How to choose the right paddle? What length should it have? What angle should I use? Which material to choose and what shape should it have? How to use the paddle?

Choosing the right paddle may not be an easy task for someone with no kayaking experience. In this article we will see how to choose the right paddle with the right measures and angles for all whitewater disciplines and for the sea or the lake. Below the video will be summarized all the indications for the correct choice.


The length of the paddle depends on many factors. I think the main ones are arm length, strength and weight. For this reason I have created over the years an algorithm to identify the right paddle length based on these parameters.

You can find this calculator here: Paddle length calculator

Once you have found the right length, you can buy your paddle by choosing the commercial size that is closest to you.

Distance between hands

The distance between the two hands can be calculated through the calculator and you can fix it by putting more turns of adhesive tape on the tube in correspondence with the value found. Be careful to put the references symmetrical with respect to the center.

Blade size and shapes

There are many types of paddles on the market of all shapes and sizes. First you need to choose the most suitable blades for your discipline. For example, there are more suitable for the sea or lake, some are more suitable for slalom others for creeking. Once the right type has been identified, it is possible to find the same model in different sizes (usually 2 or at most 3). The correct choice of the blade size can be determined according to your size as if they were clothing sizes.

For white water disciplines I always recommend the new advanced blade, with the spoon ahead of the tube axis. These paddles are more performing and vibrate less than the not anticipated ones.


The best material for paddles is definitely carbon fiber. It allows less flexion and less weight. Composite paddles are obviously more expensive than others. If the budget allows it, I always recommend blades and carbon shafts. Second choice are the compressed glass vibrating paddles which often appear very thin. As a last resort there are nylon blades which are heavy and too flexible.

Obviously the choice of material must be calibrated according to the use made of it.


My advice is to always choose a straight shaft. It is more performing and allows you to learn the paddling technique correctly. It is also cheaper and easier to find.

The so-called "ergo" or bent shaft can only be useful in cases of people who have used it for years and are unable or unwilling to dedicate themselves to learning the correct gesture of gripping the paddle shaft.

Read also: Bent shaft or straight shaft?

Feather angle

The paddle feather angle is the angle between one paddle and another. My advice is to stay on 45° for all the disciplines of white water and at most 60° for flat water where the dynamism of the strokes is not required. In some rentals, 0° paddles are offered but it is only to facilitate the absolute beginner without having to explain anything. The null angle does not work for paddling for biomechanical reasons and can lead to inflammation or tendonitis if used regularly.