Kayak Paddle Sizing

Just bought two Perception Sport Sound 10.5’ Angler kayaks. These yaks are 29.5" wide. Paddle sizing charts and guides indicate that I should get between 230cm - 240cm paddles.

I am 5’8", wife is 5’4". Both normal body, no extra long torso, etc.

Does this length range sound right to you? Same for both of us?

Decent beginner/intermediate paddle suggestions?



Those “angler” kayaks are…
…“Sit Inside” types but they are fairly wide at just short of 30". I would think with a 4" difference in height, you’d want a shorter paddle for your wife (and possibly one with a smaller shaft diameter).

Try Aqua-Bound’s website for sizing…


I’m far from an expert but I’d say something like a 220 for you and a 210 for your wife although it would help to know - if you know yourselves! - if you are high or low angle paddlers.

And while I realize that with a $450 boat you don’t want to spend almost as much on a paddle, you’ll have the thing in your hands almost all the time you’re in the boat and you do get what you pay for, so look for some decent ones.

Aqua-bound’s Sting Ray fiberglass paddles are around $100 each - you should get them at at least 15% or 20% off in sales at the moment - and are a decent all around paddle. They make them in standard and small shaft diameters.


– Last Updated: Nov-25-14 4:31 PM EST –

Paddles don't have skill levels really. But a regular kayak paddle tends to get better or worse usually based on weight. With lighter weights come paddles that have more effective blades, and that tends to follow the price tag. Unless you are getting much more specialized than you would be with these boats, the numbers after the dollar sign pretty much tell the story.

At that width of boat on a 5.4" person, I am that size, your wife is going to be knocking her knuckles more easily than you whatever you get. It is just too beamy for comfort. So I would suggest that you do the same thing for her that I did for my sister, also 5'4" in a really beamy rec boat. Get her the lightest weight paddle you can afford, so that hauling her paddle around the boat is as pleasant as possible. I got many thanks after that Christmas.

Also - if it is easily obtained in a paddle of the right length and weight, think about a smaller blade size for her. Used correctly it is just as fast, but a smaller blade size is way more efficient for a smaller person than the regular one that would work for you. Don't go bigger for her to try and help - it'll just make her slower and more tired.

I can't comment in detail on the length for that boat, other than to agree that the wide hull and the depth of the boat on her torso could alter how I size paddles for my 22 inch wide boats.

Added this after above - the small shaft Aquabond Sting Ray is what I got for my sister. It is a nice paddle for the price point.

They are too long
Get a couple of 220’s and later if you upgrade you’ll have a decent idea as to what length you’ll need.

Jack l

A suggestion
For a really good paddle that doesn’t cost too much, I would suggest a Carlisle Expedition.

Ditto Jack and Magooch
I’m 5’5" and purchased a 220 cm Carlisle Expedition. It’s a nice fiberglass paddle, weighing in at 33 ounces. I’m a high angle paddler and it worked well with 26" beam and 29" beam kayaks.

The lighter weight is a big plus.

Second the Stingray
You can’t go wrong with the Aquabound Stingray for the price. I have a 220 Stingray Carbon that I use with my Dagger Zydeco (width about 27 inches). It weighs less than 28 ounces. If the carbon version is beyond your price point, the less expensive Hybrid version still weighs around 30 ounces.

220 may be too short
While I concur on the Stingrays and Expeditions as good values, I have a contrarian take on sizing, based on my own experience. I’m 5’ 5" and short armed so I am probably the same in reach as your wife. I have owned 12 kayaks of varying widths (21" to 29") and depths and 7 paddles from 205 to 240. The widest kayak I own now is 26" wide and 10" deep and I find a 230 the optimal length with it. I also find a 230 kayak paddle best when paddling in the bow of a canoe that is 33" abeam and 19" in depth (in which I am sitting higher than I would be in the kayak.)

With the kayaks you’ve bought at nearly 30 inches width and 16’ deep I honestly think even 220 will be uncomfortably short for your wife and that she will actually need a longer paddle than you will. Since women tend to be shorter waisted than men, the height differential above the water line is probably more like 6 or 8 inches rather than just the 4" difference in your standing height. And you no doubt have longer arms than she does and may be significantly heavier too, meaning your boat will draft deeper and you will be even closer to the waterline. Simple triangular geometry means that you will be able to effectively reach the water with a shorter paddle than she will in such a deep boat without hitting the edge of the deck. Using a 210 or even a 220 I think she would bruise her hands on the deck unless she uses a really high angle and an aggressive reach. Low angle paddling would prove difficult.

The best way to determine comfortable length BEFORE you commit to buying would be to find a location with a kayak rental concession with decent paddles (Werner Skagits seem to be pretty common) and rent paddles of various lengths to try out with your own boats – I’ve found most places are pretty agreeable to this and will let you exchange one size for another during the course of an outing. I have even found some will loan you a paddle for no charge if they have extras (most places stock more paddles than boats.)

IF that is not an available option or not one you care to try, I have another suggestion. Buy two paddles of the same brand and shaft diameter, one a 210 and the other a 230. With these you can both try these sizes, plus you can separate the halves and recombine one of each to create two 220 paddles.

Another affordable model of light (29 ounce) and moderate blade size paddle is the Pacific Paddle T-1 which comes standard at 230 cm but can be ordered smaller. Good value at $113.


Not equal
230cm will be fine.

Whichever you choose, your wife’s should be an order of magnitude better quality than yours. You’ll see. You’re welcome.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Green Friday Sale 11/28




The best advice so far!
"Whichever you choose, your wife’s should be an order of magnitude better quality than yours. You’ll see. You’re welcome. "

Marshall, you’re a smart man indeed!

