Suggestions for Paddle length

Just started Kayaking this summer and have been learning a lot and doing better each time out. I have been using a 220 seven2 touring paddle that I got a good deal on earlier in the summer. I like it ok but I am experiencing sore wrists (may be more technique than paddle) and also find myself wondering if 220 is long enough. I am 6’1" with fairly wide shoulders (48 coat) and long arms. I paddle a 24.5" boat and tend to paddle with a high angle, but this is somewhat by default and not really a style preference at this point. [More like a case of me relying on shoulder strength and trying to learn that form is more important than muscle]

Anyway, I noticed that some places are clearing out werner camano paddles and it seems like people like them and I was thinking of trying one but I am uncertain wether to move up to a 230 because sometimes while paddling I notice my hads go outside of the grips on the 220 and I hold closer to the drip rings.

Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks for your time.



I just bought a Eddyline Swift mid paddle, and was advised to buy a 230. I’m 6’ tall and wear a 42 jacket. My girlfriend, who’s only about 5’ tall, was advised to buy a 220. So, I’d say you should probably have at least a 230, possibly even a 240.

Any place near you that you can try them out? We were luckily able to go demo our paddles before we bought them, which was a great help.

I don’t think your paddle length
is the issue. When I had sore wrists in the past, it usually resulted from holding the paddle too tight. Keep a relaxed grip. If you still are having sore wrists, check out a modified crank paddle which will further reduce stress on the wrist. Mine has helped me significantly.

Probably technique.
But there is a relationship between paddle length and the amount of verticality you tend to use when you paddle. Shorter paddles=more vertical. I paddle a 220 and sometimes wish it were shorter. Definitely do not get a 240. Whatever problems you are having now will be maginified by a longer paddle. Whenever you have the chance, borrow other people’s paddles.

Shaft length is the important
dimension, in my opinion. Blade length can vary quite a bit making overall length recommendations rather ambiguous.

For instance, my Werner 215cm Kauai is my long paddle as compared to my 230cm San Juan which has a shorter shaft due to the long blades.

Get a 6 or 7 foot dowel or broom stick that you can use to make a shaft length determination tool, (SLDT!).

Using an indelible marker or 1/4" mask tape, mark the centre point and the maximum/minimum grip widths appropriate for your shoulder width. Then mark each end of the stick at 1" intervals for about a foot. Different colours for the end marks make the procedure easier as you will see.

Now, grab a partner and head to a water that is calm and shallow. Your partner will steady your boat while you sit in it wielding this silly looking stick. Form is everything in order for this procedure to be accurate.

While your partner steadies the boat, slowly execute a forward stroke. Do this several times keeping your eyes forward just as if you were actually paddling. Avoid the tendency to watch the stick going in the water yourself. Let your partner do the observing.

If your stroke is proper and consistent, your partner will have been able to see how deep the stick is going in the water and can gauge such by the end index marks. This measurement will yield a pretty good length of shaft dimension for you and your boat.

Now you can incorporate the blade length as listed by the paddle manufacturer to determine the best overall length for THAT particular blade style.

Give it a try and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Pleasant waters.


Look at several factors…
I am 5’-10", and paddle a 24" wide boat. I have a Boreal, Nanook. A lot of factors need to be looked at when deciding paddle length. Things like Arm length, how far the seat is up from the bottom of the hull, boat width, your paddling style, etc.

I have a set of Bending branches “Day” paddles with a wider short blade, and 230 cm works fine for me. I have the same brand “Journey” touring paddle, and the long narrow blade made me step up to a 240 cm. Using both lengths, with the respective paddle size, has almost the entire blade in the water as I paddle. You want the paddle blade to be most of the way into the water without consiously reaching “down” into the water. If the paddle is too long, then too much of the paddle will be in the water needing extra effort to paddle.

My shorter wife likes 220 - 230 cm lengths. With your height, I would bet the longer length would make it easier for you.

Wow! I would not go longer…
I dissagree with some of your previous responses. I would not in good faith suggest you go to a long paddle.

I’m 6’ tall (size 46 coat) and I use a 210cm paddle.

Before dropping big money on a paddle I’d recommend you take a class and decide what your goals are before changing your paddle.


Hmmmm sounds familiar,
Then call the guy who spent the time to go over all this with you back with how it worked out for you.

That length is pretty benign.
For your height and the boat you are paddling.

ASSuming you probably have a good amount of reach and actually prefer to paddle with a higher angle stroke this paddle should be a starting point to going shorter as you refine your technique and discover your personal preferences. As always, borrow and try out any other paddles you can get your hands on.

