Don’t get her a paddle w an oversized blade thinking it’ll help her. In fact it’ll hurt her paddling comfortably.
Suggest you look at Aquabond, the ones w a black shaft and white blades. Might be a bit more than that but a good paddle for the money.
The Aqua-Bound Stingray Hybrid is one of the most popular paddles on the market; fiberglass/carbon shaft, medium sized low angle blade design, and around $150. There are other good paddles out there, but nothing that quite hits the same quality/price ratio.
I too can recommend the Sting Ray. My wife uses a Sting Ray and hasn’t had any complaints. She’s 5’8" in a 28 inch wide kayak and uses a 230cm paddle, so yes, choosing a 220cm for your wife in a narrower kayak sounds good.
I have still not found a better paddle for the money than a Carlisle Expedition.
This is not just a starter paddle. $99.00 on Ebay. I don’t know the length of the one they show. Your girlfriend should have a 220 cm for the boat you got her. Do some shopping around on the internet --Amazon, etc.
I came across one that I got as a backup for my Werner Camano and it turned out to be my paddle of choice for two of my boats.
As I recall, the Carolina is a deep boat. I think she should try a couple of lengths before buying a paddle.
You can get a good idea by cutting a board to the length you want her to try. My concern is her ability to reach the water.
With Valentine’s Day approaching? Increase the budget. Get a nicer paddle. If she gets into kayaking with you the Carolina May not be her last kayak but a really good paddle will stay with her for a long time.
Starting high with 5cm of adjustability and it being very pretty with the new printed in carbon graphics is the Lendal Voyager. $415/$390 in regular black
Mid range $295 is the Werner Camano in fiberglass.
$150 Range I’ll have to leave for others to comment on. I have little direct experience below Werner’s $185 range.
Aquabound Stingray Carbon with posi-lok is $200 at Austin Canoe and Kayak. Sign up for their newsletter and get 15% off.
I also have an Aquabound Eagle Ray in carbon with posi-lok, which is my favorite paddle, and a Werner Camano fiberglass that I like, but I don’t like the ferrule as well as Aquabound’s posi-lok. And I feel that compared to the Aquabounds, it is overpriced.
I’m about the same size as your fiancé, and I paddle a Placid Boatworks Spitfire, 24.5 inches wide, and a Hornbeck pack canoe that is a little wider.
My paddles are all 230 cm.
The posi-lok is the best ferrule system I have tried, worth a little extra money.
I agree with String… also, I have the Stingray Carbon myself… took all last winter reading up on, going to pick up and look at several paddles.
If budget wasn’t an issue, would have been the Werner Camano, but really the Stringray ticks all the boxes for $200+ less. I bought it just this past spring, great paddle for my 12’ CD Kestrel.
Length of Paddle, depends on her height and the width of the yak. Many charts online, Aqua-Bound has their own chart to look at. Probably around a 220.
My (barely) 5 foot wife started off with an Aquabound Stingray hybrid. It’s a good paddle at a decent price although she always wore paddling gloves as she found the shafts just a little abrasive. Since I splurged on a 205cm Werner Cyprus for her she has never used the Aquabound and she much prefers the smoother shaft, not to mention the lighter weight of the full carbon paddle. She also much prefers a more vertical stroke which the Stingray is less suited too.
However, I had a Western Red Cedar Greenland paddle made for me last year and after my wife tried it she now wants one too!
Marshall has an excellent point. Spend the money for a paddle with adjustability in the length now, and lightweight, it’ll save you money later if she tries someone else’s super light paddle and as she develops her stroke.
My Epic has 5 or 8 cm’s of adjustability, though it is older. But I expect they still have an adjustable option.
Marshall mentions one above - "Starting high with 5cm of adjustability and it being very pretty with the new printed in carbon graphics is the Lendal Voyager. $415/$390 in regular black at
I have a Longboat, which is length adjustable. I have seen this exact model sold as both a Longboat, an Epic and a noname. It is also one of the cheapest carbon fibre paddles I have ever seen (excluding those, which call themselve “carbon” but are missing visible weave in shaft or blades).
I have never really gotten used to it, because it has a straight shaft, and it is also slightly heavier than my other CF paddles. But for someone who likes europaddles with a straight shaft, it could be an option. It runs smooth in the water, and it has slightly dihedral blades, so it is easy to hit the correct angle without fluttering.
I currently have an older bending branches paddle with a 215-230 cm adjustable shaft, but those are no longer made. Another option for someone to try different paddle lengths with minimal investment is that some “el cheapo” aluminum shaft paddles with push-pin joints have two sets of holes for the push pins, giving two length choices. I have a couple of them as loaners or for bashing my way up shallow creeks. The ones I have are in the attached link and cost a whopping $19.99 on sale. They’re actually not bad: weigh about 34 oz., fairly stiff for cheapos and the blades don’t pull too badly. I think they adjust to either 225 or 235 cm. I’m not recommending these as a primary paddle, just as a way to try different lengths and then the paddle can serve as a low-end spare.