Kayak paddle choice?

Hello everyone,

While I am still a bit fuzzy on whether to look for a cross over or touring kayak for under CII rapids but mostly creeks, I have a much better understanding now.

I found a place called the Ozark Mountain Trading Company that definitely has a bigger selection of kayaks than any place I have seen and they allow me to demo them first, any that I want. Plan to spend a day up there soon. They also say they have some of the best paddlers in the state that might give me some tips.

Anyways, to the point of this question. I need some advice on paddles. I know carbon fiber is the lightest/stiffest and probably best so that is what I plan to have the shaft made of. I know touring paddles are much different though I am curious if WW paddles are different? (shorter maybe?) Anyways, my question is, is there anything I need to look at with the blades of a paddle or do I just find the right length and go?

I’m still a newbie…

– Last Updated: Sep-17-14 10:55 PM EST –

But I can tell you that before you go investing in paddles, know what kind of paddling you'll be doing and even what kind of paddler you are. You definitely want a carbon shaft and eventually you can get an all carbon paddle, although those are easily in the $400-$500 range so I don't recommend making that investment until you know exactly what you want.

There are touring paddles for low angle, easy paddling, and then whitewater paddles tend to have larger blades/bigger power face. Among that though there is variation. For example I just do ocean kayaking on calm water but I prefer a larger paddle face because I have a higher stroke. Add on top of that you can even get paddles that have a feather (different angle on each end) although I haven't gone down that road yet. And then there's straight shaft or bent shaft. In other words, no, it's not exactly as simple as getting one that's the right length.

When you go to demo boats, see if you can demo several paddles too!

Edited to add: Check out Werner, they are one of the best-known companies and if you look at the left-hand side you'll see they have the paddles arranged by what you'll be doing with them: http://wernerpaddles.com/shop/kayak-paddles

paddle differences
In general (of course, there are exception):

White water paddles have short, stumpy blades and are shorter in length. They usually are one piece paddles built for strength and are of a short length (under 200 cm long). And usually are feathered (the blades don’t line up with each other). The primary goal of a whitewater paddle is to be able to sprint to safe spots when you need to move. Paddling over long distances is not normally done, as the river current carries you. As a spare, they often have a 4 piece version of the paddle which can be stowed inside the kayak.

Touring paddles are longer in length (210-240cm), have varying size/shape blades depending on what people prefer, are 2 piece, and have adjustable feathering. The goal is a paddle that is comfortable covering distance as the water doesn’t move the kayaker the direction they want to go. Light weight is more important than strength, as touring kayakers don’t often put lots of pressures on their paddle.

Thanks for the info. My current paddle has the option to feather and after trying it several times I am not a big fan of that. I read online it is mainly used to cut down on wind drag when the opposite blade is in the air.

I didn’t know there was a difference between a carbon shaft and full carbon paddle, great to know!

My paddling will consist of going upstream and downstream on creeks and streams with small rapids but I have a high angle paddling technique. So I guess it did answer my question since WW paddles will be too short for me and touring paddles are obviously shaped different. I just didn’t know if it got super technical when looking at the blades.

You probably want to stick to a WW
It sounds like if you are doing shallow streams and creeks you will want a fairly stout whitewater paddle.

If you are a high angle paddler it will probably be less than 197 CM.

A good starting paddle is the AquaBound Shred hybrid about $150, or the Carbon Shred about $200. I would start out with the hybrid paddle and see how abuse you give it. A better option for a carbon paddle is the Onno paddle, but maybe not the best for shallow rocky streams.

I was thinking the same way-
a more durable ww paddle for shallow rocky creeks- I don’t baby my paddle at all- pushing off the bottom, throwing it up on rocks- so I go cheap and plastic (Werner Rio)- almost everyone I paddle with uses glass or carbon fiber- much stiffer, better performance, lighter but they have to take care of their paddle a bit more

come to think of it- all of my kayaks and canoes are plastic as well

Kayak Width
Would I be able to use something like that in a kayak as wide as mine?

Says width 30" and cockpit width 17" not sure the difference.

It depends on a few factors
Your height, the kayak width, and seat height.

Best to try a few paddles with your boat if you can to see what is comfortable.

I use a 197 cm in an Ocean Kayak Frenzy sometimes that is 31 inches wide. A beginner might bang their knuckles a lot doing the same thing. For small creeks and streams I would go with the shortest paddle you can. The Shred and the werner paddle mentioned above come in 200 which probably would be just fine.

Flat water

– Last Updated: Sep-19-14 7:01 PM EST –

Will using a super short paddle affect flat water much? There are quite a few stretch of flat water in between the rapids and occasionally I will be on a slow moving river. Still trying to decide if I want a crossover or short touring boat.

I'm 6ft btw.

The OP indicates “less than” Class II
Also, a wide kayak. If this is accurate, I disagree with those recommending a short white water paddle because you are not paddling in the kind of water that such paddles are designed for and your boat is fairly wide. If it were me I would find an inexpensive paddle about 210 to 220. Later, when you have some more seat time under your belt things will begin the clarify for you and you will have a better idea what you really want when you upgrade.

maybe hi angle blade?

– Last Updated: Sep-20-14 8:18 PM EST –

FWIW -- I just bought a hi angle blade 220 length touring paddle for river travel. Went with the hi angle blade because it is a bit larger and should move me when I need to on the river. The WW paddles (with aggressive blades) typically come in shorter lengths, hence my staying with the touring paddle but larger blade. Worked well yesterday -- first time trying it; class II- I guess. I was in my Aire Lynx single IK (inflatable kayak) -- which is more in the crossover width than in the touring kayak width (37").
(Minor correction: I think you can get Werner, for example, to build you a WW paddle in a longer than standard length.)

Edit: My Aire Lynx at 37" is WIDER than a crossover (e.g. XP10 = 28" wide), so 220cm, larger blades, worked well for my Lynx but that's all I can say; and I'm 6'2" FWIW. I'll have to demo a shorter paddle sometime.)

Hopefully you’ll progress

– Last Updated: Sep-20-14 5:22 PM EST –

Most people think they are only going to do sub class II and then they get out in the real world and find out they have to do more than riffles and they enjoy it. A shorter paddle lets you maneuver easily on rocky streams and lets you paddle at a high angle. Getting a long paddle will lock you into beginner mode. 200 cm is not considered very short by most experienced paddlers.

I definitely plan to progress but I feel like by the time I do see that stuff or seek it out I will feel the need to pick up a true WW kayak with a WW paddle as well.

I picked up a 220cm Manta Ray today and plan to test it tomorrow, I could drop down to 210cm so we’ll see. If it doesn’t give me the extra power I would expect for an extra $100 it cost over my other paddle I will probably upgrade to a fiberglass blade paddle, those things seem super stiff.

I would not get too focused
on “power.” Technique should be the focus, especially body rotation - but also other aspects of good paddling technique. There are times when pure power is necessary but they are few and far between. Also, personally although I have paddled all my life I would not select a white water paddle for a day of paddling on the water you describe. Eventually you will have several paddles designed and best suited for different kinds of water. On a trip with white water stretches and flat water stretches I generally carry two paddles, one best suited to flat water and one best suited to white water. If you break or lose one the other will get you home just fine.