Paddle Length Question

I have a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140, I got last summer, It is 14’ long, 25.5’ wide, with deck height of 14”.

I just bought a carbon fiber 220 cm Paddle, and realized the paddle I got last summer with the kayak was 230 cm.

I have checked many different “paddle size“ websites and half of them say I should be 220 cm, the other half says 230 cm?

Based on my height height of 5’ 7” and my torso of 30” what would some of you long time experts recommend I do? Keep the 220 cm new paddle or exchange it for a 230 cm?

Not sure how much difference the 2 inches on either end of the paddle will make. I do mostly recreational Paddling, not white water.

Thanks in Advance for any advice

As long as you aren’t whacking your knuckles on every stroke, use the shorter one. Either size s/b fine for rec paddling.

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I think the 220 will work just fine for you. Paddle length doesn’t always tell you everything. If the real idea is shaft length between blades, which you will want to completely submerge, then longer blades on the same overall length paddle result in less length between the blades. It might be worth checking how distance between the blades compares. In the end, try it and see what feels good to you.

Depends on how you paddle and your goals. I think for me 210 would be good. Length does make a huge difference even though 210 or 215 doesn’t seem like much. If you’re just sightseeing not the end of the world. Longer paddle will have you go deeper and waste energy. Low angle strokes I think it matters less.

I’m guessing the OPis using a low angle stroke given height and the width of that boat. I am around the same height and when paddling a Tsunami would definitely be hitting the sides with my hands unless using a low angle.

There are many variables, so you may want to try to go out and paddle to check how your form suits the length.

Ideally, the paddle blade, and really only the blade (not the shaft) should be fully submerged.

Getting the blade fully submerged should not require you to lean forward or move your shoulders and arms in a way that takes your body our of alignment with itself.

Watch a video of an experienced kayaker and how they use the stroke without contorting their body for a reference point.

The correct paddle length is when, with the majority of a correctly performed forward paddle stroke, the entire blade, no more and o less. is fully in the water and you are not hitting the side of the boat. This will achieve maximal efficiency with that paddle.

While the boat dimensions, your anatomical dimensions, and the paddle design all affect correct paddle length, the simplest way to see if you have the correct paddle length is to try it out on the water. It helps if you can borrow a similar paddle before buying or buy from a place that will let you exchange it. Many reputable dealers and outfitters will allow this.

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I use a 205 in my Solstice which is 24" wide. I’m 6’ tall and high angle 95% of the time.

As others have said, unless you are banging knuckles on your boat with the 220, it should be just fine.

Some thoughts:

  • my personal paddles are 205. Where I work as a guide, we use a lot of 220s and 230s. I switch back and forth without issues.
  • Most people find the guidelines a little long, so they go a little shorter. The more aggressive water (surfing, rock gardening, etc.), seems the shorter they go. For my boat I would also fall in the 220 to 230 guideline, yet I use 205.

Just an idea. I saw a $30 paddle at Walmart the other day that had a pretty nice quick release adjustable length thing. Adjusted between 86.5”-90.5”.

Something like that out on the water it would be easy to try a bunch of different settings.

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Well no one has said what id say. 220 is more high angle, and youre not in a high angle boat. Knuckles first, then are you into pulling hard -high angle in a rec cruiser boat? no judgment, maybe that’s a perfect combination for You. Thats what matters. To me, that great boat is a low angle cruiser. You can always go like crazy w a 230.

That’s roughly 220-230 cm, and will likely be too long at anywhere beyond the minimum length for the many people in sea kayak. It might be a good choice for people in a wide rec or fishing kayak or people in a SOT where they sit fairly high above the water.

Most people use a low angle paddling style. They will need a longer paddle than those who paddle with a high angle style. A proper high angle forward stroke remains very close to the side of the boat for the majority of the paddle stroke. Many people that consistently use a high angle style will find that a 210-220 paddle works best for them. Again, this will depend on the boat, paddler, and paddling style.

In other words, if you have an upper body like mine a short paddle is usually great.Wide shoulders and long arms . My nickname in college was Cheetah , after the chimpanzee, not the cat.
Still, I have a SOT I won’t use a 220 in because I don’t like bruised fingers.

Since you have a 220 AND a 230 which do you prefer?

One paddle is adjustable so it’s what I prefer at the time. My ski paddle is fixed at 220.
The first paddle I was sold was a 240. It was OK in my rec kayak then I got a heavy sea kayak. One short trip and I discovered a) it was too long and b) I had no idea how to paddle. As evidenced by the pain in my shoulders.
I immediately ordered a class by Brent Reitz on CD.
That disc saved a half dozen beginning paddlers a lot of bad paddling.

Thanks for explaining and now that I’m thinking about it the paddle I mentioned was a fishing paddle and likely for one of the wide fishing kayaks or a canoe. I haven’t had my canoe out yet where I moved the forward in a double making it a single solo fishing canoe. My plan is trying a 220 kayak paddle to get started and if I have to go longer to a 230.

I’m not planning to be remotely fast, I just want to be somewhat efficient and get from point A to point B and back.

From what I can see my angles in a canoe will be similar to the sit on top kayaks I see set up for fishing with a stadium seat back added to a little riser.