Canoe paddle

Hi ,I wanted some information on canoe paddles.

I own a 16 ft Scott Kevlar canoe and do most of my canoeing on flat water on lakes in Ontario.I need to buy a new paddle and I am confused as to the proper length and shape of a paddle,wood or alluminum .

I am 5’9 , 155lb and always stern the canoe. Thank you, Ralph

at the risk

– Last Updated: May-05-06 6:46 PM EST –

of sounding rude, get one that feels right. It cracks me up how many opinions there are in response to a question. It is a good thing but we're all individuals, strength, size, preferences etc...People; get out and check things out for yourself, get something YOU like. Or I could recommend the "beavertail MachII in kevlar gold with bamboo trim at 54.25""I use a big flat bladed wood paddle for flatwater and a glass composite for whitewater. My son uses a long thin wood blade for flatwater and the same composite 2" shorter for w.w..We check out paddles for feel,size and appearance(flatwater), and get what feels right for us.Couldn't even tell you what length they are and we were out yesterday.

You have got to have some excellent
outfitters in your area. Go see one.

Good advice
There’s a couple of ways to measure to get you in the ball park, but in the end it’s what feels good. By the method of sitting on a bench w/the butt end of the paddle between your legs, one “accpeted” measure is that the bottom end of the shaft Where it joins the blade) be at your nose or eye level. For me that comes out at 58 inches, but I prefer a 60 inch paddle. Just feels better.

Length, shape, weight…
Are key considerations.

To size, grab the tip and the shaft right above the top of the blade as if you are going to paddle, then raise over your head so handle is just over your head. Your elbows should be at 90-degree angles, so keep experimenting until you find the length that achieves this. It is important to note that the blade shape/length will affect the proper length. If you opt for a long willow or beavertail, for instance, you will need a longer paddle; a shorter, wider paddle blade will end up being shorter overall. Too often people size without taking into consideration blade shape/length. What really matters is that the shaft length is sized appropriately.

Blade shape is critical. Are you a powerful paddler? Do you want a blade to move as much water as possible (creating more resistance) or a smaller blade to put less stress on you? Long, narrow blades (willow, beavertail) are generally easier to paddle all day long, but will not provide the same power as a wider blade (sugar island or voyageur designs).

Finally, consider weight, which means material. Most people will want to buy the lightest paddle they can afford. I actually prefer my paddles to be a bit on the heavy side because that just “feels right” to me (but do not necessarily recommend this for others), but that will take its toll on efficiency. And choice of material is also a matter of personal style/preference. I use only wood (just like the look and feel), but others like carbon for weight savings.

Several quality brands out there…Bending Branches, Mitchell, Bell, Grey Owl, etc. Brand, however, is less important than the physical characteristics.

Good advice given here. Paddles are such a personal piece of gear that it’s difficult to say what’s the “right length”.

We used Wennonah Black Bart bent shaft paddles for 73 days on the Mississippi River last year. (, but carried cheap aluminum backups that I used in heavy wave conditions on the pools above Minneapolis.

Try out as many as you can - bent shafts will generally run shorter than straight.

too many options

– Last Updated: May-06-06 10:21 AM EST –

you are asking a question of personal preferences and too many choices. I have a Turtle works ( ) Algonquin Guide and a Bending Branches Loon ( ) both are totally different. They are nice though to teach friends with, put the turtle works with the bow-man and the loon in the rear. they compliment each other, and the pictures look nice.

I also like my paddle 2 inches shorter than I am "suppoed" to. So don't feel too foolish standing in the outfitter's or Dick's or where ever just holding them and pretending to paddle.