Noyo Pacific Kayaking

A Resources for Beginers to Experts

What Kind of Paddle Should I Buy?
Kayaking - Kayaking Equipment

For starters, you need to figure out what you are going to use your proposed paddle for. Are you interested in white water paddling or flat-water touring. Some paddles made today can be used for about anything, but after you know more of what you're doing, you'll discover that certain paddles are better for specific uses. It's sort of like buying a car. A Jeep will go about anywhere, and do about anything. But, a dragster or Indy car will dust a Jeep at the track, a compact car will be much cheaper for commuting, and a semi-truck will haul lots more cargo. You won't want to take the dragster or Indy car off-road, though, or pull your tandem axle travel trailer with the compact, or drive the kids to school in the semi -- okay, you get the idea....

In general, white water paddles are more robust than flat water paddles. They're stronger, more durable, usually heavier, and most of them will take tremendous amounts of beating. You can use a white water paddle for flat water touring, but I don't recommend many good touring paddles for use in white water.

White water kayak paddles are generally shorter than flat water kayak paddles. This is usually a paddle stroke style issue. There are some exceptions for kayaking, though. The newer sit-on-top and inflatable kayaks for whitewater use usually require longer paddles than regular, closed cockpit, hard-shell kayaks.

Blade sizes are usually slightly larger on white water paddles than for flat water paddles for both kayak and canoe. Right now, most flat water kayak paddle blades are asymmetrical in shape, and most white water kayak paddle blades are symmetrical. Asymmetrical shapes for whitewater are rapidly becoming more popular, however. Aside from Greenland style kayak paddles (which are always symmetrical) you'll see few symmetrical sea kayak blades in use. Excepting short lived fads, or even localized ones of longer duration, I do not expect this to change anytime.

From all of the info above you can see that there are some major differences between white and flat water paddles. You need to match your paddle choice to your boat choice. If you can, and most people do manage, try to make your paddling discipline decision before you buy. Especially if you plan to get serious.