Choosing Canoe Paddles

Consider the obvious: aside from “you”, your paddle is the engine that actually makes the boat go. Need we say more? Purchasing the best paddle(s) you can afford is a wise investment for both your on water efficiency and your health.

Confused by the sizes, shapes, materials and jargon? Don’t be! Remember, Frontenac Outfitters makes choosing paddle(s) easy. We invite you to have fun and test paddle and compare. Heck, we’ll even supply the boats! Until then, we hope this article helps.

Basic Types

There are four basic types of canoe paddles, choose the one which best fits your needs.

Recreational Paddles

For casual day tripping, a good all around paddle is one made of laminated softwood. These paddles are light, reasonably strong and reasonably priced. Some blade shapes will be rounded and look like a beaver tail, while others will have squared off edges and look more like a shovel.

Tripping or Cruising Paddles

Flatwater paddlers tend to use aesthetically pleasing paddles made of solid hardwoods like white ash and black cherry. These paddles are used for cruising efficiently for hours, so durability and weight are important. Blade shapes are generally longer and narrower then other types and are commonly referred to as otter tail designs. This type of paddle is lighter and enters and exits the water more efficiently then other blades.

Marathon or Racing Paddles

Bent shaft paddles look like a shovel with a bent blade. They are often the choice of Marathon racers. The idea of a bent-shaft paddle is it positions the paddle blade more vertical to the water. In theory this shape provides the paddler a shorter, more efficient paddling power zone. These hardwood laminate paddles are shorter and wider than most other types. What the paddler gains in power can be lost in lack of finesse and versatility.

Whitewater Paddles

White water paddles have big wide blades with squared off edges to pull lots of water. Materials used to make them can change radically from hardwood laminates with epoxy tips, to plastic or Kevlar blades with aluminum shafts, to a combination of any or all these durable products.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Size a Canoe Paddle?

Canoe paddles usually size in 3″ increments (common sizes are: 54″, 57″, 60″ and 63″). A quick way to roughly measure is to hold the paddle above your head with each hand in the appropriate place. If the shaft is the correct length for you, your forearms should be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor. At Frontenac Outfitters, we suggest you select a few different models and “Then Paddle with them!”

How Important is My Canoe Paddle?

Let’s do some basic math. At a comfortable 30 strokes a minute, paddling for four hours, the average paddler will take about 7,200 strokes. At 20 strokes per minute, a subtle weight savings of two ounces would save you 600 lbs of lifting over a four-hour paddle!

What About Price?

Prices can vary dramatically for quality canoe paddles from $65.00 to over $200.00 each. We invite you to paddle and make educated decisions on the water not in a showroom! After paddling and seeing the differences quality paddles make, you won’t want to cut corners here.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Should you have any suggestions or changes to improve it, please call 613.376.6220 or email [email protected]

Come Paddle With Us!