Canoeing and Kayaking Paddles
Canoeing and kayaking paddles are an essential piece of equipment when taking to the water. Different sizes and designs are available, suited to different levels of experience.
Paddles for canoeing typically have a single blade on one end with a handle on the other, separated by a shaft. Canoe paddles can be wood, fibreglass, carbon fibre or metal.
Canoe paddle blades vary in width, length and shape. Larger blades dip deeper into the water, giving more speed, but require more power to use. Paddles can also be rounded or squared. Rounded paddles are more forgiving when they hit the water. As a basic guide, smaller, thinner, rounded blades with flat surfaces are easier to manoeuvre but produce less power in the stroke.
Canoe paddle shafts can be rigid or flexible, straight or bent. A flexible shaft is designed to absorb the shock of impact. A straight shaft is designed for fast manoeuvres and is a good choice for whitewater canoeing, whilst a bent shaft increases stroke efficiency for distance canoeing.
The standard T-grip is the most commonly used canoe paddle grip handle, offering good control. Contoured grips are also available, but these are recommended for flat water canoeing as they are more comfortable but offer less precision.
Kayak paddles are different from canoe paddles as they have a blade on each end separated by a shaft. It is less common to see kayak paddles made from wood, most have fibreglass or carbon fibre blades with aluminium shafts.
Kayak paddles range in length from about 210cm to 260cm. The correct length depends on your height, your paddling style and the width of your kayak.
The feather angle is the position of the blades in relation to each other. The angles range from 45 degrees to 90 degrees and are designed to reduce wind resistance against the blade travelling through the air.
Kayak paddles can have a solid shaft or one that splits into two for easy storage. Collapsible shafts often also mean the feather angle can be altered to suit paddling style.