What size kayak paddle you need is almost an afterthought to most beginning paddlers. The right size kayak paddle will make all the difference when you’re out on the water paddling.
In general, a 230 cm kayak paddle is perfect for averaged size and height kayakers. It’s a great size for paddlers that use a low-angle, relaxed and smooth style of paddling. For a more aggressive, high-angle of attack style of paddling a 220 cm or 210 cm kayak paddle with stiffer blades is better for the average paddler. That being said, the size paddle you need is a bit subjective. But it’s still important to get it right, because if your paddle’s too long you’ll add extra work for your shoulders and torso. Too short, and you’ll scrape the sides of your kayak with each stroke. Of course, the specific size kayak paddle you need depends mostly on your torso height and the width of your kayak.
Paddle length converted into inches:
- 250 cm kayak paddle - 98.4"
- 240 cm kayak paddle - 94.5"
- 230 cm kayak paddle - 90.5"
- 220 cm kayak paddle - 86.6"
- 210 cm kayak paddle - 82.7"
- 200 cm kayak paddle - 78.7"
- 190 cm kayak paddle - 74.8"
- 180 cm kayak paddle - 70.9"
It is noticeable that as kayak paddles go up or down in increments of 10cm, you’ll lose or gain about 2" on each end of your kayak paddle. This might not seem like a big difference, but multiply a kayak paddle that’s miss-sized only a couple of inches by thousands of strokes on an extended kayaking tour.
Paddle size and Paddle Styling
Low angle paddling strokes are done with the paddle only slightly tilted in relation to the surface of the water. The average height, low angle recreational paddler needs a 230 cm kayak paddle.
High angle paddling strokes are done with the paddle tilted more toward vertical in relation to the surface of the water. The average height, high angle recreational paddler needs a 210 cm to 220 cm kayak paddle.
Low Angle = Longer Paddle
Low angle paddling is generally more relaxed and slower cadence paddling. This is a very common style of paddling for most of the recreational and touring kayaking you’ll do. It’s fun, forgiving on your shoulders, and reduces fatigue on those long touring paddle trips.
Kayak Paddle Sizing Example
Measure your height, your kayak’s width, and your torso height. Then refer to each sizing guide and find the common kayak paddle size for your particular measurements. For instance, if you are 5'9", have a 29" wide kayak, and a 30" torso height and paddle recreationally at a low angle. The common number for all of those measurements suggests that a 230 cm kayak paddle is the right size for you. And it also coincides with that same 230 cm “average” kayak paddle size mentioned at the very beginning.