Kayak Paddles

Kayak Paddles: 4 Different Types | Reviews + Buyer’s Guide (2022)

The very first boat paddle was probably invented to span a river that was too shallow for a trying to push pole to traverse. After all, boat oars and kayak paddles have come a long way ever since. Sleek, powerful, economical paddles that deliver ideal power and grip are created using new tech mixed with the skills and advice of world-class kayakers. This writing will instruct you about the many categories of kayak paddles and how to use them appropriately. Join me on a fast-paced, entertaining, and educational experience. Let’s get drenched!

Kayak Paddle Fundamentals

As there are several variants among the many kayak paddles currently available, their basic design is straightforward. Paddles for kayaks have blades with both ends of the shaft. It’s ok! The shaft usually measures between 7 and 8 feet in length. “Power faces” are the blades’ front sides. “Back faces” refers to the blades’ backsides. When you make a front stroke and move the kayak through the water, the power face catches water. In “back paddling,” the back face performs the same purpose.

Paddlers today have a variety of alternatives for length, diameter, construction materials, form, and style. The paddles can now be customized characteristics that suit your paddling techniques and needs. Every paddle you use affects if you’re quietly drifting down calm streams, Indian stroking over choppy waters in strong gusts, C-stroking into a strong current, pry stroking to induce an abrupt sharp turn or para kayaking off Niagara Falls.

Kayak paddles are prepared from a combination of materials.

All materials used to construct a kayak paddle have an impact on its performance, longevity, and price. Below is a quick breakdown of what you’ll learn:

  • The most frequent material utilized to make blades is plastic. Shafts made of plastic are almost non-existent. Plastic is less durable than other materials and bends, reducing efficiency and strength.
  • Aluminum is a durable and cost-effective alternative to plastic in kayak paddles. It responds to hot and cold temperature variations, and paddling gloves may be required.
  • Kayak paddles made of carbon fiber and fiberglass are the strongest, lightest, and most efficient. They’re also the most costly.

Let’s get started and look at the various kayak paddles on the marketplace. It’s fine if you find there’s a little more to think about than you anticipated. When deciding which kayak paddle to buy, knowing this information will be useful. We’ll keep it short and sweet, like slashing through a tranquil mountain lake.

Kayak Paddle Blades of Various Types

Asymmetrical vs. symmetrical blades

The idea is about blade design. Visualize a line stretching from the kayak blade’s heel to the toe. Just on top and bottom of the line, the asymmetrical blade will be the same. The top and bottom sides of an asymmetrical blade will be different.

The blades’ length and breadth

A lengthier, skinnier paddle blade will produce more strong strokes than a wider, shorter paddle blade. Short, broad blades better cut into the water. Long, narrow blades are preferable for stroking slowly and easily.

Dihedral vs. flat blades

The angle formed by two physical planes is called dihedral. Try taking a look at a blade again from the power face downward. Do the sides of the shaft line up with the edges while facing away from the center? If so, the blade is dihedral (2-planed). Compared to a flat blade, this design guides water through the blade more effectively and safely. It decreases blade flapping by allowing water to easily drip off the edges. The flat blade, on the other hand, is horizontal, smooth, level, and uniform, though it may contain a middle rib on the power face for added strength.

Spooned vs flat kayak blades

Asymmetrical and symmetrical blades are available in flat and spooned configurations. Flat blades are preferred by beginners since they are simpler to restore direction with if you roll underwater. Once you’re self-assured, spooned blades will likely be preferred because they grab the moisture and provide greater force and much less bounce.

Kayak paddle blades with feathers vs. without feathers

“Unfeathered” refers to a kayak paddle having both blades on the same plane at every end of the shaft. The paddles are called “feathered” if the blades are positioned appropriately. Feathering minimizes air friction above water while providing underwater speed.

Most kayak paddles include flexible blades that allow you to vary the amount of feathering. To alter the feather on a paddle, just adjust the ferrule on the shaft such that the contrasting blades misalign instead of being equally positioned on every end of the shaft.

You’ll perhaps be capable of feathering a paddle from 0 to 60 degrees if it has a snap-button ferrule. Many paddles feature devices that let you modify the ferrule angle to every angle you like.

When it comes to feathering, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s all about making the most of your time on the water, increasing our efficiency, and reducing our physical exertion.

Greenland” kayak paddles

Greenlandic paddle blades are long and slender. They’re also known for having short, heavy shafts. Such paddles are designed for endurance and delicacy, not for power bursts. They’re symmetrical and good for delicate motions, but they’re not good for rapid power.

“Euro” kayak paddle blades

For demanding applications power and speed, Euro blades feature shorter, broader surfaces. Because these blades take in a lot of water to move your kayak, they wear out your muscles quicker than Greenland blades. Due to their greater power and control, this style is famous among sea kayakers.

Types of Kayak Paddles

And now it’s time to delve into the many varieties of kayak paddles. It might assume that all blades are the same if you’re new to kayaking. However, there are variances between the many models available. Understand that deciding which style of the kayak paddle is ideal is largely a matter of personal taste and specific purpose.

