Paddle Selection Help

Hi All… I’m new to the group and am hoping everyone can point me in the right direction. I purchased a new recreational kayak this year. Navigator 10.4. I am trying to determine the right length paddle. I have checked all the guides, but would rather have input from you guys. I am 5’10". Boat is 10.4 ft and 32 inches wide. Most of the charts/grids tell me 220cm (some say 220 - 230). So I come to you for help. I typically do float trips on rivers with some small rapids(examples below) Which would be the better length given the width of my boat? Thanks in advance for your help!!!

Rivers I kayak:

Spring River Arkansas

Chattahoochee Near Atlanta

Broad River Athens, GA

Buffalo River Natchez Trace TN


Your height and the deck height of the kayak?

Rec kayak and rapids, you’ve got float bags installed fore/aft?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Kayak Specs
I am 5’10 and the boat height is 11.5 inches. No float bags…

Here are the kayak specs…thanks for your help!

Clearwater Leisure Navigator 10.4

Length 124 in / 315 cm

Width 32 in / 81 cm

Height 11.5 in / 29 cm

Capacity 300 lbs / 136 kg

Weight 45 lbs / 20.5 kg

Cockpit 38.5 in x 20.5 in / 98 cm x 52 cm

it’s up to you

– Last Updated: Jul-08-16 12:57 AM EST –

The best thing would be to test some different lengths. Is there a rental livery near you where you could rent paddles a few times to test the way various sizes feel? There is no exact calculation for length -- everyone has different metrics and technique. I have paddles from 183 to 240 cm for various widths and types of kayaks (and canoes that I paddle with a kayak paddle) and for assorted conditions. A 32" kayak is pretty wide, but if you use a high angle paddling technique and/or have long arms and broad shoulders, you might find a 220 cm just fine. But I would tend to think you may want a longer one for flatwater touring.

There are paddles that are adjustable in length, if you are really concerned about it.

And it's always wise to carry a second back-up paddle with you, under the deck or stashed under the deck lines. So I have a suggestion: Buy both a 210 and a 240 cm breakdown (standard two piece) paddle in the same model. You can carry both and use the shorter one at a high angle in fast water sections and the longer one for relaxed cruising on flatwater. And if you find the 210 is too short you can use one half of each to create a 225 cm. This way you have a choice of 3 paddle sizes at all times. I have several Werner Skagit paddles of various lengths and mix and match them all the time to adapt to the size of friends that I outfit.

Value for the buck.
Before you buy anything, be sure you take a look at the Carlisle Expedition. You can pay a lot more for a paddle, but the Carlisle Expedition is hard to beat for value. For the boat you’ve got right now, the 230 might work best, but if you go narrower a 220 might be better.

Check around on the Internet and you’ll see some awfully good prices on these paddles. I just saw one at Amazon for $135. Manufacturers suggested price is $179 and even at that price, it is a very good value.