Kayak paddle with solo canoe?

Does anyone here use a Kayak paddle with their solo canoe on flat water? Which style paddle do you use Greenland or modern?

Define your solo canoe
You need to be a little more specific in reference to a solo canoe. For example a Placid Boat Works Rapidfire or Spitfire along with Hornbeck Canoes and some others are designed to be paddled with double bladed paddles. While a more traditional canoe with higher seating or set up for kneeling is designed to be paddled with a single blade. I have used a double bladed paddle in my Wenona canoe but switch to a single blade on narrow twisting water. The primary reason for using the double blade is my lack of skill with a single blade.

I’m using an ONNO double bladed paddle in my Rapidfire and carry a Werner paddle as a spare. I’ve tried my Greenland paddle but it creates a very wet ride. In the sea kayak I’ll switch between a Greenland and modern so I’m comfortable with both but wouldn’t recommend a greenland paddle in a canoe especially in cold water or temperature as it’s probably going to lead to a damp ride from the drips.

I do!
I frequently use double blade paddles when solo canoeing. I think it is absolutely fine to do so especially if the canoe has a narrow beam or significant tumblehome like most Wenonah and other quality solo boats. I do this when on flat water and am trying to make distance more efficiently OR when I am paddling UP rivers which I do frequently. Going downriver or in rapids I go with the single blade because of its larger blade and better correction strokes for manuevering.

Shame on me…
I use my longer ONNO wing paddle in my Sawyer Summersong. I always take a single blade or two along, but rarely use them.

demoed a few with a std kayak paddle.Worked fine in Wenonah’s and Bell’s solo’s.On flat water it might be the best way to go.

I do
in my Classic XL when the wind and waves get nasty. I use a “modern” paddle.

“kayak” paddle
There is no “kayak” paddle or “canoe” paddle. There are paddles with single blades and paddles with double blades. Both types have been used for hundreds of years in both craft.

People with no historical perspective call a double blade paddle a “kayak” paddle. Look up the founders of the ACA pre 1900, and they are paddling decked canoes with double bladed paddles. Likewise, there are areas where native populations paddled kayaks with single bladed paddles.

While I once owned many wonderful single blade paddles I cannot use them anymore because of shoulder injury and subsequent reconstruction. When using my Aleutian paddle in a canoe I deal with the inevitable paddle drip by placing the sponge just in front of me, squeezing out the accumulated water every 15-20 minutes. In cold weather, wearing waterproof pants prevents chilling from wet pants. Were I still able, I would still use single blades at times.

Single blade purists should try to keep up with Andy while traversing a large lake or in strong wind. Double blade purists should try going up a very narrow twisting stream with bushes on the side. Or try paddling in very shallow rocky areas or marshes. Choose the best tool for the situation at the moment and don’t get hung up in paddle types.


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My Wife And Several Friends…
…have for years. I’ve never seen a Greenland paddle outside of a paddle shop, so that’s not what THEY use. My wife really likes her Mid Swift that I bought her several years ago. I’ve tried it out and it is a very well made paddle. Had a problem with the ferrule after a few years and they offered free repair if we would ship it to Seattle. I ended up repairing it myself, but they seem like a very good company. Here’s a few illustrations that many folks use a kayak paddle in a solo canoe whether it is a pack-style canoe or not. Look at the last picture and you’ll see 4 different solo canoes, all being paddled with a kayak paddle.





Mostly agree, but try using a typical ww
kayak paddle about 192 cm long in any existing solo canoe. I can paddle ww kayak with a canoe paddle, but not one of my 61" slalom single blades

I have an old Clement 96" double blade that is useless for any kayak I’ve ever seen, but works nicely for canoes with a 30 to 32" beam. High angle.

On the other hand
I MUCH prefer using a single blade whenever the canoe design allows. Hornbecks are pretty much double blade only, due to limited low seat set up options and wide beam. But i have a high seat installed on my Placidboat Rapidfire so I can use either a properly sized wood ottertail or narrower willow leaf blade; or a carbon bent shaft when I am using the RF to train for racing in other multi-seat boats.

