How to Determine Kayak Paddle Length (The Ultimate Guide)

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the water, try kayaking. In addition to their many variations in design, the kayak paddle’s length is one of the most critical considerations when choosing a kayak.

A terrific way to get out on the lake is to go kayaking. It’s a fun and exciting hobby, and it’s also very relaxing. But before you get started with kayaking, there are some things that you should know about it. 

One of these things is how to determine kayak paddle length. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to determine kayak paddle length to choose the right length for your kayak.

How to Determine Kayak Paddle Length
How to Determine Kayak Paddle Length

Here’s The Answer To How To Determine Kayak Paddle Length

For kayakers, the paddle length can be between 210cm – 270cm. However, you can find paddles as short as 180 centimeters (about 71 inches) and as long as 320 centimeters (about 126 inches). 

When considering the length of kayak paddles, the most important measurement to take is the length of your kayak. Your kayak’s length determines how long your paddle should be. 

One of the simplest ways to determine kayak paddle length is to stand in your kayak and hold your arms straight out. The distance between the floor of your kayak and the base of your hand is approximately equal to the length of paddle you need.

Why Does the Length of Your Kayak Paddle Matter?

  • The length of your kayak paddle is important because it determines how much power you can generate. The longer your paddle, the more power you will have in each stroke. Due to the difficulty of maneuvering in confined locations, if paddles are too long, you may want to consider purchasing shorter paddles. This can also cause strain on your body during prolonged use.
  • The length of your kayak paddle affects your paddling technique. When paddling with a longer paddle than what is comfortable for you (i.e., one that requires extra exertion), there is a higher chance of developing shoulder pain or back pain as well as other types of musculoskeletal problems.
  • The length of your kayak paddle affects your speed and maneuverability. A longer paddle will increase overall speed but at the expense of added physical strain—which may not be worth it if all you want to do is cruise around leisurely! Conversely, using shorter pieces means having less leverage over water resistance but allows higher flexibility when navigating obstacles like rocks or shallow waters—and less risk for injury in general!

How to Measure a Kayak Paddle

How to Measure a Kayak Paddle
How to Measure a Kayak Paddle

To measure a kayak paddle, you’ll need a tape measure or piece of string and either a ruler or yardstick. You can start by measuring the length of your kayak paddle’s handle, which is the part that goes into your hand when you’re using it.

Wrap the tape around where it meets with the blade, then check to make sure that it measures at least 36 inches (91 cm) in length before moving on to step 3 below.

Next up is figuring out how long your blade is! This measurement will be longer than what we just measured above because it also includes part of your boat’s hull (and if we don’t include this extra length here, then our calculations won’t be accurate).

So take a few steps back from where you were standing before measuring only one side instead of the entire length of the wall (you should still be able to see both ends).

When to Use a Short or Long Kayak Paddle?

When to Use a Short or Long Kayak Paddle
When to Use a Short or Long Kayak Paddle

There are two main types of kayak paddles: short and long. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

Short paddles are typically used for low-angle paddlings, such as in calm waters or whitewater. They’re also more maneuverable in confined situations. However, they can be more difficult to generate power with and may not be suitable for long-distance paddling.

Long paddles are typically used for high-angle paddlings, such as in open waters. They are more efficient for generating power and can help you cover greater distances. However, they can be more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces and may be too long for some paddlers.

The best way to determine the right size paddle for you is to try them out. If you’re unsure which size to get, it’s a good idea to start with a shorter paddle and then move up to a longer one if you find you need more power.

Paddle length is not the only important factor to consider when choosing a kayak paddle. The width of your kayak and the height of your torso are also important factors.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Kayak Paddle

There are several factors to consider when choosing a kayak paddle. Below is a list of the most important ones:

  • Kayak paddle length: This is the measurement from the end of one blade to where it meets the shaft.
  • Kayak paddle weight: Lightweight paddles are easier to maneuver, but heavy paddles can be more effective for pulling through the water.
  • Kayak paddle width: Most kayakers use wider blades for better control and comfort when rowing.

The most popular blade shape is called “asymmetrical.” Asymmetrical means that one side of your blade has a longer edge than the other side, which helps you push against resistance while paddling downriver or upstream (depending on which side you’re using).

Opt for a “symmetrical” style instead if you’re looking for something simpler and more traditional!

What If Kayak Paddle Is Too Short?

What If Kayak Paddle Is Too Short
What If Kayak Paddle Is Too Short

If your kayak paddle is too short, you’ll have to work harder and use more energy with each stroke to get the kayak moving. This can cause fatigue after a long paddle session.

If your kayak paddle is too short, it will also be harder for you to straighten out your stroke and keep the boat traveling in a straight line. Because of this, paddling in windy conditions may be more challenging as well.

If your arms cannot fully extend when using a shorter length kayak paddle, it will be difficult for you to get proper leverage on your strokes and generate enough power for effective movement through water that’s often choppy or rough.

You won’t find much control over steering with an incorrectly sized kayak paddle either; being able to hold steering maneuvers will require effort from muscles primarily used in this area on land, such as glutes/hamstrings/hips, which could lead them to feel sore when they’re not accustomed (or used) properly during activity such as this sport!

What If Kayak Paddle Is Too Long?

