Kayaking is a sport that is growing in popularity, with more people venturing onto the water to enjoy kayaking all the time. As with any pastime, it is important to begin kayaking with the right equipment. A key element to being properly equipped is the selection of the correct kayak paddle. Though first-time buyers may be intimidated by all the choices, the selection process is much easier when one learns a bit about what constitutes the perfect kayak paddle.
There are a number of factors that determine which paddle is best for the kayaker and for the type of kayaking they intend to do. It is important for kayak paddle buyers to understand how their own physical characteristics determine what type of paddle they need. The type of water that the kayaker intends to traverse is also a consideration for kayak paddle design. Paddles come in a variety of shapes, lengths, and are made from different materials. One can purchase kayak paddles from sporting good stores and specialty watersport retailers; however, buyers looking to purchase a kayak paddle should consider availing themselves of eBay's large selection of kayak paddle choices.
Factors Affecting Kayak Paddle Length Selection
Getting the right kayak paddle starts with understanding the factors that impact how one uses the paddle. When one gathers all the facts and selects the right paddle, the experience on the water is much more enjoyable. The first step is to determine how long a kayak paddle must be in order to properly propel the craft.
Body Size and Torso Length
As a general rule, taller people require longer paddles; however, the length of a person’s upper torso is the critical factor. One can perform a quick check by taking the kayak paddle and placing the centre of the paddle bar on the crown of the head, then raising both arms to shoulder level with elbows bent at 90-degree angles and grasping the paddle with both hands. The blade of the kayak paddle should be approximately 10 to 12 cm from the outside of the hands to the start of the paddle blade.
The width of the kayak also has an impact on the length of paddle, as the paddle must be long enough to reach the water with the blades. If purchasing a wider kayak, add length to the paddle that corresponds to the extra width of the kayak.
Paddle Shaft Design
While most paddle shafts are straight, some kayakers prefer to use a shaft that is bent slightly at the blade. As a bent shaft blade remains perpendicular to the water longer than does a straight paddle, some kayakers feel the bent shaft paddle is more efficient. If purchasing a bent shaft paddle, one should deduct 5 to 10 centimetres from the overall length of the paddle. The following chart provides a guide for paddle length based on height of the person that is using the paddle.
Height of Kayaker
Common Paddle Length
Tall (182 cm and up)
240 cm or more
Medium (162 to 182 cm)
230 to 235 cm
Short (162 cm or less)
220 to 225 cm
Recreational kayakers may want to use a longer paddle. While longer paddles create more resistance, some kayakers insist the longer paddle creates more speed, more quickly. Longer paddles are better suited to the slow, methodical strokes of most recreational users.
Effect of Water Type on Kayak Paddle Selection
Whitewater or lake water, fast rushing river or calm lakeshore touring: these are factors that determine the type of kayak paddle one should choose. A recreational kayaker uses a different type paddle than a competitive enthusiast, for example, and it is important to understand the differences.
Whitewater Kayak Paddles
Competitive kayakers and those who enjoy the thrill of whitewater should use a whitewater kayak paddle with characteristics specific to this type of kayaking. Generally, shorter paddles work better in whitewater; moreover, because the paddling stroke is often shorter and faster in whitewater kayaking, the weight of the paddle is also an important consideration. Lightweight paddles work well in whitewater providing they are of solid construction: the extra force and current of whitewater kayaking requires a paddle that is sturdy and will not collapse under pressure. Fibreglass paddles provide the durability required for whitewater kayaking.
Recreational Kayak Paddles
Kayakers who want to tour lakes and rivers rather than whitewater and rapids should use a paddle designed for this more relaxed approach. Longer paddles are generally easier to use, but can present weight issues during extended distances. Lightweight recreational paddles constructed from carbon fibre with bent shafts are ideal; however, carbon fibre is one of the more expensive materials.
Materials Used in Paddle Construction
Selecting the right construction material of the paddle, whether wood, fibreglass, aluminium, or carbon fibre, is another important consideration for kayak paddle buyers. The different materials offer advantages and disadvantages in how they respond on the water and in the hands of the user.
