When chatting with people looking to get into paddling, one of the common surprises we find is that people are unaware of the different paddles and paddling styles for recreational and touring boats. So which is better for you—low angle or high angle paddles?

There are many different kayak paddle designs produced to work best for certain body and boat types. At a recreational level the question we are trying to answer is simple: “Does a low angle or high angle paddling style suit you best?” Read on and we’ll help you decide which is the best choice for you.

Low angle vs. high angle paddling style

Note: The angle component is in relationship to the paddle shaft angle. Low angle strokes have the paddle shaft at a flatter angle; high angle strokes see the paddle shaft more vertical.

Low angle paddling style

A paddler demonstrates paddling at a low angle.

A low angle paddling style typically suits paddlers who:

  • Own wide boats, making a vertical paddle stroke difficult to perform.
  • Paddlers who are on the water for leisurely paddling days and not in a big hurry.
  • Often strong paddlers doing longer trips over multiple days will favour a low angle paddling style, as it is less fatiguing.
  • Newer paddlers often prefer the ease of a low angle paddle stroke. Less moving parts make control of the boat seem easier.

High angle paddling style

A paddler demonstrates paddling at a high angle.

A high angle paddling style typically suits:

  • Those who own narrower boats, which allows the paddler to perform a higher angle stroke more easily.
  • Paddlers looking to use kayaking as a conditioning tool. A higher angle stroke has a higher energy output, with increased speed as the reward.
  • High-performance paddlers looking to cover as much distance in the shortest time possible.
  • Paddlers looking to improve on their technical paddling skills. Mastering high angle paddle strokes in the appropriate kayak allows you to use a wider variety of dynamic strokes as you progress.

Low angle vs. high angle paddles

The paddle designs for each style are quite different. Low angle kayak paddles are typically longer in length and have narrower longer paddle blades. High angle kayak paddles are usually shorter inlength and have shorter, wider paddle blades. Both styles come in all types of materials and price points.

Thanks for checking out this short paddling style how-to guide! We hope it helps direct you toward the right style of paddle and kayak for you. We recommend contacting your local specialty kayak retailer for more information, or feel free to contact us at [email protected].

For more great instructional videos, check out the Aquabatics Calgary YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/aquabaticscalgary or our website at www.aquabaticscalgary.com.

 

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