Canoe paddle vs Kayak paddle

Greetings y’all!

I have an Old Town Camper. I am considering using a kayak paddle when I am on the lake. Pros and Cons. Is there a certain length, blade shape, mfg?

Thank you

Stepping outside my expertise here, but that is a standard width canoe with sides that don’t slant in like some of the solo canoes that people use the kayak paddle with. I actually just got a Wenonah prism solo that people paddle that way, but I’ve been sticking to a canoe paddle. Just me though. I want the paddle that was designed for controlling a canoe. I also want to have solid canoe skills that transfer to other boats.
Sit in the thing with a kayak paddle and go through the motions. I think it’s going to require to much stretch and lean side to side to make it work.

My ex boyfriend and I had two canoes and we paddled them a lot during the 4 years we were together since he lives right on the banks of the Susquehanna River.

They were an Old Town Guide 147, which was 38" wide and 13" deep. Your Camper is 36" wide and 13.5" deep so pretty much the same.

The other canoe was a Mad River Adventure 16 which was 33" wide and 14" deep – kind of an oddball boat which is almost like a hybrid of a plastic canoe and a sit on top kayak. It had tumblehome (the gunwales “slant in” the way dcowell above describes.) With that canoe we almost always preferred to use kayak paddles (230 cm in the bow and 240 cm in the stern, both of them fiberglass Werner touring paddles).

But we did not like using kayak paddles with the Old Town, which had the same straight sides like your canoe. I would bang my knuckles on the gunwales in the bow and the extra width ahead of the stern made it inefficient for him too. So we used canoe paddles with the Old Town.

You could try it out – some places with kayak rentals will let you just rent a paddle if you don’t have anyone you could borrow from. You would probably want at least a 230 cm or 240 cm depending on your own reach. No way to know until you try it but unless you are pretty tall with long arms I kind of doubt it would be efficient.

I sometimes paddle my kayak with a single blade. I sometimes paddle a canoe with a double blade. Can we not call them “canoe” and “kayak” paddles?

There are two advantages of a double blade in a canoe: 1. since you paddle on both sides of the canoe, it eliminates the need to use a stroke with a correction component, such as a j-stroke. Since no energy is needed for the correction, all energy goes into forward propulsion. 2. it is easier to learn.

Disadvantages: it’s a wet ride, with a lot of water dripping off the paddle into the boat. The paddler has to hold the weight of the double blade at all times. With a single blade, the weight of the paddle is supported by the water for half the stroke. With a side wind, most of the double blade’s strokes will be taken on the lee side of the boat, so it’s a lot like using a single blade, only you have to hold the weight of the whole double blade. When paddling in tight confines like a small stream or river with trees in the water, it’s hard to swing a long double blade without getting caught up in branches. It’s inelegant and soulless.

Sometimes, especially with a wind or current working against you, the double blade can be an effective means to move forward, but mostly, I feel better off with a single blade. Sitting higher than a kayak and in a wide canoe, you need a long double blade, like 260, or more. It takes a strong person to swing a blade that long. I guess I’m not, because it wears me out.

All great information. Upon further review I will be staying with my single blade. Thanks for the info!

Canoes usually require a longer “double blade” paddle. That’s a double blade canoe paddle, no spoon. I use my GP in the solo. Using a 230cm or longer in the canoe. Shorter kayak paddles will encourage knuckle busting. Some of my canoe friends use paddles 9 ft long.

I use a vintage Bending Branches wooden kayak paddle (230 cm) with my little solo canoe. But it has narrow blades and is quite light so it clears the gunwales and is not tiring to use. It’s almost like a double ottertail. I use an ottertail single blade canoe paddle with that canoe also. (That’s a beavertail paddle I used to have in the canoe bow in the photo.)

Hi willowleaf, I have used a double blade (240) in headwind conditions sometimes in my solo, but that is rare. I bet the solo you are using the 230 double blade is no more than 30" wide at most. I would think in the Old Town Camper which is at least 6" wider would take something considerably longer than my 240. I think a single blade has the advantage over a double in a wide straight sided canoe. In the wind with a single I often leave the blade in the water, and correct on the return by simply angling the blade as I bring it forward through the water. You don’t lift paddle weight doing that either, nor does the wind catch the double blade that Is in the air like a sail. However, each to their own as we do this to enjoy ourselves. BTW what solo are you paddling?

