Which paddle for me?

Hello all!

I’m a beginner kayaker looking for the right paddle. I’ve read all of the online paddle buying guides and most of the reviews I can find, but I’m still having trouble deciding. I was hoping someone could point me in the right direction.

I’m a 5’5" female, 122lbs, using a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 120. I plan on kayaking primarily in slow moving streams, ponds, lakes, and marshes. I primarily use the kayak as a means of transportation for wildlife photography and rarely travel very long distances.

I figure I need either a 220cm or 230cm paddle, but I’m not sure which. As for the paddle itself, I’m having a lot of trouble deciding. I’m looking for something in the $100 range or less (I can upgrade later if needed).

Any suggestions at all? Thanks for your help.

230 Too Long
Just to start. Also, I’ll start the list of people recommending this - go for a better, lighter paddle as soon as you can, even for your first, because a heavy one will really cut into you enjoyment.

when your kayak is 29" wide
i would try a 230 or a 225…any shorter might make you lose your knuckles…

def. try them…def try them in YOUR boat…bring it to a shop if they have a water nearby that you test some paddles on…

weight…i must admit i am a fan of heavier paddles…werner all carbon are WAY too light for me…

try try


RS Magic2
A nice, reasonably priced paddle to start out with is the Carlisle RS Magic2. The “2” comes with a slightly smaller diameter shaft for a woman’s smaller hands, and may even be a little lighter over all than the regular Magic. It’s much lighter than the awful heavy flat-bladed entry-level paddles that often come with packages. It’s what I started out with, but recently upgraded to an ONNO, so it’s now my spare. Even for a recreational paddler, the ONNO makes a he** of a difference.

AS for the length, Celia’s suggestion is probably pretty accurate.

Consider the harmony adventure paddle. I suggest getting it in fiberglass. It is well within your price your range. I think it is a great beginners paddle for the type of paddling that you are doing. I like it much better than the Carlisle Magic. The blade of the Carlisle is too flexible.

Oops and ignore me
I should have checked the width of the boat - had no idea it was 29" wide. I agree, unless you are about 6 ft there is a good chance of catching knuckles. Just be aware that, at the almost inevitable point that you find yourself craving a longer and narrower boat, you’ll probably find that the 230 is best relegated to the deck as a spare.

Bending Branches Infusion Glass Plus?
I got one on sale for under $100, though list price is about $125. It’s length adjustable from 215cm to 230cm and I like the feel while paddling. It’s main draw back is it’s heavier than I like for all day paddling. The shaft and blade are very tough and I have no fear when using the paddle to brace on the shore while entering or exiting the boat. No concern about hitting rocks while paddling.

I often paddle my pamlico
you will never regret the investment in a great paddle even as a rec kayaker. Go with a 225 and learn how to rotate your torso if you can (at your weight you should be prety mobile)

Onno, and Jazzpaddles (used to be whetstone)in that order, would be my favorite choices for great paddles at a great value. Get teh adjustable make sure the range covers 225 at the top end and those paddles will be usefull to you as long as you are paddling a kayak. Otherwise just go used. Keep the feather between 30 and 60 if you feather (I recommend you do) Have fun! Just my 2 cents.

staying dry while paddling
Thanks for your help. A 230cm paddle seems best for me, as I’d rather use a slightly flatter stroke with less torso rotation while having expensive camera gear in the boat with me (the less wet it gets, the better).

I’m hoping I’ll hear a little more on what paddles are recommended. What about the Bending Branches Slice Glass composite paddle here: http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_detail_vertical.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442590141&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=282574488341201&bmUID=1163008233346

Not that one
If you’re going with the 230, you want a low angle style paddle. You don’t want a high angle flat blade paddle. Look on the Werner Website and see if you can find something shaped more like their Camano in your price range.

Try here…

– Last Updated: Nov-08-06 5:15 PM EST –


You will find decent paddles in the $50-$100 range, or in the $400 range for the Werners.

For the paddling you will do, get the $50 paddle and spend the rest of your money on photography equipment (your TRUE love.) Just make sure the paddle you buy has drip rings (rubber rings on the shaft that stop water from running down the shaft to your hands/equipment.) If the paddle you buy has no drip rings, you can find them here: http://nrsweb.com/shop/product_list.asp?deptid=1120

You could also just buy a decent paddle at a local sporting goods store. Check out their website (if available) and post here if you find a paddle you are interested in... you will get plenty of "expert" advice.

Nice photos on your website.