Sit On Top Kayaks | Choosing a paddle

Sit On Top Kayaks | Choosing a paddle

Sit On Top kayaks are gaining popularity, and for good reason. They’re versatile, easy to paddle and above all lots of fun!

In this blog we aim to answer the question which paddle is best for these kayaks?

Let’s start with length first:

Paddle length has an element of personal preference and making a selection it is important to consider several factors:

Boat Width - Fundamentally, the wider your craft the further away the water is and thus the longer a paddle will need to be. Sit on top kayaks are generally wide, aiming to give new paddlers confidence by adding stability.  As such, you will tend towards a longer paddle when using this style of boat.

Paddler Height - This second important factor is your height.  Taller paddlers need a greater reach in order to place the blade in the water effectively and thus a longer paddle is beneficial. 

High Vs Low Angle Blades - In a discussion around paddle length for sit on top kayaks this is the least relevant of the three factors.  In some ways to mention it is a little overkill but we thought it may be of interest to some of our customers.  Kayak paddle blades come in a range of different shapes and are generally termed high or low angle.  This simple relates to whether the shaft angle is steep (high angle) or shallow (low angle) when the blade enters the water.  A steep angle results in a powerful stroke and is generally the preference of dynamic paddlers.  The low angle style is much more relaxed and less energy intensive, so tends to lead to less fatigue after a long day on the water.  The added benefit is that the non paddling blade stays low and doesn’t tend to drip water.  In design terms a high angle model is shorter in length but deeper, while low angle blades are longer and shallower.  The results of these differences in terms of paddle length is that you need a slightly longer paddle with low angle styles.  This enables you to place the blade into the water at the correct angle.

So, what is the result for your choice of sit on top kayak paddle?  We generally recommend a range from 210-230cm.  220cm is a great all rounder and if in doubt aim for this. Length adjustable options are a brilliant choice as they allow you to alter the paddle to suit your personal preference and conditions on the day.  Now we have addressed length it is best to discuss the merits of different budgets.

What you get for your money?

Increasing budget will see four main impacts on the paddle:

  1. Weight - as we move up the price bands the weight of the paddle will decrease through the use of progressively lighter materials.  Shafts will change from aluminium to glass and carbon, blades from nylon to glass and carbon.  Although these changes may seem inconsequential on land, only a few hundreds grams here and there, the cumulative effect after a long day on the water should not be underestimated.  This is especially true for petite and junior paddlers, who will tend to notice the difference to a greater effect.
  2. Stiffness - as well as reducing weight, the move toward more premium materials results in paddlers which are stiffer.  As a general rule this is a good thing, ensuring your power is not lost through flex.  Ultimately, we’re certain all paddlers would prefer to cover greater distances with less energy used.
  3. Split Joints - The vast majority of paddles in the 220-240cm range will be two piece for simple transport and storage.  At a basic level the joint is secured using a simple push button.  This system is absolutely fine but does tend to have a minor amount of play.  In reality, when paddling this is not noticeable but as you move up the range the joint systems become more finessed and offer a greater degree of adjustment.  Adjustment can either be the angle at which the blades are offset, called feather, or length.
  4. Overall Quality - Increasing budget also results in an overall improvement in paddle finish, resulting from high production standards and a greater degree of development. 

So which should you choose?

Although we hope this information is useful it is also clear that with so many paddles on the market it can still be overwhelming to make a decision.  As such, our staff have selected their first choices in the main price ranges.

£20-£50

In this price bracket there are some excellent options from the brand Bravo.  Key features include:

  • Aluminium shafts
  • Drip rings to reduce water splash
  • 2 piece push button joint
  • Plastic blades for durability

These are fantastic honest value paddles to get you on the water.

220cm:

https://www.roho.co.uk/bravo-kwb-2-piece-kayak-paddle-220cm

230cm:

https://www.roho.co.uk/bravo-kc-2-piece-paddle-230cm

£50-90

In this price range Bravo are again the stand out choice.  A move to a fibreglass shaft reduces weight and increases stiffness.  The lever lock 2 piece joint is simple to use and allows for adjustment of both blade offset (feather) and length. Key features include:

  • Fibreglass shaft
  • Drip rings to reduce water splash
  • Leverlock 2 piece joint with 210-240cm length adjustment
  • Plastic blades for durability

A more future proof paddle at a unbeatable price.

210-240cm:

https://www.roho.co.uk/bravo-adjustable-xt-fibreglass-kayak-paddle

£100+

If you’re looking for a premium all rounder then the Palm Drift Pro is difficult to argue against and the 220-225cm length adjustment useful for many sit on top paddlers.  The glass shaft is light weight, with glass fill blades offering a stiffness increase over the aforementioned Bravo paddle. Key features include:

  • Fibreglass shaft
  • Drip rings to reduce water splash
  • Leverlock 2 piece joint with 220-225cm length adjustment
  • Plastic blades for durability

215-220cm, 220-225cm:

https://www.roho.co.uk/palm-drift-pro-paddle

CONCLUSION

Choosing the right paddle can make or break your day and our staff encourage customers never to underestimate the effect of reduced weight and adjustable length.  We hope this information is useful but if in doubt please contact us for a recommendations based on your circumstances.

Get in touch here or on 01924 444888



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