| TRIVIA | PADDLERS' PICS | SHOP | ABOUT | LINKS
THE RIGHT PADDLE...
OK, after many test drives and hours of research you just became the proud owner of the kayak of your dreams.
Now you can just sit back and drift because all the leg work is
done, right? Wrong!!
Just as you put all that time and energy into finding the boat that fits you perfectly and handles
like a Ferrari, you want to put the same effort into that equally important piece of equipment
(no, not the cup holders): your paddle.
Like a tennis player’s racquet, that stick you hold in your hands can make all the difference
to your performance, comfort, and can even help you avoid fatigue and injury.
So how do you determine which of the many paddles on the market is best for you?
Although I will provide you with a few guidelines, paddles are very much a personal preference and
there are no absolute rules to tell you which one you must use. However the one piece of advice that
I would emphasize is to try as many paddles as you possibly can before making a selection.
And if you are a committed paddler, rather than someone who is trying it but not sure if they are
really interested, buy the best paddle you can afford.
You really do get what you pay for and if the perfect paddle for you costs more than you wanted
to spend, it is worth waiting a few months and saving up for it.
Werner paddles (www.wernerpaddles.com) has a great paddle fit guide on their site.
By answering a few questions such as what kind of paddling you do
(whitewater paddlers will need different paddles that touring folk) , paddling style, height,
boat width etc. you will be directed to a paddle style that should be right for you.
I still suggest trying several paddles but this gives you some guidance and a great place to start.
Again, buy the paddle that feels and works best for you.
A good kayak shop will also have staff members who can help you get an expert fit and hopefully
take you to a nearby body of water to try a few different paddles. Ask them to let you try paddles
made of different materials as you will quickly notice a difference between the ones that
are heavier and the ones that seem feather-light.
Also compare the difference between the straight and bent-shaft paddles.
Many folks find the bent shaft easier on the wrists and well as providing a more powerful stroke.
Try the collapsible paddles that allow you to feather the blades (blades at an angle to each
other rather than parallel). Feathering allows for a more efficient stroke
but does require more wrist turning which is not for everyone.
Try the recommended paddle length for your height and boat width but feel free to try a
longer or shorter paddle if a different length would work better for you.
I recently stepped outside the box on this one when I purchased my new paddle.
I tandem with my partner who is a lot smaller that I am (5’2” compared to 5’11”).
She has a much shorter, faster stroke than I do and using a longer heavier paddle than she
had made it very difficult to match her stroke. She is also the more experienced and talented
paddler so the combination of that and her light graphite paddle made it exhausting for me to
hold up my end of the deal on long outings.
After the initial sticker shock wore off and I was willing to at least try the ultra-light Werner Kalliste
I was blown away by the difference in performance. The paddle is the same length as my partner’s
(technically too short for me) but it works beautifully and I opted to go with the bent shaft.
It is light as a feather, however for you fashionistas out there it only comes in black.
Why? Colored pigment adds weight!!!!
See, you learn something new every day. The day after purchasing it we paddled for about 6 hours
and it could not have been easier or more pleasant. Doing my homework definitely paid off!!!!
My sincere thanks to John at Jersey Paddler for the time he spent with us at the pond allowing
us to test drive a variety of paddles and for his expert guidance and support!!!!
Try as many paddles as you like in different materials, with different sized blades and blade angles.
Find the one that is right for you and all the joyous hours you spend paddling will far outweigh
the few hours you spent researching and demoing. Have fun and happy paddling!