If you plan on paddling a whole day on clear seas, you might want to choose a Greenland-style paddle to increase your stamina. Its thin, lengthy blades of a Greenland paddle, on the other hand, may not be appropriate for combating white water rapids. So don’t be concerned. Simply take pleasure in the learning method.

Paddles for kayaks with low-angle blades

Minimal paddle blades on kayak paddles enable each stroke to be effective and simple. Blades are thinner and lengthier than high-angle blades, allowing them to glide more smoothly through the water. They enable you to drag the paddle along through water with a little less effort required every stroke, allowing you to paddle for longer periods.

This style of kayak paddle has a “low” angle of 20 to 30 degrees, which is significantly more horizontal than a high-angle paddle. Kayakers who enjoy a longer, more peaceful time on calmer seas should use low-angle kayak paddles.

Paddles for kayaks with high-angle blades

Paddles with high-angle blades allow for more strenuous paddling in more difficult marine situations. They’re broader and quicker than being on low-angle paddles, and each forceful stroke moves a lot of water. They collect and retain water to help the kayak go faster.

With high-angle kayaking, the stroke is much more vertical than in low-angle kayaking. High-angle paddles are commonly used by athletes who appreciate the trials of whitewater kayaking, kayak surfing, and other forceful boating circumstances.

Paddles for kayaks with short shaft diameters

While your pointer and thumb can’t reach whenever curled around the shaft of a conventional paddle, suggest a simple kayak paddle. But it’s much more than just being able to twist your fingers.

The diameter variation between a regular and tiny kayak paddle is usually less than 1/8 of an inch or roughly a 12-inch circumferential variation. That’s a little distinction!

Even the tiny difference in size can make a significant impact as far on how your hands react to hours of paddling. It all comes down to the angle at which your blades make contact with the water.

When paddling with a small-diameter shaft, every stroke results in a substantial shift in blade angle. Each slight move of your hands generates a significant variation in blade angle when paddling with a normal paddle.

What exactly does that imply?

Whereas a thicker shaft promotes blade control, it can give improved paddling precision. It’s worth noting that the better control is independent of the paddler’s hand size. It all depends on whether you require finer blade manipulation for your chosen paddling style. If you prefer a paddle with a smaller diameter, go for it. Just be aware that you may lose a few of the better blade control that a wider shafted paddle would provide.

Paddles for kayaks with bent shafts

Bending the shafts of kayak paddles improves paddling control while reducing the physical impact on the paddlers. The curved shafts improve efficiency and comfort. Traveling paddlers and others who want to spend more time on the water and feel less fatigued generally utilize these strokes. The bent-shaft kayak paddle’s curved form improves wrist position and synchronization, resulting in a faster, more fluent stroke. A day on the water is now more fun, less taxing, and safer.

How to Maximize the Use of Your Kayak Paddle

It’s difficult to deny that a kayak paddle is only as excellent as the person who uses it. Whatever kayak paddle you choose, you must understand how to get through it.

The Fundamentals

Hold the center of the paddle shaft on the crown of the head and grip it with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle to correctly space your hands on the kayak paddle. With your arms and the paddle shaft, construct a rectangular cross-section with your head in the middle. Having your hands evenly spaced apart, you’ll be able to produce even force with each paddle on both sides of your kayak, reducing the risk of the kayak drifting to one side due to uneven strokes.

Correct Torso Movement

You must use muscles across your entire upper body, not just your arms and shoulders, to get something out of any kayak stroke. When they first start kayaking, many beginners forget to activate their core.

Your feet should be firmly planted in the molded-in footwells or movable foot pedals in the cockpit when you’re sitting in your kayak. This will help you keep your balance while also working your core muscles.

Well, you may gradually rotate your torso away after that side of your kayak while dipping one of the paddle blades into the water. You’ll engage your core and slightly spin more toward the side of the kayak where your blade is in the water as you drag the blade from bow to stern.

You may then just repeat the operation on the opposite side. It may feel odd at first, but you’ll discover that this torso action saves you energy and improves the efficiency of your paddle strokes with time.

Getting Rid of Flutter and Twist

Water builds upon the surface of one blade of your paddle as you move it along the edge of your kayak, agitates it, and then puts unequal pressure on the blade’s surface.

The blade will flutter and, if applied with enough effort, the paddle will twist in your hands. Because broader blades are more sensitive to changes in the angle of your paddle blade, flutter and twist are more of an issue.

A powerful, mechanically sound paddle stroke is forced to minimize and remove flutter and twist. To lessen the chance of twist and fluttering, add a rib through the middle of your paddle blade or create a little dihedral cross-section.


It’s vital to remember that these kayak paddles aren’t mutually exclusive while choosing one. A bent shaft paddle with plastic blades and an aluminum shaft, for example, might be used.

However, by following the guidelines outlined in this article, you will have a better notion of which kayak paddle is best for you. You don’t have to worry about getting the right paddle the first time since you can always improve.

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