Choosing The Canoe Paddle
It's easy to make a case for the paddle being the most important piece of your paddling equipment. The paddle is an extension of your body and you feel the water with it when controlling your boat. it is your most sensitive link to the water world. It is the tool required to explore the characteristics of a boat. If it is heavy or awkward your experience can be dulled and your perception of a particular boat can be adversely affected. You work with the paddle, expending energy as you lift it and pull on it. The boat by contrast will respond favorably, or not, reacting to your efforts with the paddle. You can adjust for unfavorable hull speed or maneuverability but it is hard to compensate for the paddle. You are immediately aware of it with every stroke.
How do you recognize a good paddle or one appropriate for you? This will vary depending upon a wide range of personal issues including your size and strength, where you paddle, the style of paddling you are interested in and the boat you intend to paddle. We'll cover a few basics here but bear in mind that the subject is vast and space is limited.
Touring canoe paddles will most frequently have bent shafts to increase forward stroke efficiency. Blade sizes vary and what you chose may depend upon your most comfortable paddling cadence.
Racing blades are often small and or shaped to easily slip in and out of the water. The number of strokes taken during the race can be more important than the power applied per stroke.
Traditional canoe blades are long and relatively narrow. This is primarily due to limitations of materials and technology associated with traditional construction. Paddles were often constructed from a single piece of wood. These fine paddles are associated with sophisticated paddling techniques and tend to excel in deep water.
Whitewater paddles are typically stout, stiff, and have large blades. These qualities enhance predictability and power in turbulent waters.
The best paddle for you will depend upon how specifically you adhere to the above categories as well as the skill level you bring to paddling. For example, many people prefer paddles sized for touring but with blades similar to whitewater kayak paddles. Many canoe paddlers gravitate towards paddles blending qualities of the touring paddle with traditional shapes for finesse boat control. A shorter paddle might be easier on your shoulders but a large blade size can accomodate a slower cadence. It is wise to test paddle paddles to make your link to the water a comfortable one! Talk with us about zeroing in on the best paddle for your physique and temperament.
A properly sized paddle will be the most efficient paddle for you. You'll enjoy it more because you'll work less and have a better feel for the water. It is therefore important to obtain a sensible fit when choosing your paddle. Variations in paddle length can have more dramatic effects on your paddling effort than variations in blade shape and size. Ignore manufacturer paddle length measurements as you switch from one style of paddle to another. You may take a 63" paddle in a traditional straight shaft canoe paddle and a 60" in a straight "Freestyle" yet they are effectively the same length. It is shaft length alone that will determine the proper paddle length for you within any given modelor style.
Your leg length plays no role in choosing a paddle for sitting or kneeling. Our measurement method neutralizes the effect of blade length and shape. Factors such as boat width, seat height, and paddling style will, however, effect your choice of paddle length. Since the forward paddle stroke is more vertical than that used kayaking, the measurement is obtained in a different manner. To properly size a canoe paddle sit on a chair and measure from the chair to your chin. Add 6" to this measurement to get the proper shaft length of a bent shaft, a straight shaft, or a traditional paddle. Paddling with either a canoe or kayak paddles your hands should be separated by no more than a distance slightly greater than shoulder width apart.
In both canoe and kayak paddling one hand or the other serves as the paddle control hand .In canoeing this may change frequently during a paddling session and it is the top grip that serves as your "Steering Wheel". In choosing your paddle make sure that the grip is comfortable in your hand.