What Size Kayak Paddle Do I Need? Considerations + Size Chart

If you are going kayaking then you will need a high-quality paddle. One of the most important factors in choosing the right paddle is size.

The size of the blades of the paddle is pretty universal and the main differences are in the length of the kayak paddle pole.

If the paddle is too short for you then you will have to lean over to get down into the water, which will put a ton of strain on your back.

On the other end of the spectrum, if the paddle is too long then you will have to wield all of that unnecessary length around which can be clumsy and difficult.

What Size Kayak Paddle You Need?

A person between 5′ – 5’6″ tall should use a 210-240cm long kayak paddle. A person between 5’7″ and 6′ tall should use a 220-240cm kayak paddle, depending on the width of the kayak being used.

Width of Kayak <23″ 23″ – 27.75″ 28″ – 32″ 32″+
Kayaker Height Length of Paddle
<5′ 200 cm 210 cm 220 cm 230 cm
5′ – 5’6″ 210 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
5’7″ – 6′ 220 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
6′ + 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm 250 cm

How to Choose the Right Size Kayak Paddle For Your Height

Your height is the most important factor to take into consideration when it comes to finding the right size kayak paddle. Shorter people will need a shorter kayak paddle, while taller people will need a longer kayak paddle. The proper length is essential if you want paddle fast for longer in your kayak. The taller you are the longer your kayak paddle will need to be.

One thing to keep in mind when shopping for a kayak paddle by height is that your stature is also important. Two people of the same height may sit or stand differently which is why there is more than one factor that should be considered when it comes to choosing the right size paddle. The reason why stature varies is because some people hold more length in their legs than in their torso.

  • Whitewater Kayaks

For a whitewater kayak your height may be more important than the width of the kayak. The smaller size of the kayak body means that your height is critical to the center of gravity and what the best length of paddle is for you.

what size kayak paddle do i need

How to Choose the Right Kayak Paddle for Your Kayak Width

Another one of the important factors to consider about choosing the right size kayak paddle is how wide the kayak itself is. For a wider kayak a longer pole will be necessary and for a smaller kayak a smaller pole can be used. The wider the kayak is the longer the pole for the kayak paddle needs to be.

There are different types of kayaks which are made for different purposes. The size of the kayak and the paddle are optimized for the water conditions that they are made for. Here is a list of the main types of kayaks:

  • Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are the most common and are “average” sized at about 30” inches wide and up to 12 ft long. It is easiest to find paddles made for these kayaks.

  • Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are longer and skinnier than a recreational kayak. So although they can be even longer than a recreational kayak, they may require a smaller paddle because they are thinner width-wise.

  • Performance Kayaks

Performance kayaks are made to go fast and have a smaller width, allowing for high-angle paddling with a shorter kayak paddle.

Are Short or Long Kayak Paddles Better

There are two different types of kayaking and which one you prefer will have an effect on what size paddle you need. For slow paddling, a long paddle is best. For fast-paced paddling, a short paddle is best.

High-Angle Paddling: If you use a short angle for fast strokes at a high-angle this is called high-angle paddling. This kind of paddling is preferable for going fast for a short distance such as for white water kayaking.

Low-Angle Paddling: For low-angle paddling, such as a relaxing float down a river or ocean sounds, you will want to use a longer kayak paddle. For recreational kayaking this is the type of kayak paddle that you will likely need.

For recreational paddling you are better off with a longer paddle. More experienced paddlers may need to use a short paddle for high-angle paddling for kayaking white water rapids.

what size kayak paddle do i need

Frequently Asked Questions About Kayak Paddles

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about kayak paddles.

Do Kayak Paddles Break Down to a Compact Size For Travel?

Yes, there are some kayak paddles that break down to a more compact size for travel. These kayak paddles are usually called two piece paddles, although some can break down into three or four pieces. The benefit of two-piece kayak paddles is that they can be broken down to a more compact size for storage and travel in between kayaking trips.

Do They Make Kayak Paddles For Kids?

Yes, they do make kayak paddles for children. You can also order many of the best-selling kayak paddles in multiple sizes including a shorter smaller size that is more suitable for children. Because the size of the paddle should be based on the height of the kayaker and the width of the kayak, you should also take these factors into consideration when shopping for a kayak paddle for children.


In conclusion, the size of the kayak paddle that you need depends on your height as well as the width of the kayak. You also want to take into consideration whether you will be drifting down a relaxing river or paddling quickly down white water rapids, because these factors also determine what size kayak paddle you need. Thanks for reading, have fun and stay safe on your next kayaking trip with the right size paddle!