Paddle Rubbish

Why are most paddle length guides on the internet and in stores so wrong?  REI says I might need a 240 CM paddle for my boat according to their guide here:  And if you go there the shortest paddle they might have is a 220 cm!  I just don't see why most shops are selling 230 cm paddles to short men and even shorter women.  I hope they'll start stocking some paddles at 215 cm or less.  Epic's paddle guide is slightly better but most of the advice I see in guides and hear in stores is just rubbish.  Why would the average recreational paddler need a 230 in a rec boat and a 194 in there white water boat when both boats are the same width?

The one I like best so far is the NRS paddle guide.  Funny how one of the best guides comes from a place that doesn't make paddles.  They mention that shorter paddles are better for white water since you use a higher stroke rate.  If the shorter paddle is easier to turn over and faster paddle stroke equals faster boat, then why would you ever want a longer paddle?  I could just turn over the short paddle at a slower rate if I wanted to lily dip.  I think it might work just as well as a longer paddle used at a slower rate.

I'm not certain the 196 to 200 cm paddles I use for surfing are actually better for maneuvers, but they do feel better when I'm slapping down a brace.  So I'll try them out against my longer 213 cm Euro paddle and my 86 inch Greenland paddle made by Bill of Lumpy Paddles.

The Lumpy Paddle makes the last 10 miles of any day over 20 miles easier.  I also notice that Greenland paddles reduce soreness felt the next day. They are a great help on multi-day trips.

So if you see me on the lake paddling my sea kayak with a white water paddle this spring, you'll know why I'm doing it.  I'll start with a gps and do some sprints and try to find some actual kayak racers. They seem to know what paddles are fast.
So by summer I might just want an Aquabound Shred made in 215 for surfing or I might shorten down my touring paddle size down to 205.  Or maybe I'll get another Lumpy Paddle from Bill at: His paddles cost less than most recreational fiberglass and plastic ones and are as light as most carbon paddles and built custom sizes at no extra cost.  They are definitely not rubbish.

I'd love to hear some feedback about how you came to pick the size paddle you have. So please leave a comment.


  1. I didn't know I need a 220-230 cm paddle for my sea kayak, so I use the 194 cm one from my white water activity. Came handy not to buy another paddle.
    I still think to a homemade GP as my spare paddle. I'm getting older and the priorities could change :)

  2. Great article. Apart from my GPs, I too have been shortening the length of my paddles as my rotational stroke becomes the norm. For my wing paddle I'm currently using it at 210, which seems to be as short as I can go on it due to the size (ie length) of the blades themselves - any shorter and I cant manage to bury the blade at the catch. But for surfing and rock gardening, I too will be looking at sub-200 paddles, even though I'm 6' tall. Cheers, FP