From my take:
The wife usually says: “What do you think” to the husband. The husband then makes the decision and then the wife over rules him.

All you single paddlers need a spouse to liven up your lives!

Jack L

Kayak depth?
I’m not really sure what kayak depth has to do with this - am I missing something?

I can see that the amount of freeboard, plus how low or high the paddler is sitting has something to do with it, but I think that kayak depth doesn’t really come into play that much here.

Certainly in identically loaded boats, the heavier paddler will have less freeboard and would possibly need a slightly shorter paddle. But of course this all has to be balanced by body size, arm length, etc.

depth matters a lot
Kayak depth has a LOT to do with paddling angle when you have a short upper body and arms and a wide boat to boot. I’m sitting in my desk chair at work and just grabbed my engineers scale (i.e. ruler) to check and the height from the seat to my armpit is 15". Sitting in one of the kayaks the OP bought (depth 15.75") the gunwales would literally be up to my armpits.

And since I sit in a corner cubicle I was able to measure diagonally across to find 29", the width of their kayaks. Guess what, when I raise my arms straight out to the side my elbows are right at that mark. Which means that in a kayak of those dimensions I would have to lift my arms above my head and reach far out to the side with each stroke to be able to reach the water with a short paddle without banging either my hands or my elbows on the gunwale.

Draw yourself a scaled cross section if you doubt my geometry. I did, and sketched in a short waisted paddler and a taller longwaisted one, then drew the hypotenuse line that there respective paddles would take from roughly mid chin height in the middle to the water surface. For the 6" taller “male” paddler the diagonal to the water was 36". It was exactly the same for the shorter “female” paddler BUT her paddle hits the water at a much lower angle and about 9" farther from the boat in order to avoid bashing the gunwale. So the only way she can get an efficient stroke close to the boat and with the blade fully in the water would be to really reach and lean. I know this from body memory, the diagram just illustrates it.

Deep, wide decked boats like this are not ideal for shorter and/or slender people. I see it all the time with people wallowing in gaping rental rec boats.

eureka moments

– Last Updated: Nov-26-14 2:22 PM EST –

I should get a bird-dog fee from the kayak manufacturers for every on-water epiphany I've enabled for disgruntled wives and girlfriends stuck in bloated rental craft by their partners.

It's such a common encounter on the waters: the guy comfortable in his big ole kayak (either rented or the one he bought for himself) who is trying to coax his sweetheart into joining his enjoyment of paddling by sticking her in a barge-like rental or the same plastic aircraft carrier that fits him just fine. And she's either gamely (but rather grimly) struggling to keep up or overtly whining about heading back to the car ASAP.

As I hate to see anyone dislike paddling, if I am just out lily dipping I will often offer to switch boats and paddles with the suffering damsel. I've witnessed some near miraculous transformations upon putting a woman in a low volume 22" beam kayak and handing her a featherweight carbon fiber paddle. More often than not, by the time her mate and I (in the swapped "barge" with battle-axe paddle) catch up with her she is already gushing over what kind of kayak he needs to get her for Christmas/birthday/Valentine's Day.

a lot of experiance, I have to agree with that.

Took the wife and daughter out in the kayaks I got for the son and I. The daughter took to the much longer thin sea kayak and was handleing it a lot better than the flater bottomed more stable touring 24" that my son is paddling.

Very much in play

– Last Updated: Nov-26-14 2:53 PM EST –

As above, same size as the wife in the OP and I echo what Willowleaf said. In order to get the paddle blade at a good, effective angle in the water, the active half of the paddle has to be clear of the side of the boat enough to be able to be close to vertical at some point in the stroke.

If the side of the boat is most of the way up to the paddler's armpits, smaller paddlers may not have the physical reach to get the paddle into that position. There is too much boat between them and the water. So they can't move the boat as effectively and are more likely to hit their knuckles trying to get the blade to a useful position. Literally, at least that is what my sister found.

kfbrady - do I recall correctly that you also got the same boat for you and your wife? Without seeing you both sit in the boats, no one here can tell for sure how uncomfortable the boat will be for her compared to its comfort for yourself. And regardless of what anyone here might say, it still comes down to her own comfort level. But if you want a long time paddling companion, pay attention to how easily she can get that boat moving. If she is struggling to keep up with you once you guys get on the water, your first plan should be to look for a used boat better suited to her size, in depth and width. Paddling can be a very, very good couples activity, but both people have to be in a craft that makes the exp;erience pleasurable.

Kayak Depth
Ah, I understand. It’s not kayak depth per se, that’s the issue but the distance from the coaming to the seat (which is more than likely a function of kayak depth). Makes sense.

Same Boats
Well, I didn’t exactly “get my wife” the same boat, we chose them together after trying out several models at our local kayak shop. Actually, the boats were fine for her, and a bit too small for me. Since then we now paddle slightly different boats. She uses a CD Vision 130 and I a CD Vision 140. My wife is short but has a relatively long torso. She’s very comfortable in the Vision.

Sounds great
I just couldn’t remember. Was pretty hectic the last couple of days here.

Same sizes
The shop we went to (one of the largest on the east coast) strongly suggested we get the same length boats as otherwise the person in the longer boat would always be faster. I understand that logic but for our current boats we went somewhat against this advice and selected boats that fit our respective weights better; she’s 120lbs and I’m 200lbs. Our newer boats are only a foot different in length but they do fit us better, and so far we see no appreciable difference in speed. It’s not as if we race each other!

As always, I really appreciate the advice from the experienced kayakers on this site.