As the weather gets warmer and you start thinking about summertime activities, kayaking has probably crossed your mind. Rowing, fishing, or lazily floating on the water are great reasons to invest in a kayak. But a kayak isn’t so easy to maneuver without a paddle, so you may wonder if the kayak you plan on buying will come with a paddle or not?
New kayaks don’t usually come with paddles. Depending on your kayak’s manufacturer and retailer, you may need to buy a paddle yourself if your kayak doesn’t have one. Kayak paddles come in many shapes, sizes, weights, and materials. Choose the right qualities for your kayaking needs.
While it would be more convenient if new kayaks came with a paddle, you’re more likely to end up with a better kayak paddle by purchasing one specifically for you. There are several factors you’ll need to consider, and choosing a paddle based on your needs will benefit you in the long run.
Keep reading as I’ll discuss why most kayaks don’t come with paddles and how to select the right paddle for you.
New Kayaks Don’t Usually Come With Paddles
Companies consider many factors when choosing not to include a paddle with the kayak. The biggest reason is cost. It takes money to produce, package, ship, and sell every item you find in the store or online.
Manufacturers and retailers learned that they could save money and make a few extra bucks by selling the item separately. It’s the same reason why most toys don’t generally come with batteries.
Also, retailers have to decide how much inventory to order based on sales history and shelf space. Kayaks with paddles take up more space than just the kayak alone.
Retail locations that see more beginners kayaking will need to have as much variety to suit the primary needs of that person. A kayak specialty shop will still carry the essential supplies but need more room to sell specialized equipment for the seasoned kayaker.
Kayaks are not all made the same. The type of kayak you choose is dependent on your size, what you plan to do with the kayak, and how you want it to sit on or in the water. A pedal kayak, for instance, does not require a paddle and will not include one in your purchase.
Additionally (and most importantly), kayak paddles are not the same. A standard paddle that comes with your boat may not fit your requirements at all. Since you’d be paying for the paddle as part of the kayak, it would be a waste of money since you’d likely need to buy a new paddle anyway.
What To Look For in a Kayak Paddle
You need to know what to look for if your new kayak doesn’t come with a paddle—or maybe you’re ready to upgrade your current paddle. Not just any old paddle will do. Your height, the size of your kayak, and the water you’re kayaking on all factor into your decision.
Get a Paddle That Suits the Size of Your Kayak
You want a paddle that is long enough for the width of your kayak but not so heavy that you will get too tired rowing out on the water. Ideally, you should be able to stand next to the paddle and comfortably wrap your fingertips over the top. This method is not a strict rule, but it will get you in the ballpark.
This Wonitago Adjustable Kayak Paddle from Amazon.com is perfect for those who may be between sizes or want to try out different lengths. This paddle is suitable for beginner kayakers or casual paddlers. It has durable nylon blades, resistant to corrosion.
Consider the Overall Weight of the Kayak Paddle
The shaft of the paddle should be light enough for you to comfortably handle for the length of time you plan to be out on the water. Aluminum paddles are lightweight and tend to be more affordable, while higher quality materials can still be lightweight but may cost more due to the increased durability.
However, if you’ll be navigating unpredictably rough waters, you’ll want higher durability over lightweight. The shaft material you choose for whitewater kayaking should be heavier than you would use for still water kayaking.
Choose a Kayak Paddle Made of Quality Materials
Commonly used materials for the shaft are fiberglass and carbon fiber due to their durability and affordability. Finding the right paddle requires testing out paddles made from different materials.
The paddle blades can be made from plastic, fiberglass, or carbon, and they can be” feathered” or straight. Also, the blade material will affect the overall weight of the paddle.
Determine the Right Blade for you
Once you’ve practiced and found your rowing rhythm, you will learn if you are a high-angle rower (meaning you dip your blade deeper into the water with each stroke) or a low-angle rower (meaning your strokes are more shallow.
High-angle rowers are for power and speed. These types of rowers benefit from a shorter, wider blade. Low-angle rowers, however, benefit from a longer, thinner blade.
Testing out paddles of different sizes, materials, and blade shapes will help you find what feels natural.
Kayak Types: Paddle vs. Pedal
There are two distinct types of kayaks: paddle and pedal. As you may have guessed, a paddle kayak uses an oar to drive the boat forward and steer. But with a pedal kayak, your legs power the kayak without using a paddle.
Paddle Kayaks Require a Lot of Upper-Body Strength
Paddle kayaks require a paddle or an oar to row you through the lakes, rivers, and oceans. They are better for lower water levels because they don’t require much clearance at the bottom. Paddles are also less expensive to replace if they get lost or damaged. Plus, paddling will give you a killer upper body workout.
Pedal Kayaks Allow You To Keep Your Hands Free
Navigating your kayak with a fishing pole and a paddle is not an easy task. The pedal kayak is a favorite among anglers because of its speed, steering control, and ability to keep their hands free.
Because the pedals are on the bottom of the boat, you’ll need more ground clearance. You can also build strong legs with a pedal kayak, but some brands are convertible and can be pedal or paddle operated.
Whether or not the new kayak you are looking to purchase comes with a paddle, you can find an option or replacement suitable for you. Size, material, and features are essential to consider while researching the right paddle.
Choosing a paddle that is the right size is crucial to avoid back, shoulder, and wrist pain while rowing. Some paddles are designed for still water, while others are for rougher waves.
Testing different kayak paddles will help you decide what feels right for you.