Which paddle is best for me / this boat?

I just bought my first kayak and chose an 8’ Emotion Spitfire. It is 31.5" wide.

I have been researching tips for how to choose a paddle, but I’m still a little confused and can’t seem to find one with that information.

I am 5’7" and from measurements it look like I would need a standard diameter.

I think I want carbon fiber and a narrow blade b/c I will not be trying to set any speed records and would like it to be easier.

I guess it would be nice to have the drip things that keep you more dry?

I’m totally confused on what feathering means and whether I need that.

I basically want EASY! :slight_smile:

With that said, I don’t want to spend a fortune b/c I don’t know for sure yet whether I will love kayaking like I think I will. Carbon would be my first choice or whatever is considered next best.

I would like to spend $150 or less.

Can anyone make any suggestions for me?

Carbon is going to be costly
My suggestion is a Werner Sprite. Its a kids paddle but it is fairly light and about all you need to drive your boat. Around $90. It can be feathered or not and you can figure out what you like. I would go for a 210,others would advise 220 cm

How will you use it?

– Last Updated: Dec-31-12 8:39 PM EST –

This is a short, wide recreational sit-on-top. First question is what kind of paddling will you do? Rivers, surfing, flat water, etc. Fishing, piddling around? Knowing that, then maybe you can make a better decision as to blade size and shape, and the length of the paddle. It's a wide boat, so it should not be too short.

The amount you want to pay for a carbon paddle is unrealistic. You may be able to find a used one for that price--if you're lucky. A new full-carbon paddle is generally in the $400 range. There are cheaper models that have a carbon shaft and blades made of something else like fiberglass, plastic or even wood.

Feathering is having the blades at different angles to each other, like 60° or 90°. The purpose is to help reduce wind resistance when you are paddling in windy conditions. The idea is to allow the blade that is out of the water to "slice" through the wind, rather than face it flat. Believe me, it makes a great difference. Most paddles nowadays allow you to adjust from even bladed to feathered, right hand or left. So no worries there.

Two things…

– Last Updated: Jan-01-13 11:07 AM EST –

Until you know how to paddle and have something that you are sure is a final boat, neither of which are true right now, something like what Tsunamichuck recommended or the relatively lightweight paddles from EMS with lightweight plastic blades will do you well enough. You can get those for about the price point you name. A really good paddle is well above that unless you find a deal used - more like $400.

It's not the time to invest in that level paddle yet. Your boat is quite wide - if you do get beyond beginner approaches you could end up with a much narrower boat anyway. The paddle that will get around a 31.5 inch wide boat may not be the same length as the one that would work well with a transition boat, usually a good 8 inches narrower than this boat.

As to feathering or not - get to some place for a few sessions on how to paddle correctly without hurting your joints. Two sessions early on could have saved a lot of new paddlers damage that can take a year to fully undo. And this will answer your basic questions.

To add - the drip rings in my experience do little to nothing to keep you dry, especially in a SOT. It is easiest to just figure it is a wet sport. If you want to try and stay dry, you can do so with clothing. But I doubt you want to write that check quite yet.

Thanks you all for the responses! Wow - big wake up call about the price of paddles! lol I will check out the ones you all suggested. It’s probably best to go with one of those and wait until I see how much kayaking I will actually do and whether or not I upgrade.

I will be on a calm, north Florida river (the Aucilla) - mostly just cruising around in the middle of the St. Marks Wildlife Reserve enjoying the scenery.

Close to what you want
This one is $160 and the shaft is not the lightest carbon. the blades are “Carbon Reinforced” which is not the same as a high end carbon paddle at all. It comes in 220 but I’d recommend at shorter 215 or 210 for paddling a wide rec boat a high angle help you keep the boat going straight.


I have a fiberglass model 200 cm long that I really like for rec boat days and surfing. It is much cheaper than the carbon one while still reasonably light. I’m rarely in a rec boat for more than a few hours a day.

For paddles over 4 hours I prefer a Greenland paddle or a true carbon paddle about 210 to 215 cm.

Aqua Bound Paddles
do represent pretty good value and are certainly worth consideration.

Since you don’t know at this point whether you will prefer a feathered or non-feathered paddle, it probably makes most sense to buy a take-apart-paddle (TAP) which can be set up either feathered or non-feathered, preferably one that can be set up with different degrees of feathering so that you can try it in several different ways and see what you like best.

Paddle length is a matter of individual preference to a large extent. There has been a tendency to go to shorter paddle lengths in recent years. You are not particularly tall but you have a fairly wide boat which usually dictates a somewhat longer paddle length. If you tend to paddle with a relatively relaxed low-angle stroke (which many beginners, recreational, and touring kayakers do, you tend to need a longer paddle. If you wanted an off-the-cuff suggestion, I would personally go for a 220 cm paddle.

If you choose to set your paddle up with a fairly high feather angle (60 degrees or more) you will need to familiarize yourself with the concept of a “control hand” and decide whether to set it up right hand control or left hand control. If these terms are confusing you can find a wealth of information on beginning kayak paddling technique with a quick internet search. Unfeathered paddles or paddles with a mild degree of feather (30 degrees or less) do not, or may not require using a dedicated control hand.

Actually, for every wind situation in which a feathered paddle is advantageous there is at least one other for which it is detrimental. Feathered blades are not advantageous in either tail winds or side winds (especially the latter). Feathered paddles are something of a hand-me-down from whitewater slalom kayaking in which a feathered blade was less likely to result in gate touches from the high blade. Feathered blades are an advantage for busting through big waves, as you sometimes need to do in whitewater, or paddling out through surf. Otherwise, feathering is largely a matter of preference, just as paddle length is.

Many people find at least a mild degree of feathering easier on the wrists, while others find a non-feathered paddle to be kinder.

In addition to the Aqua Bound paddles you might take a look at the FoxWorx Paddle site: http://www.foxworxpaddle.com/kayak_paddle_page.html

They have some pretty decent wood shaft, fiberglass blade paddles for $140 and wood shaft, carbon blade for $165.

Check out the paddle calculator at www.wernerpaddles.com

Length is determined primarily by boat with, and to a lesser extent by how tall the paddler is. You need a paddle that is long enough to allow you to comfortably get the entire blade in the water on each stroke, while sitting up straight. In a 31" wide boat, you’ll need at least a 220 cm paddle, and possibly a 230, in my experience.

After you fall in love with paddling,
find a 12’ , more narrow ,boat you like.

My two cents!

– Last Updated: Jan-01-13 7:40 PM EST –

Paddle choice is a very personal decision. If it were possible in your situation, you should consider testing some and as many as possible. Also, listening to experienced paddlers is good, but in the end you will be the one using the paddle.

Feathering, paddle length and blade styles are very important variables that depend on your paddling style, physical morphology, and the boat you are paddling. Paddle choice is part art and part science IMHO.

I would definitely make sure that whatever you get has adjustable feathering. I've also found that my wood shaft paddle is much more comfortable at the end of the day than my carbon fiber shafts, especially on longer paddles. I prefer a 220cm length for my wider beam rec boats and 210cm for my narrower beam touring boats.

I will soon be going through the exact same process again as I choose a new paddle for my surf ski.