When it comes to buying a paddle for your sea kayak, there are several factors to consider.
Paddle type: There are different types of paddles available, including touring paddles, greenland style paddles and recreational paddles. Each type is designed for a specific purpose and has its own unique features.
Paddle length: The length of your paddle is determined to an extent by your height and the width of your kayak. A general rule of thumb is that taller people will be more comfortable with a longer paddle, while shorter people will be more comfortable with a shorter paddle. Torso length is important too.
When paddling the closer the blade is to the kayak, the more power in the stroke.
Blade shape: The shape of the blade can affect how much water you move with each stroke. A wider blade will move more water and provide more power, while a narrower blade will move less water and require less effort.
Blade material: The material of the blade can affect its durability and weight. Common materials include plastic/nylon, glass and carbon.
Kayak paddle blades are usually made from three main materials: plastic/nylon,fibreglass, and carbon fibre. Each material has pros and cons to consider.
Plastic blades are the most affordable option, making them popular among beginner kayakers. They are also relatively durable and can withstand occasional impacts.
· Plastic blades are heavier and less efficient than fibreglass or carbon fibre blades. They may flex or bend under pressure which makes for a less powerful stroke.
Heavier weight in the blade which is the part of the paddle you lift the highest will cause you to tire quicker. Left out in the sun, they can become brittle.
· Fibreglass blades offer a balance of performance, durability, and affordability. They are lighter and stiffer than plastic blades, providing better energy transfer and reduced fatigue.
· Fibreglass blades are more expensive than plastic blades and can be susceptible to damage from high impacts.
Carbon fibre blades
· Carbon fibre blades are the lightest and stiffest option, providing the most efficient power transfer and reduced paddler fatigue. They are ideal for high-performance kayaking and long-distance paddling.
· As you would expect, carbon fibre blades are the most expensive option. They can also be more prone to damage from impacts or improper handling.
Shaft material: The material of the shaft can affect its weight and stiffness. Common materials include aluminum, fibreglass, and carbon fibre.
Shaft shape: The shape of the shaft can affect your grip and comfort level. Some paddles have a straight shaft, while others have a bent shaft (crank shaft). Some manufacturer's offer narrower shafts for smaller paddlers.
Two piece or one piece?
This comes down to personal preference, kayaking needs and storage considerations.
One-Piece Paddle Advantages
One-piece paddles offer the most efficient and responsive performance due to their seamless construction. They provide better energy transfer and a more direct feel, making them ideal for long-distance paddling or high-performance kayaking.
One-piece paddles are generally lighter and more durable than two-piece paddles. Their lack of ferrules or connection points reduces weight and eliminates potential weak spots.
Two-Piece Paddle Advantages
Two-piece paddles break down into two sections, making them easier to store and transport. This is particularly beneficial for kayakers with limited storage space or those who travel frequently with their kayaks ( a four piece can be even easier to travel with!). A two piece paddle is essential as a spare paddle.
Most two piece paddles now can be adjusted to different lengths and also the feather can be changed too which can then suit multiple users. This is great for me when I'm hiring kit but also useful for the individual as they have a more useful paddle when out with a group and there's a need for an emergency paddle.
Feathering: Feathering refers to the angle between the two blades of the paddle. The beauty of paddles now is that some paddles offer adjustable feathering, which allows you to change the angle and find what suits your paddling style. Most sea kayakers paddle on a sixty degree angle, others prefer 45 degree.
Price: Paddles can range in price from less than £70 to several hundred pounds. Generally, the lighter the paddle, the more expensive the paddle. I always advise beginners to sea kayaking to buy a decent first paddle but definitely not a top of the range model. Find out what suits you and then buy your forever paddle and your first paddle will make a very decent spare paddle.
There's certainly a lot to consider when buying a paddle. This is going to be the "engine " that powers your kayak, it has to be right for you otherwise your paddling experience will not be so enjoyable. My advice would be to try some of our demo paddles so that you can make an informed choice as to what works for you.