single blade paddle for kayaking

With interest I lurk over at the watertribe site. There has been discussion about using single blade paddle for kayaking. Helps with long distance paddling to give relief and use other muscle groups. Or so they say.

Anybody done this, what kind of paddle and size is needed? Presently I own a 50" canoe bent shaft paddle will try it but I suspect it might be too long. I am 5’6" .

As a Backup Paddle
I used to carry a kids paddle as a backup, then a Zaveral. My shortest Zaveral is 51" and I think 3-4" shorter would be better. Depending on the boat, I would go with 46-48". WW

Single blade works great in a kayak,
especially one with a rudder.

I know of several paddlers that have done this. It is a lot of fun to pull it on other kayakers when everyone is tired at the end of a long hard paddle. Learn how to do a good single blade bent shaft stroke. A good sit ‘n switch if you do not have a rudder. Sneak the paddle into your yak without being seen by the other yakers. Pull it out at the right time and they should not be able to catch you or even keep up. Do not do this too late in the paddle. You need to let the extra weight of the yak paddle give you the advantage by them getting more worn out while your back and arms are breezing through the sprint and then prolonged paddle. You will find yourself feeling more energy and rested with the much lighter weight of the single blade. Be sure to use a good carbon paddle for this. If your paddle is a heavier plastic or wood don’t try this.

The paddle should weigh 11 ounces or less. A ZRE white water is 11 oz. Their race paddle can be as light as 7 oz or less, but these break too easy. I buy the WW models. DO NOT cheapen up and get the rec model with the rubber/plastic handle. Get the better one with the carbon handle. Save money by buying a seconds/blem paddle instead,

Your legs have NOTHING to do with paddle length unless you are paddling in the high kneel or standing position. Paddle length has to do with the length of your torso AND the height of your seat in relation to the water. Basic paddle fit: Either sit on a chair and put the handle in the chair between your thighs or stand with an arm straight down and your hand cupped with the handle in it and the blade in front of your face. The neck of the paddle, the part where the shaft meets the blade should be between your chin and nose for a bent shaft or between your nose and top of head for a straight shaft. I would guess your shaft and handle length to be less than 30". Add a blade and you should be around 46" for the total paddle length.

The shape and length of the blade itself will depend on what and how you are going to paddle. Bent shaft blades will normally be between 11" and 17". The longer straight shaft blades between 20" and 40" or more for some narrow cruising paddles. Standing and high kneeling paddles can easily be 6’ or more. You will not want any long blades in a kayak.

Now that you have the basic fit you need to adjust for seat height. I sit about 3" or 4" above the water in my Sea Wind (kayak like canoe) and use a 50" paddle. I now use 50" in my regular open canoes and am going to cut down a few to 46" or 47" for my Sea Wind. Sitting on the bottom of the hull as in a kayak or a pack canoe you will most likely need a 46" or so.

Your cadence should be 60 strokes per minute cruising, 70 - 75 racing, I have counted 95 and more sprinting and paddling up rapids in short bursts.

Hope this answers your question.

Happy Paddl’n!



works good
with a skegged kayak too. Can sometimes set the skeg so you can paddle without switching much at all, if that’s what you want. It definitely works different muscles than the double blade. I also like it for fishing and for twisty creeks like Hells Bay Trail in the Everglades.

very interesting
I suspect the 46" is about the right height. My 50" bent shaft is way to cumbersome to keep on deck will probably end up with a straight blade.

Let me ask you this: If I were just to use it for switching over from a double to give my muscles a break or just a change of pace, do I need the real lightweight racing paddles? Could I just get a lightweight wood paddle instead?

Any paddle will work.

– Last Updated: May-20-05 5:18 PM EST –

You'll just miss the very best and most fun parts. ;^)

Remember to primarily use your back, trunk twisting muscles for the power in the stroke and your arm muscles to control and assist.

Happy Paddl'n!



Canoeing a kayak
I use a short canoe paddle in my rec yaks alot. Not the way Mcwood4 does (WOW!) but in more liesurely pursuits.

