Knowing how to choose the best canoe paddle is important if you want to be safe and comfortable out on the water and also to help ensure that you have a good time when you’re out paddling around.
Finding the right paddle isn’t hard at all and there are just a few different things to consider when it comes to the different features and factors to look for.
Some of these different factors include:
- How the paddle feels in your hands
- The general size, shape, and weight of the paddle
- Materials used in its construction
- The type of grip offered and whether it’s a suitable for you
With these different factors in mind you can basically head into any outdoors store and you should be able to find a paddle suitable for you depending on their selection.
If not, there are plenty of canoe paddles to choose from online where you’ll be able to find one that’s well suited for your needs and the type of canoeing that you’ll be doing.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the different factors that you need to consider.
How to Choose a Canoe Paddle
Look at the Length
Length is one of the most important factors when it comes to how comfortable you’re going to be using the paddle at whether or not you’ll be able to use it effectively.
A paddle length between 52 inches and 60 inches in size is likely going to be suitable for most canoeists unless you’re very short or very tall.
Many of the different sizes available will go up or down in size in increments of 2 inches so there is definitely some room to try out a few different sizes to find one that you feel comfortable with using.
When you’re at home there is a trick that you can use to find out what length of paddle you might need.
Kneel down on the floor like you would be sitting in a canoe and with your butt 6 inches off the ground measure the distance from the floor to your nose.
You’re going to want to then add this distance to the blade length of any paddles that you’re interested in and the number you get is going to give you a better idea of the length of paddle that you need.
Obviously children and taller or shorter individuals are going to need different paddles but most people will be able to find one suitable for them in the range of 50-inches to 60-inches.
Another important factor to look at is the weight of the paddle.
Something heavier might be more durable but it’s not going to be as comfortable or enjoyable to use throughout a long day of paddling around so it’s always a good idea to look for something lightweight.
These days there are quite a range of options when it comes to lightweight paddles that are not only designed using lightweight materials but are also very durable as well.
Flexible paddles are great for those doing flatwater canoeing such as on lakes or calm rivers and streams and stiffer, more durable paddles are a good choice for those heading into rougher waters.
The material that the blade is made from also plays a role in how effective the paddle is going to be depending on your needs.
Wooden paddles are the most popular for most canoers although there is some basic maintenance and upkeep required for their longevity and long term use.
These wooden ones tend to be quite responsive, nice looking, and very durable for flat water canoeing.
Thanks to a laminate coating or a fiberglass layer they’re also quite durable and many people find that wooden paddles feel the best in their hands.
Plastic and aluminum paddles tend to be much more affordable than wooden ones although they’re not as comfortable to use.
The design helps to keep them lightweight and they’re a good choice for individuals on a budget or anyone just getting started with canoeing.
Fiberglass paddles are not common at all for most canoers and are better suited for those paddling out in white-water conditions.
These tend to be the most expensive type although they’re very lightweight, durable, and hardly require any maintenance.
There are a wide range of different blade shapes for paddles but it really comes down to where you’re going to be paddling that determines the shape of the blade that you need.
For those spending a lot of time on lakes and calm water then skinny, long blades are going to be the best suited for you.
For those paddling on rivers or shallow water then you are going to want to take a look at lighter and shorter blades for more control out on the water.
When it comes to paddle grips there are two main shapes that most people use.
This grip is best suited for those paddling on lakes and calm water.
The shape of the grip is designed to fit into the palm of your hand naturally and helps to keep it comfortable to use for long periods of time.
This is the most popular type of grip and it’s what you’ll see most often when you’re out looking for a new paddle.
T-Grip paddles offer a lot more control and a better grip overall compared to the palm grip ones.
These are a good choice for children’s paddles and for a situations where you want a lot of control and precise movement such as those paddling in whitewater conditions.
There are typically two different shapes of paddle shafts available.
Straight shaft paddles are the most popular and traditional type and they are well suited for general paddling around in a variety of different conditions.
These are especially good on rivers because they help with maneuverability and can also be used for bracing strokes depending on the conditions that you’re experiencing out on the water.
Anyone doing just flatwater paddling is likely going to find a bent shaft paddle to be the best equipped for their needs.
The bent shaft helps to keep the blade positioned in a way that the paddler is able to take advantage of maximum efficiency when paddling.
Even with the shaft moving the blade stays vertical in the water so that it’s able to propel you forward without moving around too much.