Paddle Lenghts

Could someone provide me the reccommended size guidlines for kayak paddles based on size,weight and experience level of individuals. Thanks for the help.


215 if you are tall, 215 if you are…
short, 215 if you are heavy, 215 if you are light…

Jeff, there are too many variables and you may get the dissertation you may be seeking. ww or sea kayak? or rec kayak? your size, boats width, etc???

mostly you will demo a number of paddles and sizes, choose one to buy, then go shorter and shorter and lighter and lighter until you reach around 215 as you improve, that’s what i’m guessing will happen…

read me

Good answer
That is a very good answer to a very complicated question and also quite true.

Try this…
Go to the Werner Paddles web site. They have an online paddle sizing section on their site that is pretty good.

Cheers…Joe O’

paddle length
you should specify what type of kayak. length of the paddle depends as much on width of the kayak as it does on your height/arm length,whereas your fatness/skinnyness makes nearly no difference at all as far as paddle is concerned.

Wider boat-longer paddle usually, narrower boat narrower paddle. i am 6’1 and find 220-215 great with my 23 inch wide cape horn 170, 240 is way too wide and clumsy. 240 was right at home paddling my 30 inch wide double.

My progression
230 cm Current Designs feather (dealer, “here, take this.”)

218 ONNO mid-tour (Pat probably thought I should have gone shorter, but I was thinking 220 cm) Still use this one.

210 Werner Cyprus (after trying a prototype at the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium and getting advice from my instructors/dealers)

I’m ~165 lbs 5’10"ish and paddle a Tempest-165.

I don’t think there is a firm rule but the trend these days is to shorter paddles and more efficient foreward stroke. So I’d go on the short end of the range you think is right and don’t worry too much until your get more experience with it.


– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 2:22 AM EST –

Back in the 1990's, I was using a 220 cm.....quickly went to a 215cm. Now am using a 210 cm.
The next paddle I build will likely be closer to a 205 cm.

I'm 5'7", 160 lbs. Kayakys are normally 19" to 22" depending on what I'm doing.

Trends have been to shorter paddles. Sad thing is I still see "Experts" in stores selling paddles 230 and 240 cm to people 5'5" and shorter paddling narrow kayaks.....sad but true!

Outrageous … one thing to watch as

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 4:24 AM EST –

you go down is where your hands are.

The shorter paddles feel really nice and alive at first but after a point, one is not getting any more efficiency since the reach is diminished + blade is not getting any closer to the boat. The release always feels so nice though.

Not taking into account your personal preference ( something NO chart or box formula can ever do) here, just wanted to mention that there is a point of diminshing return as ones hands get (too) lower and might not be where one can develope the best power and efficiency due to less than optimum body mechanics. For many average size paddlers paddling average sea kayaks this begins to happen below 209cm.

Forgot ...... IMO

Another Consideration
Or maybe just an amplification of what Patrick had to say. Your paddle blade type will make a differance in how long the overall paddle should be. You will want your blade to go just under water but paddle placement which has the blade deeper than the top of the blade just under the surface starts to loose overall efficiency. My old paddle has blades which are about 3" shorter than my new Onno paddle. So, to keep the same angle stroke and have the top of the blade at the correct depth the old paddle would have to be shorter than the new paddle with longer blades.

Patrick is a great source of information about paddles as well as a source for very nice paddles.

Happy Paddling,


shorter paddles & wider boats
I paddle both a 21 inch wide single and a 28 1/2" wide tandem, and don’t have a problem using a 210cm or 215cm paddle with either boat. So I question the “wider boat, longer paddle " axiom, (although there are shorter paddlers and padlers with shorter arms than me; I’m 5’11 1/2” with just sightly longer than average arms.) I think that with improving tecnique and, especially, torso rotation, a shorter paddle ((210-215cm) is no problem no mater what the boat width.

paddle length

– Last Updated: Jan-19-06 10:57 AM EST –

I have a short video clip that explains the method I use to determine the correct size paddle based on boat and Paddler. You can check it out at
On the Instruction page just click the key elements link and select paddle sizing.

I hope that helps


I started with a …
I started kayaking with a 28" wide rec kayak, using a 240cm paddle length.

I next went to a 24" kayak, and went to a 230cm paddle.

Now I paddle a 22.5" kayak, and like a 215cm paddle length.


I also have a 28" wide rec kayak I now use over the winter on smaller lakes, and I still like the 215cm paddle for it. I like the shorter length in both kayaks.

Different strokes, for Different Folks! :slight_smile:

time time time
Reaching up and wraping the tips of your fingers can work for you. Alot of math could work for you (I really liked that little video up there by the way). random guessing could be good. I started with a really cheap 220. next I got a nice Bending Branches at 230. The longer had a different blade shape and feels GREAT. I am think that now I will be getting a shorter one. My paddling is changing, therefore I must have my equipment change. You will do the same.

You have probably spent alot of money on a boat, and you should spend alot of money on a PFD (improved fit and comfort and all that). You WILL spend alot on paddleS. Why not get a cheap beater, you know about $80, 220ish and see what you want or need. You will have alot of these paddles forever, so some may argue to buy quality. I love my beater, I keep it in my little rec boat and if the water seems low or I need to start poling my way upstream, I break it out and go with NO worries. My boat is for fun, I am not teaching technique or even going out for big trips. I go out after work and have fun. My good paddle is for enjoyment and comfort and ease of paddling. My beater is to use when I am learning or trying, or being reminded why you shouldn’t do something…so on and so on. I don’t feel bad when I tie the painter line to the Werner and pitch it into trees and bushes to hold the boat when I have to relieve myself.

Or maybe you can get a bunch of tries and demos and time with other’s paddles. Maybe you can buy one and make a rather informed deciion…but Iam betting that we haev only marginally helped in guidence and you are still going to just go and guess anyways


paddle in darkness
Of course, you can always go over to the dark side, where paddles are measured the correct way (in inches, of course…) and paddle length seems to be less of a big deal.

I still love my Bending Branches
Infusion adjustable. It covers the whole range and costs around $100 on sale

Don’t be overgeared!

– Last Updated: Jan-20-06 12:24 PM EST –

A shorter paddle will be better upsteam, into the wind, keep the stroke in front of you and be easier on your body. To long a shaft or to big blades will promote bad technique. You don't want to pull so far back & slow (pull) the boat down. There are tons of ways to measure yourself if you are of pretty average height, but trying in your boat is best.

My first good paddle was a 230 Euro for a 22" boat. Next, a 218 for a Downriver & Olympic boats. My first wing was a 218 in "87" & I'm (5'9") now down to a 213 in an 18" wide boat, 212 for my DR. When in doubt, error towards a shorter shaft & smaller blades. Good luck.