As mentioned, sitting in a yak puts you closer to the water, so you need a shorter paddle. I use a cheap wooden one. It is just the thing for the occaisional poling assist off a gravel bar or submerged log or stump. Also, it helps in those small winding narrow streams you sometimes encounter, you know, where the brush on the banks hangs up your double blade. I find that some intricate maneuvers in tight quarters are easier with a single blade, and there is no water dripping down on me from the upright opposite blade of a double. Stows easily too, since it’s flat and short. Plenty of accessory uses too, while camping, etc.

Mostly, though, I use it to impress those snobby canoe elitists. :>)

feathercraft expedition, single blade

– Last Updated: May-24-05 11:54 PM EST –

Recently, I played a little bit with my Feather Expedition K1 folder. I tried a 49" zaveral paddle with an extra foam pad on seat. It worked quite well for me, although I would prefer somewhat shorter paddle, perhaps 48".

I am using both double and single blade as alternative paddles on my various boats: Sea Wind canoe - single blade - 95% of time, Spencer X-treme, my safari boat - wing paddle 80% of time.


single blade
its the only way to go.

I paddled 6 months across the country last year with a single bladed: see photos here

I use a 7 oz ZRE at 50 strokes per minute over a 10 hour day that equals 30,000 pounds less weight I lift that day compared to a double bladed paddle that weighs 24 0z. Thats 15 tons less weight than the double! No wonder they are always tired.


One Blade Sounds Good

– Last Updated: May-24-05 9:57 PM EST –

Beachcamper has started a very interesting thread here. I'm ready to try it 2/3rds of the way through a long fish chasing day. I don't have the paddle though. I emailed this link to Onnopaddle. I'm hoping he'll get into some 6 oz. or less cruising paddle layups as my charge card is burning a plasticized hole in my wallet. (Is that a word?) What a great sport this is. Have fun, paddle well. Oh, and don't forget that golf umbrella sail for the downwind trip back home!

good input and advice
from so many knowledgeable people. I enjoyed paddletothesea and mountainwayfarer’s websites. Such fun! Anyway, I have to get my hands on a 46 and 48 paddle to see which works best before breaking down and actually getting the zre paddle. I think it will work out great using the single blade with my new kayak.

paddle length
I think you’d love a Zaveral paddle if you can justify the cost. They offer “blems” so you might check their website

I’d suggest ordering the narrowest blade possible (I think they offer 8 inches through like 9 3/4 inches…go for 8…or 8 1/4 max)…it’s the lightest and easiest to use.

If you are brave you can order it with the handle NOT glued in yet, and then you can just tape the handle in place and keep trying it and shortening the shaft with a hacksaw or coping saw until it feels just perfect - and then glue in the handle. Carbon shafts are really easy to cut…with any fine-bladed saw…just first wrap tape around the shaft so it doesn’t fray - and cut through the tape. It’s super easy.

Correct length depends a little on the type of paddle. If you want to get a shorter version of the one you already have, just do some nice vertical forward strokes and see how far you are burying the shaft into the water…should be easy to see how many inches you could lose and still keep the blade buried.

46 inches can’t be far off.

I tried this over the weekend.
I have paddled canoes for 10 years before getting my first kayak, so I took a short Canoe paddle along with me over the wekend to try it.

I would say that using a SHORT canoe paddle would be fine for a back up paddle, if you were experienced using a canoe paddle (J-Stroke).

BUT,… I would not want to be caught in rough water, or have to paddle any distance with it, as it uses different muscles than a kayak paddle, and my arms got pretty tired quickly.

I would say if you are going to carry a canoe paddle for a back up on a kayak, use it once in a while to be GOOD with it in a kayak.

Stay Safe!

go short
Go shorter than you think on length with a singel blade especially in a standard sea kayak. Im in a decked canoe which sits about an inch or two higher than a sea kayak. Im 6’1" and prefer a 48 inch which makes paddling FAST . The shorter the quicker. With a 47 inch I think I can maintain 75 strokes a minute for maybe 7 hours