Paddle Weight?

Does the weight of a paddle have anything to do with how it performs? What is a good weight for a touring paddle? How much does the weight make a difference? What is the weight of most sea kayakers paddles?

It makes a big difference
but not in how IT performs. How YOU perform. I have heard that for every so many ounces more that a paddle weighs, on a 1 hour trip you lift so many more pounds. That doesn’t sound too accurate, but the point is that you are lifting a weight repeatedly. There was one who wrote in here about how he even weighed his watch. He had gotten a new one and not long after he got it his right arm began to bother him. He took the watch off and his arm felt better. It weighed only 5 ounces. The lighter the paddle the better. It’s hard to say what a touring paddle should weigh, but if you really want to get into it and go out for the long haul, the paddle is something you shouldn’t skimp on. Lighter makes your wallet light, but it will save your arms.

my paddle weights
$40 carlisle blacklight 41 oz, $70 harmony sea passage, aluminum shaft and plastic blades about 40 oz. $70 grey owl dragonfly wood 2 piece, about 34 oz. $10 self made greenland spruce paddle, 30 0z. $10 self made spruce/ 4mm ply euro paddle, 28 oz. guess which ones get used the most? commercial paddles weighing 30 oz or less usually are $200 or more. and yes, light weight paddles make paddling a LOT more fun. for touring. for surf or ww the 40 oz indestructible paddle is preferred.

Before the bargain hunters chime in…
… it make a World of difference.

How light to go? As light as you can afford for touring*.

My carbon Greenland paddle weight 24 oz. My wing paddle weighs about the same.

*Does depend how/what/where you paddle if lightest is best though. Often it’s a compromise…

BTW - if you’re shopping, Pat at ONNO make great paddles - as light as you’re likely to find - lighter than the bigger companies - less expensive - and he customizes them to your needs.

Weight is not the only criteria
In some situations, light weight can be a detriment. If you are playing in rock gardens or launching and landing in bigger surf, you might want a paddle with more strength.

I usually use a fiberglass Werner Kauai (about 30 oz) or a Greenland stick which is a little lighter than that.

When the conditions really get rough or the wind really kicks in, I get out my carbon Toksook by Derek Hutchinson. That paddle weighs 41 oz, but the swing weight doesn’t make it feel that heavy. That paddle is almost bullet proof.

Their are times that light weight is really good, and there are times when it is not.

Light weight is overrated
IMO, there is far too much emphasis on light weight when it comes to paddles. This has resulted in several manufacturers specializing in paddles that are so light and fragile that they cannot be used for self-rescue and will not stand up to any rough usage. Perhaps that’s fine for racing or pond paddling, but for ocean use it’s a serious liability. There are durable paddles available that weigh 25-30 ounces. None of these is going to adversely affect your ability to paddle all day if that’s your intent and you’ll be able to paddle wherever you want without worrying about breaking a blade if you inadvertently strike a rock.

Also, paddles that use foam core blades or wood blade provide buoyancy in the water that effectively reduces the weight of the paddle. This is also true of Greenland paddles, which are buoyant by design.

25-30 oz is light

Onno Paddle
I use an Onno carbin paddle that weights 19 oz. The paddle is great and performs flawlessly for $175.00. Contact Patrick and he will custom make you one. You will never use another paddle again.

Like bikes…
there’s light, then there’s stupid light.

25-30 oz is pretty typical of most fiberglass (shaft+blade) paddles weight, and can be had for around $200, give or take. Many serious beginers (who’re researching choice of paddles), found that to be a good compromise of value for the performance.

But to be useful, I wish manufacturers will list both length and weight seperately by shaft and blade. Blade length is more important to sizing than overall paddle length, while blade weight determines swing weight. Of course we can’t really check the seperate weights anyway because most shaft are bonded to blades. But once you swing it, you can feel it.

Rant over.

light made a big difference
We are going on our 3rd year of paddling, and have just moved up from plastic rec boats to coposite sea touring types. Last year my wife started to have some “tennis elbow” pain while paddling. We decided to upgrade paddles and wound up with epic carbon paddles with the adjustable length. this worked for us since we were still evolving boat wise and weren’t ready to commit to a definate length. Voila–elbow problems gone. They reappeared when we went to an on-water demo day and my wife paddled for about an hour with the fiberglass demo paddles. That sure convinced us of the virtues of light weight paddles.

We like our lightweight paddles so much we toted them cross country on the plane so we could use them in rental kayaks. BTW-they fit fine in $11 walmart gun cases and got checked through as luggage on the airline.

Dont you own a toksok?

– Last Updated: Aug-02-04 11:47 AM EST –

Too heavy for me.

I draw the line at about 32 ounces. I own an epic full carbon, lightning standard, lendal archipeligo and a couple of joke paddles. The epic is not for newbies to do a paddle float rescue with, but I would. The epic really does not like rocks but the small amount of surfing I have done on it has been OK so far. If it breaks it's not Epic's fault

All I Can Say Is

– Last Updated: Aug-02-04 5:10 AM EST –

that first paddle, an Aquabound AMT, feels like a darn club. It's over 36 oz. My GPs are probably around 30 oz. They feel pretty good to me for touring. I also have an ONNO tour paddle that's under 20 oz. It feels very light in the hand but I don't use it since it's really for my wife.

