# Confused : Paddle length confusion


I posted about what paddle to get and so on.

I am buying a Lendal Kinetic Touring N12 + G1F straight shaft + varilock.

I have been given really conflicting advice about paddle length and am really confused !

I am a beginner.


Paddling a Cobra Expedition (18’ x 23.5")

On the sea - fast currents / fast changing conditions.

So Nick at Lendal in Scotland has told me to get a varilock 218cm to 223cm.

Other people in the States on this board have told me to get a 215cm to 220cm.

I really need to make an educated decision on this and get something that will work… please help.

So at one end I think that 200cm will be too short and 230cm too long. Is this correct ?

If so then I need to get something in between.

But with only a 5cm variable length I think I need to get it right - any more thoughts ?

I would be very grateful if you can help.


Very individual
While I’m tempted to say that your thought that “200cm will be too short and 230cm too long” is probably correct, it can vary so much according to the paddler.

I’m 6’ and paddle an Aquanaut (21.5" wide) and used a 230 for quite a while. I now set my paddle to 225 (length lock Epic).

Have you tried different length paddles? With your usual forward stroke where does the paddle enter and exit the water? My understanding is the catch should be at your feet and the exit at or just very slightly beyond your hips.

No one will be able to tell you…
No one will be able to tell you what will be right for you. No One, except a paddling instructor who is right along side of you, on the water, watching you paddle.

I don’t want this to come across as if I am being a smart Alec, but if you are not experienced enough at this point in your skill level to decide what paddle length is right for you, you will probably not be able to tell the difference between the lengths when using them.

You are asking about a difference of 3 cm in length, between the 215, and the 218, and I’d bet you that you could not tell the difference if someone handed them both to you, and you paddled with them not knowing the difference. After 4 years of paddling I doubt if I could tell the difference? :slight_smile:

The difference matters only if YOU can tell there is a difference. And that difference matters to you. Paddle length and fit is a VERY personal preference.

The way I figured out what length worked best for me was to have a friend along side of me watch how far my paddle went into the water. I had a 230cm paddle length,and the shaft end of the paddle blade was always 2-3 inches under the water. When paddling with your normal stroke, the blade should be just totally into the water. If the paddle blade is deep into the water, it is too long. If the entire blade is not in the water, the length is too short.

Asking someone who cannot watch you paddle what length you need, is like asking someone what color boat you should buy. The paddle needs to work for your style of paddling.

I hope I didn’t come across too strong, I don’t want to offend you, but paddle style & length is as personal as what kind of beer you drink, or what color tie you wear, or what size shoe you wear.

Pick a length and try it. If you find after paddling a while it isn’t what you like, sell it here on P-Net, and buy what you think will be better. there was an add here on P-Net last week for a 210cm lendal crank shaft only. I replied to him with the idea of buying it for a spare, and it was sold already!

As the Nike ad says, Just “do it”! :slight_smile:

Very personal
I also paddle an Aquanaut and I am 6’ 210 lbs. My paddle is a 210cm bent shaft corryvrecken and it suits me perfectly.

Your best bet is to try different paddles in different lengths and go with whichever feels right for you…

Think about the effects of the diff"s
Do you paddle with a vertical style or with a more horizontal style? Longer = more horizontal. Also longer = more power but more likelihood of injury and possibly more energy expenditure. Longer = slower stroke rate. And 5 cm does make a difference. You may not be able to tell the difference blindfolded but you will tell the difference at the end of the paddling day. Unless you are in great shape, muscular and prefer a slow cadence, go with the shorter range.

How refreshing . .
. . it is to hear someone say there’s no correct answer for a question like this. I agree completely with everything you’ve said.

Sometimes we analysis this stuff to the extreme. Who cares what some unknown poster on the internet thinks is right for you? They probably don’t paddle the same boat, and probably don’t use the same model/length of paddle and they certainly don’t live in your skin. So how can someone you don’t know and who doesn’t know you begin to give such personal advise??

Thanks for the reality injection.



Thanks - some good info - yes, Jed I know that it is down to personal preference but I also think that due to human physiology there are guidlines to things like this. The majority of 6 foot something paddlers in sot’s seem to be using 215 to 220 varilock lendals… I’m not really one to run with the crowd but in times when I dont know about things I like to find out - so the fact that one guy is advising me on a longer paddle got me thinking that maybe it was too long.

It’s like a snowboard length. I would be able to advise someone of the correct length (and sidecut/construction etc) based on their height, experience and riding style and desired terrain… There are some basic lengths that can get reduced to a a simple choice when you know these things. It helps the other person know the constraints that are good to work with. I wouldn’t expect a beginner who weighed 200# and was 6’ to go for a 150cm board for powder. etc

So Jed - I hear you but equally it doesn’t help me ! I know it is personal preference so maybe I should just go for what I want, spend the cash and then sell it when it isn’t right and I know what I want. The reason I am trying to find out more so I can make an informed guess is that it is a right royal pain to get anything here. I live on an island. To get anything here it needs to be posted and the shipping costs are high and take time to get here. So I can’t walk into a shop and buy a longer or shorter paddle.

Anyway - thanks for all your advice - I will change my order to a 215 to 220 because that seems to be what most people would advise me to get. I gots nothing more than other peoples advice as I have no experience paddling. Give me some time and I might learn ! Still I have learnt a reasonable amount about paddles over the last few days - well more than I knew before so that’s good.



Your paddle overall length will also vary by the length of the blade. Long thin blade to short wide blade. The shaft length is the critical measurement. You need to try out some different paddles and settle into a comfortable stroke angle then measure the unwetted shaft. Add the blade length (2 blades) to the unwetted shaft length and you will have the correct length paddle. I have 2 paddles with identical shaft lengths but different blades. One is 210cm and the other is 220cm.

From long to short
I’m 5’9" with long legs & wide shoulders. In 20+ years I’ve been from 230-210. My first good paddle was a 210 Mitchell whitewater, followed by a 230 glass Eddyline-Euro style. Next a 218 carbon Eddyline Swift, then several wooden Struer 218’s. I got my first 218 wing in the late 80’s & stayed with 218 until “02”, dropped to 216 and now I’m using a 213! Most boats have been 18" or so wide. The point is after 20 years, I think I’m just now getting it right. Try to get taped & get some tips/sized for your boat. Good luck.