Paddle length for double bladed canoe paddle

Been canoeing most of my life, and sea kayaking for the last 25+ years, and I’m looking for some input on length for a double bladed canoe paddle. For reference, I have a Northstar Magic on order, and given its narrow beam, I really haven’t found a good suggestion so far.

Most comments I’ve seen are for 240 and up, and I’m wondering if I can go to the shorter end of the range. I use a 218 for my kayaks, and I have a 220 laying around that I guess I could try, and guess from there. So, does anyone here use a double on a solo canoe, and if you do, what length?

The answer is dependant on the canoe width, your seated position, your torso and arm lengths.
I use a 230 with my Tarpon and a 215 with a surf ski. But, I’m tall with long arms.
The 230 worked with my Malecite and Wenonah Voyager.

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I have an OT Guide 147 converted to a solo so it is wide compared to most solos. I had a 230cm and it wasn’t cutting it and I didn’t really know what I wanted so I made an extension to test different lengths and I started at 260cm and it was perfect. I made the extension and it worked so well I see no reason to order a paddle at this point. One thing with going longer the blade area remains the same so the torque goes up. Kind of like putting a longer crank arms on a bike. If you are looking to do competitive paddling it could be a factor. For me it didn’t seem to be enough to worry about.

I now want to make a tee handle for when I get into tight spots I could then pop the double apart and convert it into a single blade.

Longer really made a difference.

The paddle mod starts at post 48.

The correct paddle length is where with a properly executed forward stroke, for the majority of the stroke the entire blade, no more and no less, is completely submerged and the paddle is not hitting the boat.

To get an estimate of the correct length if it is too long or too short, start with a dry paddle. With a single stroke, note where the water mark is. Do this a few times. Measure the distance to the top of the blade, either above or below, and double this distance. Then add or subtract it from the length of your paddle as appropriate. This new length should be pretty close to what you want.

Thanks! I’m going to try that and see what I find. Hoping the 220 will work, and I can save a few bucks

I did similar when starting with my 230cm just shift your hands off center till it is what you feel is correct. Mark where the new center is and double that.

Your seating height will play a big part.

Agree with “bud16415”. You have the experience to know what feels right and works well for your paddling style and boat set-up. If you start with your 220 and take a couple of paddles under different conditions, I’ll bet you will have your answer straight away.

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In my case I added 12” 30cm to my 230cm paddle that was hitting and dragging the gunwales with each stroke. That’s only 6” per side but that was the perfect amount for my 38” wide canoe. A solo design with tumblehome sides move the gunwales inward a good deal and will make it easy to use a shorter paddle.

That might not mean that type of a deeper stroke is what you will like. I was able to paddle with my 230cm ok with a deeper stroke more like a single blade stroke. The shallower angle I think felt better and also kept me a lot dryer moving the drip on the other side out of the canoe. I was getting soaked with the 230cm and stay totally dry with the 260cm.

I’m going start with the 220, and see what it feels like. If it’s close, there are several good paddles with adjustable length, and get one that is 220-240, or 230-250, and be able to get it just right. Thanks for the advice everybody!


I have seldom used a double bladed paddle in a canoe, but for me 240 cm would be an absolute minimum length and 250-260 is better.

I found this video helpful when I was getting started.

I do carry a short single blade as a backup and switch it out when in tight spots. I also carry a 7’ telescoping poling pole that closes to about 4’ long. Great when the water gets down to a couple inches deep. :canoe:
Is a Double Blade Paddle Good in a Canoe? |

There are a lot of variables

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There are a lot of variables. First is your Northstar Magic being set up as a pack canoe or conventional canoe? Second do you expect to ever single blade? Third do you want to paddle with a low or high angle paddle. Fourth how tall are you? Finally are you looking to buy a high end $500 paddle or a $250 range one?
I have a narrow (25”) Placid Shadow and a Northstar Phoenix about 4” wider but fitted with a pack canoe seat with the bottom about 3” off the bottom of the floor. I am 6’ 2” tall. I bought a high end Braca Hurricane 100 with the maximum length shaft giving a length of about 240 cm. This brand uses hot melt glue to secure the blades. I the paddled and shortened the length up to the limit of adjustment (10 cm.) and of it still was too long trimmed off 5 cm on the length and retested. I now have a 220-230 cm. length. I paddle about mid-angle between low to high.
If you are getting a boat with pack seating or want to convert it I can give you the details. You will be much more stable and comfortable. If you had to make a selection without the option go 230 cm you will not be far off

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Thanks! Good questions to ask myself. Let’s see…It’s being set up conventional with a footrest for more contact and control. I used to kneel, but I can’t do that anymore, and I have single bladed since the '70’s, and just looking for a change for the most part. I’ll probably still single blade most of the time. I’ll likely be somewhere between low and high angle like you. I’m 5’7".

I’m even thinking about building my own paddle (Built many a Greenland style kayak paddle) if I figure out just what I’m looking for in length. I would spend about $300 or so for the right paddle, though. Not much more than that, since it will likely not be used more than half the time unless I really come to love it.

I’m gonna show my ignorance here - what is pack seating?

Hey, Wayne, FWIW. I got a Hornbeck New Tricks pack canoe a while back for pond and slow river fishing. It’s 12’x26". I started off using the longest kayak paddle I had, a 210 Onno. I did it for year, maintaining a mid to high angle stroke. It was wet and felt a bit of an aggressive stroke and cadence for the boat. Moved up to a 220 and tried that for awhile. Felt a little better. Last year I moved up to a 240 (which Hornbeck himself had recommended when I demoed). It does feel more appropriate for the venues that I intended for the Hornbeck, which is a relaxing and quiet paddle from spot to spot to probe with a fishing lure. The lower angle stroke and slower cadence result in less droplets coming down on my lap (not that it is much of a big deal since I usually have Hydroskin shorts or pants on).


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PS. If you decide to go with carving a paddle, maybe forego the Greenland style and go with a 2x6 to do an Aluetian style:

It’ll be something different for you. :slight_smile:



Yeah, I’d do something more canoe-like. I have a Nashwaak ottertail style single blade paddle that I’d copy for the blades. The one I have is a great paddle to use, just a little heavy. Cedar strips would make a great double blade version, I think. And lighter and more flex.

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Would love to see what you come up with, if you go that route. :slight_smile:

Something along these lines, but made from alternating strips of red and white cedar

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I use a 235 to sometimes paddle a Hemlock Kestral and it’s a wet ride…Kestral is pretty narrow at the gunnels compared to others…