Good Paddle for Beginner

I was wondering what would be a decent paddle for a beginner. I was also wondering about length. I’m 5’5" and my kayak is about 28" wide. I’m assuming a person’s height has something to do with the length, but I would also assume that the width of the boat and the way a person paddles would also make a difference. Does 130 cm seem about right? I don’t want to hit the sides of the kayak, but I don’t want something too long and too heay either. I was wondering about different shapes, sizes and feathering. I had a chance to hold a more expensive paddle. I think it was fiberglass. It was very light, but I’m not willing to spend $200 just yet. It was also short, I think around 110 cm. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good recreational paddle for my Necky Rip? Any suggestions on paddle shape, design or length? I would prefer a paddle that isn’t too heavy.

You want what everyone wants.
the lightest, best paddle for $50.

Unfortunately you can’t have it.

The lighter the paddle, and the better it is made, the more it costs.

For that width kayak, you should get a 220.

230 will be too long and heavy, and a 210 will be too short

Jack L

Good Paddle for Beginner

– Last Updated: Sep-06-10 11:50 AM EST –

I realize a lighter paddle will cost more money, but I was also wondering about the design of the paddle, the size of the paddle (not only the length, but the actual size of the paddle that goes in the water) the shape of the paddle, flat vs. curved, etc. I'm sure different shapes and sizes will affect the efficiency of the paddle. I'm assuming you also have to consider the paddler's paddling style and consider personal preferences.

High angle v low angle paddling
There are blades that are best shaped for either of these styles. The only way to know which shape to get is to do some work on your forward stroke, whether by lessons or DVD, and figure out where you sit in that. For the moment, one of the relatively lightweight paddles by Aquabond are good value for the dollar and will still be OK as spare paddles once you have your paddling style sorted out, and or move to another boat down the road.

might need longer

– Last Updated: Sep-06-10 2:21 PM EST –

I'm the same height as you and my first two kayaks were 25" beam and fairly low decks, yet I found I needed a 230 cm paddle -- the 220 that was recommended to me caused my knuckles to bang the gunwales during low angle paddling. At 28" I assume you've got a recreational style yak which is likely to have an even higher profile. One way you can test what feels right lengthwise is to borrow from other people for a few minutes or even take a half day trip to a local waterway with a kayak rental concession and ask if you can rent a couple of paddles of differing lengths (they usually have more paddles than boats)and see what feels right. I have 230 cm and 240c cm standard paddles and a 210 cm Greenland paddle -- all of which work for different kayaks (I own 4 boats at the moment) depending on width and deck depth. I have short arms and a short upper body for my height, so you may not need any that long if you have normal proportions.

While I understand your reluctance to pay $200 for a paddle, I urge you to consider doing just that. Think about it: the paddle is your propulsion system and it's something you will have in your hands and be driving with your body the entire time you are paddling -- to some extent the quality of your paddle can improve your enjoyment of kayaking more than can a more costly boat.

Almost every time I've gone paddling with a group that includes beginners with cheap rental or purchased paddles (especially with aluminum shafts or stiff and heavy plastic blades and usually too short for them) I loan someone one of my spare Werner, Voyageur or Greenland paddles and the reaction is always "wow! this is SO much easier/more fun!". An investment in a well-made, light paddle will be something that will enhance your kayaking pleasure, increase your learning curve and will be something you will keep even if you go on to a narrower, faster boat in the future.

Canon Paddles
I like their aluminum one best of all the super low priced paddles. I don’t have one anymore but It was good until I gave it away.

Don’t worry about the first paddle to much so long as you can take it apart you can carry it as a spare.

For my 28 inch wide boat I like a paddle about 215 cm.

from one newbie to another,…
Let me suggest you find the lightest paddle you can afford. As beginners we don’t have our strokes perfected yet; maybe not much technique at all. That means we’ll be working physically harder until we do, probably using our arms too much and correcting our steering a lot.

Yesterday I was paddling upstream for about 2.5 miles with 10-20 mph winds. That light composite paddle was such a blessing! Try to get one that adjusts for feathering, or not.


Bending Branches Plus
I am a big fan of bending branches plus paddles. You can get a decent one for around $100 and it allows you to adjust feather and length untill you find the length you like and then can decide on a more expensive paddle

some decent ones to look at
in the more affordable range:

Werner Laguna

Werner Skagit

Bending Branches Glide

Bending Branches Evening Breeze

Aqua-Bound Sting Ray

im no expert
but i like my airhead 8 foot paddle. its comfy in my hand seems real strong and was only 20 bucks from wallyworld

Adding to the good suggestions above, should look in the Classifieds here - there are several good 230cm paddles at good prices.

Remember what was said above - if you buy an el-cheapo make sure it’s a two-piece so you can keep it as your spare later when you finally spend the money on something light.

where are you?
If you said you were from D.C. I would say this You don’t say where you are from. If you did, we might be able to help find you a local deal.

Thanks for the responses
Thanks everyone for your input. I have no objection to paying more for a paddle, it’s just that I’m thinking I need some experience first to figure out my paddling style so that I can make a better decision. There is a local place that rents kayaks. Maybe I can try some paddles there so I can figure out what length and style would be good for me.

I forgot
I forgot to mention that I’m from NYS near Buffalo, so if anyone is near there or has anything for sale or knows of anything, feel free to let me know.

Bending Branches Plus
Someone mentioned Bending Branches Plus. There is a sale right now at EMS and they have a Bending Branches Slice Glass Plus Paddle. Is this what you mean?


– Last Updated: Sep-08-10 8:15 PM EST –

that Craigslist post is one of my paddles for sale, probably a bit too short for a 28" wide yak though.

given a choice I would take the BB Glide blade shape over the Slice. they also now make a Glide "Hybrid" model that shaves 5 oz. off the standard one