what length paddle?

I’m thinking about getting a new two piece paddle and am having trouble figuring out what length I should get. The paddle I have now is 220 cm and feels way too long. I’m thinking about 200cm but 210cm is also a possibility. I’m 5 ft tall and paddle narrow kayaks with widths of 19 and 18 inches. Also, any suggestions for cheaper paddles in this length range? I usually use a Greenland paddle so this one wouldn’t see much use. The only one I’ve found so far is a Werner’s kids paddle for $85 but I’m not too crazy about the color or the happy face on the blade.



From my perspective
I’m 5’4" and am paddling my Epic at about 212 cm on boats that run closer to 21.5 inch length, so probably a 210 is the longest you’d want to go. Maybe a 205?

But you still need a nice deep catch, and at some point in terms of you being shorter you may have to stop shortening the paddle in order to preserve that. If you paddle those smaller width boats you’ve got some good wiggle room there, but there may still be a limit.

This is an interesting question - be fun to see what others say.

I’ll take a shot

– Last Updated: Feb-14-07 6:42 PM EST –

Hi Marie, I'm a small female and all my paddles are euro.

It is generally true that the closer the paddle entry is to the boat, the more power generated.
However, it can also be more fatiguing depending on the overall conditioning & upper body strength of the paddler.

Length of paddle does depend on how long your arms are and the width of your kayak, so I will give you examples based on me and my kayaks which maybe you can extrapolate to your own use:

Height: 63"
Arm from underarm to wristbone: 25"
Paddle style: right feather, 60 degree, mid
angle stroke

Kayak #1: 28" wide. I use a fixed 215 or an
adj. ferrule set to 210 or 215
Kayak #2 23.50" fixed 205 or adj ferrule @210
Kayak #3 20" 205 works well
Looking to get a 200cm

There are other factors like the distance paddled, or how active the waters are, but I will let others take that up, as I lack the firsthand experience of longdistance sea paddling.

One suggestion: try an adjustable ferrule so you can try out different settings, or you may have different kayaks you want to paddle. I have a Bending Branches Evening Breeze w. this feature: it's light, graceful & quick for touring, and allowed me to experiment and learn what settings work for me.

Another thought: sometimes people suggest a small shaft paddle for people of our size who tend to have smaller hands. As for me, the regular shaft was no hindrance, esp. since I wear 3/4 gloves. Try them out at your local paddling place.

Happy paddling!

online calculators
Epic kayaks and Werner paddles both have interactive online paddle length calculators. I used both, both gave me the same answer, and the result worked out in my case. Might as well give them a try:



I cannot help…
This is just an observation, so don’t be offended. Even if I had some insight regarding kayak paddle length, I’d have to do some conversions before I could respond. In your post you go abruptly from centimeters to feet to inches.

I hope you find the right paddle for you.

I’m just curious about the mixed measurement standards.


Paddles in cm, boats & people in ft & in
is pretty common from what I’ve seen.

Most kayak paddle manufacturers list their paddle measurements (especially length) in cm, not feet and inches.

Most U.S. boat manufacturers list the measurements in feet and inches.

Most U.S. people measure themselves in feet and inches.

The original poster’s mix of metric and feet & inches for those particular measurements seems to be pretty standard on paddling.net and elsewhere in the U.S…

My wife is 5’2 and paddles a 21" wide boat. She has a 200cm Onno Midtour. Blade shape and length affect the overall length so watch it when you select your blade.

Hey marie…
I’m assuming you’re getting a Euro paddle since you mentioned Werner and you probably well know that GPs are sized differently than Euros. From the kayak widths you paddle and your height, unless you have a longer than average torso, 210 would be a bit long. 200-205 might be a good range for you. I’m 5’8" and also paddle lower volume skinny boats and to me, 205-210 feels ok and 215 feels long.

other choice
Look at a Whitewater shaft…they range from ~188-210cm…and you still have the choice of bent shafts or straight…small shaft and standard…andyou know they are bombproof…

if you get a lendal you can get a ww shaft and then pop on the touring blades (i do the opposite now thanks to t-chuck!)…

i tried the epic paddle finder and the werner one…and got different #s…ah well…

whitewater paddles–> brilliant!
To quote the Guinness guys :wink:

Great idea corgimas…I’m thinking of a new paddle 200cm but w. a WW I could go even shorter… Thanks!

guiness???did i hear guiness???mmmmmmmmm

heh heh
Had you at the “G”.

Didn’t I? :slight_smile:

Thanks for all of the help. I tried the two paddle length calculators and got between 202 and 205 cm. When I tried what ericnyre said I got much shorter, more around 185 or 190cm. I have a wooden paddle that I made a few years ago that’s useless because of a building flaw that I might try cutting down in length to at least get a feel for what length would work.



Don’t Judge a Kayaker
Don’t judge a kayaker by the length of his paddle or the draft of his canoe…

ARGH… Glenn

Your Height
May have less to do with the proper paddle length than it seems. Most people will find that if they spread their arms out and measure from tip to tip that length is real close to how tall they are, usually the delta is less than a half an inch. You arm will hang somewhere just below your waist. Your torso is bent at close to a 90 while in the boat and the body parts that are of import to paddle length are sholder to hip length and shoulder to finger tip length and shoulder to shoulder length. The boat dimensions of beam/freeboard/seat/height all matter as you noted. Your paddle technique matters a lot.

I am a foot taller than you and normally paddle a boat which is an inch or two wider than yours. I favor a 205cm paddle length but looking at how the paddle is placed while paddling normally I could use a slightly shorter paddle.

Rent or borrow some paddles of differant lengths before you buy. Most of the shops around me have more 230cm paddles than 210 and nothing shorter for rent.

Happy Paddling,


paddle length

An adjustable paddle allows fine tuning to meet the

varying demands of different conditions. With

Fox Worx
Fox worx paddles (just search fox worx in google) makes great wood shafted carbon paddles. It is a small company run by a family in NY who are great to deal with, and sell at good prices. I paddle with one of there bent shaft two piece paddles and I love it. The best part, you can call them up and the will costom make one for you, and at there prices even with the extra cost of having it customized it will most likly be cheaper than other companies. These guys are great, good craftsmen, good buisness men ande just nice people.


Paddle sizing
I have a short video clip on paddle sizing on my website at www.secondwindsports.net/instruction

Scroll down to Key Elements videos


I’m not going to try and add anything with respect to length because you have already heard a ton of good advice. But if you are looking to find a good paddle with about the same paddle face dimensions as your Werner kids paddle, try the Wind Swift. About as close to a GP as you are going to get in a euro. Good paddles.