Paddle Length

I am 5’4". My boat is 28" wide. Is a 230 cm paddle the right length for me?


I’m 5’3" and use a 220 with my 28" wide boat. Used to use 230 - felt too long because I like a somewhat higher angle stroke. I might even toy with a 210 if I can borrow one.

May have a pair of blue-grey
gnatcatchers working the hollybush on our deck. I’m not sure yet, need to see them a few more times.

I believe 230 is way too long. I’m taller than you with a narrower kayak and my Euro paddles are in the range of 205-210 cm. I have one that is 218 and too long. It does depend on blade shape, too, but I would strongly suggest not going longer than 215 and getting a paddle designed for a high angle stroke - even with a wider kayak.

And if you paddle things like Little
Niagra, find a used whitewater kayak and a 192 cm ww paddle.

my boat is
a little narrower (17 at the rails and 28 at the 4inch water line )and I am 170 pounds, stand 5’1o" use a paddle that is 125 cm. so I think your paddle is way too long.'unless it is double blade then it is pretty close.

double bladed kayak paddle
ya its a 230 cm double bladed yak paddle

it’s up to you
Does it feel right to you? That’s what counts, not some other person’s opinion of the length. I’m 5’ 5" with a short upper body and arms and paddle 22.5" and 24" wide kayaks. I prefer 230 cm in a Euro style blade paddle – any shorter and I find I bang my knuckles on the gunwales unless I use a really high angle. At 28", your boat is likely fairly deep as well so you need the length to reach the water. I seriously doubt a 215 would clear the kayak without you really having to reach.

I’ve observed that guys, even shorter ones, tend to have longer upper bodies and can actually use a shorter paddle than many shorter women because they are paddling at a steeper angle above the deck of the kayak so their hands are clear of the boat using a shorter paddle. So I am skeptical of the length recommendations some taller people make based on their experiences.

I’d recommend borrowing different length paddles and seeing how they feel before committing to buying a shorter one.

However, paddling the same boats described above, I use a 215 cm Greenland paddle, but this is a whole other style of paddle and paddling, where you draw the blade closer to the hull.

I would discourage use of a whitewater paddle for touring. The blade design and shaft flex are not the best for sustained straight line paddling.

28" beam… and 5’4" tall: Pack Canoe?

– Last Updated: Jul-25-10 5:50 AM EST –

I'm assuming we're talking pack-canoe here, as no kayak has any business being anything like 28" wide (least of all a kayak for a 5'4" paddler). A classic sea kayak like our Anas Acuta would be nearer the mark at 20".

For a kayak, your paddle would be nearer the 190 mark than the 230 mark... but in a pack canoe that wouldn't work at all. Placid Boatworks have a page on paddle-fit that suggests paddles in the 220-240 range... but (for the reasons given by Willowleaf) with taller paddlers having the shorter blades and vice-versa.

Kinda re-inforces my perception that double blading a pack canoe makes more sense if you are tall (and perhaps too big to be kneeling from a gunwhale hung seat in such a lightweight hull). If you're 6'4" tall and 200lbs you can probably double blade a 28" beam pack canoe pretty efficiently... but I'm inclined to think most 5'4" paddlers would generally do better kneeling with a single blade.

That's a discussion I'd like to have with Joe some time... but in the mean-time, do check out

My cousins! nm


– Last Updated: Jul-25-10 10:21 AM EST –

A simple way to determine paddle length is to put boat in water with paddle you have 220,230 etc. At your high angle stroke with blade submerged and close to boat, (because you do not want to sweep) your hand should be at chin level. At this point if blade has moved in or out from water line, you will need to add or subtract. 10 cm = little under 4". Others will tell you their height as a referal point to go by , but it also depends on upper torso and arm length.

Your height interacts with seat height, and hull width at rails and maximum beam to determine paddle length.

Your paddling style; vertical stroke or horizontal stroke also affects your paddle length.

A small person in a flared pack canoe with high, 28-30 in rails needs all the paddle length available 250-260cm. Especially if the seat is a foam pad on the floor. Higher seats help.

The same individual in a tumblehomed pack canoe like Placids can get by with a 230, and id dedicated to vertical strokes 220 or so. Taller paddlers can use a 215.

Toward that end 230cm is the only double blade paddle length Placid stocks, as racer types are fussy about blade shape and size too, so a O is gonna be required anyway, and Werner is wonderfully well stocked with a fast shipping department.

Re Snowgoose: Pb has 6 different seat heights available, 1 cane, the balance composite, which helps fit smaller folk so they can double blade. Whether it is morally proper to use a double blade is another question under current debate in Philosophy Departments at major universities.