What size paddle?

I am in the process of buying an OC1 and had a question as to the type of paddle I should buy and how to size for an appropriate paddle for a relatively new paddler.

I am 5'11" and weigh 166 pounds. What's the right length for a paddle? Should i buy wood or graphite? Should i buy straight, single-bend, double-bend, triple-bend :) ...? All so confusing.

Thanks for any help you can provide to a newcomer to the sport.

Submitted by musubiman on Wed, 05/06/2009 - 9:12am

Try this site for paddle size: http://www.kialoa.com/Sizing-Your-Paddle.asp

Material and shaft are all personal preferences. Best thing to do is try other people's paddles to get a feel and then decide which over $200 paddle you want. Or be like most people here and just have a few paddles in their bag.


#1 Wed, 05/06/2009 - 9:25am

Definitely get carbon, it is amazing material.
My paddle is 6.5oz and I would be hard pressed to use
any of these wooden snow shovels now no matter how
pretty they are.

Also if you are not sure about length ask not to bond the grip permanently.
Tape it or hot glue and experiment carefully, than cut shaft
and use epoxy.

#2 Wed, 05/06/2009 - 1:36pm

i dont like to suggest carbon i think its to stiff not enough flex thats where most people hurt the arms.. flex is always good in a paddle.. i have diff styles that you can chose from. but hey shop around and find what works for you. its all up to the paddler to pick whats right for themselves.

aloha Danny

#3 Wed, 05/06/2009 - 1:57pm

I hate to seem contradictory to some of the generally more accepted sizing charts and methods (especially given the sources above, the paddle makers definitely tend to know what they’re talking about) but the more traditional standardized methods (like holding a paddle up to you while standing and picking the one that’s nip-high) don’t take into account variations like longer or shorter than average arms/torso/legs, etc.

Paddle length can pretty easily be determined by how wide your grip is or rather the distance between each hand. Where you grab the blade with your bottom hand depends on what you’ve been taught, but once you have a grip, put you top hand on the palm/T grip and set up in the “reach” or “set” phase of your stroke and if your top hand is where you’ve been taught it should be, that’s the blade length you want; if top hand is too low, it’s too short; too high, too long.

That way you choose blade length based on your own anatomy and paddling technique, rather than on some generalized standard.

As to the pros and cons of various materials, talk to the paddle makers. There’s some great thought that goes into material selection.

Single vs. Double bend? Depends on your paddling technique. (There is a difference in the physics/technique used for each.)

The answer to this question is the same as the answer to just about every other question asked here: try a bunch and find what you like.

#4 Wed, 05/06/2009 - 2:09pm

There is one basic truth for every single paddler out there.. you will collect paddles along the way like girls collect shoes.

So don't stress out too much about hitting and missing.

#5 Wed, 05/06/2009 - 8:29pm

Theres a triple bend paddle?

#6 Thu, 05/07/2009 - 7:44am

kc: try quad?

#7 Thu, 05/07/2009 - 10:51am

yeah bro, you gotta try some before you buy. There is no way to tell until you do no matter what works for anyone else. Especially a carbon paddle. Alot of people have joint issues with an all carbon paddle. If your not sure on the length, go with a longer size. you can always cut an inch but you cant add. Good luck.

#8 Thu, 05/07/2009 - 11:28pm

Carbon is the only way to go unless you dont like efficiency.

Any paddler should take a look around and see , who is faster than them and what are they using for equipment. Go out and buy the fast stuff.

Generally , you`ll get higher stroke rates the shorter you go with overall length.

Leverage begins to work against you if you go too long .

If I were your size , (and I am) I`d start out with a carbon paddle , 50 or 51 inches overall length and a blade around 9 inches wide or slightly narrower.

Narrow blades allow you to put out power more evenly over long distances. Wider blades are better for quick accelerations.

So,keep more than one paddle around , use the narrower one on flat days and the wider one when you need to catch waves.

#9 Fri, 05/08/2009 - 12:16am

Not to go against what Fuze said but try a carbon paddle before you buy. For some people all carbon = pain. I bought one for my first paddle cuz thats what the guy who first got me out used and I had wrist and elbow pain after the first time out. When I switched to all wood I had no more pain. now I use a hybrid. Im not saying an all carbon paddle wont work for you but try any paddle out before you buy. Once you get some miles under your belt a different paddle may eventually work better for you also so you will more than likely end up with several just like the others have said. Different paddles for different conditions.

Where do you paddle?

#10 Fri, 05/08/2009 - 12:39am

Agree with Fuze.
Not all carbon shafts are alike though and my carbon paddle
is very flexy because I asked for it.

I do not think you can "dial in" properties in wood shaft that well.
People with joint pain could have dealt with early carbon paddles -
stiff as a brick.

This reminds me of the discussion about bike frames decade ago.
Now what you see is all carbon, learn from it, OK?

#11 Fri, 05/08/2009 - 3:21am

I highly doubt well see everyone using all carbon paddles in 5 years. One thing I dont like about them is that on a good windy day it feels like its going to blow out of your hands on every change. Right now, and im not alone on this, my 2 broadreach paddles are the best and most comfortable paddles ive ever used. Either way, TAKE IT FOR A TEST DRIVE BEFORE YOU BUY!!!

#12 Fri, 05/08/2009 - 3:27am

the bicycle example does not translate directly to paddling.

The thing with CF frames, besides strength, lightness and so on, is that it also dampens the vibration you get from steel, and especially thinwall aluminum. It doesn't beat the body up as much, useful if 5-8 hour training rides are your norm.

There is also nothing wrong with having a variety of blades in your collection, that way you can indeed learn for yourself what works best.

I also think, that at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what you have (health issues aside), you'll go just as fast with any stick already out there

so have fun with it

#13 Fri, 05/08/2009 - 8:39am

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