What Size Kayak Paddle Do I Need? Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide

  • By: Josh Rosenberg
  • Date: July 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.

A kayak paddle is one of the most important pieces of gear you need when you are on the water, they consist of a shaft and an oar. A kayak paddle has blades on both of its ends, both blades are held in such a way that they meet the shaft.

The kayak paddle is not attached to your boat, it is a separate gear that helps you paddle through the water. This paddle can play a crucial role in kayaking adventures to control the tricky conditions. But a kayak paddle of any size cannot be used, you need to know what size kayak paddle I need.

Want to know more about kayak paddles and their importance? If yes, let’s move forward!

Why Does Kayak Paddle Size Matter?

When you are out on the water paddling then you know what difference the size of the kayak paddle can make. For average height and size kayakers, normally a 230cm kayak paddle is best. It’s great for them as it allows the paddlers to paddle using a low-angle, smooth, and relaxing style.

Following are some of the reasons that explain why the size of a kayak paddle matters:

Enhanced Kayaking

When choosing a kayak paddle for yourself the size of the kayak paddle must be according to your height. The size of the paddle helps you to easily utilize your energy and paddle better. It also affects the steering and controlling of your kayak, and maintains the balance easily.

Comfortable Ride

When you are on a kayaking trip comfort is the thing that you most need, in an enjoyable trip comfort plays an essential part. And if you are not using a kayak paddle of the correct size then it will make it very hard for you to paddle

It takes you out of your comfort zone and you get tired. But if you are using a kayak paddle of the correct size then the chances of muscle strains, fatigue, and blisters get minimized.

Better Efficiency

The efficiency of the paddle while paddling is also very important, if you are using a kayak paddle of the correct type and size then it will provide you the efficiency you need. Efficiency plays an important role because if you have better efficiency then you do not need to put much effort while paddling.

You will not need to use more power while paddling which can keep you safe from experiencing muscle pull and fatigue and can also help you to improve how far you can go.

More Control

Using a kayak paddle of the correct type and size according to your height gives you more control over the kayak paddle. It allows you to paddle properly without any difficulty, having proper control over the kayak paddle can also help you to go fast. It provides you with more stability and comfort while paddling.

What If the Paddle Size is not Right?

What If the Paddle Size is not Right

It is very important to make sure that the size of the kayak paddle is right because if it is not right it can lead you to many problems. If you don’t know the right size of kayak paddle for yourself then the kayak paddle would be too long or too short which can make you so tired during your trip it will take comfort out from your trip.

Less Control Over Kayak

If the paddle you are using is too large than it should be then you will lose control over it and will become very hard for you to paddle. And if you have less control over the paddle it can make you go zig-zag rather than going straight.

Muscle Soreness

Using a kayak paddle of the wrong size can make you apply more pressure over the kayak to paddle, and that can cause you muscle soreness and fatigue. If the kayak paddle is too large then it will become hard for you the paddle it because your muscles get more weight on them than they can handle.

Struggling to Reach the Water

If the kayak paddle you are using is too short, then it is also a problem for you. Indeed, a short kayak paddle does not put much pressure on your muscles to cause soreness but still, it can cause muscle soreness and fatigue. It is because while using a short kayak it becomes very hard to reach the water, to reach the water you need to learn what causes muscle soreness.

Stability is Affected

A kayak paddle of the wrong type and size affects its stability. For example, if you are using a kayak paddle of a large size you need to deal with the extra weight of the kayak while paddling. And it makes it hard for you to maintain the stability of the kayak.

Read also: How to Paddle a Kayak?

What Size Kayak Paddle Do I Need – Things to Consider

Kayak Paddle Size

Many things are important to be considered while choosing a kayak paddle for yourself. Your height, your torso length, and your kayak’s length should always be considered before buying a kayak paddle, if these things are not considered then they can become a big cause for ruining your trip.

Whenever you go to buy a kayak paddle make sure you ask yourself what size kayak paddle do I need because the size of the kayak paddle depends on your height. Please consider the following things when choosing the best and the most suitable kayak paddle for yourself:

Seat Height

First of all see if you desire a lower seat position or higher seat position, it is very important because the height of your seat chiefly affects the angle of your paddle. Choosing a higher seat position would be beneficial for you as it increases the visibility and casting ability that helps you to have a clear view.

