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Touring Paddle Guide

Looking for a touring or recreational paddle can be an intimidating process. On the market today, there are an incredible number of choices available. Yet, once you’ve found the paddle that suits you, nothing but the water awaits you. Here are some guidelines to follow when deciding on which paddle is the right one for you.

The first thing to consider when deciding on a paddle is which type of boating you’ll be doing and how often. With most flat-water paddling situations, the sport generally falls into two groups: touring and recreational paddling. Touring kayaks tend to be longer and more slender while having the capacity to carry equipment. Recreational kayaks, which are generally shorter and wider, emphasize stable paddling. Touring paddles tend to run in the higher price range as opposed to rec paddles, which are generally less expensive. Nevertheless, these price guidelines are just general guidelines and not the absolute rule.

If you’ve decided you are a touring paddler, we recommend you consider a Werner paddle. Werner offers an array of styles, shapes and sizes for a number of situations. Most of their paddles fall into the medium price range for fiberglass construction and the higher price range for carbon fiber construction. These are definitely the paddles of choice when you’re using them multiple days of the year. For the occasional user, they also offer a recreational/touring line that can meet the budget of most entry-level paddlers.

Things to consider in a touring paddle start with choosing either a straight or “neutral” bent shaft. The straight shaft offers a continuous grip area while the “neutral” bent shaft naturally aligns the wrist for less stress on joints. Either shaft carries a distinctive feel and has an optional standard or smaller diameter shaft. Another consideration is whether or not you’d like your paddle to have a high- or low-angle design. A high-angle design allows for a more aggressive stroke and a faster cadence. The low-angle design favors more of a relaxed cadence and smoother forward stroke that is appreciated on longer days. Length of the paddle is also a factor. Most paddle lengths for single kayaks range from 210-230 cm and 230-240 cm for wider, tandem boats. Some touring models to consider are the Ikelos, Corryvrecken, Shuna, Kalliste, Camano, and Little Dipper found in either fiberglass or carbon fiber.

If your paddling adventures only take you out a few times a year and your boat is a recreational kayak, you may want to consider Werner’s line of recreational/touring paddles such as the Cascadia, Sport, Skagit and even a kids paddle, the Sprite. While rec paddles tend to weigh more than the premium touring paddles, they also work well as spare paddles for multi-day trips. Other brands of paddles, such as Bending Branches or Carlisle, offer an additional choice for the beginning rec paddler who is not interested in longer day trips, and hence a lighter paddle, yet is concerned about his/her budget.

Regardless of your choice, the water is waiting and so is your paddle.

Bennett Barr
NRS Customer Service