Paddle Advise! What Size?

Just got my 1st Kayak a Perception Arcadia 12.5…

I’m going to be buying some gear this week and wanted to get some advise on paddle size…

The 2 basic sizes are the 220cm and 230cm.

I’m around 5’9 and the width on my Arcadia is 26.75 in.

What would be the differences between the 2 sizes and what would you recommend… Is there a better one to get that i would grow (advance) into.

Thanks so much!!


A lot more than just length to consider.
Hi Jon,

There is a lot more than just length to consider when buying a paddle. But just like buying a boat the best way to choose a paddle is to try a bunch of different ones on the water, in your boat.

To get an idea of what size “might” be right for you go to the Werner site and use their “Choose a Paddle” questionaire.


Between the two lengths…
that you are choosen from I would get the 220.

I am your height and my last kayak was similar to yours and that is what I used for years.

the 230 is too long.

On you last question: Are there better paddles to choose from ?

You can get paddles from $20 to $500.

The lighter the paddle is the better it will be for you, but the lighter the paddle is the more it is going to cost.

You didn’t say the name or model so it is hard to comment on “are there better ones?”

Epic makes one called a “Length Lock” and Onno is coming out with one similar. These are adjustable in 10 centemeter increments which allow you to experiment and get the exact length you want, but they are expensive and I think it would be best to start with the lightest two piece 220 paddle that you can find in your price range.



For What it is worth…
Deciding on a paddle, is like a track runner deciding on a pair if running shoes, or a 4x4 driver deciding on what Snow tires to buy.

Everything in a kayak happens as a result of the paddle meeting the water… The better the paddle, the better your kayaking experience will be. A cheap poorly fitting paddle will give you results like a marathon runner buying $5.00 sneakers at WalMart, or putting all season radials on a Mud Bog 4x4. They will work, but not as well as they want.

The best way to decide paddle length is to sit in your kayak, in the water, and have a friend along side of you watching your strokes. Your one hand will be low at the water, and the other hand will be up higher. If your high hand is around your shoulder, you are a high angle paddler, and will do better with a shorter paddle (210 - 220cm). If your “high” hand is lower near your waist, you are a low angle paddler, so a longer paddle might work better.

Paddle in your kayak with a test paddle, and keep moving the drip rings until they just meet the water when you paddle. You look straight ahead, and let your friend watch and adjust the drip rings.

When you have them set. Take the paddle to a shop and pick a paddle length so the inside end of the paddle blade is where the drip rings are. In this manner, when you paddle, the entire blade will be in the water, but will not be any deeper than it has to be. Several people have tried this methiod, and it works out pretty well.

Write back if you have any questions!

Good Luck!

Of The Two…
I am with Jack, on the 220 cm. Any longer you’re gonna develop a habit of near horizontal arm pulling strokes. With that wide boat, the 220 may require you to use a slightly higher stroke and little more body rotation to reach the blade entry point by your feet.

Paddle quality, I wouldn’t worry about it for the first. If you end moving up to a skinnier boat, you probably end up moving to shorter and lighter paddle as well.

Take some lessons, practice your capsizes and re-entries and go out, paddle, and have fun.


At the end of the day…
Whatever model you choose make sure that you still REALLY like your paddle at the end of a long paddling day. It’ll make you want to go out again & again & again. Also you’ll probably not upgrade paddles if you spring for the best quality that you can afford from the outset.

See you on the water,



– Last Updated: Dec-29-05 8:50 AM EST –

but you may end up cutting down a nice 220 cm carbon paddle to 210 cm like I did when you find yourself upgrading to a narrower boat and changing from mid to a higher angle stroke. However, not everyone has the tools, or the "I don't give a darn" approach to modifying equipment.

The other problem is how does one find out if they will "like" the paddle that they are going to buy after a long day out? Most rental places only rent out the heavy duty paddles that they know will stand up to daily abuse. It's not there are a lot of places you can go to rent mid to high end paddles to find out which you like and at what length. The possible solution is to not buy a paddle until after attending a symposium or demo day where high quality paddles are available to try.

Alas, Most newbies will go through changes in equipment in a year or two, like most of us who stick in the sport long enough.


Paddle sizing
Hi Jon,

Here is a short video clip of the method I use for determining correct paddle length considering both the boat and the paddler. I hope it helps. Just go to the link and scroll to paddle sizing.


I find a 220 to be way to long.
I use a 208 narrow blade windswift and a 196cm whitewater paddle in all my boats including a 27" wide double. You can find lots of 210cm paddles. If your dealer doesn’t have any, check ebay.

I am new too
Hi I have been kayaking for almost three years. I am by no means a professional, nor do I even have really great gear. I had a cheap boat, it was stolen, I replaced it with a different low-middle boat and got a new paddle…then another newer paddle.

If it is your first paddle, go to the sorting goods store and stick your arm up in the air. the tips of your finger should just wrap around the top of the blade. Spend $50 and beat the tar out of that paddle. Your kids will like using it later, or a nice spare that you are really comfortable with.

I had a SUPER cheap, flat, heavy cheap paddle. Learned with it, really felt like it was part of me. I replaced it with a cupped powerface model, from a slightly better company. It was alright, now I LOVE my Bending Branches A-simetrical paddle. I LOVE it. My other one is in my boat incase I need it, or chose to use it, but the extra money was worth it on this paddle. It took the first to teach me about me. The second to see up-sides and drawbacks of different designs, and my third is my current learning tool.

Now I will tell you that my boats aren’t as nice as yours, but I just carry them around all the time in the truck. Any chance I get I throw into water…So I get flat water, fast water, slow, dirty, clean, low, high and everythign in between.

So Go have fun with it. I spent alot of time on paddle choice research too. It is all true, but just grab anything and thow in. Experience will give YOU more of an idea about YOU. It will inform your choices more than ANY of us can.



I added 10 CM when I got the asymetrical one.

All the old aluminum and plastic…
ones are in the “toy locker” collecting dust.

Every so often I pick one up to move it, and can’t figure out how the heck I was able to paddle with it.



Changes with time…
For years I paddled at 230 from having used the method liveoutside describes to decide on length. This was the method described to me when buying my first and second paddles. This is also the method Derek Hutchinson describes.

This past season, working with coaches and consciously improving my forward stroke I gradually moved to 225 and by the end of the season was paddling at 220.

I had my spare paddle (Mid-Swift) shortened to 220. I am about to send in my Epic Active Tour lengthlock to be shortened. I envision normal paddling at 220 and the possibility of going to 215 in some instances (such as surfing).

My understanding is that you should be able to exit the paddle when the blade is about even with your hips. Stroking beyond your hips yaws the boat.

BTW, I am 6’ tall and paddle boats that are 21.5" wide (Aquanaut & Romany.)