made of one material and the blade another.
Low-range paddles. Pop-out paddles made for kids clubs and introductory courses commonly are made of these. They are cheap but quality is also cheap. They tend to be heavier and suit short kayaking trips as opposed to spending hours touring. If you are wanting to keep costs low, this is where you’ll probably be looking. They suit beginners, bulk buys or the emergency spare!
Mid-range paddles. Fiberglass paddles are the most consistently seen paddle in kayaking. Fiberglass paddles are known for being lightweight and durable without the exxy price tag attached. If you a beginner but are getting serious about your kayaking, our suggestion is to look into spending that little bit more and invest in a fiberglass paddle. You won’t be disappointed!
High-range paddles. The best on the market. The best of everything, lightweight and extremely resistant to wear and tear. They do however come with that price tag. The way many retailers have got around this is by producing paddles that have a carbon fiber paddle head but the shaft being made of fiberglass. This hybrid version is becoming immensely popular, so keep your eyes peeled for them!
Travel or not
Are you looking to get around? With your paddle that is.
Paddles that can be broken down into 2 pieces are your best friend if you intend on traveling. Seeing as a kayak paddle isn’t the most convenient thing to pack away, portability becomes an issue with travel.
What you can afford
Ultimately it comes down to this. What you can afford. If you are a millionaire, lucky you! You can buy the best of the best. You might not realise the difference between paddles when you are starting out, so it’s not so important to spend the big bucks, but at least you’ll be set! If you aren’t so lucky, stick to what you can afford. Ideally, something in the middle range, you’ll be able to pick up something decent for under $100 no problem. Paddles can be anywhere from $15 – $500.
It’s overwhelming buying gear when you first start out kayaking – or any sport for that matter. Knowing the basics will save you money and a whole heap of painful mistakes in the future. We hope this article gives you the boost of confidence you need to go find that paddle that suits you best!!
When in doubt, ask. If you have some idea of what you after, most people in stores will be able to help you out with the finer details. Alternatively, you can shop here. We’ve not only made this guide but also put together a list of 8 paddles we think are the best. There’s something for everyone!