If your kayak paddle is too long, you won’t be able to use it. It will be too difficult to use, uncomfortable and hard to control. Too long paddles are also harder to store and transport in your car or truck.

The length of your kayak paddle is critical to having a good time on the lake with friends or family members who want to go fishing!

The Benefits of Properly Sized Kayak Paddles

The benefits of using the right paddle length are many. If you are using a paddle that is too long for your height, you may find it difficult to generate enough power for efficient paddling.

Paddling with poor form can cause shoulder and wrist pain, as well as fatigue. On the other hand, if you use a paddle that is too short for your height, then you run the risk of hitting yourself in the head with it while paddling or getting tangled up with other kayakers when they pass by you.

In addition to safety and comfort considerations, there are several tangible benefits associated with proper paddle length. With a longer paddle:

  • You’ll be able to go faster than if you were using a shorter one (but don’t get carried away – overdoing it could make things worse than they already are).
  • You’ll have more control over your kayak because it will respond better when trying to turn left or right instead of drifting off course due to insufficient power during each stroke cycle (swiftly maneuvering through tricky rapids requires good balance).

Different Types of Kayak Paddles and Their Lengths

Choosing the right kayak paddle requires some thought.

  • The size of the kayak: The length of your kayak paddle should be determined by how many inches you want between your hand and the water. If you have a longer boat, use a longer paddle, so the blade and your hand are closer together.
  • Your height: What length paddle you need depends on your height. If you are tall, then using a shorter shafted paddle might cause strain on your upper body while paddling since reaching forward is harder without having as much leverage with taller arms and legs compared to someone who is shorter in stature with less distance between their hands which makes gripping easier during use.
  • Arm Length: Another way to figure out what length suits best is by measuring from wrist bone (just above thumb) straight down over forearm bone (elbow) until it meets up at midline just below neck line where shoulder muscles end.
  • Body Type: Some people may have broad shoulders or muscular arms, which means they need longer shafted paddles in order for them not to throw off balance when steering/paddling quickly.

How To Alter A Kayak Paddles Length?

How To Alter A Kayak Paddles Length
How To Alter A Kayak Paddles Length

To change the length of your kayak paddle, you will need to cut the shaft and then use a file to smooth the cut end.

The most important thing to remember when sizing a kayak paddle is that the paddle should be long enough to reach from the center of the shaft to the side of the kayak.

This is the starting point for finding the perfect paddle length. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to err on the side of a longer paddle. You can always trim the paddle down to size, but you can’t make a too-short paddle any longer.

To adjust the length of your adjustable kayak paddle, loosen the locking collar and slide the ferrule from the shaft. You can then slide the shaft through whichever section or pieces of wood you want, then reattach it to the other end of the shaft. 

When you’re satisfied with the length, tighten the locking collar. 

How To Extend A Kayak Paddle?

A kayak paddle extender is a great way to extend the reach of your kayak paddle. This allows you to get into the water without fully getting out of the seat and hanging onto or even standing on your boat.

As long as you have a few extra inches of length in your paddle, it won’t be too hard for you to get out into deeper waters while still remaining stable in your boat.

The Crooked Creek 24-inch Kayak Paddle Extension is one of the most popular kayak paddle extenders on the market today.

In order to store it while it is not in use, all you have to do is pull off one of the end caps.

Plus, it has an adjustable strap system at each end, so it’s easy for anyone who owns one type of kayak (or two!) because all they need to do is attach whichever end they prefer first!

How To Shorten Your Kayak Paddle?

If you have a kayak paddle that is too long, there are several ways to shorten it. You can use a hacksaw or knife to cut off the excess shaft or use a file to smooth down any rough edges from the cut.

Alternatively, if you’re using an electric saw, heat up the end of your paddle shaft with a heat gun and then push it back into place with pliers as you saw off more of it.


Thank you for reading our blog post on how to determine kayak paddle length. Paddles are an important component of a kayak, and determining the right length can make a huge difference in your kayaking experience.

In general, we recommend that when you’re just getting started with kayaking, it’s best to use a paddle that’s slightly longer than what you might expect.

For example, if the recommended paddle length for your size is 220 cm (86.6 in), but you’re not quite sure how to measure your kayak paddle, consider going with one that’s at least 230 cm (90.5 in).

You can always shorten it later on if needed or cut some of the shafts off as described above by using an angle grinder and sandpaper.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about determining kayak paddle length. Be sure to check out our website for more information on paddles. Thanks for reading, and keep following us for more blog posts like this one!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the optimal kayak paddle length?

Paddles between about 200 to 250 cm long are the most popular for recreational kayaking. Paddles in that length range offer a good balance of control and power, making them suitable for a wide range of kayakers, from novices to experienced paddlers.

How do I know how long my kayak paddle is?

 Measure the paddle from the base of the handle to the base of the blade using a measuring tape. For kayaks, this is typically between 28 and 36 inches, depending on the length of the boat. 

Can you use a ruler to find out the length of the kayak paddle?

It’s easy! Just lay the ruler flat across the blade of your kayak paddle. If you hold it perpendicular to the floor, then you can be sure that it will give you an accurate reading of the length of your kayak paddle. 

Is there any other tool that can help me figure out my kayak paddle length?

You can use the kayak paddle length calculator to calculate your minimum kayak paddle length based on your body height and kayak length.