There’s more to kayak paddle selection than choosing two blades to help you navigate across the water. With the hundreds of strokes you’re expected to make every hour, physical and mental fitness is also something that factors into this type of decision-making. Thus, you’ll want to choose paddles that take a minimal toll on these two aspects.
Today, we’ll focus on the different types of kayak paddles available for kayaking. No, there isn’t one paddle that meets all user needs and preferences. These products come with their individual traits to meet the individualities of their users.
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Types of Kayak Paddles
Kayak paddles are categorized based on their blade shape, which determines the interaction between the paddle and the water. A paddle that suits how you stroke should propel you through the water with relative ease.
Low-angle paddles are held horizontally, with both hands almost meeting at the height of stroke production. If you expect to paddle for a while, this would be an excellent candidate for keeping your body and mind from getting tired too early.
Low-angle paddles have longer and narrower blades, making them lighter on the arms and more penetrating through the water. This structure keeps you from putting as much effort as you would with other paddles.
If the low-angle paddle is held more horizontally, it follows that the high-angle one would be handled more vertically. The vertical position during a forward stroke allows a kayaker to deliver more power with each stroke, consequently moving his canoe faster across the water.
If a leisurely ride across the lake or river doesn’t do it for you, then you’ll be a fan of the high-angle paddle. This variety is made for the typical adventure-seeker chasing his next adrenaline-pumping high. There’s no feeling that quite aligns with that other than paddling or racing through rough waters.
In a wing-shaped paddle, one side looks like a typical blade, and the other appears as a blade with a shallow scoop. This peculiar design is meant to boost the power and efficiency of your strokes. Racers will love this paddle’s ability to increase speed, but recreational paddles might find it a bit too awkward and advanced.
A wing-shaped paddle can take a lot out of a beginner or undertrained kayaker. It produces powerful, high-angled strokes that could have anyone with a lack of training panting within the first few minutes. Nonetheless, if you’re a vertical stroke-maker who loves to speed across the water like there’s no tomorrow, you can rely on this paddle to aid in your conquests.
Dihedral refers to a paddle whose two sides deliver immense power. Positioning a paddle in front of you and parallel to the width of your body, a dihedral would have two faces sloping slightly downward from the blade’s middle.
Furthermore, the middle will be curved a bit upward like a spine. The design aims to reduce vibration during stroke production and help the blades cut through the water better.
These won’t be anything like the paddles you’re used to seeing on the market. That is, unless you have been kayaking in Greenland, which we doubt is the case for most of you.
These narrow wooden paddles named after the country they are popular in have airplane-propeller-shaped blades. This unique build gives the paddle a level of versatility missing from its counterparts.
If you’ve acquired a taste for the Greenland paddle’s type of stroke-making, you might be especially happy with its ability to accomplish a high cadence. The paddle has a natural buoyancy that allows it to roll through the water easily. That said, if you’re kayaking across extremely choppy water or used to producing sculling strokes, a wider blade could provide more control.
Kayak Paddle Materials
Now that we’ve covered the types of paddles, let’s move on to the materials they’re made of.
These are among the most common ones in the market. Despite their low price, they are also quite durable and take a lot less effort to maintain than other materials.
- Carbon Fiber
These are perhaps the priciest set of blades one can use to move his kayak. The good thing is, the hefty price tag would typically be worth the stress-free and more fulfilling kayaking experience they provide.
Fiberglass sits right in the middle in terms of price. It is lightweight, durable, and stiff, making it a great choice for a leisurely stroll through the water. It might not do racers and speed demons much good, but it should more than satisfy the needs of recreational kayakers.
The Paddle Makes a Difference
A paddle contributes greatly to your kayaking experience. We all want different things from kayaking, and the right paddle for our specific needs should allow us to make those things happen.