How to Measure a Kayak Paddle

How to Measure a Kayak Paddle
Kayak paddle overall length is normally given in centimeters by manufacturers. Other measurements are figured by what system you're comfortable with. Three key factors go into choosing the proper length of a double-bladed kayak paddle: height, kayak beam and paddling style. Paddles are measured by blade length, blade width, shaft length and total length.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Metric and standard tape measure
Step 1
Determine your height, especially torso length. Two people with different length torsos may use different paddle lengths despite being the same height, so make allowances by subtracting or adding inches depending on whether you have a long or short torso.
Step 2
Choose the appropriate range of paddle lengths for your height. Paddlers under 5-foot-2 should choose a paddle between 188 to 194 cm; paddlers between 5 feet and 5-foot-8, 191 and 197 cm; paddlers over 5-foot-6, 194 to 200 cm.
Step 3
Measure the beam or width of your kayak at the center. The paddle must reach the water from the center position. If it's too short, you'll find yourself leaning to get a good bite with your blade. Narrow kayaks require shorter paddles. Wider boats may call for a longer paddle. If you're boat is wide, go toward the high end of the range above and vice versa.
Step 4
Measure the shaft length with which you are comfortable. Grasp a kayak paddle over your head with the exact center resting on your head so that your elbows are at 90 degrees. The shaft measures from the throat of each blade where it joins the shaft. Your hands should grip within two hand widths of throats of each blade.
Step 5
Choose a blade length, width and shape that best suits your paddling style. Low-angle paddlers use a more energy efficient stroke for long trips and flatwater and a longer, narrower blade. High-angle paddlers use a more perpendicular stroke for better control. This requires a shorter and wider blade.
Step 6
Measure your preferred blade from throat to tip. Double that for two blades and add the length of the shaft you are most comfortable with. This should give you a paddle of the perfect length.

Tips & Warnings

Select a paddle that has the feathering you prefer (the offset angle of the blades that allow for a flat recovery of the blade to the catch position).
Choose a material you like best for the type of paddling you do. Stronger materials are important for extreme whitewater and surf paddling.
A paddle that is too long will wear you out.
A paddle that is too short will be ineffective.

Article Written By Tom King

Tom King published his first paid story in 1976. His book, "Going for the Green: An Insider's Guide to Raising Money With Charity Golf," was published in 2008. He received gold awards for screenwriting at the 1994 Worldfest Charleston and 1995 Worldfest Houston International Film Festivals. King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Southwestern Adventist College.

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