We just bought our first kayaks (12 footers). We will only be doing this for fun in local lakes. We need to buy paddles and are not sure what to look for. We do not want to spend a lot of money. I have heard that some paddles make you work too hard…this is for fun so I don’t want that! Any input would be greatly appreciated. If it matters, my husband is 6’1" and I am 5’6", we have sit-in kayaks.
Heavy paddles make paddling a chore
Be willing to spend more money to get to lighter weight ones. You can get into a decent starter with the Aquabond Stingray. But you won’t mind going lighter if you can afford it by 20 thousand strokes from now.
Define “a lot of money”
“Good” paddles can range in price from $100-$500.
Hint - spend more on your wife’s paddle. Make sure she’s got the nicer, lighter gear. As you said, this is for fun so make sure she’s happiest with her gear.
Brand suggestions; Werner, Lendal & Saltwood paddles.
See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
that Stingray is a great choice. My wife has one. It is pretty darn light and I am sure it will last her a life time. Nice paddle.
I, too, agree with the Stingray suggestion. I’m convinced that the carbon version (black blades) is one of the best bangs for the buck in paddles.
My wife and I use carbon Stingrays too and we like them.
Whatever you buy make sure you shop around. With pre-season specials, coupon codes, internet discounts, free shipping, etc, etc you can often get good paddles at excellent prices.
I still say.
The best paddle I’ve seen yet for the buck is the Carlisle Expedition. Actually I’ve done better than just see them; I bought one and I’ve put it to good use. It isn’t just a good paddle, it is a great paddle. And the price is very modest. I often choose the Expedition when a lot of high dollar paddles get to stay home.
Are there any places, like county park lakes or local waterways that have kayak rental liveries? It would be worthwhile to take your boats there and rent various lengths of paddles from them to get a feel for that as well. Though there are numerous “formulas” and graphs for choosing length, if you look you will find that they are not consistent and there really is nothing like seeing how your personal body geometry and the geometry of your specific boat work together with various lengths. You would not think a few inches made a difference but it truly does. Too short and your wife will bang her knuckles on the gunwales, too long and you will be fighting fatigue and be forced into inefficient technique. Simply your height is not the best parameter, People have longer or shorter arms and torsos. I’m a long legged 5’ 5", which makes my upper body in the kayak closer to someone 5’ 2". And, with my short arms, in some wider deeper kayaks and in our canoe I have to use a longer paddle to reach the water across the deck. I have paddles from 213 cm to 240 for various boats. You don’t have a fleet (yet) so you will be able to find one ideal size.
Also, resist the urge to think a larger paddle blade will make paddling easier. For the kind of paddling you are planning to do it will in fact be more tiring and harder to control. Most light touring styles have a slender blade. In fact, many people (like myself) prefer what is called a Greenland paddle which does not look like it has any width at all. I am not suggesting you try to find one of these because they are not common in the marketplace, but I only use it to illustrate that larger size of blade does not make a superior paddle. If you do ever see anyone on the water with a Greenland paddle you might ask to try it. People are always surprised at how effective they are and how much they can reduce fatique.
The recommendation to buy the lightest paddle in your budget is solid and I agree the Aquabound Stingray is a great bang for the buck once you know the right length for you.
There are hidden costs to consider,
and a cheap, heavy, and inefficient paddle will definitely take the fun out of your paddling experience.
The cheap and inefficient paddles have turned off many new paddlers to paddling for that reason.
Lenght of Paddle
The lenght of your paddle can make a difference too. Epic Kayak has a paddle wizard you can use to help figure out the right lenght. Just answer the questions and it will give you some suggestions on the right paddle.
The lighter the paddle the better especially if you are planning on going long distances.
every oz counts
I have no experience with the Carlisle Expedition paddle but feel sure it is good. I do own an Aquabound carbon Stingray and let my wife use my 24 oz Werner Cyprus when we paddle together.
For comparison the MSRP and weight for the Expedition is $159 and 33oz, and the carbon Stingray is $179 and 29oz. So you can save $20 or 4oz depending which one you go with. the actual weight of the paddle is dependent on the length you end up needing.
You may be able to find a sale or discount and save some money that way. I bought my Stingray for $149 before tax.
My first paddle was a Carlisle Day tripper. It is a sub-$100 paddle with aluminum shafts and plastic blades. Used it for a few years, and when I broke it in the surf, I replaced it with the same thing. Considered a heavy paddle. But it worked fine for me, as I didn’t know any better. Even took it as my primary paddle for a 8 day 170 mile trip.
I have since upgraded to lighter fiberglass paddles, and would never go back.
There is something to buy the best paddle you can afford, but on the other hand, use what ya got (or in this case, what you can afford). A heavier paddle won’t kill you.
something additional to consider
You mentioned paddles that make you work too hard. But learning a proper forward stroke will pay big dividends on that issue, and it doesn’t need to cost a thing.
Age makes a differance.
A lot of us here are getting on in years, and a light weight paddle is far more noticeable now than it was in decades gone by.
Sure, get the best you can afford, but I paddled many years with what I would hate to use now, and never knew any better. Then the shoulder started to go, the dear wife got me a nice light paddle, and voila! There is no going back!
Blade size for wife
Willowleaf refers to this, I forgot when I wrote my reply. Do not get your wife a bigger blade thinking it will help her to go faster. It will have exactly the opposite effect to the point that you may end up paddling solo a lot. The bigger blade is harder to draw thru the water and more tiring.
Best to increase speed by increasing paddling cadence (paddle faster), so get a smaller blade for your wife to make this easy.
‘Smaller’ refers to blade surface area.
Small Diameter Shaft
You are probably aware of this but another consideration is shaft diameter. I am 6’ and my wife is 5’ with small hands. In her case a paddle with the smaller diameter shaft made a big difference in terms of comfort.