We’re a bit paddle crazy here at BYC headquarters, I always need one more. As such, we’ve gone out with every type of canoe paddle over the last three decades and know exactly what we need every time we head out.
What you need to know about canoe paddles
Here’s the deal: If you’re brand new to canoeing, it really doesn’t matter all that much. So don’t spend a mint, yet. Just go to Canadian Tire or MEC or REI or whatever local shop has canoe paddles, and buy one that’s the right size. Buy a cheap $20 one, if that’s what they have. It’ll work just fine. It won’t go to waste when you upgrade, because you should always bring a spare anyways. To be honest, once you’re skilled you can use any paddle and be useful with it.
I can probably get by fine with a yogurt cup, a stick, and some duct tape.
Canoe Paddle Sizing Guide
Sizing is important, a paddle that’s too short is a bit useless, and one that’s way too long doesn’t give you great control.
Sit down with a straight back, put the handle of the paddle on the chair between your legs or next to you. The point where the shaft spreads into the blade should reach your forehead.
A second way to test is hold the paddle overhead, with your arms at 90-degree angles. One hand should be on the butt and the other can grip the shaft just before the blade. Either way should work well.
Badger Paddle Socks has a great PDF with illustrations, check it out.
Check out the major canoe paddle makers to see what other kinds of paddles and info is out there:
- Grey Owl Paddles (Ontario)
- Bending Branches (Wisconsin)
- Badger Paddles (Ontario)
- Langford Canoes (Ontario)
- Teal Paddles (Ontario)
- Carlisle Paddles (Maine)
- Werner Paddles (Washington)
- Maskwa Paddle Co (Saskatchewan)
- Redtail Paddle Co (Ontario)