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How Do I Choose the Best Outrigger Paddle?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

If you want to choose the best outrigger paddle for your needs, you should focus on length, angle and blade width. The length of the outrigger paddle is often the most critical component in choosing the best paddle available to you. With many paddle manufacturers creating high-tech paddles that incorporate several different angles and bends into the handle, it is easy to become too concerned with the angle of your new paddle. The blade width is another crucial area where you will need to examine your needs in an outrigger paddle. In order to choose the very best paddle for your requirements, you may have to try several different paddles to help make your decision.

The length of the outrigger paddle handle is commonly the most critical component in choosing the best paddle. You do not want to choose a paddle that is too long or too short. A long outrigger paddle will make you work too hard due to the increased leverage you will have in the water. This can potentially slow you down as you struggle to power the paddle through the water. Conversely, an outrigger paddle that is too short will have you bending out over the edge of the boat to dip your paddle.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A short paddle also causes a paddler to place the lower hand too close to the blade. This makes you take short strokes and will also lessen the speed of your boat. You want a paddle that will allow you to slide the paddle just over the surface of the water and dip the blade in without a large splash. From there, comfort is the greatest issue when choosing an outrigger paddle. Generally speaking, the "T" handle on the paddle is usually the most comfortable for any type of paddling.

Blade width is not as important as comfort in the paddle. The medium-sized paddle blade will generally produce the best all-around use. A wide blade can often make you twist your lower hand as you pull the blade through the water, causing you to lose speed and control. This will often lead to sore and tired shoulders. The small blade can tend to make you hurry your stroke and vary your cadence. This can tend to slow your boat and cause control issues as well. A lightweight outrigger paddle is not going to make a great deal of difference on shorter trips, however, on long trips you might want to explore the lightweight versions.

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