Higher seat positions would have to use a longer kayak paddle to paddle easily in water. Moreover, while choosing a kayak paddle always determine the above points and then add 10cm into your kayak paddle, this will help you compensate for extra distance when you are doing kayak fishing.

Type of Kayaking

Another thing you need to consider while choosing a kayak paddle is the type of kayaking you are planning to do. There are many types of kayaking which are touring, whitewater, performance, and recreational.

The type of kayaking typically affects the performance and control of the kayak paddle. If you are planning to go just for a short tour then the short paddle will be perfect. But if you are planning to go on some long tours then a long paddle would come in handy, as they produce more stroke power.

Paddling Style

A major factor that you should consider for a kayak paddle is your style of using it. There are two types of paddling styles low angle and high angle. If you prefer a low angle for paddling then you would need a shorter paddle that has a wider blade shape. But if you prefer a high angle for paddling then you would require a longer paddle, as it generates more force by keeping the blades closer to the kayak’s side.

Kayak Width

While determining a perfect Kayak paddle for yourself, the most important thing you need to consider is the width of the kayak’s hull. It is simple about kayak width, the wider your kayak is the longer paddle you need. For the most accurate reading must measure the widest point of the kayak.

User’s Body Size

The biggest and main factor in choosing a kayak paddle is your body size, body size includes your size, height, and torso. The leading factor in most of the charts in body size is your height, It means the taller you are the longer paddle you need. But if you consider the height of the torso it will help you to get a more accurate match.

How to Size a Kayak Paddle?

There are some sets of steps that you should consider while selecting a kayak paddle. These steps include the measure of the width of your kayak, the measurements of your body, your paddling angle, etc. it is sure that after considering these steps you can easily choose a kayak paddle for yourself but even after that you feel any difficulty you can contact to any professional with an experience of paddle sizing.

Step 1:

To size a perfect kayak paddle, first of all, you need to measure the width of your kayak, the longer the width of the kayak is the longer paddle you will need.

Step 2:

After that, you will have to measure the height of your torso, as it is very important in choosing a kayak paddle. For measuring the height of your torso find your top vertebra with fingers by bending your head, at that point both of your shoulders will meet your neck. Now locate the end of your torso by measuring your lumbar region.

Now put both of your hands on your hips, at this stage your index fingers would be pointing forward and your thumb would be pointing at the back. In the next step, you will need someone to measure the distance from the top vertebra to the lumbar area. Now, round the gained measurement to the nearest inch for paddle size.

Step 3:

Measure the height of your body and then round it to the nearest inch compared to the paddle size and kayak width. The measurement of the torso is enough but for exclusive results, it is important to measure your body height.


What Size Paddle Do I Need for my Kayak?

If you don’t know which size paddle you should choose, then it is not so difficult to choose a perfect paddle. You just need a measuring tape and stick to the given guidelines, it will be an easy process.

What Size Kayak Paddle Do I Need in Inches?

The size of kayak paddle according to the height of the paddler is 180cm for 22 inches, 180cm – 200cm for 24 inches, 190cm – 210cm for 26 inches, 200cm – 220cm for 28 inches, 220cm – 240cm for 32 inches, 230cm – 250cm for 34 Inches, 240cm – 250cm for 36 inches, and 250cm for 38 inches.

What if I Paddle Two Different Styles of Kayaks?

If you are paddling two different style kayaks of different widths with the same paddle then you should consider a telescopic paddle shaft.

What Size Paddle Do I Need for Kids?

You should carefully choose a paddle for your kid considering the factors like weight and size. Normally, the paddle for 4’ tall is 182 centimeters, for 4’ to 4’6’’ tall is 182 to 190 centimeters, for 4’6’’ to 5’ tall is 190 to 210 centimeters, and for kids over 5’ tall you would have to find a paddle according to the given guidelines.

Why Blade Design of the Paddle is important?

The blade design of a kayak paddle is very important because it provides propulsion to your kayak in the water.


To sum up, it is necessary to determine the right size of the kayak paddle before having a ride to any water body. It would be best if you give a test ride when buying the kayak. If you do not know which size would be the best for you, you must check out a wide variety of kayak paddles of different sizes to pick the best one.

The major benefit of the right-sized kayak paddle is that it helps you ride the kayak comfortably and handle it efficiently. You can ride it for a long time without facing any issues when you choose a suitable paddle. You also do not get tired and stay relaxed which makes the ride more enjoyable.

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