I find much more control with a single, and it is just a lot more enjoyable for me to be able to do a wider variety of single blade strokes than a double is capable of. I used to carry a double as a second paddle in case of high winds, but find I have enough power and control with the single for all but the worst conditions.

I do race the RF in the 90-miler in some years. Unfortunately (IMO) a double blade is required for the solo-rec class that the RF fits in. In order to counter drips dumping accumulated gallons of water onboard, I use a spray cover installed on the front half of the RF.

kayak paddle with solo canoe

A double-bladed paddle is optimal for solo canoe paddling where performance and efficiency is concerned. I paddled my 18’, 37”, 110lbs canoe for many year using standard, good technique with “single blade”, but over the last couple of year I switched to kneeling near center using 243cm “double blade”. Paddling upstream, extended lake crossings, offshore sea outings, and beach landings/launching in surf is substantially improved. The only disadvantages are perhaps core strength required for more “active” paddling position, and rather unusual appearance of kneeling in center.

double blade paddle drip
When racing, the harder and quicker stroke would increase the amount of drip inside the canoe. Likewise, pausing every 10 minutes to squeeze out a sponge (as I do) would be cause you to lose momentum and be a determent to speed.

I have the Rapidfire spray skirt and have never found the drip bad enough to use it. Were I racing with my double blade, I would be quite familiar with using it.


I am a tradional paddler, but starting using a kayak paddle when soloing in my 18 foot OT Guide many years ago. It works for all types of paddling, and I have talked several other people into trying the technique.

Someone has to say this
Of course you can propel a canoe with a double blade, but to do so is akin to participating in anarchy, blasphemy and Satanism. And those are the good points.

There are only four reasons to engage in this immoral activity.

  1. You have physical limitations that prevent you from using a single blade. This is the only legitimate reason. All the rest are phony baloney excuses and rationalizations.

  2. You have bought an open hull that is “designed” for a double blade. Phooey. Well, who cares about glitzy, ditzy, ritzy and PC designers? Man up and get an 18 foot aluminum canoe. If you go this pack canoe route, you are saved from eternal hellfire, but just barely, since you at least showed enough common sense not to get a . . . (gag!!!) . . . kayak.

  3. You use the double blade to have more control and to be more efficient in wind and waves. This is so . . . so . . . so . . . French: a pathetic retreat and surrender. Moreover, it’s a naive rationalization and self-deception masking the fact that you are actually in category 4, which is:

  4. You are not sufficiently practiced in all conditions with the superior functionality and aesthetics of the blessed, holy and sacred single stick. Single blading is the most difficult but rewarding form of paddling.

    For example, just because you can single blade class 4 whitewater doesn’t mean you know squat about efficient single blading on flatwater. And vice versa. You need to practice, practice, practice, in every type of water, current and environmental situation . . . with every type of single blade paddle and every type of technique.

    So it is with single blading in wind and waves where control becomes difficult. To prepare, you must hie thee to a big, shallow lake during typhoons and practice with the single blade control armamentarium: heeling, carving, inside circling, ballasting, shifting, switching, and pitching. You must learn, learn, learn to control the canoe with a single blade in wind currents just as you do in water currents. These are learned skills.

    And if you ever begin to get weak . . . if you ever begin to backslide . . . if you are ever tempted to swap your salvific mono-bladism for dissolute pagan poly-bladism in the face of Mother Nature – just buck up, buttercup, and remember the heroic advice of Alfred Lord “Single Blade” Tennyson on this very subject:

    “To strive, to seek, to find, and NOT TO YIELD.”

Learn both single and double

– Last Updated: May-14-13 3:22 PM EST –

blading. Both are enjoyable and both have their own merits.

I especially like double blading in squirrely ocean cross currents or confused seas where I need a brace on each side almost instantaneously.

It's a solo canoe. Do what you like. You won't get a ticket!

