Difference in kayak paddles?

Hey everybody!

I’m new to the sport of kayaking. Just bought my first one (recreational) at the end of last summer. Lately when I go paddling, my wrists will sometimes get sore along with my hands. I know I can easily buy a pair of gloves for the hands, but I was wondering does paddle quality really make a difference regarding wrist strain and stroke effectiveness? Let the advice roll!

Part of it is conditioning, which will take place with continued paddling. More importantly, loosen that grip!

A tight grip on the paddle for any length of time will greatly increase the strain on your hands and wrists which will also work into your arms and shoulders.

Yes it does
A paddle that’s too long, with baldes that are too big, or that’s too heavy will make paddling less comfortable. Some blade shapes flutter more than others, which may make one grip harder.

The best way to see for yourself is to try different paddles – borrow, swap with other paddlers, try them at demo days or at dealers.

Gripping too hard and poor paddling technique are common causes of wrist soreness.

Also weight

– Last Updated: May-01-06 12:20 AM EST –

I mean weight by itself. Lighter weight paddles, whether bent or straight shaft, will tend to be easier on your hands. Better yet if they have no flutter. But good paddling technique is still needed to avoid undue wear and tear over time.

The really high end ones can easily run over $300, so you want to try a few out. Your best bet will be to find a club and ask to borrow other peoples' paddles that you think might be nice. It is usually real difficult to demo paddles.

Related topic
Good paddling technique and a nice light paddle are factors, but I’m curious about another aspect - how does the stiffness of the paddle shaft affect wear and tear on your joints? Do the stiffer carbon paddles tend to cause shoulder, wrist and/or elbow problems? I’m relatively new to kayaking and really liked the carbon paddles I’ve tried, but I have middle-aged joints and am concerned about causing problems. Have any of you experienced paddlers noticed a difference when you switched from fiberglass to carbon paddles?

Yes there is a difference
The stiffness has some amount but spinning a lighter paddle is easier all the way around. Big blades if the paddle is light enough, doesn’t bother me to paddle all day. Don’t white knuckle your paddle.

I swing an ONNO full tour with my QCC 700 and it is very effective.


Age 54

175 lbs

JT in Central FL

you use a high end paddle you will never go back.

I commonly sell hi-end paddles to low end paddlers. For as little (yes LITTLE!) as $400 you can own one of the finest paddles made, light and responsive. This is the gears connecting the motor (YOU) to the water.

You will only complain for a very short while about the $$$ spent but you WILL enjoy the paddle every time you go.

Tiger Woods doesn’t use an aluminum putter from Wal*mart, eh??


ps. try an AT Exception- can you say anatomical??

Another vote for AT
Absolutely THE BEST grip cross-section in the world. Just the right shaft crank.

Of course, I mostly use a GP now, but AT makes really nice euros.


I think the AT has a blade shape that closest resembles a GP. pretty neutral in it’s curve and with the foam core, quite buoyant! the shaft we refer to as ‘not a crank’ tho! :wink:


OK, not a crank.
A subtle “S” then?


Paddle is very important!
Try out different ones and find what works best for you (which includes your budget!) Don’t neglect to try a greenland paddle, too. A good home-carved GP can provide a very enjoyable paddling experience for very little money.

If flat calm water
try gripping the paddle without wrapping your thumbs around. “Thumbs up” as the truckers call it so they don’t break a thumb if the wheel jerks around on them while jockeying around at the dock. I paddle with a bent-shaft thumbs up unless conditions call for a more ready for anything grip.

What paddle do you have?
What paddle do you have and what is the length? What boat do you have? How wide is it? How long are your trips? How tall are you?

Details are important.

It’s likely that you are doing a few things that are contributing to your “pain”.

Try holding the paddle more loosely. You can open your top hand (the hand near the blade that is in the air and hold the paddle with just your thumb and index finger around the shaft. This will reduce the need to bend your wrists.

Paddling by twisting your body at the waist (torso rotation) will also reduce the need to flex your wrist.

While a $400 paddle is nice, you can get most of the benefit from a good $100 paddle. You should not feel it is necessary to spend a lot of money on a paddle.