The popularity of kayaking has led to a wave of accessories for the recreational and avid kayaker. Choosing the right paddle can be as daunting as shopping for a car, but doesn’t have to be. Here are some basic guidelines:

Kayak paddles consist of blades and shafts, usually in two pieces (take apart), but can be one piece construction. The general rule is the lighter the material, the greater the cost. Most economical paddles are aluminum shafts with resin blades. These recreational paddles are relatively inexpensive, under $50, and popular with kids and adults looking for fun on the water. Those who are looking for a lighter or more efficient paddle may select a fiberglass or carbon option, which are significantly lighter and costly, usually in the $100-$250 range. All-carbon paddles can retail over $300.

Kayak paddles are sized in metric units with a range of 220 cm to 240 cm. Length is also determined by boat width, paddler torso length and activity. The majority of paddlers find the 230 cm length suitable for both recreational and touring use.

To fully enjoy your paddling experience, remember that your paddle (and life jacket) can be as important as your boat.

Popular brand names for kayak paddles are Werner, Aqua-Bound, Bending Branches, Carlisle and others. Check with your local outfitter for advice and recommendations to suit your own paddling needs. See you on the water!

Links to popular paddle companies:;;;

— Brad Ryder, Epic Sports