wrapping kayak paddle?

I’ve found that early in the season and on longer outings I get blisters from my paddle. I’ve never been big on wearing gloves for paddling, unless it’s cold out. Last season I tried Yak Grips but I find them far too bulky for my little hands. As I was moving someone’s road bike from in front of the washer the other day I wondered about wrapping a paddle with bar tape like you would the handle bars on a road bike. Has anyone tried this, if so what was the outcome? Pro’s, con’s, etc.?

Try neoprene
I have the same experience with Yak Grips. I wanted something thinner so I taped a single piece of neoprene about 7" wide around the paddle shaft. I’m reasonably happy with that. (Where did I get the neoprene? It came as an extra piece with my mukluks. I think you can get it at dive shops.)

Note that bike handlebar tape needs to be double wrapped so that each wrap overlaps the previous one. The thickness could then come out to the same as a Yak Grip, but sure, go ahead and try it.

Maybe silicone tape as a test first
You can find it in hardware stores, maybe Home Depot. It sticks to itself (no glue), so you’d wrap it around the shaft as if it were bike handlebar tape. It is thin and cushy.

I haven’t taped my paddles, so this is just a suggestion to try. The silicone tape comes off clean if you don’t like the tape’s overwrap edges. In contrast, if you put handlebar tape on but don’t like the feel of the overlapping edges, you’ll have to clean off the adhesive.


If you find a neoprene sleeve that is the right diameter for your shaft, use a trick from mountain bike grip installation: “Lube” the insides of the sleeves with dish detergent to allow the sleeves to slide where you want them. Leave them alone while the detergent dries. The tightness of the sleeves should keep them in the right place.

You have to analyze why the blisters
are occurring. Are you over-gripping because the paddle surface is too slick?

Spongy paddle covers usually stop one’s fingers from squirming, but some of us find that spongy nature causes over-gripping too.

I still get an occasional blister, though I have callouses left from rowing and sculling many years ago. Sometimes my paddle has gotten slippery because of skin oil, and I stop and clean it with wet sand. Much easier to grip then.

I found some thin, fingerless, paddling gloves that when wet, improve my grip without fighting finger movement.

On one kayak paddle, I used neoprene cement and bicycle tube patches to glue bicycle tube rubber around the control grip zone. Allows a light, secure grip.

Just some ideas. The goal is a light, mostly relaxed, but secure grip.

tennis racket tape
Wilson sells several varieties of over-wrap for rackets. I tried bike tape but this works better. Bike wrap was too thick and grippy. I’ve been using the ‘pro-grip’ spongy tape on my wing paddle on the control, right side and covered it with electrical tape on the left side.

You might want to try "Body Glide " or

I found they work great and are worth what you pay for them

There is another one that you can get at Sports Authority, but I don’t know the name of it. They come in a stick form and then another one is Hydrapel which comes in a tube

I use it every time I am either training on long paddles or racing long ones.

They not only prevent blisters, but if you start to get one, and put it on, it will stop the blister.

Jack L

Not all gloves are alike
FWIW, I use thin synthetic fiber work gloves I buy at 3 for $10 at Home Depot. Work fine and you don’t mind throwing them away if you don’t like them or they wear out (and they have yet to do that!) These are thin, fit my hand like a glove (yes!) and they have good grip. YOu throw them in the wash after seawater exposure and they come out like new.

Bike tape comes in a few varieties, some thicker than others. Bike tape wears out, BTW, and can easily come unraveled.

But there is a “self-vulcanizing” rubber tape that you buy in the plubming section of your hardware store that might work well. It’s got good hand feel, sticks to itself with a little pressure, is definitely resistant to water (that’s what it’s used for!), and it’s thin enough for what you want.

For Me, Only the Finest Italian Cork
Bicycle handle bar wraps will do. They are very thin and last a long time on my carbon shaft wings. Tennis racket grips don’t last and are too thick. Right now, as an alternative, I’m trying out some new paddle tape from SurfskiRacing.com, which cost $7.00 per roll and come in different colors on my wing shafts. Check em out, clyde

A while back somebody
recommended this horse leg wrap (no I’m not kidding) but I can’t find the post. I haven’t tried it but the price seem pretty cheap.


Don’t know why the link won’t work but you can copy & paste it


relaxation is the key
This is not a problem that tape or anything like that will solve. But a proper forward stroke will solve it. First make sure you are rotating fully (belly button goes around, not just the shoulders). Second make sure your feet and legs are involved (push on the paddling side, relax on the other side). Third, relax your top hand on every stroke (open the hand if necessary). Fourth, learn the difference between a tense grip and a grip that is sufficient to hold the paddle shaft but not too much. You need the latter.