How to determine length of WW paddle?

I was discouraged from trying to find a nonfeathered WW paddle short enough for me a couple of years ago. Too many comments about it not being “done”.

Well, this spring I asked again in one WW shop. The guy said I could order one any way I liked. But the paddles he was pushing cost $400. I didn’t want to spend anywhere near that for something I might not be crazy about.

Today, I went to another WW shop. The guy working there also said I could order one any way I liked, all the way down to child-length sizes. Even better, the cost was only $110, with a fiberglass shaft. The paddle is an AquaBound. I would like to order one but I have two questions:

First, how do I determine what size WW paddle to get? I’m guesstimating 180 to 185 cm, but without sitting in my boat and actually paddling one I can’t be sure. I normally paddle a 215 cm sea kayak paddle. (That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be better off with 205 or 210…215 was just the shortest stock size available I could find.)

Second, is this a decent paddle? Sorry I don’t have a model name, just the brand. The note on the store’s card says it has a “splat blade” shape. I don’t care about weight, just reasonable durability.

Try our the different lengths

– Last Updated: Jun-26-06 4:09 PM EST –

I would see if your store would let you take out some different length paddles to demo. See what length you like and order accordingly.

My friend breaks Aquabounds pretty regularly. However, the price is affordable and they keep sending him replacements.


More info needed
How tall are you? Do you have long or short arms for your size? Torso long or short? Hand size?

In general to get a paddle that performs well and fits you well you have to spend money. Definitely look at Werner paddles. They have an excellent track record and make a wide variety of kinds. My wife is very pleased with hers which has a smaller shaft.

Aquabound paddles have a checkered track record. They will probably work ok if you don’t abuse them. The “splat” design is for smaller paddlers.

180-185 CM
in 0-45 (mostly 15) offset is what I used for ww and surf boats.


on Aquabound
I use a 194 cm, 0 degree, carbon Aquabound Shred as my backup paddle (I’m 5’8"). I know a few folks who’ve broken this paddle but I also know folks (including myself) who have broken Werner and AT paddles. For the price, the Aquabound whitewater paddles are nice although their blades are not as refined as Werner or AT paddles. They have a decent return policy so I wouldn’t worry too much about breakage.

Runt. I don’t use anything under 202.
And I don’t use a feather less than 75 degrees.

but having met PB, I know she is more my size than yours. :slight_smile:

Now, if they would only set paddle price by length…


198 cm is now my main
paddle, carbon fibre Aquabound 0 degree. The price is right and they have lasted. The back up is fibreglass and about 5cm longer. Aquabound is affordable with excellent customer service. Sure, if i had the bucks i would go Werner - but i don’t. I am about 5’10. Going to a shorter paddle from one slightly longer took a few trips to get comfortable with it but not long. I understand the average length for ww use is about 195cm.

Aquabound: not a checkered record
these are very hardy paddles, modestly priced. they are not the ultra high end, but have brought very well balanced paddles, of great durability to the average joe.

any and all paddles will break. they have more paddles out there than any maker, hence more breakages.

their current line up is their strongest, lightest: best ever. there are finer paddles out there, but these are excellent, practical tools.

Werner and Jackson
both have smaller paddles now in the 185 CM range with smaller shafts for women/children. I personally perfer smaller shafts as well. No real special ordering needed, as long as you don’t go below 30 degree offset.

I prefer 15 degree or less. Makes it easier to do playmoves, especially ones that involve some sort of backdeck roll.

You can also ask Pat/Onno for his basic glass layup at any degree offset. It’s certainly at a price point competitive with some of the basic paddles from the companies. A matter of a wait though…


Yep, all you have to do is ask.
Allglass layup is 140. Tougher AND lighter.

Any length, feather angle.

Another thing to think about when considering length is … strictly playboating or surfing ( real) from a close by launch point ? = Shortest lengths.

Or do you have to use the paddle to cover some distance to get to play spot or rock garden? = A little longer.

Any desire to have the paddle work as a cross over paddle for the sea kayak for practice or occasional surf use ? = A little longer to a little longer still but way under a ‘short’ touring length .

A bit of risk

– Last Updated: Jun-27-06 9:57 AM EST –

There's a bit of risk that any paddle you buy won't end up being what you want. I'd avoid spending $400 at this point if you are starting out.

I'd suggest getting some advice from people you trust and finding a used paddle (decent but not high end) that fits that advice. There might be a fairly good chance that you'll be able to resell the used paddle. So this approach might be a relatively cheap way to experiment (the experimentation -will- cost something).

It makes much more sence to go with the $110 paddle rather than the $400. An usually sized paddle may be harder to sell and it would be better to eat $110 than $400.

I'm 5'9'' and started using my 198 cm WW paddle sea kayaking. My sea kayak paddle is 212 cm. It doesn't seem that the shorter paddle is a problem in the sea kayak. (I'm still trying to figure this out.)

Sorry for my hit-and-run post
Belatedly, here is a bit more info:

I am 5’2", female. I have fairly long arms for a female of my size (based on women’s shirts I try on), and average to slightly-long torso length based on same. My hands are definitely larger than small women’s or even small men’s. I have long fingers and use a regular-diameter paddle shaft with no trouble.

Great idea!
How about pricing kayaks by length also?


$140 is very reasonable
How long a wait? I’d have to wait 3 weeks for the Aquabound special-order, and I am leaving on vacation right after that, so I wouldn’t use the paddle till at least August 21 anyway.

Main immediate purpose of this paddle is to practice at a WW park-n-play that is less than 40 minutes’ drive from home. However, the real purpose of that practice is to improve moving-water skills in general, including for sea kayaking, without having to arrange shuttles. Therefore, it sounds like going a bit longer would be a good idea. I would definitely use this paddle sometimes in the sea kayak, especially when I travel to the coast and get a chance to try surfing again.

I guess the above sounds like “What’s the best kayak for everything?”, LOL.

I’m definitely interested in ordering, so let me know about the wait time.

I would be willing to take the risk since there have been many comments about good customer service.

Besides, companies can change. Hyundai now has the best reliability record and Mercedes the worst!

You’ll be glad you did …
as long as you are not bottom bracing off rocks all of the time. I’ve never broken any of my Onno paddles, but someone borrowed one once and managed to snap a blade in swimming pool. Patrick fixed it and it has withstood a lot of abuse since then.

Everyone names their boats but do you name your paddles? — I have a joke with my son that my Onno Surf Paddle is Excalibur- the WaveSlayer.