Upgrading paddle, thoughts?

I’ve upgraded my kayak up to a Zephyr 155, but am now realizing that my 230cm paddle is much too long. I’m looking to upgrade my paddle to something more appropriate, but could use help navigating around since I’m now a bit more serious about paddling than when I first started.

First, thoughts on length? The boat I’m using is 23" wide, and I’m 5’10" and 155#. I’m looking in the 215-220cm range, but am not sure which way to lean.

Second, high angle vs low angle? I’ve been doing low angle since I’ve started, but after several classes and a lot more on-the-water time, I could see myself transitioning to a high-angle style if I so desired. I’m just not sure if it’s a good move or not. I’m mostly doing sea kayaking in mild to moderate surf with the goal of eventually doing multi-day trips in the great lakes. Thanks!


– Last Updated: Jun-07-15 11:55 PM EST –

See if you can demo any before you buy. If you can't, here's my thoughts:

I paddle a 21.5" Tempest. I use a high-angle and have a 205. For your boat I'd keep my 205 or do a 210. Since you do low angle, I'd do 215 if you plan to stay that way, but it's a personal preference. Some like short, some longer. If you can't demo or borrow, I'd say 215 is safe. Most people I know prefer short. That's how I learned so that's what I'm used to.

I switched from low-angle to high-angle recently, and I’m glad I did. I now use a Werner Shuna 210 (I’m 6’ 1" and my boat is 20.5" wide) and it’s a good size. Something around 210 would probably be good for you if you want to go the high-angle route.

get a paddle with
an adjustable length. Experiment, see what you like. Budget? Go as light as you can afford.

For touring

– Last Updated: Jun-08-15 10:47 AM EST –

You seem to be somewhat conflicted about your paddling goals. If your plan is for longer distance, eventually you will find that a lower angle will offer a less taxing style. First, the lower angle is more relaxed and less tiring to arms and shoulders. Second, a lower angle by its nature is more effective at a slower cadence, because the stoke can be a bit longer without lifting water at the end of the stoke.

I would strongly recommend a Werner Camano, but be prepared for some break-in time. Not to break-in the paddle, but to acclimate your body and style to what the paddle demands. Basically it assists you in breaking bad habits and once you get it right, it's so good.

I am an inch shorter thenj you
and a few pounds lighter.

I use a 213 with a high angle stroke.

If you are going to stay with a low angle stroke with the width of your yak, a 220 should be Ok.

Like Redmond above says, if you are going to spend big bucks for a high end paddle, get an adjustable length from 210 to 220

Jack L

I’ll Be the One
Get yourself a good Greenland paddle. Custom made is not really expensive. Search Lumpy paddles.

length and blade area
Best length also depends on blade area. A larger/wider blade might call for a shorter length. True even for greenland paddles.

Werner Cyprus
I’m 6’ 0" and 195lbs and I use a 210 Werner Cyprus which was recommended to me by a Werner rep and paddling coach.

But…the best thing to do is definitely demo one first.

Torso length

– Last Updated: Jun-08-15 7:40 PM EST –

Torso height(length) is a more representative measurement than your overall height, since the legs are folded into the kayak at 90 degrees and their length therefore doesn't influence paddling geometry.

To measure, sit on a hard floor, with your back against the wall to ensure you are sitting straight up, and measure from the surface to the tip of your nose.

Here is one chart including torso length:

I am 6 feet tall, but have a long torso, 33in by this measure. That's as much as another paddler here who said he is 6ft7in! So I get quite a different paddle length using torso length as the guide, than using overall height. The torso length method is more appropriate for me, judging by the comments of an expert who saw me in the kayak with a 220cm paddle (which height charts said) and said, you need a 240!!! (which torso charts said)

Epic Paddles - Length Lock 2
I can’t speak from experience on these, but most of the paddles made by Epic have something they call Length Lock 2 these days, which allows the paddle length to be adjusted +/-5cm, i.e., a total 10cm range. Interesting…

yeah demo demo…
get down to the shop. Is this possible ?

Go to the most expensive paddle and swing it.


then give it back.

2 piece adjustable
All my paddles are. I paddle different boats constantly, they are different lengths and width, as are my paddles. All are ONNO wing paddles. 1@205-210 small mid blades, 1@210-220 and 1@215-220.

Any particular adjustable paddle suggestions? My budget is around 250, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot out at that price range.

Second the suggestion of a Greenland
Especially if you are considering longer distance Great Lakes trips and higher angle paddling. A Greenland paddle can be a revelation. Since you should have a spare for any serious trips, consider having a Greenland as your backup and also to switch up to avoid fatigue. GP’s are easier on your joints for long days, facilitate learning to roll and are better in windy conditions with less area to catch the upper blade.

I got my first one 6 years ago and have rarely used a standard blade paddle since (I do often carry one for backup). Only problem is that depending on where you live they can be hard to find to try. Cheap to make though (lots of free instructions on the web) if you have basic woodworking skills. And there are quite a few makers of them from whom you can buy one. And if you get a wooden one, you can get the longer size you might be considering and always trim it down.

Because I have short arms and upper body I find I need a 220 or even 230 cm standard paddle with many kayaks to avoid smacking my knuckles on the gunwales, but I use a 213 cm Greenland.

How to store a 1 piece GP on deck?

never been an issue

– Last Updated: Jun-09-15 2:56 PM EST –

I have never had trouble sliding any of my one-piece GP's under the foredeck bungee lines. They tuck handily out of the way above an upper chine. Less awkward to stash, and retrieve quickly, than a breakdown standard paddle.

Note all my kayaks are at least 15' long so there is room for them.

not for me
I have a 17’ kayak and a GP fits awkwardly on deck. And I only need one half of the two-piece Euro in an emergency.

Fits well on most kayaks…
A GP fits well on most longer kayaks: front under the front bungees near the bow, rear under the deck bungees near the cockpit. If you are lucky, it will fit nice and flat. If not, the front may stick out a bit from the bow, which is not a big deal unless you tend to burry the nose a lot (such as when surfing or going through steep surf/waves).

On short kayaks the end of the paddle near you might cover the side of the spray skirt a bit, but should not interfere with your stroke or wet exit ability (if it does, get a 2-piece).

If your kayak does not have front bungees near the front carry handle, you can install them. Or sometimes works to stick it under the perimeter lines on the front too.

I saw a neat custom GP holder
A friend made from 3" PVC pipe.He cut a 1.5"section then heated itand fromed a D shape out of it. Throught the round sides of the D he put 2 bungees. At the bottom of the D he ran a short rope throught holes so he could tie each side well forward on the perimeter lines. The blade of the paddle was pushed throught the parallel bungees on the inside of the PVC D. The back of the paddle was under the bumgees near the cockpit. It worked well for both his storm paddle and his GP.