Beginners guide to choosing the best canoe paddle


Do you need a new canoe paddle, or perhaps this is your first paddle?

Paddling is one of the best ways to get out on the water. It’s also an incredibly fun way to spend time with your family and friends. But it can be frustrating if you don’t have the right equipment! That’s why we created this guide – so that you can find the perfect paddle for your needs. We even include some tips on how to care for it after purchase!

We’ve all been there before – standing in front of an aisle full of paddles at our local store or online retailer, feeling overwhelmed by choice, and wondering if we made the right decision when buying our last paddle. Don’t worry! This guide will walk you through every step so that it will be a breeze to find your perfect match next time around. You can even print out this guide as a checklist so that when you go shopping for a new paddle, it will be easy-peasy!

Understand the different types of paddles

Different kinds of canoe paddles have been created to address different water conditions. One paddle is not better than another, but it does have its benefits and drawbacks depending on the paddling you’ll be doing.

There’s also the question of personal preference and paddle snobbery, but that’s a whole different issue.

Kayak paddle materials.

Wood Paddles: The best option for whitewater or rivers because they offer a variety of maneuvers and bracing strokes while being comfortable to grip. They are heavier than other options, though.

Fiberglass Paddles: Best for flatwater paddling or cruising, a fiberglass paddle maximizes efficiency with a blade that stays upright in the water during your stroke. The downside is that fiberglass can’t take as much of a beating as wood or plastic. It’s also easy to lift from the water due to its shape.

Plastic Paddles: This is the most popular option for paddlers because it is lightweight, so you don’t get tired after long days on the water. It’s durable and great for rivers and ocean kayaking but not ideal for bracing strokes.

Wood/Fiberglass Paddles: This is a new concept where you get the lightness of a plastic paddle with the performance of a fiberglass one. It’s not as strong as metal paddles, but it is perfect for families who use their canoe on lakes and ponds.

Professional kayakers or guides typically use metal Paddles because they’re durable and make great bracing strokes.

Consider blade shape and shaft design.

Length: The length of your paddle determines how far you can reach—the longer the paddle, the more surface area contact with the water.

Shaft Design: There are two types of shafts: straight and bent-shaft. Bent-shaft paddles are typically used because they allow a wide stroke for powerful strokes or a narrow stroke for small adjustments on the water. Straight shafts offer a variety of applications and can be used on both flatwater and whitewater, but it’s important to note that you’ll need to do a more forceful pull on this kind of paddle.

Blade Shape: The blade shape of your canoe paddle determines the amount of water resistance as you move through it. You also need to consider where the blade goes into the water because this will affect how easily you maneuver your canoe.

Performance: You’ll notice that some blades are smooth while others have a serrated edge. The serrated blade is great for paddling on flat water, but if you’re planning to travel through shallow waters with rocks or logs, then you should opt for the smooth blade.

Single or double blade paddles?

Spend any time watching people on the water in their canoes and kayaks, and you’ll soon notice people in canoes use a single-blade paddle and kayakers a two-bladed paddle.

Single-bladed paddles are the best for power and maneuvering when it comes to a canoe with two or more people. If you go solo in a canoe, it becomes a little more difficult with a single-bladed paddle. It’s all about weight distribution and the paddle stroke.

I don’t do a lot of solo canoeing, so I use a two-bladed kayak paddle if I go out on my own. Just make sure it has a long shaft. It is easier to keep the canoe tracking in a reasonably straight line and less strain on my wrists and back.

What are a few good tips for taking care of your paddle?

Take care of your paddle, and it will take care of you, so here are a few tips on how to keep your canoe paddle in top condition!

– Clean the blades with warm soapy water after every use—you can even submerge the whole unit.

– To dry off a plastic blade, shake it vigorously under fresh running water to remove excess water.

– Keep your paddle out of direct sunlight to prevent drying on the surface.

– Store your paddle in a dry place when not in use. If you hang it, make sure the blade is facing downward so that it does not get any pressure points from being hung.

Additional tips: Getting wet occasionally will help prevent your paddle from developing any cracks. If your blade is becoming cloudy with use, try sanding it down with fine-grit sandpaper before you clean and re-wax it.

Avoid dragging the paddles on the ground when getting back in your canoe if you have plastic blades. This will prevent more dirt from being embedded in the blades.

Find the right size paddle for you.

When deciding what size paddle to buy, there are a few things you should be thinking about:

  1. Think about your height and weight, so you don’t buy either the wrong length or the wrong weight.
  2. It’s important to know if you need an adjustable paddle or not because this will determine how much control you have over the water.
  3. Check if the paddle has a wrist strap because this will help prevent hand fatigue.

Evaluate grip style, handle length, and weight considerations

Grip styles

There are three grip styles: closed, full, and open. Closed grip paddles offer the most control and stability, but they’re also the hardest to use if you need to brace or do a grounding stroke. Full-grip paddles provide some control and stability, but they’re easier to perform bracing strokes with. Open-grip paddles allow for some control and stability, and ease of performing bracing strokes.

Handle length

The paddle handle can be different lengths, but this will depend on what you’re using it for. A shorter handle is better for whitewater, while a longer one suits flatwater. The shorter handles are usually about 10 inches long, while the longest one goes up to 13 inches. Remember that you’ll have to consider your height when selecting your paddle so that you don’t buy the wrong length!


Finally, consider whether or not the paddle is adjustable because this will affect how much control you have over the water. If it’s adjustable, you can alter it to suit your size and paddling style.


Finally, think about the paddle’s weight because this can affect how tired you get when you’re using it. If possible, try to buy an aluminum or carbon fiber one because they tend to be lighter than plastic ones.

Choose between straight or bent shafts to find the best fit for you!

The first thing to think about is the type of paddling you’ll be doing. If you’re on flat water, a straight shaft won’t do you wrong. However, suppose you plan on using your paddle for whitewater situations. In that case, you’ll want to go with bent shafts because they offer more control and stability during these sorts of activities.


After reading our article, you should be able to decide what type of canoe paddle is best for you. Remember that the shape and material of your blade will determine how well it’s suited for different types of paddling situations; if in doubt, ask a knowledgeable salesperson at your local sporting goods store or borrow other paddles and give them a try.