Feathering the blade(s) on a double is recommended. But it takes some wrist movement. It’s also a kayak thing.

Yes I am aware of that. I have a crank shaft Lendal set permanently at 60 RH (old school), and my others I often set at 30 RH. I don’t find that feathering requires me to bend my wrist. Depending on the direction of the wind It can still catch a feathered bland face broadside. a Gp is less effected and a GP storm paddle even less.

When paddling solo in a canoe I like to use a trad paddle most of the time with a C stroke.
Sometimes I like to mix it up and use some different muscles, especially into the wind and use a wood Sawyer kayak paddle.

Castoff: My “new” little solo is a 13’ Curtis Lady Bug (circa 1984) picked up in Rochester last Summer on my way to kayak in Maine with Celia (though it stayed on the car while there). I did take it on a short trip on Fish Creek in Saratoga Springs, NY, on the way home from Maine (my brother lives up there.)

It’s 26" at the gunwales, 29" at the maximum “belly” of the tumblehome so quite easy with either the double or single blade. I love the 34 pound weight – I can carry it overhead to the car balanced with my head on the woven strap canted seat.

So far. other than the Fish Creek lily dip, I have only had her out 3 times, twice on the meandering inlets of 3200 acre Lake Arthur (where the photo was taken) and once on a short run up and back on the last 6 miles of the Youghiogheny. It’s a lovely little boat.

My single blade technique is sorely lacking, however (the main reason I have been using the kayak paddle as sort of a crutch). I had hoped to take it up to Kingston, Ontario, this summer to visit and get some tips from my old paddling guru, Dennis Burr, an expert sea kayaker (and former Canadian national champion in downriver racing) who had helped me a lot with my kayaking skills many years ago. Dennis switched to a solo canoe in recent years to enable his aging Aussie to more easily join him on the water. Alas, we Yanks are persona non grata north of the border for now (and all the canoe symposia have been cancelled this year) so I shall have to struggle along on my own for now.

I do plan to take the canoe out tomorrow though – our nasty heat wave has eased and I need to take advantage of the clear skies.

A few photos of the Lady Bug.

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Beautiful solo! I see it was made in 84.Coincidently I have a used 1984 green Curtis Solo Tripper that is 15’ 8" long, and 36# made of Kevlar and S-glass. It is my favorite solo canoe. I have owned 5 solos, but still own one other. My pal Maggie sure liked it too. She would jump in as soon as I put it down.

I think you will find a love for your Lady Bug that you already have for your folders. There is also a great satisfaction in learning how to control the boat with a single blade. There are a lot of knowledgeable canoers here that have been paddling a long time. I don’t claim to be at the level of many of them, but I paddle lots of twisty water and tree choked streams which do teach control. I certainly feel comfortable using a single blade. I have canoed since the 1960s.


I am pretty new to the paddle world. When I was in 7th - 10th grade, I was taught how to kayak with Gordy Sussman (He started Rutabaga Paddle sports here in Madison, WI) however that was a long, long, time ago. My girlfriend, and my dog Jura, paddle several times per month. The reason that I was looking into a double blade was due to the constant switching I have to do to keep my boat in one direction. I believe I paddle a wee bit harder than she does! I am learning to control the boat and direction a little more each time we are out! Thanks for all the input all y’all!

Hey Papa, watch a few YouTube videos on the J stroke, C stroke, Knifing J stroke(Canadian/Indian Stroke), and Static bow draw stroke. All but the Static bow draw are forward propulsion strokes with a correction component to help you stay on course. You might also want to watch a few Freestyle canoe videos to see how a canoe can really dance.

To give you an idea of how a Static draw works, I am doing a static draw mid canoe to cause the canoe to side slip in the photo of me paddling with Maggie.

Papa if you are paddling stern hard and are having trouble going straight any little error is magnified
The bow has much less influence
Make sure your paddle path parallels the center of the boat not the gunwale and dint bring your hand in back of your hip Thats an automatic yaw and then you have to fix it

I have an Old Town Camper and I use a 250cm Bending Branches paddle along with a cheap “snake beater” canoe paddle. I started out with a 260cm BB but it split and the shop only had the 250. I only use the 'snake beater" when I am in rapids.

If you paddle a vintage Curtis canoe, even one with a linoleum floor, it is essential that you use a single blade paddle.

:+1: :+1: :laughing:

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