A proper paddle is required for all paddle sports, whether it’s kayaking or stand up paddling (SUP). When it comes to kayaking in particular, there are a number of things you should consider to choose the one that’ll improve your performance on the water. Choosing a paddle of improper length or width, for example, can make it harder to increase speed, balance in your kayak and will often inflatable paddle board wear you out very quickly. Sometimes the kayak you choose plays a role in the type of paddle you choose, as an inflatable kayak may have limited cargo space that makes a breakdown paddle a good choice. You’ll need to consider your body size, level of fitness, paddling style and more to pick the kayak paddle that’s best for you.
The length of the paddle is measured in centimeters from the tip of one blade to the tip of the other. Longer paddles let you move the kayak forward faster with each stroke, but they take more effort and can make you tired quicker. Shorter paddles, of course, require less work but they won’t let you cover the same distance with each stroke.
The width of the paddle is actually the size of the blade. There are many types of blades, including the wing design, which has a curved shape to grab water and prevent slippage. Wing blades are the most common. Larger blades will increase your speed but, like the length, require more effort and can result in a lot of fatigue. Small blades are easier to use but don’t offer the same level of speed.