Types of Kayak Paddles and Their Uses
Kayaking can be a very tiring yet enriching experience. Ensuring you use the correct type of paddle will make this experience much more enjoyable for you and your arms.
Five standard and commonly used types of kayak paddles exist – Four European and one Greenland style.
High Angle paddles are shorter and wider paddles meant to catch and hold the water for more aggressive paddling. Often, high-angle paddles, used by whitewater kayakers because they are durable and meant for speed and aggressive waters. Duluth Pack offers the durable Whisper Kayak Paddle, an excellent example of this type, as it can take a beating and still be ready for more.
Low Angle Paddles are usually longer and narrower, making them great for more relaxed, recreational paddling. Because of their slim build, low-angle paddles are much less tiring to use than high-angle paddles and allow kayakers to paddle for several hours. These paddles are used for day trips on lakes or recreational trips such as portaging around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness. We would recommend the Impression Day Wood Paddle for simple, everyday usage.
Wing Shaped Paddles can be compared to a spoon because they are curved and scoop the water. High-intensity kayakers, such as racers, typically use this specific type of paddle blade because they can add necessary speed by scooping the water and pulling the kayak along with it. Although Duluth Pack does not currently offer this type of kayak paddle, many kayak racing stores have different styles of them.
The last European-style kayak paddle is the Dihedral paddle. This type of paddle features a blade meant to control and reduce flutter (The shaking of the blade as the water runs around it) by splitting the water in half, similar to how a boat bow cruises through the water. Flutter is inefficient and may contribute to stress and tendinitis in the hands and joints. Dihedral blades are more forgiving than your regular blade but can sometimes make paddling harder for beginners, so we recommend them for more advanced paddlers or racers. You can purchase these paddles at specialty kayak shops.
The Greenland style paddle is very different from the basic European styles mentioned earlier in both looks and uses. These paddle blades are less susceptible to strong winds and much less stressful on your muscles and joints, allowing you to paddle for greater distances before fatiguing. Usually, Greenland kayak paddles are only about 3.5 inches in width, making them significantly smaller than other types of paddle blades.
Happy paddling, friends!