So I’m still very much a beginner, but I’m starting to learn skills, and have had a few lessons with more to come next spring. I’ve borrowed other people’s good paddles and know for sure I want a better one to learn with. I think I need a 210 cm and I’ve tried out a Werner Shuna fiberglass blades and a Werner Cyprus carbon. Of course the carbon one was amazing, but I’m on a budget and hope to buy a used one. My rough plan is to just get something decent and cheap until I know what is really my ideal paddle; then trade up.
So, I’m uncertain if I should really be looking for a high-angle blade like the Cyprus or Shuna, which lets me paddle with more power - I’m pretty slow and my boat is an Avocet RM, so I’m still wasting energy keeping it going straight, and I’m not the largest or strongest paddler at 5’6” and 135. But, I also have shoulder issues from time to time and wonder if a smaller blades paddle might be better. So for example I saw a Werner Little Dipper paddle at a good price but I didn’t buy it since I was worried it’d make me even slower. But now I’m wondering if I should’ve. Or maybe I should go for the bigger blade area and just focus on getting my strokes better so I’m using my torso more and stressing my shoulders less.
As you can see I’m kind of confused - any help would be grand.
A properly sized and light weight paddle will provide benefit. Two suggestions - First find some coaching or instruction for safe and efficient technique. If not in person, then many good video reference abound. Second, see if you can borrow some different paddles and better hone in on what suits in terms of length and blade. Also consider a Greenland style paddle to borrow. Yes, you can carve one for less than $20 from nice lumber, but you still need good form and understanding of GP length and shape.
I also prefer smaller bladed, less effort paddles.
I’m 5’6” and 165 lbs and not very strong or very fit.
My kayak paddle of choice is n Epic Relaxed Tour full Carbon with burgundy shaft and length adjustable from 205cm to 215cm. I use 205cm in narrower kayaks for high angle paddling. I searched for years for a paddle that abused my joints the least and stopped searching when I got this Relaxed Tour.
Another smaller bladed and lower effort paddle is the Swift Wind Swift. The one I own is 220cm.
If you go with a Shuna, go 205cm, rather than 210cm for high angle. Less stress on joints.
I tried a Werner Little Dipper for about 20 minutes and thought that it was pleasant.
The Werner Camano and Kaliste are too much load for my joints.
Good luck. Check craigslist and eBay multiple times a day to catch good deals on used paddles before someone else does - crazy good deals can disappear within a half hour of being posted.
In that smaller blade face, Shuna theme I might suggest the Lendal Cadence 205cm which is extendable to 210cm with the current LeverLock ferrule. Lighter than the Shuna but feels very similar to the catch of the bigger blade. Much more indexed shaft than Werner. This has become my go-to for most touring purposes. Lendal Storm when I race (max effort event) or play in surf.
See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY
The fact that you comment about having trouble keeping your Avocet tracking straight suggests that a larger paddle blade is NOT what you need. For boats that want to “wander”, using a smaller blade area at higher cadence will make it less likely to to zig zag – think about it, that is just basic logic. If you are using a large blade and pushing so hard with it that you are experiencing shoulder problems you are just shoving it from side to side. A larger blade and more force will just make that worse. Your Avocet has more rocker than most touring kayaks so it will tend to windcock and yaw a bit anyway. Refining your paddling technique can help that but considering a smaller bladed paddle should also help.
Smaller blades don’t make a paddle “slower”, they are quite efficient. Using any of my slender Greenland paddles I can keep up with and even outpace people in similar boats who are using conventional wide blade Euro style paddles. I don’t have problems with my kayaks “wandering” when I use a GP, even though all of the boats are 23" or less in width. And I can paddle all day with no joint pains or fatigue. Since I recently turned 68, that is important.
I have several Euro paddles (Werners and Aquabounds, both FG and carbon, that came with used boats I picked up over the years) and that I loan to friends. The only one that I ever regularly use myself is an older Voyageur that has very small blades, similar in size and shape to the Little Dipper. I carry it as a spare but mostly I use it when I am on waters where I need to be able to turn more abruptly than a GP allows – coming back to what I said about a wider blade tending to turn the boat when more force is applied.
I bought my first GP without ever having seen one in the flesh, let alone used one. Only got it because I had picked up a wood-framed traditional Greenland kayak replica and wanted the appropriate paddle for authenticity. The first time I took it out on the water was a “eureka” moment and since that day I have rarely used any of the standard paddles I had used for 8 years before that. I have 5 different kayaks at the moment, ranging from 12’ to 18’ in length, and I prefer the GP with every one of them.
I seem to recall that you live in the Hudson Valley, but not at what point along it. I visit the upper Hudson (Albany area) several times a year to visit family, often with my kayak gear. Was going to say if we were ever in the same area (during paddling weather!) I would be happy to let you try out my GP’s (wood or carbon). which are 210’s.
The first time buying a kayak is overwhelming enough without also then having to think about the kayak paddle. It’s a common mistake to think buying a kayak paddle would be a simple purchase. You also may be taken advantage of for thinking so. You might end up with a great paddle by chance but it’s more ideal to know a bit about what kind of paddle will best suit you. Having a paddle that best suits you and your preferred style of kayaking means you will be getting the most out of your time on the water and the biggest bang for your buck.