It could be the grab-here-because-we-say-so “grips” on the 7-2 paddle you are using too. Your body may be asking for different hand spacing or at least some room to move around once in a while and that paddle is not letting you do it. Also those grips and their pseudo egro bend are NOT the best thing for higher angle paddleing. Get ahold of a regular shaft paddle in the same length to start and shift your hands around on it to see how it feels. Even shift the paddle over a couple inches for a few minutes to similate a longer and a shorter paddle at the same time.

My apologies for not
giving credit to you, Pat. My intention was not to piss you off, but to assist a fellow paddler with what I consider an excellent procedure for a seemingly difficult task. The idea was indeed yours and works quite well.

I was fortunate in that the test showed me the paddles I was currently using were right in the ballpark for my needs.

If you’re upset that I did not call back and order a paddle it is simply due to my prevalent paddling conditions and the drought situation in Wyoming. Our rivers are staying very low and I would not do your carbon paddles, or anyone else’s for that metter, justice by working them off the rocks constantly. Same reason I didn’t upgrade to a carbon Werner. When we stick boats on the shallow rifles, we often stress the shafts getting back off.

I was hoping to try one of your paddles when our waters return to normal flows.



Sore Wrists
I recently developed some soreness in the wrists after trying to set a personal best speed for a distance I like to do. Someone suggested that I should stop my power stroke closer to the hips rather than way back behind my butt. It seems to be helping.

First thing to do to pick the right one
First thing to do to pick the right paddle:

  • Position the paddle on floor vertically and stretch your right arm vertically. If you can barely overlap the blade edge with your fingers without stretching your whole body then you’re on the right track. This is the first thing I’d do.

    As someone posted above - the kayak itself may determine how long the paddle should be, whether the seat is higher or lower and all that. But generally, follow the feel of the paddle in the water.

Brent Reitz,

– Last Updated: Jul-16-04 6:32 PM EST –

forward stroke tape addresses the issue of soreness of the wrist,, he suffered from the same thing in the beginning of his career and was corrected by another paddler,,, simply bring the elbow up upon paddle exit,, it will give you a better angle of re-entry of the opposite arm and much less stress on the wrists. I thing he calls it "doing the chicken wing" or something similar.


Again, I dissagree - take a lesson first
I don’t want to be abusive, but unless the paddlers knows what their paddling goals are, I wouldn’t recommend a paddle length.

Reaching out to see if your fingers go over the paddle is nonsense. Do you assume his paddle length will be the same if he uses a “high angle” stroke versus a “low angle stroke”?

First things first, decide what your goals are. Are you going to do picnic paddles on flat, protected water, or are you looking to get into gnarly, lumpy water where you’re going to desire a high angle performance stroke?

Then you’ll know where to start in paddle selection.

My 2 cents worth…


Paddle Length
I have to agree with Wade Norton on this…I am 6’ and wear a 46 coat, and I paddle most comfortably with a 210 cm paddle. My boat is an aquanaut so it isn’t too wide, and the 210 cm works perfect. However, everyone is different. My wife at 5`5" and in the same boat (the aquanaut) uses a 220 cm and it suits her very well. Try the different lengths, but don’t buy into the idea of a 230 or worse a 240 until you try them.

I’ll give that a try in the morning.

Shaft length is the important factor
I agree that the industry standard of measuring the entire paddle length is unimportant. The shaft length to the top of each paddle is what should be compared.

I find that I use a high angle stroke and I bury my Werner 230 Kalliste quite deep in the water. I decided to look at other paddles (the Little Dipper and Shuna) in 220 cm. What I found was that there was little difference in shaft length because the others had shorter paddles.

When comparing lengths, I think one should subtract twice the paddle length from the total length to give the shaft length.

I do not know how deep the paddle should be in the water. If too shallow then one is not utilizing the entire paddle either in mid stroke or particularly forward of mid stroke. If the paddle is too deep then there is unnecesary resistance both from the shaft and lifting the paddle out of the water.

Buy two, get three!
This worked for me.

Like you, I was new at paddling and didn’t know what length to get. On top of that, I have a tandem and need two paddles.

I decided to get a 220 and 230, with the intention of exchanging one after a couple paddles.

Guess what happened? I kept them both.

I often paddle solo. On flat rivers and lakes, I use the 230. Against the wind, waves, current, or after several hours paddling, I like to shift to the 220. There are times when I disasseble the two and create two 225s. And tandem, the 220 works better for the front paddler, while the 230 is better for the rear paddler.

Since we all carry a spare paddle (don’t we?) this seems like a great way to carry two paddles and have three lengths at your disposal.

Works for me, anyway.

How about checking out some websites.
I checked the Werner Website. They have some good info. Just what you are looking for.

I used to paddle a 240 but have recently dropped to a 220.

Good luck…