Kayak paddles come in various lengths with differing shaft shapes and blade designs. All the features of the kayak paddle are designed for the kayaker’s comfort, skill level and type of water the paddle will be used in. The style of paddle blade you choose will be based on your personal preference and experience level. You may find that as you become more comfortable in a kayak you’ll want to change blade styles to fit your increasing experience level.
Evaluate the material of which the blade is made. Fiberglass blades are lightweight and durable, making them more maneuverable, and come in more intricate blade designs. Blades made of plastic or aluminum are less expensive but not as lightweight or comfortable to use.
Try out kayak paddles using both a feathered and unfeathered blade to determine which is more comfortable for you. Feathered paddles have blades that are set at different angles from one another to allow the blade that is out of the water to have less wind resistance. For some, the motion required to use a feathered blade correctly causes strain on the wrist and hands.
Choose the type of blade symmetry you need. Symmetrical blades have each half of each blade made equally. With asymmetrical blades, each half of the blade is not of equal size. The asymmetrical blades perform well in rough waters, and symmetrical blades provide more power with each stroke.
Choose a blade shape that best suits your kayaking abilities. Spoon- or wing-shaped blades provide more strength to each stroke but are more difficult to maneuver for less skilled kayakers. Flat and dihedral-shaped blades are easier for beginners to learn with.