How to Size A Kayak Paddle

Last Updated on September 1, 2020

Kayaking is a recreational activity and an adventure sport as well. One of the most popular adventure sport at the current time is whitewater kayaking. For a comfortable kayaking experience, a kayaker needs a right kayak and also a paddle. Kayaking requires these two elements.

Other equipment is to make the kayaking experience more and more comfortable. Many kayaks include paddles, but most of them don’t.  In that case, the paddle must be bought separately. Even if the kayaks include paddles, those may not provide the much-needed comfort to the paddler.

How to Size A Kayak Paddle

The reason is its size. The size of the paddle varies depending on the height and body shape of the paddler. For every paddler, the length of the paddle is different. So, choosing the right sized paddle is complicated until you understand the measurement.

There are some techniques to measure the perfect paddle size. Today, we are going to discuss those techniques and explain them in detail. The process is all about some measurements and following a chart. There are roughly four different sizes of paddles. The average paddle sizes are 210, 220, 230, and 240.

These four sizes work fine for every body type and height. Before buying a paddle, a paddler has to consider three things – The width of the kayak, the body type of the paddler, and the angle of paddling. Considering these three factors will eventually land you your ideal paddle.

After getting used to kayaking and paddling, gradually a paddler understands the requirements more distinctly. Perhaps then the paddler can opt for more precise sizing. Till then buying the paddles of average sizes depending on the body shape, kayak, and angle is more than enough.


The vertical length of the paddle must be extended depending on the width of the kayak. Most of the kayaks available in the market are wide. So, the paddler must buy a long paddle if he is kayaking on a wide kayak. Unless the paddle is long enough, it is not going to touch the water surface or reach the water properly without leaning, and stroking will not be comfortable.

For the wide kayaks, 230-240 centimeter paddles are perfect. The narrow kayaks, for example, the touring kayaks can be stroked with 220-230 centimeter paddles perfectly. The sea kayaks are tiny, and those require shorter paddles from 210-220 centimeters.

All these measurements depend on an individual’s height. The seats on the kayaks also decide the paddle length. On a comparatively higher seat, the paddler requires a longer paddle. When it’s lower, a shorter paddle will do the job just fine.


Understanding the torso concept also helps to find the right paddle for kayaking. For measuring the torso, the paddler needs to sit on a chair with a straight back. The torso length is the distance between the chair’s seat and the nose of the individual.

The longer your torso is, your paddle will be longer. Measuring the paddle, depending on how tall or short we are is wrong. We forget that personalities with the same height might require two different paddles. The reason is their leg lengths and torso length. Both makes a person tall.

So, to choose the right paddle, we must consider the specific factor. The particular factor between the leg and torso length, as we mentioned, is the torso length. A tall heightened person might require a shorter paddle due to the short torso but long legs.

The average paddles we mentioned in the beginning easily handle 26″-34″ inch torso lengths. Either your torso length is shorter or longer, you might need a shorter or longer paddle than the average ones.


There are two stroke angles during kayak paddling; they are- High and low strokes. A high stroke angle provides high speed. It requires a shorter paddle. The low stroke angle is slower but helps to keep the kayak at the right angle.  It needs long paddles. The stroke angle strictly depends on the torso lengths.

If your torso length is between 24″-36″ you can use an average of 210-230 cm paddles for high stroke angle. For a low stroke angle, you need 220-240 cm paddles. A person with a shorter or longer torso has to use paddles which are more specific, not average.

Final Words

If you are a beginner, keep one thing in mind that you are not going to get your ideal paddle at once as the word ideal is subjective. It always varies from person to person, depending on their individual preferences. All these measurements surely help in buying a right-sized paddle to an extent.

The one thing which can’t be measured applying techniques is the feeling of comfort while paddling. For that, you have to buy a paddle following our instructions and paddle with it. It is the best technique to know whether your paddle suit you or not.

Take the paddle in the water on the kayak that would be used and try paddling with it. This practical use will help you to feel and understand as well whether the paddle length is ideal for you or not.


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