Can you Pick a Perfect Paddle

Can you pick a Perfect Paddle?  You can try but just like the elusive perfect kayak, the best ConfusedPaddlepaddle to have in your hand by individual and paddling objective as well as the best that your paddling.  Below is a link on specifically learning how to pick the right paddle for you.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you read through the more in depth article.

  1. Wood is warm and more flexible then Carbon or other shaft materials
  2. The buoyancy of foam core, balsa core and especially wooden blades, will help you find the surface, which can be so critical when setting up to roll.  The flotation also gives you a reference point so that you can learn to judge the depth and position of your paddle in the water by the “feel of it.” Lastly the buoyancy also relieves you of supporting the swing weight of the blade and often leads to a lighter grip.
  3. Plastic or wood blades tend to be heavier for “Swing Weight” and less suited to smaller paddlers or others with weaker shoulders & wrists.
  4. Appropriate blade size and shaft size vary by paddler size, strength and paddling objective.  What might be a great paddle for you won’t necessarily work as well for your child or your spouse.
  5. A more relaxed grip puts less stress on your joints and tendons, so finding the right shaft size  (diameter) and overall most comfortable feeling paddle can not only help with avoiding fatigue, but can greatly improve your overall paddling technique and efficiency.
  6. A paddle is not meant to be pulled through the water but rather is used to hold a piece of water while your own body communicates instructions and “energy to the boat.” With that in mind, choose a comfortable paddle sized to fit your body and the style and type of paddling you are doing.  For example: a “wing” paddle does a great job of holding onto the water for efficient forward strokes and braces but that does not make it the best choice for paddling whitewater or wide touring style boats.

So take some time to demo good paddles from a reputable shop and consider your intended uses and then buy the best paddle your budget will allow.  The paddle is one of the tools that you are actually holding, lifting, moving and manipulating with every stroke.  Your time, effort and investment are worth it in protecting your body and making you comfortable on the water.

-Dan Crandal

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