When I first started kayaking, I, like most people started off with the paddle that was picked up with a used kayak. It was cheap, weighed what seemed like twenty pounds and truthfully left a lot to be desired. I did not know any better and just paddled away for a few weeks before it dawned on me that the paddle was making my kayaking experience less than desirable. Making matters even worse, my kids were using the same type of paddles, they were worn out and not really enjoying kayaking after about thirty minutes.
As I walked into OEX Mission Bay and started asking about paddles, I was met with myriad questions. Some of these were easy to answer and some I hadn’t really considered so it took a little more thought. Some of the questions were:
What experience do you have kayaking?
What type of kayak do you paddle?
What type of kayaking do you do?
How tall are you and have you been properly “fitted” for a paddle? If so do you know what length you need or want?
Do you know what type of stroke you have when paddling?
Do you own and paddle more than one kayak? If so, do you want a paddle that can be used for both?
What is your budget?
Is there any particular brand you are interested in?
Do you paddle a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) as well?
These serve as a starting point and are things we should be considering before getting that awesome new paddle that we see someone using on TV. Just because someone in the latest issue of Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine uses a particular paddle and length does not always mean it is going to be right for you either. You have to consider you, your kayak, your style and your budget.
My recommendation is to visit a local kayak shop and have their staff expert put you in a kayak similar if not identical to the one you own to try several paddles out. You need to actually demo them in the water if at all possible. This will give you a good feel for what is available, as well as determine what paddle best fits you for the way you paddle and the type of kayak you will be in. This will also give you a very clear picture of the differences in paddles up to and including brand, weight and associated cost.
It is paramount that you take the time and effort to find the paddle that best fits you. Picking the perfect paddle does not need to be that complicated either, just take the time to do it up front and enjoy more quality time on the water.