How to Size a Canoe Paddle

A nagging ache in your lower back partway through your first day of paddling is the wrong time to figure out you’ve got the wrong size of paddle! Here are a few tips to get you cruising with the least amount of effort.

Your torso size and arm length are the factors that count when determining the length of a paddle. You want to choose a length of paddle that will properly reach the water while sitting in the center of a canoe. Otherwise, you’ll end up stretching awkwardly, working your muscles extra hard, or tipping the canoe to one side to compensate.

Sit down on the floor with your rear 6” off the ground. Holding a paddle blade-end-up, place the grip on the floor. If the paddle is your size, the start of the blade will be about even with your nose. When using a bent-shaft paddle, you’ll want to deduct 2” – 4” from this measurement.

Keep in mind, your canoe’s width will also affect the length you’ll want your paddle to be.
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