How to Size Canoe Paddles

How to Size Canoe Paddles
There is no way around it: Canoeing by paddle is a workout. With the right paddle, the slow and steady pace of a canoe ride allows you to enjoy the scenery even while using your own power to propel across the water. However, the wrong paddle makes a trip across a lake or down a stream a test of strength and endurance that will have you regretting leaving land. Before buying a paddle, take the time to get the size that feels comfortable to you--the right size canoe paddle can make a big difference in your experience out on the water.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Measuring tape
  • Canoe
  • Paddle
Step 1
Sit on the floor and measure the distance from the floor to your nose. Add 6 inches to this measurement. This is the approximate length of the handle (not including the blade length) you will need.
Step 2
Lift the paddle to get a sense of how heavy it is. You want a sturdy paddle, but not one that is too heavy for you to use for extended periods of time.
Step 3
Choose a blade size based on your needs and strength and endurance capabilities. The larger and wider the blade, the farther each stroke will take you--but these blades also take more effort. Smaller and narrower blades take less effort, but will take more strokes to get you where you're going.
Step 4
Test the paddle at the store before purchasing. Get into a canoe similar to your own and use the paddle. Think about the weight and where the paddle will hit the water compared to your height. Ideally, when paddling, your hand should start at the level of your nose and finish at about waist level.

Article Written By Lynn Anders

Lynn Anders has more than 15 years of professional experience working as a zookeeper, wildlife/environmental/conservation educator and in nonprofit pet rescue. Writing since 2007, her work has appeared on various websites, covering pet-related, environmental, financial and parenting topics. Anders has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and biology from California State University, Sacramento.

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