How to Feather a Kayak Paddle

How to Feather a Kayak Paddle
Besides your kayak, your paddle is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will use in the activity of kayaking. A large consideration you will need to make is whether to kayak with your paddle feathered or unfeathered. Feathering means that the blades at each end of the paddles shaft are set at an angle (usually a right angle) to each other. Paddling with feathered blades is less likely to cause tendonitis if used properly, minimizes fatigue, and enables easier extended paddle rolls.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Two-piece break-apart kayak paddle
Step 1
Take apart the two-piece paddle so that you can readjust the ferrule positions. Most two-piece paddles have a button at the middle of the shaft that allows the shaft pieces to slide apart.
Step 2
Decide at what angle you would like to feather your blades. The most common setting is to set the blades at a 90-degree angle to each other. Again, the point of feathering is to reduce the wind resistance on the blades as they move forward through the air when you are making paddling motions. However, many kayakers choose to feather their blades at angles between 30 and 90 degrees.
Step 3
Set your blades at a 75-degree angle to each other for starters and lock the shaft pieces together again. Many paddles have preset holes in the shaft where the button pops through to lock the shaft, which will determine your setting options.
Step 4
Practice paddling with your paddle feathered at a 75-degree angle and see if this feels comfortable for you. The larger an angle there is between the blades, the more you will have to rotate your wrist at each stroke. This is why many find an angle smaller than 90 degrees to be more comfortable.
Step 5
Try different angles until you find the most comfortable one for you. Even a slightly feathered paddle is more efficient than an unfeathered paddle, and you have one setting for your normal cruising speed and another for times when you really want to cruise fast for a short period, such as if you are making the crossing of a bay or channel.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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