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Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:27 pm
by DaveCrampton
Being relatively new to sea kayaking, summer 2020, I have just about all the equipment I need to paddle in the sea, some 500m from my door step. I was sensible and bought most things second hand, but now my thoughts are turning to fine tuning those pieces of equipment not fitted too well to my personal size.

I have a Lendall XTi paddle, which is 2m but my height (1.83m) and reach (225cm) makes me wonder if I could finally buy a new paddle a little longer than my current (and spare splitty)

The old suggestion is the paddle should be the length of your vertical reach. But getting the model I think fits my need, is difficult at present as stocks are low, and sizes and models are limited.

I've tried a couple of other paddles, a left handed Shuna, which was too short, as the owner is shorter than me, and Lendal Nordkapp, size unknown, but felt longer than my XTi.

So should I hold out for the perfectly sized paddle of just buy a 210 or 215 as the extra length makes no difference? As we look ahead to the possibility of another summer of limited travel etc, meaning people are turning to hobbies over foreign travel, it looks as though the same problems of stock may extend into 2021.

Cheers, Dave C

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Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 2:37 pm
by mrcharly
Paddling style is a factor. As is boat width.
Low, high?
I'm a shortarse at 170cm, but use 212 with a wing blade. That's smack on for flatwater, according to Epic. I'll probably shorten it a bit for rough sea paddling.

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 2:56 pm
by simon64
I use a adjustable 205-215 650 Celtic kinetic, used mostly at the short to mid length, I am 186cm
As the previous poster says depends on paddling style, preferences and your strength etc, I used to use a 218 cranked Nordkapp, but would find that way too big and long now.

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 10:44 pm
by ChrisJK
You could make a Greenland paddle to suit yourself perfectly,they can weigh similar to carbon and should cost you around £40!

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 10:02 am
by twopigs
Probably the best way to decide paddle length is to go paddling with other people and borrow their paddles. I am about 180 cm tall and set my Celtic 4-way splits at 215 cm - the width of your boat has an impact as does how upright you sit .....

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 10:28 am
by seawolf856
Buy an adjustable one - 210 to 220cm should cover just about any paddler requirements. Get one with a sliding joint and lever lock (not internal splines or flush buttons), that way you have full control over the length.
I use a VE Voyager which is brilliant. Mitchel Blades are also fantastic with a very nice joint but there are many other makes to choose from.

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:51 pm
by PeterG
205-210 and smallish blades for everyday and 192 and big blades at play surfing or a in a tide race, I am 1.7m, mostly I use a wood gp that is around 210, with the adjustable inuksuk I find into a strong wind I prefer as short as possible 205 I think but mostly 210-215

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:57 pm
by Jim
Currently I use a wing paddle adjustable between 205 and 215cm and I tend to set it to 208 in my WWR and 210 in my sea kayak - the extra 2cm helps with the additional width or height of the boat.

Years ago I bought into the long paddle low angle style for touring, and have had 235cm, and more recently 215cm paddles before I got the adjustable one. I have tried different lengths and 208 (210) gives me a good gearing to hit high speeds or paddle long distances - much longer and the strain on my shoulders is apparent, much shorter and I feel underpowered.

We are well rid of those old rules of thumb, and fortunately clamping centre joints technology has come to a point where you really can use a 2-piece variable length paddle every day and have it feel exactly the same as one piece in use, allowing you to experiment to find your ideal length, or lengths for different conditions/boats.

Re: Paddle length, not that old question...

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 5:48 am
by adventureagent
I don't paddle ocean, just Great Lakes. I think there's a big difference. I mean, I really don't have experience with tides, rips, and other current related things that you folk have; with the exception of the St Lawrence River. About a Quarter million cubic feet per second come over Niagara and then into this river. So I get some challenges at times. Got stuck on an eddie line at a spot called "whirlpool island" (for some reason -;). I started to submerge, and all there was about me were power boaters (yes, solo paddling - I know). Just another lesson ...

My boat's got a 20" beam. For some reason (maybe my past whitewater (ing) I have found I like a 200 (wing). I shorten it down as much as 10 cm as the "mood" suits me. I sometimes use a stroke and glide style. I seem to keep up with others, but expend less energy.

I found it a significant difference to use a really short paddle into a strong headwind. I don't get the paddle blowing away and compelling me to grip tight. I seem to make much better progress than with the longer, wind-prone and longer period between strokes. Around here, these are indeed odd stylings, and most don't understand the asset of a dynamic paddle length or a storm paddle. I do quite a few things different to the ww crowd and to the "sea" crowd here. I'm o.k. with that. Works for me.

I have a pair of neoprene gloves by NRS. They fit like a fine leather glove, sized right. Very thin. I guess they keep some blisters off the web (yes, I seem to be marine) between the index and the thumb. However, they are too thin to be effective thermals. I tried thicker dive gloves years ago, and the cramping to grip the paddle was too much, as they weren't curved. I like the suggestion here that maybe the NRS's might be good under the pogies.

I've used pogies for decades. Lost my previous set after ten years or more. We used to make our own. I got a new pair from Mountain Equipment Co-op. In summer, just in case, I might carry a pogie of just nylon - just in case it gets a cold wind in some place like Georgian Bay. I like to move my grip on the paddle, say for an extended grip stroke like a sweep, from time to time.

With pogies, I like the all-season feel of the paddle with bare hands. Even winter paddling this is great. I like the pogies to be a little loose on the shaft for the sliding strokes. Water seeping past lubes the grip, and I don't get cold fingers usually. I'd say most of the time, my hands, in pogies, are almost too warm.