rotated paddles

I’m pretty new at kayaking and was wondering what the difference is between having the paddles facing the same way and having one of them angles differently. I’ve tried paddling with both and don’t really notice much difference. Is it just preference or is there something more to it?


The primary reason for feathering
the paddle is to reduce wind resistance on the blade that is not in the water. I’ve found that it helps when ultimate speed is desired but for just putzing around the benefits are negligible.

What I think you’re referring to is called ‘feathering’, where the blades are at an angle from one another.

The purpose behind this is that it makes the paddle more efficient and many people find it easier to paddle this way. If your paddle is feathered to the right (for right-handed people), then you rotate your right wrist on strokes and your left hand is loosely holding the paddle. I think I’ve heard that feathering the blades is more ergonomic as well.

As for myself, I find it more difficult to paddle with feathered blades than anything, so I leave mine un-feathered. My husband prefers his blades feathered. I just can’t seem to get the trick of paddling while rotating my right wrist.

Most paddles are adjustable so that the blades can be feathered. If you’re a lefty, be sure to buy a paddle that can be feathered left – the salesperson should be able to help you figure that out when you go to buy one.

There’s a method to figuring out which way a paddle is feathered – if you stand with one paddle blade at your feet, perpindicular to your toes, you can see the direction of the feathered blade (on top). If the blade is pointing ahead to the right, it’s feathered for a right handed person. Just the opposite and it’s feathered for a left handed person.

I hope all of this rambling makes sense!


Article that may explain…
Here’s a URL to an article that may explain some more of the benefits & other analysis on the feathered vs. unfeathered paddle blade debate:


DO NOT rotate you wrist
unless you enjoy teno-sinuvitus. Bend the elbow instead. Try it sometime.

I started with them unfeathered
and paddled that way for a year or so because it was more comfortable than feathered. Then I switched to feathered and it seemed much more natural and it would be very hard for me to go back the other way now

If you are every looking for speed you will have to change to feathered, so if one is as comfortable as the other right now, I would suggest that you go with it feathered.



Gee, never had that. Wonder what I am
doing wrong? I must just be wimp-wristed.

windy days. I nealy had the paddle blown out of my hand by a gust when I didn’t feather last year -surprised the heck out of me, never thought I’d experience that with a paddle.

And JUST like g2D, I’m limp wristed as well -I rotate with my right hand (“RH control”) and let the shaft rotate in the vee of my left thumb and palm.

Like Jack, I started out ‘square’, and, initially, had to work to paddle feathered. I now think it’s difficult to paddle square, and will, sometimes, if I’m using Sally’s paddle (abd despite the fact that it’s a crank) try to paddle it as if it was feathered. Sadly comical, as I ungainly and inefficiently attempt to so


-Frank in Miami

I paddle feathered - always have. Have tried paddling unfeathered but it just doesn’t feel natural. When you bend your elbow (again, not your wrist) setting up for the next stroke it just all falls into place.

I’ve almost had a feathered paddle blow out of my hand on a really windy day - glad I was using feathered or it might have been a goner. Those kind of conditions aren’t really the time you want to deal with putting your spare together either!

Ahh, I forget
I use a 90 degree feathered paddle. If you rotate your wrist enough to use a 90 feather you will hurt your wrist. The way I hear the tale when kayak equipment came over from Europe the standard paddle feather at the time was 90. The problem was the training didn’t come over with the equipment so American paddlers began suffering from repeat movement injuries in the wrist. That’s why the American paddle manufacturers began producing 60-75 feathered paddles. That’s the story I heard. (Derek Hutchinson wouldn’t fib about something like that, would he???)

hmm… surprisingly I’m unfeathered now!
I started sea kayaking with a 60 degree feather and did whitewater (river running) with a 30 and a 45 degree feather. Now I’ve switched to a Greenland paddle for sea kayaking and an unfeathered Euro paddle for whitewater playboating. Although I still use a 60 degree feather for my backup Euro paddle, I’m officially unfeathered now.

90 degree feather
came from slalom racing – very high angle stroke, high intensity, short duration. It’s a mismatch for low-angle, long duration paddling.

With a 60 feather and a fairly high-angle stroke, my right wrist doesn’t have to twist or bend if I raise my elbow to keep my forearm in line with the paddle shaft.

It’s more of a problem with feathered
Unfeathered paddles are essentially immune to crosswinds and they remain neutral in head and tail winds, though headwinds do require more work. Paddles feathered less than 90 degrees will either dive or lift in both types of wind, depending on which blade is up. A 90 degree feathered paddle is largely immune to headwinds, but catches crosswinds badly.

the whole wind/feather angle thing is blown (pun intended:) way out of proportion.

Personally, I cannot get the wind to cooperate with my directional needs so sometimes I am fighting the wind and sometimes I’m not. I find it more effective to alter my stroke height and body language to deal with wind as opposed to searching for the magical degree of feather.

When determining my preferred amount of feather, I simply experimented with different angles until I found the degree that gave me the cleanest catch and exit relative to ‘my’ paddle stroke.

Turns out my preference is the least efficient angle there is… 45 degrees. This way I get to feel the wind no matter what its doing!

Seriously, this particular feather angle feels the best to me for overall use. My stroke is best described as a medium-high angle with a relaxed cadence.

I’m in violation of all expert advice however, I still seem to get where I’m going with no orthopedic problems or lost paddles.

I think one should really forget the wind, find their comfortable degree of feather, or lack thereof, and concentrate on skill development with that set-up.


If you are going to paddle feathered
please consider learnign with a right hand feathered paddle whether you are lefty or not. Many paddles on any group trip will be RH feather only or neutral or right. so you you break a paddle and need to borrow …