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Choosing a Paddle

Choosing the right paddle is no less important than choosing the right kayak or canoe.  There are a variety of paddle materials, from wood to carbon and come in several designs.  Important considerations in making this decision is your paddling Skill and Style, your Strength and Fitness, using a Single Shaft vs. 2, 3, or 5 Piece Shaft and of course, Budget.

It should be noted that purchasing a paddle is a very personal matter and no one formula works for every paddler.  The best way is to contact us and let our experience staff help you make your choice, better yet come see us and demo a few of our many paddle products available.

Before you drop us a line, review the guidelines below to help narrow down your search.


Skill and Style

Evaluating your skill level is crucial in determining an appropriate paddle.  We have divided skill levels into 3 categories:  Racing, Fitness Touring and Recreation.  As a Racer who trains multiple paddle sessions per week, where performance is the objective, you need a performance paddle that matches your dedication.  Consider our Xwing and Rebel kayak paddles, our Elite I dragon boat paddle, and our Raven and Gale outrigger paddles. 

Those who fall into our Fitness Touring category consider the health benefits of paddling as their primary objective.  You should also consider our performance paddles to maximize the aerobic benefits gained from using these products.  

The Recreational paddler’s primary objective is to enjoy the great outdoors the way nature intended it.  We have many economically priced paddles available to fit your needs.  Consider our Kicker kayak paddle, and our Grey Owl wood paddles.

Evaluating you paddling style will also help determining an appropriate paddle.  To determine your paddling style you must decide whether you have a High Angle Style or Low Angle Style.

high angle

A High Angle Paddling Style is typically a more aggressive style of paddling using a faster cadence and wider variety of strokes.  Typically most Racers use this type of paddling style.

low angle

A Low Angle Paddling Style is the most common paddling style.  It is a relaxed touring style with a more relaxed cadence.  Low angle paddling is less fatiguing on paddle days when long distances or multi day trips are planned.  Typically most Fitness Touring and Recreational paddlers use this type of paddling style.

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Strength and Fitness

Evaluating your strength and fitness will help determine an appropriate blade size. Full (large) size blades are appropriate for larger well conditioned paddlers.  Those who are very strong, training at an elite level will defiantly feel the advantages of a larger surface area. 

Mid size blades are most popular for the widest rang of paddlers, used for longer distance paddling.  Strong paddlers who are highly trained will be very satisfied with a mid blade size.

Those with an average strength and fitness should consider a small size blade.  A small blade will also help reduce wear and tear on your joints and fatigue after longer hours of paddling.

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Single Shaft vs. 2, 3, or 5 Piece Shaft

If you will be taking your paddle on airlines, backpacking with your paddle, or competing in adventure races, you might consider a 2, 3, or 5-piece paddle due to their ability to be ‘broken-down’ for transportation or storage.

Simon River Sports EZ Set system, available on all their 2, 3, and 5 piece paddles offers adjustability of up to 50 cm in length and allows the paddler the ability to change their feather angle in a matter of seconds which is an invaluable advantage of a 2, 3, or 5 piece paddle over a single shaft.

The advantage of a single shaft paddle is the absence of the joint which results in the following:

  • Single shaft paddles are slightly lighter and slightly stronger
  • Single shaft paddles have a more consistent flex along the length of the shaft

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Obviously, the price of a paddle is part of your decision process.  As with most products, generally the higher the cost, the greater performance of the product. However, remember the price of a paddle is only 1 guideline to consider when deciding which paddle best fits your needs.

The most common materials for paddles (in order of increasing cost and decreasing weight) are wood, aluminium, plastic, fiberglass, and carbon (also called graphite). Low end paddles are often all wood or plastic blades with aluminium shafts. Top end paddles have carbon fiber blades and carbon fiber shafts. Mid-range paddles usually have plastic of fiberglass blades and fiberglass shafts.

Wood paddles are an option to consider. Wood paddles are generally somewhat heavier than midrange synthetic paddles; however they provide the nice feel and flex of wood.

Aluminium paddles are strong and stiff but comparatively heavy. Aluminium also conducts cold, which is a major consideration if you paddle where the air or water temperatures are below 60 degrees.

Plastic blades are relatively thick and have thicker edges. Many plastic blades have relatively more flex. These factors result in a less crisp and efficient stroke.

Fiberglass paddles are reasonably stiff, strong, and light.

Carbon paddles are extremely stiff, and light, resulting in more efficient stroke, and for this reason are preferred by those who race or paddle long distances.  

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To view or download a detailed price list of all our paddles click here.

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