double blade canoe paddle sizing

So now that we’ve bought our Northwind, we need to buy different double blade paddles. Our kayak paddles are too short (230cm). On our test paddle Saturday we noticed the attack angle was a little too steep, more so for my wife in the bow than for me. So how does one go about sizing a paddle? If I had to guess, I’d bet you have to factor in canoe width at the gunwhales, which is different for the bow -vs.- stern paddler. Are there advantages to getting a double blade canoe paddle versus a kayak paddle? I’m tempted to bring along our standard single blade wood paddles in case we run into situations where the kayak paddles won’t do, but I really don’t want the extra weight. Any thoughts, help or advice would be appreciated.



I’m going thru the same exercise…
See the thread about double blade for canoes. Maybe on second page by now.

If you have a paddle you like and it breaks down, see if you can send it back to the company to have an extension made/fitted. Have them do several sizes while they’re at it. I’m trying to go light with medium blades, no curve, stiffer than my Bending Branches Infusion. My BB is 240cm and I have the problem you describe. Tomorrow nite I’ll try it with my seat lowered 1 1/2" and see if it’s better. I’m paddling a solo that’s about 29 inches where I sit.

Sorry I don’t speak metric…
…but when I got my first solo, I special-ordered a

graphite 9’ paddle, 2 piece, and have never regretted it. Is there a such a thing as a canoe double? I just thought there were doubles, used chiefly by yakkers. And I would definitely carry at least one single paddle, just in case. I carry a bent-shaft. Might not be as important in a tandem, since the other party likely will still have his/hers, but it would be fairer not to make her/him do all the work.

double AND single…
You said you were thinking about taking your single blades with you but were concerned about the weight…take them as the spare paddles. There are lots of times that I switch back and forth between the double blade and the single blade, depending on the conditions and type of place I’m paddling. If I’m in the wind, I use the double. If I’m on a creek or swamp where there are logs or stumps or overhanging branches, the double is out and I’m using the single. I wouldn’t be without either one. I just wish the double fit in my boat a little better once it’s put together.

Jill, what are you using?
You probably already told me, but…

I tried my 240 last nite in the pool and it requires a high angle to get the paddle in the water. But it is handy for doing single blade strokes when it is shorter. Got some tips from a kayak guy who was there last night and he said the same thing about my paddle that the instructors have said: my paddle blade is too flexible and will probably break in the streams that I paddle. Well, I don’t want to be up that creek, so I’m shopping.

I also carry a single blade with me.

Whetstone 240 cm and ZRE bent shaft
I have the solo Wenonah Sandpiper canoe. I like the Whetstone carbon fiber 240 a lot, but it’s a tiny bit too long to fit all the way in my canoe once I have it put together, especially when I have gear in the boat. It’s a little in my way, but I like having it ready, so I rarely have it taken apart and stored unless I’m only using the canoe paddle. I like the length when I’m using it…just not for storing it in the boat!

The only canoe paddle I use is the ZRE Whitewater 50" carbon fiber. I love it. I have a couple of other canoe paddles, but they stay in the paddle bag in the car. That ZRE is so light that I almost lost it in the wind one day just unloading it from the car!

I have another double blade that I like, it’s shorter, and it fits very well under the thwarts and seat when not in use, but it’s heavier than my whetstone, and I get tired faster. I don’t remember the name right off hand because it was given to me, but it’s a good paddle except for the weight.

Of course, now that I have a “new” boat on the way, I’ll have a whole new learning curve. I’ll get my Bell Rob Roy next week…and I guess I’ll find out whether the paddle lengths are all right…or all wrong! There are three paddles coming with it, so one of those might work too.


Thanks, Jill!
Your boat (and new boat) are lower than mine and a bit narrower, so I’m on the right track with a 250cm length. I have the same problem with fitting the double in the boat unless it is broken down. I can reach it easily and put it together quickly, so it works out ok.

Congrats on the new boat! I’ve thought about one of those.

if you want to…
You can test paddle my Rob Roy (or the Sandpiper) if you come to one of the group trips. I think you said you can’t do the Buffalo trip, but maybe the Ozarks trip April 28-May 3 (on the get-togethers forum)? I’ll most likely have both boats with me, although it is doubtful I’ll paddle the kevlar Rob Roy on the rocky sections.

As to paddle length…I don’t know how much difference it makes, but just for comparison, I’m short (5’2") and I have a fairly vertical stroke when using the double blade.


Thanks again, Jill
I have a very vertial stroke with the 240 in my Odyssey. This is fine for manuvering, but in shallow water I get a better bite if I have a shallower angle. That means I have to go longer.

I’m about 5’5" and sit about 4" above the bottom of my boat.

Can’t make the Ozarks this spring. Have a wedding to go to, so we will canoe on the way to the wedding in MN.