Choosing Oar Length

ArticleMay 23, 2011

“What length oars do I need for my boat?” is one of the most common questions we get. It’s a difficult question to answer simply. There really is no hard-and-fast, “this is the exact, and only, oar length that will work in this situation.” Oar length, like life, has shades of gray.

We’ve developed this chart to help you with this decision:

NRS Frame Width Recommended Min. Oar Length
48" 7'
54" 7.5'
60" 8'–9'
66" 9'–10'
72" 10'

Note: oar length includes the blade

A well known rule of thumb for figuring oar length is that approximately one-third of the oar will be inboard of the oar mount and two-thirds outboard of the mount. Observing this ratio will help ensure that your oars are well balanced for comfortable rowing.

NRS frame widths are measured from center-to-center of the side rails. Our oar mounts tilt out 3"–4" beyond the center of the side rails. When you add in that extra width, the suggested lengths given above come pretty close to this rule of thumb.

If you’re putting the oars on a non-NRS frame, measure the horizontal distance from oarlock to oarlock. Divide that measurement by two and subtract 2" (to give some distance between the handles when the oars are horizontal). Multiply that distance by three to get your approximate oar length. Remember, oar length is somewhat personal preference.

By all means, if you have buddies with oars you can borrow and try out, or can rent different length oars from a local dealer or college outdoor program, do that to fine tune your personal preference for oar length. However, if you don’t have these options you can choose oars based on our suggestions with the confidence they’ll work well for you.

As always, if you have questions the friendly, knowledgeable folks at NRS are here to help; contact us.