I have a number of ww paddles. Of all of them, the Onno is the lightest and really a delight to use. When playing in the waves/holes, I have to accelerate like crazy and the lighter ONNO is just so much easier to go fast and as long as I need to. I definitely like it more than my heavier Werner paddles. My next favorite is a Big Spoons paddle with carbon blades and FG loom. The Big Spoons is also lighter than my Werners but has actually bigger blades. I am still not able to comment on the durability of the Onno carbon blades since I have not really slammed them into any rocks in a major way. My Big Spoons has some chips, which I usually put a dap of epoxy over to prevent delamination -- not that this has happened. Just being a little prevention minded.

If you need your paddle to handle a paddlefloat rescue, you may want to go heavier/tougher for reliability. Safety first. Or carry a heavier spare on the back deck just in case. But the lighter (well designed) paddle is definitely a delight to use. I think for smaller/weaker paddlers, it may be better and more enjoyable than swinging some of the clubs out there. Given even the small amount of time I have used the Onno in ww, I think it will hold up in most normal touring circumstances. Most touring folks will not/do not exert the same level of stress to their paddles as white water folks do on a routine basis.


Yes it does! Mine 7 to 11 oz!
Makes one heck of a difference.


Light wight is not overated !
I dare say, ninty percent of the paddlers on this forum do not do the type paddling that you and your friends do.

Most here are recreational paddlers and even though they know how to self rescue will never have to use it.

A paddle was not invented for a self rescue. It was invented and perfected to move the kayak.

Having a light weight paddle will allow a person to paddle much further with less fatigue than a heavier paddle.

I used to think my Werner paddle was as good as I would ever want, until I tried a much lighter weight Epic Active touring several years ago.

The difference at the end of a twenty mile paddle is like night and day.

I would highly recommend to any paddler that enjoys 15 to 20 mile paddles that if you are not planning on paddling in gales or extreme rough conditions, (which if you stay in tune with the weather you will know), if you can afford the cost then by all means get the lightest paddle possible.

You can then do as I do, and keep that older heavier paddle on the stern as a spare.

Cheers, and stay happy!


Most “receational” paddlers…
…don’t paddle 20 mile days, either.

Your argument that a paddle doesn’t need to be useful for self rescue is absolutely ridiculous! Why would one of these “recreational” paddlers that you’re apparently so concerned about want to put themselves at risk by using a paddle that’s so fragile that they can’t use it to help themselves get back into their boats? It makes NO sense.

One doesn’t have to go out looking for rough water and rocks in order to have encounters with them. I’ve probably hit more rocks with my paddle accidentally than on purpose. Why would anyone want a paddle that would fail them in a minor, inadvertent mishap or when they need it most in rough conditions. Carrying a more durable spare is a good idea, but when exactly is one supposed to switch to it? Once you need it, it’s too late.

The weight difference between a “stupid light” 16 ounce paddle and a more rugged 25-30 ounce paddle is not going to make or break a trip. On the other hand, the difference in durability may well become critical.

Epic or Bracsa…
I am too weak for the rest… L



sort of kind of,er,maybe
if you think about it too much it could. The problem is that you’re talking about a thing and not it’s use or the person using it. If a person is small, 100-120lbs, they can use a very light paddle through a range of conditions and use without problems,a heavier person can’t use an extremely light paddle through a range of rescues and usage that’s not specific to paddling on the water but with care can enjoy a very light paddle,a very big person will break very light paddles in situations a very light person won’t.

So if you’re a light/small person who’s not especially strong go for the lightest paddle you can,if you’re an average weight person with beginning skills get an average weight paddle and save your money for your next paddle. Beginning skills people who have plenty of money are good for business either way.

I had the opportunity to use an Epic full carbon Signature Active Touring “Length-Lock” paddle for a week of paddling on the Maine Coast.

It is a delightful paddle. Both my wife and I used this paddle and did not find it particularly fragile. While we did not practice paddlefloat re-entry using the Epic, we did use it to brace for entry and exit. Also being the coast of Maine, we did occaisionally strike rocks with it.

I don’t know if its as sturdy as my Mid-Swift, but it seemed okay.

More reasons than just breakage to carry a spare. Rescues , getting into rougher areas, and changing conditions are others. This was already mentioned.

I don’t recall anyone mentioning 16oz paddles for touring either.

You maybe be underestimating the durability of light carbon paddles. You say 25-30 oz range is OK. Most carbon tourers and wings are around 24 oz. Not extreme. My 24 oz carbon GP has not been babied and is holding up well. I would not hesitate to do most rescues with it, or my wing (but I don’t need to put much weigh on a shaft doing them either).

Pat makes lighter paddles, but not having one, I can’t comment on their durability specifically - but given his attention to detail, variety of options, and happy customers - I assume he makes wise compromises regarding weight and strength. More importantly, he tells the customers what the paddle is made for and what it isn’t.

thats just half a paddle ; )