Proper paddle length can make a world of difference in the enjoyment you get out of your canoe and can even prevent injuries. Over the years many methods have been used to work out the proper length of canoe paddle that a person should use. These methods will have you inspecting the various angles that your elbows and arms make. Paddle blades come in all shapes and sizes, some are long and narrow and others are short and wide. For this reason the overall length of the paddle is not a good indicator. The measurement that is of importance is the length of the shaft, from the end of the top grip to the throat, where the blade meets the shaft. To find the approximate shaft length sit on a hard surface, sit up straight, and measure from the surface, that you are sitting on, to your eyebrows. This will be approximately the length of shaft that will best suit you. With that said, there will be some room for variation here. Ultimately, factors such as seat placement within the canoe, torso length, and style of paddling (solo, tandem, Canadian) will influence the final length. If you are a solo paddler or looking for a white water paddle then add 2 or 3 inches to the previous measurement. This will allow a solo paddler a further reach in order to steer at the ends of the boat and the white water paddler will benefit from greater leverage. Now just add the blade length to the shaft length and you’ve got the length that you should buy.
Information provided by Maskwa Paddle Co.