Paddles

Paddles
Paddles suited for rafting trips and paddlesports rentals are extremely durable and will endure a lifetime of use.  They are available in different lengths.

High performance paddles are as light as a feather to make long trips enjoyable and to enable racers or petite paddlers to make the best use of their power.  You are not likely to encounter these unless you are an experienced paddler going on an expedition or want to by your own paddle.

Werner Camano paddle blade. Photo courtesy of NRS
Werner Camano paddle blade. Photo courtesy of NRS

The flat part of the paddle that is used to propel the craft is called the blade.

Kayak Paddles.   The shaft connects to the two blades in a kayak paddle.  Paddle blades vary in width depending on the type of paddling you will do.  Whitewater blades are broad, to get power out of each stroke.  Whitewater paddles vary in length from 188-205 cm (74-81 inches).

Werner Powerhouse. Photo courtesy of NRS.
Werner Powerhouse. Photo courtesy of NRS.

 

 

 

Kayak paddles designed for lake and open water paddling and inflatable kayaks and packrafts are longer.  Thin blades make it easy to paddle for extended periods, from an afternoon of cruising to a multiple day expedition.

Werner Camano. Note the 'drip rings' on the shaft. Photo courtesy of NRS.
Werner Camano. Note the ‘drip rings’ on the shaft. Photo courtesy of NRS.

Lengths range from 210-250 cm (82-98 inches).  They often feature ‘drip rings’ on the paddle shaft which catch some of the water that slides from the blade onto the paddle shaft during each stroke, keeping it out of the boat and off your lap.

You should be able to place the paddle just to the side of your boat where your feet are: lengths range from 188 – 215 cm (74-84 inches.)  You won’t have to worry too much about these technicalities if you are going on a trip with an outfitter.

Paddles are often with ‘zero degree offset’ blades. This means the blades are lined up in the same plane,  making it easy to become familiar with propelling and steering a kayak.

CavPro Touring Paddle. Photo: Caviness Paddles
CavPro Touring Paddle. Photo: Caviness Paddles

You may use a kayak paddles with ‘offset’ blades, whose blades are are instead set to an angle from one another.

This shows a paddle's offset blades. Photo courtesy of NRS.
This shows a paddle’s offset blades. Photo courtesy of NRS.

This angle  can be as many as 90 degrees, perpendicular to one another.  Large offsets are preferred for paddling in strong wind; intermediary offsets are preferred for paddling for long periods or when a lot of power is needed, to reduce torque on wrists.  For casual paddlers, zero degree offset paddles are preferred because they are just plain easy to use!

‘Bent shaft’ kayak paddles are used to extend the beginning of your stroke and to dramatically reduce wrist fatigue for people who paddle with great intensity.

Bent shaft paddle, courtesy of Caviness Paddles.
Bent shaft paddle, courtesy of Caviness Paddles.

Multiple-piece or ‘break down’paddles. These provide a convenient way to always carry a spare.  Manufacturers  offer select blade designs in two, three or  four-part versions.

Canoe and Raft Paddles.  The shaft connects one blade to a handle or ‘t-grip’ for canoe and SUP paddles. Offered in aluminum, plastic, wood and composite materials. Lengths offered for straight shaft paddles: 48-60 inches.

Wooden canoe paddle, courtesy of Caviness Paddles.
Wooden canoe paddle, courtesy of Caviness Paddles.
Paddle for rafting, courtesy of Caviness Paddles.
Paddle for rafting, courtesy of Caviness Paddles.

 

 

 

 

 

Stand Up Paddleboard(SUP) Paddles. Long canoe-type paddles with specialized blade shapes. Lengths run from 59-90 inches.

NRS SUP Paddle. Photo: NRS
NRS SUP Paddle. Photo: NRS
Werner Fiji SUP paddle. Photo courtesy of NRS
Werner Fiji SUP paddle. Photo courtesy of NRS

Canoe or SUP paddles whose blades are canted or ‘bent’ from the plane of the shaft are preferred by paddlers who want extra power from each stroke, such as long distance paddlers or racers.

PPA Cat - JPW cat in drop 297x100
Cataraft. Photo courtesy of Jack’s Plastic Welding
PPA Oars - NRS SawyerUtility_Oar 65x622
Sawyer Utility Oar. Photo: NRS

Oars. Used on rafts, catarafts, and dories, oars are the powerful levers that propel and turn large craft, often carrying tremendous weight in powerful water. They are therefore strong and flexible, manufactured in wood or composite,  7-10 ft in length.

 


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AOAThis site is sponsored by America Outdoors Association.  AOA and PPA unified in 2012.  Outfitter and vendor memberships are available through AOA.

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