One of the most common question we receive is “what size kayak paddle do I need”. Having the right size paddle is one of the most important factors in having an enjoyable day out on the water. Using the wrong sized paddle can result in fatigue, blisters, and may ultimately cause you to give up kayaking. Then you would stop reading our blogs and that would make us sad.

In order to keep both of us happy, here are a few things you should consider when selecting the right-sized kayak paddle to fit your needs.

selecting the right size kayak paddle

1. Paddle Length

  • Personal Build – While your height does indeed affect the size of paddle you need, the most important aspect of your body size is your torso length. This will help determine the distance between you and the water when sitting in your kayak. The longer your torso, the longer paddle you’re going need in order to make up for the added distance. When measuring your torso, take a seat in your kayak and note the distance from the top of the seat to your nose.
  • Kayak Width – The width of a kayak depends on its intended purpose. While most recreational and fishing kayaks are wider for added stability, touring and whitewater kayaks are narrow for better paddling performance. The wider the kayak the longer paddle you’re going to need.

When using a paddle that’s too short or too long, you’ll end up over exerting yourself and working harder than necessary to build up speed and keep the kayak on track. If the length isn’t right, your hands will tend to move along the shaft, resulting in the development of blisters. Remember, blisters are a paddlers worst enemy (Okay, maybe not worst, but definitely top 5).

Check out these helpful sizing graphics from our friends over at AquaBound:

kayak paddle sizing guide

kayak paddle sizing guide

2. Paddle Shaft Diameter

  • Hand Size – If you have smaller hands, consider the smaller diameter shaft. While most paddles are not offered at different diameters, you’ll have to shop around different brands and models to find the right fit for you.

Having a kayak paddle that fits comfortably in your hands will help to prevent fatigue as well as the development of blisters after a long day of paddling. However, it’s always a good idea to use paddling gloves in you plan on being an avid paddler or taking an extended kayaking trip.

Bonus Kayaking Tip – Use drip rings on your paddle! This will help keep your hands dry and aid in the prevention of blisters. Remember: wet hands + paddling – gloves = blisters.

3. Bent Paddle Shaft

  • We get asked all the time what the benefits of a bent paddle shaft are. It’s simple. The bent design adds comfort by providing more contact between the paddle and your hand, minimizing movement of the paddle within your grip.

While adjusting to a kayak paddle with a bent shaft may be difficult, the customers who decide to go that route are always surprised by the added comfort and efficiency. Though it seems these paddles are designed for very niche audience and are almost strictly used by avid kayakers, they are actually great for any paddler! But hey, maybe if you had one of these paddles, you’d become an avid kayaker too.

Werner Paddles offers one of the best bent shaft designs on the market, check out their technology!


Here’s what I hope you learned today:

  1. Take into account your torso size as well as your height.
  2. Make sure the paddle fits in your hands.
  3. A bent paddle shaft will add bonus comfort and efficiency.

Keep in mind, the goal is to be comfortable when paddling your kayak. No matter your budget, there is a kayak paddle out there that will meet your needs and make sure you have an enjoyable day on the water.

If you have any questions regarding paddle sizing, do not hesitate to comment below or reach out to our ACK team via email at customer@austinkayak.com or call in at 888-828-3828