What Size Kayak Paddle do I need? Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide

The very first thought that comes after buying a kayak is which paddle length to choose that suits best, and a most frequent challenge that almost every kayak owner comes across. By some means, an ideal kayak paddle length is generally determined by the kayak dimensions, stroke preference, and body stature. However, the appropriate size of paddle length makes the most difference in the kayak experience.

Even so, the size of the paddle of a kayak appears to be quite subjective. But to get it right is what is significant. Nonetheless, the paddles would add extra tension to your torso and shoulders if they are long. Whereas, if it is too short, the sides of your kayak will get abrade with each stroke.

That being said, the height of your torso and the width of the kayak is what helps to get the correct and specific size of kayak paddles. So, before getting deeper into the topic, a few things need to get sorted out so that you will end up leaving the site with a clear mind.

what size kayak paddle do I need

Why Right Size of Kayak Paddle Is Important?

Kayaking is such a mind refreshing activity as long as you do not put yourself into trouble by choosing inappropriate paddles. Having a proper comprehension of choosing unerring paddles that you can clasp and make the most of its use comfortably aid prevent fatigue and lets you become pro in kayaking.

Here are few factors you may run into with inappropriate paddles:

• You may end up go meandering, instead of following the straight track.

• You often feel a mild fatigue and muscle soreness coming on.

• You have to bend over backward to reach the water.

• Struggling to bear the extra weight of paddles.

• You have to put more effort to keep up with stability.

Things To Consider In Paddle Sizing

There is a simple guideline that says, the kayak paddles would be long if the paddler height is tall and the width of the kayak is wider. Still, there are some factors that need to be considered while purchasing kayak paddles.

Check Out: The Best Kayak Paddles Under $100

1. The Body

Undeniably, your entire body, means your overall height and torso length have the biggest impact on kayak pedal size. As written above, the taller you are, the longer will be your kayak pedal. Nonetheless, you will often get to see most of the sizing charts include only paddler’s height while this is not the actual case, some of the time your torso length helps you to attain an accurate match.

2. Width Of The Kayak

The second most crucial factor to keep in consideration is the width of the kayak’s framework when knowing about the size is your intention. Notwithstanding, it is said that the wider your kayak’s hull the longer will be the paddles. Therefore, always consider the width to get the most accurate reading.

3. Preferable Strokes And Paddling

It is vital to get stroke angle preference specified before making a purchase because it has a major effect on paddle selection. No matter if you choose a high-angle stroke that keeps the blade nearer to the kayak and produces more force or opts for a low-angle and more of a horizontal stroke to spend extended days on the water. All other things being equal, the first scenario required a shorter paddle with a wider and shorter blade, whereas for the second one, a longer paddle with a narrow and long blade is preferable.

4. Types Of Kayaking You Want

It is another and most effective way to conclude your paddle sizing. The kind of kayaking you are going to do must be in mind beforehand-touring, recreational or whitewater rapids. That being said, in whitewater kayaking where control is the first priority, a shorter paddle is suitable in this regard. While in tour kayaking longer paddles fit the bill because they tend to generate more power. However, recreational kayaking falls in between.

We want you to check out our guide to the best whitewater inflatable kayaks.

How To Measure Kayak Paddle

But first of all, lets make the conversion simpler for you

Paddle Lengths In Inches:

Paddle Length (cm)Paddle Length (inches)
230 90.5
220 86.6
210 82.7
200 78.7
190 74.8
180 70.9

When time is not allowing you to spend hours then quickly grab the measuring tape and follow these quick and easy methods to help you get the exact match for your kayak.

1. Hook The Finger Method

Stand the paddle against the wall next to you, now try to reach the edge of a paddle with your fully extended arm, and check if you bend the first joint of your fingers over the edge of the paddle. If you cannot make it to the edge of the paddle, then you need a different kayak paddle of a different size.

Note: Keep in mind the following method does not consider the kayak width and paddling style.

2. Measure The Width of Your Kayak

Both the frame width and paddler height together can help you achieve the exact idea according to your needs. As a matter of fact, the kayak design vary a lot more so as to get the right measurement, it is best to find the frame’s widest point and measure from there and note it down.

Here are the lengths and widths of different kayak types.

Kayak TypeLength Of KayakWidth Of Kayak
Recreational Kayak6-12 feet26”-30”
Touring Kayak12-15 feet22”-25”
Whitewater Kayak8-12 feetWidth isn’t critical
Performance Kayak15-18 feet19”-22”

3. Measure Your Torso Height

what size kayak paddle do I need

Our Torso height is a pretty decent way to get to know the optimal size you need. That being said our body is built slightly different from one another, which means neither our torso measures the same nor does our legs length. So as to say that your torso is a great predictor in comparison to your overall height.

Generally, the torso is measured in a sitting position which is from the crotch (center of your legs) to the tip of the nose. Why it is important because it lets you know how high your arms are above the sides of the kayak.

Torso HeightHigh Angle (cm)Low Angle (cm)
24”-28”210 cm – 215 cm215 cm – 220 cm
28”-30”220 cm – 230 cm230 cm
Above 30”230 cm230 cm

4. Low-Angle Paddle Size Guide

Follow this sizing guide if you are intended to use low-angle strokes and if you use touring, fishing, and recreational kayaking.

Kayak WidthUnder 24″24”-28”29”-33”Above 33”
Paddler HeightPaddle Length (cm)   
5 feet and less210 cm220 cm230 cm240 cm
5 feet – 5 feet 6 inches215 cm220 cm230 cm240 cm
5 feet 6 inches – 6 feet220 cm220 cm230 cm250 cm
6 feet and above220 cm230 cm250 cm250 cm

5. High-Angle Paddle Size Guide

If you have sea kayaking and your intended strokes are high-angle then follow this chart to get accurate paddle size.

Kayak Width17”-23”23”-25”Over 25″
Paddler HeightPaddle Length (cm)  
5 feet and less200 cm210 cm220 cm
5 feet – 5 feet 6 inches210 cm220 cm230 cm
5 feet 6 inches – 6 feet 2 inches220 cm230 cm240 cm
Above 6 feet 3 inches230 cm240 cm250 cm

6. Whitewater Paddle Size Guide

To determine the right paddle size required, follow this sizing chart while using a Whitewater kayak.

Paddler HeightPaddle Length (cm)
Under 5 feet 2 inches188 cm – 194 cm
5 feet 2 inches – 5 feet 8 inches190 cm – 196 cm
5 feet 8 inches – 6 feet 1 inch192 cm – 200 cm
Below 6 feet 1 inche196 cm – 204 cm

Wrapping up

Seemingly, an average height and size kayaker would be perfect with a 230 cm kayak paddle. However, these paddles are a convenient choice for those who do not want an aggressive stroke, rather, use a low-angle and smooth paddling. Whereas, for those who are seeking out slightly aggressive and high-angle paddling, 220 to 210 cm kayak paddles seem working cooperatively.

Hope that all your confusion regarding kayak paddle size will be eliminated while scrolling through the article. Leaving you with the fact that the right size of kayak paddle does wonders to your kayak experience, and you will become a better kayaker if you follow these simple guidelines the way it is told.

Moreover, this brief video can help you clear your mind while choosing the right paddle size for your body and kayaking purpose.