The size matters. Average sizes for kayak paddles range between 210 cm and 260 cm. The length of your paddle should be determined by 2 things. The main aspect for size for me is the size of the Kayak… I personally have a Feelfree Dorado 125… The kayak is 38" wide. Being a wide kayak, I have to go larger on my paddle…
Hope this helps a little…
I think you’re making a smart choice by getting a used paddle and then trading up later when you know what you want. Further, you indicate that you want that first paddle to be a decent choice. Many of us have multiple paddles and typically carry a spare anyway, perhaps thereby recycling an older paddle. I think getting your paddle length and blade size ‘correct’ would be a pretty good start. With your kayak at a 22" beam, you would want to stay below 220 cm and your tentative choice of 210 cm sounds fine. For blade size, I would go smaller rather than larger. Paddle weight is an issue and lighter with the same or better strength material is nice, but maybe too expensive at $400 plus. Werner seems to be a dependable brand.
After some time on the water with good coaching and trying different paddles (certainly including a GP) you can make your next choice. Other ‘down the road’ issues for a Euro paddle would be
- straight shaft or bent
- shaft diameter and shape (e.g. oval?)
and for a GP
- length of paddle
- blade width
- length of loom
- diameter of shaft
and so on. My experience is that it is easier to buy the right kayak than the right paddle. For example, I ‘inherited’ a nice bent shaft, carbon Werner Kalliste. The shaft is too big for my hands, I don’t care for bent shaft, but the paddle might be perfect for some one else.
Thanks, this is all great info.
Yeah, I have been trying out all the paddles I can, and I can tell there’s no way I’m going to get it just right until I know more and have more experience. I’m all for getting a start and trading stuff that isn’t working for me out later.
Willowleaf, thanks for the detailed explanation of why a smaller blade might work better for me. Makes sense but I didn’t think of it.
I did get to try a Greenland paddle for a few minutes. It was definitely too long for me but I liked it! It made the coolest sound in the water and felt very gentle. In future I would like one, though I’m thinking to improve a bit with the euro paddle first before trying to learn a new technique.
I’m about an hour south of Albany. Would be happy to meet & paddle anytime if it works out. Thanks for the offer.
Winter is coming. As a newer paddler, I am assuming that you will be getting off the water soon. Rather than spending money right now (although impulse to buy can be strong), maybe you can spend time in making yourself a GP. It’s not expensive with equipment or wood. Just time. But, it keeps your mind on the game as snow begins to fly and pile around you.
Here is a resource site:
Regardless of which paddle style you like, I highly recommend discount carbon paddles from QQ sport. 11-11 is the chinese black friday and you can get a Full Carbon paddle of your choice for less than $150 shipped.
something along the lines of this may be what you’re looking for, or browse the other paddles from QQ sport. their price:performance/weight ratio cant be beat.
Sing, you are right, my boat will be hung up for the season pretty soon. I was actually thinking therefore now might be a prime time to score a cheap used paddle. I’m in no big hurry, though, and have patience. More patience than woodworking skills.
MCImes, thanks for the info and link.
Making a greenland paddle does not require a lot of wood working skills, you are basically carving a double ended club. Greenlanders carved these from drift wood with hand axes or knives for centuries. If you use hand tools it’s very hard to screw up and very easy to correct small screw ups, and you don’t have to show anyone your first paddle or even confess to making one if you don’t want. I just made one completely with a swedish hand axe and a knife as the only tools to see what the process was like.
Let your paddling friends know you are looking for a used carbon Europaddle of 205 or 210 and smaller blades, when someone gets a new paddle you are more likely to score kayaking equipment from friends who are kayakers or facebook groups etc. If you live by a good kayaking shop let them know too what you are looking for.
My question is, doesn’t your kayak have an adjustable skeg? If it does, try using it and that should keep the boat from wig-wagging all over.
My best suggestion for a truly great paddle for the money is the Carlisle Expedition, but I don’t know if they are available in a 210. There is a 220 on Ebay right now for $99.
The Werner Little Dipper would be a great paddle. There is one for $178 on Steep and Cheap ; it is also a 220.
If I were you, I would go for the $99 Carlisle Expedition and if the 220 cm is too long for you, it can easily be cut down to 210, or whatever suits you. You might want to have someone with the right tools to cut it down. New index holes will also need to be drilled and they have to be very precise to assure a tight fit for the button.
Your height and boat width I’d go 205 max for high angle if you chose that style. I use a 205 ikelos at 6’ tall. I have a 205 Ikelos, 210 Corryvreckan, 215 Ikelos. 205 is most comfortable as I am not raising paddle so high to get proper depth of blade. Someone here recommend that length and I love it.
Looking for used do a search on eBay or wherever then save it to your home screen. Easy then to search daily.
205 Ikelos i bought used on eBay for 180 few scuffs very light ones.
Agree with using some skeg to minimise wig-wag when you need to.
I bought a Little Dipper to increase cadence when racing a shorter boat. I now carry it as a spare and a storm paddle or if my shoulders are acting up. A nice paddle.
It’s hard enough to find 210’s - don’t think I’ve ever seen a 205. It seems like most people unloading nice paddles cheaply have 230-240 cm ones. And wide boats. But patience is key. Thanks for all the sound advice.
Those with shoulder problems may also be unloading paddles with large blades e.g. the Werner Ikelos or Corryvrecken, even if shorter.
I have two paddles from here. Both the Kiska model, though I think there are some with even less surface area.
Since it’s a smaller outfit, customization was easy. My emails were with the owner.
You don’t mention a budget, but these ones are very light for the price. Email or call and I’ll bet you’ll be steered right.
Thanks, that might be a good source for me for later when I have a better idea of my ideal paddle. For now I’m going to try to find something decent that’s used.