Beginner looking for right paddle size

New here, and if this board is anything like other message boards I visit there are probably a few types of questions which have been posed countless times…and mine I’m guessing is one of those. But here goes. :smile:

I have a Pelican Apex 100 Angler with a width of 30". I am 5’6 or so. I measured torso, and while I am not positive I did that right I came up with 33". That seems high for my height but maybe not.

I bought a 220cm, and while I have not used it one time yet I am starting to think it might be too short. Should I be looking more for 230? I also found 243cm (96") but that seems like it would be too long.

Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated. I am fairly tight on budget just getting started, so definitely understand I may get what I pay for in terms of quality. For me right now the main concern is just getting out on the water with the right sized paddle. I can have the battle over price of paddle with wife later :smiley:

Your boat is wide and I think 230 is not overkill… It might be too short…But as you have a 220 why not try it and see if you get the blade in the water with your natural paddling style… I hope you can return the paddle as long as it doesnt have an accident

@kayamedic said:
Your boat is wide and I think 230 is not overkill… It might be too short…But as you have a 220 why not try it and see if you get the blade in the water with your natural paddling style… I hope you can return the paddle as long as it doesnt have an accident

Well it came from Wal-Mart so they are pretty generous on returns, and I did keep receipt. Maybe I will try that and see how it goes. Just from reading (probably too much) I keep thinking about banging my nuckles on the sides and getting more drip with the shorter paddle.

Paddle sizing is not an exact science and is highly personal. That said, your kayak is a sit on top so you are not having to clear gunwales (the kayak sides) at a height above your waist as you would in a sit inside kayak. You are about my height though longer in the torso. and though I have never had a kayak as wide as yours, I used to use a kayak paddle when using the tandem canoe than I shared with my former boyfriend and that had a beam of about 30 inches at the point where I sat. I used a 230 cm for that but you are closer to the water than I was in the raised canoe seat so the 220 should be fine. And you probably have longer arms than me. Certainly no longer than 220 cm for your height. You may get others offering different opinions for just as valid reasons as mine – like I said, this is not an exact science. I have paddles ranging from 185 cm to 230 cm for various boats and conditions myself.

You may find you have to use a higher angle to place the paddle blade fully in the water than you might be using if you have not had any formal instruction. Kayak paddling is NOT intuitive and if you can take a lesson or two it would be helpful in getting a comfortable and efficient stroke. Your torso should be moving back and forth when you paddle – don’t just sit facing forward and windmill the paddle with your arms – that puts a lot of stress on your shoulders, wrists and elbows and is tiring. Look at YouTube videos for “kayak paddling torso rotation” to see how you place the paddle in the water and use the strength in your body to move the boat forward. It becomes very natural once you get the hang of it. It’s easier to see it than explain it.

If the paddle you bought has a metal shaft and heavy plastic blades, it would be a good idea to keep an eye out for a fiberglass one that is lighter. I have found used ones for under $50 over the years, but even decent new ones can be found for around $100 - Harmony, Bending Branches, Werner and Cannon all make some reasonably priced paddles. Used paddles by Werner are pretty common since a lot of kayak packages include that brand and people who later upgrade to fancier or carbon fiber paddles will sometimes sell their Werners.

Nothing is going to keep any paddle from dripping on you. And no paddle from Walmart is going to be fun in the long run. Better to have a good paddle with a cheapo boat than a cheapo paddle with a better boat. You and the paddle are the “engine” of the kayak and having one that is light and well balanced will go a long way towards making the sport comfortable and enjoyable, Check Craigslist for a better used fiberglass shaft paddle and then return that “boat anchor” to Wally World and buy the other.

I was paddling a local lake a few years ago and came upon a couple kayaking . It was the woman’s first time out, her date had his own boat and paddle but she was in a rental, a short fat heavy rec kayak with a horrible metal shaft paddle with thick heavy plastic blades. She was complaining about how much she didn’t like what they were doing and how she wanted to go back to shore. I had a spare Werner fiberglass paddle under the bungees on my deck and offered it to trade it to her for a while, along with some tips on technique, She took a few strokes and her face lit up – she took off, leaving her buddy to catch up. I paddled along behind – at one point I tried the paddle she had been using and found it was absolutely awful, like paddling with barbells! Stuck it back under the deck lines. By the time we got back to the dock an hour later and traded back the paddles she was demanding that her boyfriend buy her a “paddle like that one.” She hated kayaking until she got a better paddle in her hands and then she loved it. It does make a difference.