Materials - When choosing a canoe paddle, keep in mind that there is a variation in materials
including carbon fiber, fiberglass, wood, nylon, plastic & aluminum. With a variation in materials comes a variation in price, weights and durability.
Paddles can range from around $20 to as much as $300, so keep all of this in mind and set a budget.
Sizing – In order to get a correctly sized paddle, you must first determine a few things. What type of paddling you will be doing is probably the most important as this will determine if you will be better suited with a straight shaft paddle
or a bent or double bent shaft paddle. If you are paddling more moving water or
whitewater you will need to get a straight shaft and this will typically mean
that you need a longer paddle and if you are going to be touring on flatwater
more, you may want to consider a bent or double bent shaft and this will tend to
mean a shorter paddle.
Canoe paddles in the US are measured in inches unlike kayak paddles
which are in centimeters. You can usually count on lengths from 48 inches to 62
inches, but there are exceptions depending on your size. Now that you have
chosen your paddling style you can use some pretty general rules to go by when
picking the right length for you.
For straight shaft canoe paddles, a good length can be determined when
you place the blade tip on the ground and the T-grip is somewhere between your
sternum and your chin. All people are not alike, so it is advisable to try a
few different length paddles if you can to determine what the best length for
you will be.
For single bent shaft paddles you will likely use a shorter paddle due
to the fact that you have more torso rotation and you keep your blade in the
water for a longer stroke than with a straight shaft paddle. A single bent
shaft’s T-grip should be higher than your sternum when you place the blade tip
on the ground at you feet. A double bent is usually just a touch shorted then
Keep in mind that when you are looking at the variables of choosing your
paddle the only constant is you and everyone is different. With this said, you
will find your favorite options and you will also have a lot of different
opinions when you ask around. Take the tools that we have given you and go out
and find your favorite paddle(s).
Take a look at the selection of canoe paddles that TPS offers here.