Experienced recreational kayakers report that wood kayak paddles provide a better feel for the water, which allows the kayaker to stroke more smoothly and efficiently. Wood tends to be warmer to the touch in colder climates and does not transmit water temperatures as easily as other materials, a plus when kayaking in cooler waters. Wood is heavier, however, and requires a certain amount of maintenance to retain its appearance.
The biggest advantages of fibreglass kayak paddles are their light weight and their durability. Fibreglass is easily moulded into any blade shape and for the most part fibreglass paddles are maintenance-free. There are few disadvantages to fibreglass kayak paddles; those who prefer paddles of a different material generally make that decision based on aesthetics or personal preference.
Aluminium Shaft and Plastic Blade
Aluminium shaft paddles equipped with plastic blades are the most economical paddles on the market. Depending on the plastic construction, these paddles are fairly durable and are a good choice for beginners and recreational users. Aluminium is heavier than many other materials and has a cold feel in cooler climates and weather conditions.
Carbon fibre is the lightest of the materials used to construct kayak paddles. Carbon fibre paddles are durable, but not as durable as fibreglass paddles. Because of their light weight, carbon fibre can help reduce fatigue on long trips or intense paddling. The main disadvantage of carbon kayak paddles is its expense: they are some of the more expensive paddles produced.
Selecting the Proper Blade Design for Your Paddle
When considering blade design, the most significant feature is the width of the blade. Wide paddle blades catch more water and thus propel the kayak more quickly. On the other hand, narrow paddle blades are easier for the paddler to pull in the water, and the reduced effort results in less fatigue.
Feathered blades are designed to reduce wind resistance while paddling: this is accomplished by offsetting the blades at an angle that allows one blade to grab the water while the opposite blade slices through the air instead of pushing flat against the oncoming breeze. Feathered blades require the user to rotate the shaft of the paddle so that that the blade entering the water is at the correct angle to scoop the most water. Blade feathering angles are offset from 45 to 90 degrees, with the lower offset more common. The lesser the angle, the easier it is on the wrists, while larger angles encounter less wind resistance.
Blades are either flat, cupped, or dihedral. Flat blades are easiest to use; cupped blades are more stable in the water, due to their spoon-like design. The third type of blade, the dihedral design, is configured like a wing with a high centre point. The dihedral blade is great for beginners because it experiences less flutter in the water.
Symmetrical or Asymmetrical
Symmetrical and asymmetrical blades are largely self-explanatory: symmetrical blades have an equal amount of material on either side of the centre shaft, while asymmetrical blades have a larger portion of the blade on one side of the centre shaft. Asymmetrical blades are easier to use because they require less effort to pull through the water; symmetrical blades produce more power with each stroke, but tire the user quickly.
Buying Kayak Paddles on eBay
Those wishing to buy a kayak paddle will find on Bay a large selection of kayak paddles in many different styles and brands. It is easy to find just what you are looking for in the eBay listings by using keywords. Simply entering keywords such as 'kayak paddle' into any eBay search bar will yield a list of offerings of many different types of kayak paddle. You can narrow search listings by using specific keywords such as 'fibreglass kayak paddles' or 'asymmetrical kayak paddle'. You can buy with confidence from any given eBay seller by reviewing the seller's feedback rating. Buyers provide feedback regarding such things as the seller's communication and the quality of the product.
Buying on eBay is convenient: browse and shop from the comfort of your home and have the purchased item delivered directly to your door. Because eBay provides a number of safe and secure means of payment, your payment is worry-free.
Kayaking is a fun activity in which outdoor lovers of almost any age and skill level can participate. Having the proper equipment is one of the keys to getting the maximum amount of enjoyment from a kayaking experience. Using the wrong kayak paddle, for example, fatigue the user and even presents the possibility of damage to muscles and ligaments. Understanding the different types of paddles available on the market and how each paddle type corresponds to the various types of kayaking allows kayakers, especially first-time paddle buyers, to make an informed purchase. Additionally, familiarity with the different materials from which paddles are constructed helps buyers select a paddle that meets their needs and performs as intended. Familiarising oneself with paddle design, length, and construction is also advisable, as the correct length of paddle is another key to ease of use and to minimising fatigue when paddling a kayak. eBay is a boon to busy consumers, as one can shop for and purchase kayak paddles from the comfort of home, saving the time and money expenditure that is required by driving around looking for the exact paddle one wants to purchase.