Going to ask my paddle length question

So I finally picked up a kayak. Got a Perception Sport Conduit 13 that I’ve eyed up every time I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods. As I’ve said before, I don’t have a lot to spend so was in the market for a really cheap $200-300 boat. Just always looked at that Conduit. Found one on Craigslist and picked it up tonight.

Dimensions are stated on the web as 26.5" wide with a 21" wide cockpit. Deck height is stated as 12". I have no idea where that is measured at.

I am around 5’8". 230 lb. It is snug and I don’t think I would fit in anything narrower. Weight loss is an ongoing plan though (need to get on the bike and curb the bad eating yet again.)

Reading various sites about paddles, I was figuring I would need maybe a 230 mm paddle. The guy I bought it from plays in whitewater, thus selling this as he bought a yak better suited for whitewater. I sat in the kayak and he had his paddle. His was 195 mm and I was surprised as it looked like it wouldn’t be too short (I didn’t actually paddle, no water around.) I am guessing there is a huge difference between the 230 I thought I would need and that 195.

Thus, I am seeking some suggestion on paddle size for that size boat I’ve outlined above. Now I’m thinking 210 might work or maybe a 220. I now think 230 would be way too long. What would you experienced folks suggest?

Oh, and if you want to see, here it is loaded up on my car while I stopped somewhere for some grub on the way home…


Are you a low angle. or a high angle paddler? I am about your height, [ Fifty years ago I was an inch taller :slight_smile: ] and my boat is 24 inches wide. I have tried 210 220 and 230 cm paddles. I mostly use a 220, and I am a high angle paddler. For big water and times I want speed, I carry two 220s, primary and spare. For lazing in calm water I carry my 230 as a spare and switch to it in shallow water where high angle is not practical. The 210 was borrowed, and I was never comfortable with it.

If you can barrow a few different paddles and try them for at least a couple hours each, you will have a better idea than you can get from someone typing on the internet.

Good advice about borrowing a few …
paddles of different lengths.

I’m a high angle paddler and 210 would be more than enough length for me in 27 inch boat, I’m used to using shorter paddles though.

Another thing you might
As far as paddle length try a few if possible. Iam 5’8" too but paddle much narrow kayaks. I use a 210 when I use a euro type paddle.

The other thing is I would add perimeter lines to the kayak if you paddle any open water or even mildly fast streams. Why, well the conduit only has bungee on it and that wont help you to get back into the kayak in open water or on streams with moving water better to grab deck line than bungee if you tip over and current tries to sweep your kayak away. You can buy deck line at places like here http://topkayaker.com/ or maybe a local kayak store if there is one in your area.

Have fun but remember the water right now in most places is still very cold. Were the right clothing.

Start with a 230
Especially if you will mostly be doing leisurely paddles on small lakes and streams. As you get more confident and feel like paddling with more speed you will likely move to a higher angle stroke and you could eventually get a 220 or even 210. But by that time you will be well advised to carry a spare paddle on your deck and the 230 can move to that position.

Also, don’t fall for the “bigger is better” notion when iooking at the paddle blades. A fatter and wider blade is not more efficient and can actually mean more work and more fatigue. Slender is better, and get the lightest that will fit into your budget, even if you have to streeeeetch that budget, The paddle (and you) are the “engine” of the kayak and a lighter paddler will be saving you cumulative tons of effort. There are decent lighter paddles under $120. Stick with fiberglass or carbon or a combo of them for the shaft. NO aluminum.

same boat, same hight
And I was constantly bashing my knuckles with a 210. I gave it to my son and switched to a 220 with a wider grip. It’s much better now.

If I paddle my son’s Pelican Storm 120, I use the 210 without any problems.

Suggest no less than 220
because at first you are not going to have the kind of torso rotation everyone is going to tell you to get. And going too short does indeed produce bashed knuckles. You want to start out having a good time, not treating bruises after every paddle.

FWIW, the better the paddle the easier it is to make a length change later on. The major manufacturers will all shorten your paddle for a fairly reasonable price given the importance of the thing. Kind of like tires on a car - you will never regret a good but pricier choice. Especially since it gets you less weight. You can call the manufacturers to ask about shortening.

Perhaps you can score a really good deal on a used paddle that is a 230 on EBay or the gear/for sale area if you have a local paddling club, and still find room to get it shortened.

And as willowleaf says, don’t get sucked into the big blade idea. It is only more efficient after you have many miles in to have become a very strong paddler. Until that point it is counter productive and mostly leads to shoulder injuries. Stay with the usual size blade, the one that us usually in the middle.

Paddle length info.
There is a wealth of information about paddle lengths in the pnet archives.


Rule of Thumb
With all that is said about paddle length, I find the right size is one that just goes past the tips of my fingers with my arm stretched up and the other blade on the floor.

If not joking, then what?
I just tried out that method. Standing flat-footed on the floor (no shoes), I can easily touch an 8-foot ceiling with the fingertips of one hand. That’s closer to 95 inches than 96 on account of the drywall, but “just beyond the fingertips” would be an even 96 inches (8 feet). Are you suggesting that a kayaker who’s 6’1" tall ought to be using a 245 cm paddle? I’m sure that idea will get a lot of support here.

Read the rule of thumb…
I’ve read that rule of thumb as well, on one of the paddle company’s site.

Following that rule of thumb, I wasn’t anywhere close to reaching a 230 cm (oops, I wrote mm in my first post, lol.)

And sorry folks, not made of money at all here. Just spent 6 months savings on a $300 boat. No choice but to buy a cheapie in a paddle. I grabbed a fiberglass 220 for cheap at Dick’s. Like I said, my fingers weren’t any where near the tip of the 230. It just felt way too long so I went with 220. It will work for me for a year. Maybe I’ll upgrade next year.

Now to expand on other comments here since some folks mentioned it… I don’t have a clue whether I am a high angle or low angle paddler. I’ve only been in a junk rental at the lake for 2 hours. I had no idea what I was doing last fall when I went. I do know I was trying to dig in a bit vertically with the paddle. Since then, I’ve been watching a lot of videos, one that stood out very well to me was Kayakhipster’s video (here or on “the other site” since it was previously censored last time I typed it, LOL) video he posted with clips put together showing his progression of his paddle stroke. It was quite impressive. It gives me incentive to really concentrate on the stroke immediately when I take my maiden voyage in this boat. I will concentrate on not trying to muscle the paddle through the water from the start like I was doing in the rental last year.

Hip rotation
I enjoy watching Luke’s videos, but he doesn’t have a cutaway like Greg Barton does:


Works for me. Maybe I have a long torso

Paddle Lengths
Never found the various paddle length guides, or personal advise very helpful. Too many variables as to individual paddlers, paddling style and type of boat. As many have posted, try as many as you can, in different lengths, for a few hours at a time, and you’ll figure it out. I ended up with a couple of 210 Lendals that work great in any kayak, from 20 to 30 inches in width. Tim