Choosing a Kayak Paddle Length
Choosing from the wide variety of kayak paddle models out there is often a task in its own. Even those already in the water can mistakenly refer to kayak paddleboards as kayak paddle oars. While the term may not sound like a big deal, knowing the difference between the two is essential to understand how each functions and how to communicate to others what kind of water sports you're participating in. As with any other equipment or device out there, quality is also a very important factor to consider. After all, your health and safety is at stake!
One major difference between the two is in the paddle itself. Kayak paddle blades are typically round, with a flat bottom, and contain paddles of varying lengths. The flat bottomed ones tend to be more suited for flatwater conditions; however, the round ones are more appropriate for smoother waters. Typically, the length of the blade will depend on both the weight and length of your paddle. Of course, the actual shape of the blade is determined by the kayak manufacturer and is optimized to give the best paddle possible.
Kayak paddle shafts (which are often referred to as "featherlight" shafts) are generally made from either nylon or a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material. While nylon offers a little less sensitivity, especially when it comes to harder water, it is usually considered more durable. On the other hand, HDPE tends to be more durable, flexible and long-lasting when it comes to heavier use. It is also usually more lightweight.
Kayak paddle systems generally include at least one paddle with each having a specific purpose. The most popular system today has kayaks equipped with two separate paddle shafts, each attached to a single mast wheel. This allows you to change paddles mid-paddle rather than in the stern of the boat. However, some boats feature single mast wheels with each having a single paddle.
There are several other options available depending on your preference. The most popular is a single-foot paddle, which is great for recreational use. The most important aspect here is that your paddle should be wide enough to cover at least one hand palmful of your hand. In essence, you want the width to be equivalent to the width of your arm, divided by 2.5. Therefore, if you have hands that are three to four times wider than your arm, you want a Kayak Paddle with a minimum width of 2.5 inches.
Two-handed or single-handed paddling systems are more complicated and often more comfortable. These generally come as a set of paddles with a center paddle and then additional paddles that can be expanded from either oars or hydraulic cylinders. The advantage to this system is that you can pump your paddle faster using one paddle than with both oars and hydraulic cylinders simultaneously. However, two-handed systems tend to require a fair amount of physical effort on the part of the kayaker in order to get the paddle moving properly.
The third type of paddle that you can choose for your Kayak Paddle System is the longer paddle. These generally offer a greater degree of control, especially for those who have longer arms. The reason that people prefer these longer paddles is because they offer a larger stroke volume and greater maneuverability. Unfortunately, the longer paddle does require a much wider wake, so for very slow and smooth waters, this may not be the ideal choice. However, if you have a large paddle range and can handle the extra control, this could provide an excellent option.
The fourth type of paddle that you will find is the fiberglass shaft paddle. These types of paddles are typically used with sit-on style kayaks and inflatable kayaks. The great thing about these paddles is that they don't wear down too quickly, which allows you to paddle longer distances without having to change your equipment too frequently. Although these paddles are also a little more expensive, they typically offer an excellent combination of durability, ease of control, and length. They typically come with either a plastic or metal shaft, though fiberglass shafts are more expensive and more durable than their metal counterparts.