By Bill Schultz–Guest Correspondent
Most people spend more time picking their kayak than picking their paddle. But, your paddle is the way you move your kayak, so, you should try to buy the most expensive, lightest paddle you can afford. Lighter paddles are less fatiguing, meaning you can enjoy your time on the water longer and feel less sore at the end of the day. Also, more expensive paddles use better components and last longer. The formula is that each ounce lighter paddle equates to 100 pounds per hour you don’t have to pull around. So, a 3-ounces lighter saves you 300 pounds extra per hour. I would suggest a paddle no heavier than 31 or 32 ounces.
Standard sized blades like the Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Hybrid is perfect for most recreational kayakers. And, at around 30-ounces is very light, high-quality and surprisingly only costs $139. The standard sized blade is for a low-angle stroke with the paddle relatively horizontal while paddling. The oversized blade, like the 31 ounce Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Hybrid is also a high-quality, reasonably priced at $139 and is perfect for those sit-on-top fishing kayaks that need a little more horsepower. Oversized blades have a bigger bite, more control and high-angle paddling where the shaft is more vertical during your stroke.
Picking a paddle is also dependent on your height and the width of your kayak. For example, if you are 5’7” tall and your kayak is 24” to 28” wide, then a paddle 230 cm would be best. You can find sizing charts on most paddle company websites, like Aqua-Bound, a Wisconsin company. Generally, most touring kayaks are narrower and require a shorter paddle, with recreational and fishing kayaks wider and requiring longer paddles.
If you have any questions about selecting the right paddle for you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to assist. Also, check out one of the area outfitters who have knowledgeable staff who should be able to help.