Getting the right paddle
Finding the right kayak paddles is as essential as finding a right kayak. The weight, length, blade symmetry and grip diameter of a paddle are some of the factors to be considered before buying.
A paddle can be divided in two main parts - the Shaft and the Blade.
Paddle Shaft: The part where the paddler rests his hands is called the shaft. Paddle shafts vary in diameter. Generally, it is believed that the larger diameter is for paddlers with large hands and vice versa. However, in reality, it is about having a comfortable grip over the shaft that will help in effortless paddling. To give a small tip, the grip diameter should be such that when a paddler grabs the shaft, he should be able to effortlessly touch his index finger and the thumb.
There are two types of paddle shafts - Bent and Straight. Bent kayak shafts ease off the pressure on the wrist joints and are very smooth and convenient to paddle with. However, Straight shafts are more commonly used, light-weight and inexpensive. Kayak paddles are made of different materials like plastic, fiberglass, wood, aluminum, reinforced nylon and carbon. The weight, durability, rigidity, performance and the cost of paddles depend on the materials used.
There are several factors to be taken into consideration:
#1: Length of paddle:
The first decision you have to make – is what length it is going to have.
Kayak paddles are available from 180 cm up to 220 cm. Ideally, short paddles are preferred by short paddlers. Similarly, shorter length paddles are recommended for aggressive paddling combined with different stroke techniques.
The best way to find out is to try paddles of different lengths. You might want to borrow paddles of different length from other paddlers and try it out to see if the length suits you. One way to measure is to place the paddle vertically at your toe and try using your hand to reach out to the top end of the paddle. Your arm must be straight. The paddle should be right for you, if you fingers is able to reach the top end of the paddle.
#2: Angle of paddle blade:
Every paddles manufactured by different brand maker has differences in angle of paddle blade. This will affect the time elapse of your paddle water entry & exit, and also the efficiency of stroke and body rotation. Test it out of other paddlers's paddle, seek their comment on it. Some brand paddle makers boast of their ability to be able to create a smooth, clean water entry and exit without much effort. You should not be "sweet talked" by these information, but rather you should personally test the paddles out first before deciding.
#3: Weight of paddle:
Every paddle depending on manufacturers, has different weight or lightness due to different process of making, different material used and material grade. Always ask for weight and what material its made of. An average weight of a paddle should be around 700-750g.
#4: Types/design of paddle:
There are many different types of paddle in terms of brand, blade shapes and blade sizes.
Do not be over-concern with brands. Every paddle are moulded and built for each individual style. So never compromise on function & performance than on-to branded paddle.
A paddle's first paddle is the crucial part. Because this is the paddle that he/she will train and row with for as long as the passion remains. Paddles has many sizes from mini to max for beginners to professionals. Its paddle has different angle of degree too. This will affect how a paddler row in its stroking and body rotation as well as water entry and exit.
For beginners, I would recommend small size blades. (BRASCA IV MIN) This helps to get stroking and techniques right rather than pulling water & wasting effort.
If you are a much bigger than average built body, you might want to consider getting a bigger blade size in consistency to your body strength. Most paddle makers has different blade sizes ranging from small to large.