Paddle Size

Hi Guys! I obtained a free paddle when I bought my Piccolo Kayak off of Craigslist. Haven’t had a chance to get it in the water yet. The paddle 191cm. I am 5’1, 105 lbs, and my kayak is 21.5 width, 13’6" length. Do you think this paddle will be ok? It seems a bit too short going off of articles online. I know there are tons of considerations when looking into a paddle, but my biggest thing is not straining to paddle, and the ease of paddling. How do you think the 191cm paddle will be considering my size and my kayak’s size?? Any information is helpful! Thanks!

Also forgot to mention…
Will be paddling on calmer lakes and slow moving rivers…

Yes or no
It’s a short paddle, but then again, you’re a short paddler.

It’s either ok for you or not, but it’s free so…

What’s important is if it feels comfortable for you to use, just go try it.

Thanks… just worried I am going to be straining side to side to paddle. I’ll have to try it out like you said. 191cm just seems really short. I guess I’ll find out!

Depends on how you paddle
If you use a very vertical style stroke, you might be OK with that paddle, although I think it will be on the short side for most purposes on flat water.

One of the easy methods to identify your paddle length is to actually check the shaft lenght (the blades do make a difference in overall length but should be of less consideration than the shaft length). Place your hands on the shaft wide enough so that when you put the shaft on top of your head the forearms form a bit less than a straight angle with your arms (e.g., your fists are a above and a little to the inside of your elbows as you are holding the paddle). Now, look to the left of your left hand and to the right of your right hand and make sure you have about 2 fists before the blade neck starts to widen.

The above assumes a medium-vertical stroke with a euro style paddle and a neither too brisk nor too relaxed way of paddling in a kayak that is not too much wider than your shoulders and that your seat is near the bottom of the kayak (not lifting you up high)…

Basically, use the paddle wizard and see what it comes-up with -:wink:

simple answer
Confirm that your stroke is correct, e.g. “paddler’s box” and torso rotation, whichever stroke is most comfortable for you. If you prefer a low-angle stroke the paddle may be a bit short, although your boat is narrow and you’re a good fit for it, being on the smaller side.

Personally I like a shorter paddle because I like to use a hi angle stroke. I can still use the paddle for a low angle stroke.

what works for me
I’m 5’ 5" but due to being very shortwaisted and longlegged, my torso height is probably close to yours in my kayaks, most of which are 20" to 22" in width and fairly low decked like your Piccolo. I find the most comfortable length for high angle paddling with a Greenland paddle to be 215 cm and for lower angle with a “standard/Euro” bladed paddle 230 cm. Many folks would say the 230 is too long, but I’ve found it works fine for me. It’s a slender bladed paddle that is probably longer in the blade to shaft ratio than the one you have so a 220 might work the same for you.

As others have said, you really won’t know until you’ve tried it. See if you can borrow other different length paddles to compare.

If you use a good high-angle stroke and plant the blade next to the hull, it should be fine.

I’m 5’9", and sometimes use my 196cm whitewater paddle with my 22" wide Avocet. I prefer it to a longer paddle if I’m doing a lot of maneuvering.

My wife uses a 195 cm and she is just
about your height.

Sit in your kayak and do a fairly high angle stroke, and the blade should enter the water just about at your toes.

Try it out, and if you are comfy with it, just keep it for a while and see how you feel.

Jack L

I don’t think you will strain to paddle
Keep in mind, whitewater kayaks, where shorter paddles are used, are typically wider than what you’re paddling. So the short paddle length for whitewater is not a product of boat width. Wave skis the same. My thought would be that longer paddles can seem clumsy when your primary goal is quick maneuvering strokes in rough water and waves, where the surface of the water can be beside you, even above you, as well as below you, and forward progress is hoped to be a product of current (whitewater) or surf (waveskis).

You will give up the leverage of a longer paddle, which will make the pull easier. It may cause you to need to bring the shaft up more vertically to get a good plant from side to side, but I think a person could argue that this may help you develop stronger paddling mechanics. A verticle stroke is more necessary with a whitewater kayak as they are not directionally stable - they will turn on their own without any input from you. I think a verticle stroke makes it easier to control pulling the kayak in a straight line past the paddle. In recreational and sea kayaks, you will glide straight along with much less attention to directional control issues, so a longer stroke slicing a bit further outwards as you pull past works just fine.

So I would think that unless you find yourself cranking out an overly fast cadence, and feeling a need to get more pull behind each stroke, you may be fine. I don’t think it will cause much strain due to being short.

On the other hand, if relaxed lily-dippin is the order of the day, maybe just the act of having to raise a hand higher to plant the opposite blade represents more effort than a longer paddle. But I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call that strain.

I agree with just using it and see how it works out for what ends up being your style of paddling as you grow into it.

I use a 200cm with a Kaos
It really just depends on what you are trying to do. I’m 5’10" and use a 200CM which is considered very long by white water and surf paddlers. I use this paddle in 26 to 28 inch wide boats.

It is not the fastest paddle but it feels light and easy because it is shorter than my 213 to 215 touring paddles. For trips over 10 miles the shorter paddle is slower for me.

I’m going to give it a try
Thank you everyone, much appreciated :slight_smile: I am so anxious to get out on the water! I will try out the paddle and see how it goes. After I become more “advanced” I’ll be able to determine if another paddle length suits me better. Finally got my roof rack installed, now just waiting on a nice weekend day to get out there!

video: Using short paddle

Should be fine …
Short paddles have lots of advantages, at your height and boat this should be fine.

One thing she has wrong
She says not to let your top hand cross the centerline of your boat. In fact your top hand should cross the centerline about as high as your eyes. The two main forward stroke videos say this and every coach I have had has taught me that as well.

Trade paddles
Find other people to paddle with and trade paddles with everyone. Of course more than length is involved in the differences but you should still be able to tell what works best for you now. As you gain skills that will change.

Probably OK
I"m a little taller than you, with a narrower but taller kayak than the Piccolo, which I have rented before.

191cm is the length of my WW paddle. Although it may be on the short side, it will probably work for you in that low Piccolo if your stroke is fairly vertical. At least give it a few tries. If you go with a group, try 195, 198, 200-ish also.

Paddles are like boats. One size does
not fit all. There are no two bodies that work the same way and our paddling styles and physical dimensions are unique to each of us.

Kudos to those who suggested she try different lengths.

I have several kayaks and depending on my personal stats along with the boat specifications, I use different paddles with different boats.