Canoe Paddle: shorter for tripping?

-- Last Updated: Jun-21-10 6:27 AM EST --

Do you use a shorter paddle for tripping...given that the load shortens the freeboard and bit? Or do you find that the decrease in freeboard is not enough to warrant a shorter paddle? I am a reasonably light packer and only carry maybe 40-50 pounds max.

Do you find a difference whether you are sitting with a bent shaft or kneeling with a straight (I tend to find myself more sensitive to changes in shaft length when sitting and using a bent shaft than with kneeling...but maybe it's just me).

If you have a critical comment in regards to my question then please keep it to yourself...much appreciated.



Paddles Of Several Different Lengths
Loaded, you may be 2-4" closer to the water. I use different paddles with different boats and shorter paddles if I plan on sitting than the ones I use when I plan to mostly kneel. If your paddle is too long your stroke will be more horizontal and you will tire quicker. I was a “Stick in the mud” about different sizes, and shorter paddles until a friend “Converted” me in 2003. It does make a difference. WW

I like to have 2 sizes onboard …

– Last Updated: Jun-20-10 11:29 PM EST –

...... a 54" and a 57" or 58" . Loaded or not , I like to switch now and then , nice change .

The longer paddles give me more power ability when I feel like that ... the shorter great for easy going . I use straight shaft only , kneel for solo or sit for tandem ... still like to use both .

I certainly agree on multiple sizes for multiple boats. I have found the right size for each boat I have…the right size when paddled empty.

I guess I am asking if that optimal size for that boat will change when the boat is loaded. I am guessing that the answer is yes.

I am a reasonably light packer for the most part and only carry maybe 40 or 50 pounds max (for a cold weather trip) so the amount that my freeboard will change may be less than someone who packs more.

I guess I should have caveated that in my question…


water is prettry heavy
You probably aren’t going to have to sink your boat as much as you might think to displace 40 lbs of the stuff.

Depending on what type of paddling you are doing and what type of boat you are in, another factor in paddle length is how long your boat is. If you want to be able to reach close to the ends of a long boat to execute effective stern pries and draws, and bow draws, you might need or want a longer paddle than for sit and switch flat water paddling. In fact, with a load you might even want it more, and the boat length doesn’t change with load.

It sounds like I pack a bit heavier than you Matt.

I use the same paddles with my boat loaded as with it unloaded.

I find the boat handling characteristics quite different. But for me, the paddle mechanics don’t seem to change much.

another caveat…
I really ought to just get out and paddle all my boats with and without a load for comparison sake, but unfortuantely I have an injury that I have has taken me off the water for a while

(bad tendonitis from paddling too much)