In deference to Dave, what we paddle are solo open Canadian canoes...yet the Canadians eschew dedicated solos for the most part...

An interesting dream. Glen paddling Sparkleberry in his va'a with a double blade...LOL...! I'm pretty sure the next ice age will arrive before that happens!

a “Kayak” is a "canoe"

I enjoyed your clever and well written “over the top” post.

However, you must remember that in England what you call a kayak is a canoe. Also, remember that all we in the USA know was taught to us by the English-if in doubt of that assertion just ask them.

Dave (a double blade paddler that is covered by your exemption clause for physical limitations)

I’ve been a regular on a UK canoe
website for a few years, and it appears that actual UK paddlers are no longer calling kayaks “canoes”. What we call canoes was qualified as “canadian canoes” but that is passing out of use too.

Reading UK trip reports, I seldom see grounds for confusion. Canoes are canoes, kayaks are kayaks, and canoeists often experiment with double blades.

“Canoe” and “kayak”, noun vs. verb
As I’ve said before, the words “canoe” and “kayak” can only be clearly differentiated as verbs, not as nouns.

As nouns, there are hermaphrodite hulls that can’t be identified by looks as either canoes or kayaks. Indeed the very same hulls that are sold as whitewater kayaks are often used as whitewater C1’s after seating and thigh strap conversions.

As verbs, “canoe” means to propel a hull with a single blade, and “kayak” means to propel a hull with a double blade. I think this is the only clear distinction that can be made between canoeing and kayaking. The USCA adopts this definition.

After taking whitewater kayaking courses in northern California back in 1980, I decided kayaks were too tippy and that I wanted to paddle my MR Explorer on whitewater rivers. But I liked the double blade. So I bought a 9 foot Carlisle double paddle, which weighed about 900 pounds, and showed up on Sierra Club river trips to the astonishment of all the kayakers and all six open canoeists in northern California.

I used many of the same rationalizations that flatwater canoeists use in favor of double blades: having a brace on both sides, ambidexterity for eddy turns and peel outs, more acceleration and power, more efficient stroking.

I made all these arguments to one of those six open canoeists after dumping in class 2 waves on Cache Creek one day, when he asked me in an eddy why I was using a double blade. He said: “You’re not canoeing, you know.” I didn’t know, so I said, “Why not?” He said, “For one thing, you can’t work close to the boat”. I really had no idea what he was talking about.

He advised me to break down that double paddle, to take out my single blade Mitchell, and to never use a double blade again. I protested, “But we’re at the top of Rowboat Rapid, A CLASS 3, and I’ve never paddled a class 3 in my life.” He said, “I’ve been watching you, and I’m confident you can negotiate Rowboat with your Mitchell. Do it.”

And I did.

I only used a double blade one more time, and it resulted the biggest and most dangerous canoe dump of my lifetime on the Eel River. That was 1981, and I have never used a double blade in an open hull since on any kind of water in any conditions.

I’ve always appreciated that open canoeist’s advice. I now know that he knew what he was talking about. A couple of years later he was on the cover of Canoe Magazine, rolling his ME in the Grand Canyon. His name was Bob Foote.

I am very concerned about the rapid disappearance of open canoes in this country, and the near extinction of sophisticated single stick skills, as a result of the 20 year onslaught of kayaks and double blading. Thus, in all seriousness, I do encourage canoeists to practice and learn to rely on the single blade for all conditions.

When conditions get too rough, I say reach for shore and a Cuban cigar instead of reaching for a double blade. Or, as I later did, get a ruddered canoe.

drip rings
A couple twists of adhesive foam weatherstripping just above the blade of your one piece paddle does wonders. Take it off every day and re apply to avoid it becoming hard to remove

Not often
Did both for years.now mostly canoe paddles.if I need to keep up with a bunch of kayaker on flat water.then the double blade comes into play. Can keep up if not out pace the kayaks. Know a lot of people with canoes that use a double blade. If it works for you go for it. I prefer a single blade. its a fun challenge to improve with.