What Is the Best Size Paddle for a Canoe?

If you’re planning to go on a canoe trip, there are many factors to consider, including the size of the paddle. Choosing the right size paddle can make a significant difference in your paddling experience and overall enjoyment of the trip. In this article, we’ll explore what is the best size paddle for a canoe.

Factors to Consider

Before we dive into the specifics of paddle size, let’s take a look at some of the factors that can affect your choice:

  • Your height and arm length
  • The width and depth of your canoe
  • The type of water you’ll be paddling in (calm vs. rough)
  • Your level of experience


The length of a canoe paddle is typically measured from tip to tip along the blade’s longest edge. The ideal length for your paddle will depend on your height and arm length, as well as other factors like those listed above.

As a general rule, you want a paddle that is long enough to reach across the gunwale (the top edge of the canoe) without having to lean too far over. This will help you maintain good posture and avoid straining your back.

For solo paddlers, a shorter paddle may be more comfortable since it requires less effort to maneuver. A shorter paddle can also be useful for navigating through tight spaces or shallow water.

Recommended Lengths by Height:

  • Under 5’6″: 46-48 inches
  • 5’7″ – 5’10”: 50-52 inches
  • 5’11” -6’2″: 54-56 inches
  • Above 6’2″: 58-60 inches

Blade Size and Shape

The size and shape of the paddle blade can also affect your paddling experience. A larger blade will provide more power, but it may also require more effort to use. A smaller blade will be easier to maneuver but may not be as effective in rough water.

The shape of the blade can also impact performance. A wider, squared-off blade is better for flat water since it provides more surface area for propulsion. A narrower, more pointed blade is better suited for rough water since it can slice through waves more easily.

Blade Width Recommendations:

  • Small (6-7 inches): Best for solo paddling or those with a smaller build
  • Medium (7-8 inches): Good for general use and touring
  • Large (8-9 inches): Best for heavy loads or use in rough water

In Conclusion

Choosing the right size paddle is crucial to having an enjoyable and safe canoe trip. Consider your height, arm length, canoe width and depth, type of water you’ll be paddling in, and your level of experience when selecting a paddle length and blade size.

Remember that these are just general guidelines, and ultimately the best paddle for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs. By taking the time to choose the right paddle, you’ll be able to fully enjoy all that canoeing has to offer!

Photo of author

Emma Gibson