How to Choose the Right Paddle for You and Your Kayak

Kayak Paddles

Step 1:
Measure the beam of your kayak, (the center of the cockpit at its widest point). If the width of your kayak is 25 inches or less, and you have an average torso length, the following rule of thumb, (Step 2), should get you close to your proper paddle size.

Step 2:
Hold the paddle upright and stand next to it while extending your hand to the tip of the paddle. If you can curl your fingers over the tip of the paddle, the paddle is the right length for you.

Quip: A bad day kayaking is better than a good day at work!


  1. I am really happy to glance at this weblog posts which includes tons of useful information, thanks
    for providing these statistics.

    • ameliaislandkayak says:

      Thank you for your comment about our posts. We are happy to know you are enjoying our articles. Your feedback is important to us.

  2. Step #2 makes no sense to me. Do you mean stand the paddle upright and then extend your hand? Then, so what if your fingers extend over the tip? Do you keep your arm horizontal to the ground? Maybe a picture might make it clearer what step #2 means; one with the correct size paddle and one picture with the wrong size :-).

    I was up fishing yesterday in the area and saw your sign which is the reason I am looking. We will probably be in touch. Looking forward when it gets a bit cooler to do a trip with ya’ll. We sail south every winter and have been trying to do the Marineland kayak tour but that hasn’t worked out the last few years.

    • ameliaislandkayak says:

      Step #2 is only one of several techniques that can be used to to help provide a way to determine how to choose the correct length paddle, but it is not completely foolproof since there are other factors to consider. To clarify Step #2, stand the paddle upright beside you, and then extend your hand to the tip end. If you cannot reach the top of the paddle, it could indicate that the paddle is too long. On the other hand, if your fingers reach higher than the top of the paddle, it is possible the paddle is too short. The best way to choose a paddle is to determine which boat you will be using. For example, a wider recreational boat (approximately 30″ or wider), will require a longer paddle, since it will have to extend further out to clear the extra width of the boat. At the same time, a more narrow boat (less than 30″ wide, as in a 24″ touring boat), will require a shorter paddle. A good exercise to determine paddle length is to put your boat in the water. If while paddling correctly with extended arms, your paddle scrapes the side of your boat, then you will know your paddle is too short. Thank you for your interest, and we hope this information is beneficial to you. We do hope you will contact us when you are visiting our area to give us an opportunity to kayak with you.

  3. Thanks for sharing this! I would love to get a new paddle for my kayak, but I am not sure how to measure it. Ill definitely be sure to measure the paddle this way. That means that I need to find a store that has paddles so I can hold it myself! I don’t want to buy a paddle and then have to return it because it isn’t the right size!

    • ameliaislandkayak says:

      We are happy to know our tip was helpful to you! Yes, it is important that you hold the paddle before you purchase it, as weight and quality are other factors to consider. If you will be paddling often, you will find paddles that range from fiberglass to carbon fiber are good investments. Happy Paddling!

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