Paddle length help

I just bought my first touring kayak and am undecided what paddle length to buy. I’ve been to the Werner website but their suggestions aren’t very specific. They suggest 220-240!

I’m a veteran whitewater boater but a novice to touring kayaks. I just bought a Perception Sonoma 13.5 which I believe is 22" wide(??) I’m 5’2" and will be doing mostly river touring. Any suggestions?

You CAN determine the best for you!
No one can or should tell you what length is right but you.

Why? Paddle length is the interaction of your unique torso and arm length, your boat width and seat height and how vertical an angle you like to paddle and how much you rotate your torso.

The most efficient length is one that is NO LONGER than is necessary for you in your boat with your torso rotated and the paddle at an angle that is the highest angle you would use for a powerful stroke and it should be no longer than it takes to have the whole blade in the water and NO more.

Get paddle of several lengths. Get in your boat with your seat and place yourself in the start position with your torso rotated in the manner in which you actually paddle.

Place the paddle in the water with arm extended but not locked.

The whole blade should be in the water BUT NO MORE. If more, too long a paddle, if not all in, need longer one.

This is your “home base” from there you can vary the length plus or minus 5 cm to suit your taste style. If you like power paddling go with 5 cm shorter, if mostly low angle paddler you can use a slightly longer paddle.

A longer paddle feels intuitively better at first because unconsciously we use our paddles for stability while we are learning to balance better in our new boat. However, even a slightly longer paddle than necessary will reduce efficiency markedly and will be harder to handle in big conditions. Many many paddlers out there still have paddles anywhere from 10-20 cm too long for them.


Been changing
A few years ago the trend was for someone my height to be recommended to a 220 length, now I would be hearing 215 to 210 cm. The more recent trend in touring paddles is to get shorter, after having commonly been a decent bit longer than WW. As Evan above suggests, take a look at what you need for your stroke. If it’s of use, my husband is 6’ tall and has moved from a 230 cm paddle to getting his shortened to closer to 220. And he has been known to bring the Epic down to shorter than that.

The Best Advice
Has already been given above. If there is any possibility of trying several differant paddle lengths you should. My only addition would be that some time with each paddle would be nice. As you are paddling comfortably using your stroke, look at where the top of the blade is in relation to the water. Adjust the length so that the top of the blade is just under the surface.

I started with a 230, changed to a 215 recently. I cut down my old 230 to 210 and will use it as my spare. Im 6’ and my boat’s beam is 21.

Happy Paddling,


selecting a paddle…
The Werner paddles website has a selection guide that seems very useful to match your size, your boats beam, and the angle of paddling you prefer. Check it out.


Currently use a 208
cm Windswift for low angle paddling and a 200 cm Lendal Kinetic S for higher angle paddling. I started off using a 230cm per “expert” recommendations. ( Also 230 was the standard length and anything shorter was radically short back then) You may want to check out an adjustable length paddle and the 4 piece Lendal system. All the shafts and blades are interchangeable.

Second Post
One more thought. Blade size was discussed above which is important. I also found that the blade length is very important in relation to overall paddle length. The critical distance to consider with your paddle is the distance of the shaft from blade top to blade top. Since you want the blade top to be right at the top of the water when paddling the paddle length that you are interested in is shaft without the blades.

Not a very clear description. I have a Lightning paddle and an ONNO paddle. The Lightning blades are about 1.5 shorter than the ONNO blades. If I want the two paddles to paddle the same, (blade top at top of the water), then the Lightning has to be three inches shorter overall. For me close enough is ONNO at 215 and Lightning at 210cm.


Thanks all- that was very helpful!

I’m the same height and I have a 230 but my Pamlico 140 is 28" wide. so mabye a 220-225