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Choosing Your Kayak Paddles: The Different Styles and Types of Kayak Paddles | Duluth Pack

Choosing Your Kayak Paddle

Nothing quite says Northern Minnesota like slicing through a clear blue lake in a kayak. One of our favorite past times here in the northland, kayaking is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. One crucial piece of equipment for kayaking is the paddle, second only to the kayak itself. With several types of paddles, it can be hard to decide which is best for you and your adventures. Well, we have your back.

 Blade and Shaft Design

Paddle blades come either wide or thin, with each having advantages over the other. With the wide blade, you will get more power with each stroke, helping to maneuver the kayak more quickly and swiftly. On the flip side, this can fatigue you faster and thinner blades tend to allow for longer distances traveled with minimal fatigue due to less resistance from each stroke. So, if you primarily will be kayaking in technical waters where extra control is a must, then the wider paddle is the way to go. Conversely, if you will be kayaking great distances but over calm surfaces such as lakes, then the thinner blade is for you. Now that we covered the blade details, let's get into the shaft design. First, there are straight shafts and bent shafts, and choosing between the two boils down to preference. Straight shafts are more common because they can be used for just about any kind of paddling. However, bent shafts have their place due to giving a more natural wrist position, making them ideal for those with carpal tunnel or arthritis. Of course, one drawback from a bent shaft is that your hands are locked in one position, meaning you cannot change your hand position the way you can with a straight one. For this reason, unless you have a preexisting condition that calls for the bent shaft, the straight variety is ideal for most people.

Blade and Shaft Material

Paddles are made of either plastic, aluminum, carbon, or fiberglass. When choosing between these, the main difference comes at quality and price. As with our packs, you get what you pay for here. Though they are more spendy, paddles made of fiberglass and carbon are lighter, more durable, and perform better in the water, while aluminum and plastic paddles are cheaper but need more replacing and are blockier. We recommend going for carbon or fiberglass because, in the end, the results are worth it.

Paddle Size

The final thing to consider is the size of the paddle. There are countless official sizing guides to help determine the exact size you should choose, but there are two main things to consider. The first is the dimensions of your kayak, especially its width. It's critical to have a paddle that can reach the water without banging the boat or being too far out on the sides. Remember your height as well as your dimensions, such as torso size, play a role as well. Knowing these stats and adding them all together will help you choose a paddle size best suited for you.

Putting all of these different aspects together will help you choose the paddle that is best for you. Consider where you'll be kayaking, how much quality and price matters to you, and finally, your physical dimensions and the size of your kayak. Now, grab the perfect paddle and hit the water!


Happy kayaking, friends!