Canoe paddle length sizing

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Canoe paddle length sizing

Post by DavidS »


Me and my partner have just purchased a canoe and trying to find a reliable way to measure what paddle length we need.

We have found various sources that give differing information and become lost. Can anyone offer any wisdom.


Chris Bolton
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Re: Canoe paddle length sizing

Post by Chris Bolton »

It's a tricky area. What tends to matter is the length of the shaft, not the overall length, so a paddle with a long narrow blade will be longer overall than one with a shorter, wider blade.

Also relevant are whether you have a short torso and long arms or vice versa, and your height above the water, which may depend on whether you kneel or sit, and the type of canoe. A longer paddle can useful in the stern, to give more leverage for steering. The depth of water also makes a difference, shallow rocky rivers need shorter paddles than deep lakes.

You will probably find once you have a bit of experience, the ideal length will change. It's easier to use a paddle that's a bit short than one that's a bit long, but it's a bit less effective.

If you possibly can, borrow some paddles and see what you feel most comfortable with. Then measure the shaft length, and buy some basic wooden paddles (£40-£65) with that shaft length.

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Re: Canoe paddle length sizing

Post by Terryg »

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Re: Canoe paddle length sizing

Post by twopigs »

Tricky - as Chris says the shaft length is the critical dimension - the blade area is the other important dimension. As a first step sit in the canoe and take a stroke. The blade should be covered, but not the shaft. The tricky bit is where you sit or kneel, whether you are paddling solo so the canoe is edged, or whether tandem. Paddles with long, narrow blades - deep water paddles - are kinder to your body than shorter, wider blades. If you had difficulty deciding which canoe to buy, deciding which paddles to buy is easier ......
Canoeing - bigger boat, broken paddle, more skill!

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Re: Canoe paddle length sizing

Post by Jim »

It is tricky if you are a perfectionist, but in truth most people will manage fine with something about right, and any of the conflicting methods should get you something about right.

I would suggest getting some relatively cheap paddles based on one of the many existing guides, use them for a few months and judge for yourself if they seem about right, or if your next paddles want to be a bit longer or a bit shorter. You will only really find out after a few months of paddling in different conditions.

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