When chatting with people looking to get into paddling, one of the common surprises we find is that people are unaware of the different paddling styles for recreational and touring boats. There are many different paddle designs produced to work best for certain body and boat types.
At a recreational level, it is a very simple conversation and one we have covered in the video accompanying this write-up. The question we are trying to get an answer to is “Does a low angle or high angle paddling style suit you?” We’ll help you decide which is the best choice for you.
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 sees the paddle shaft more vertical.
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, not in a big hurry.
- Often strong paddler doing long trips (or multi 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.
A high angle paddling style typically suits paddlers 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 (for increased speed as the reward.)
- High performance paddlers, looking to cover as much distance in the shortest time possible.
- Paddler 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.
The paddle designs for each style are quite different. Low angle paddles are typically longer in length and have narrower longer paddle blades. High angle paddles are usually shorter in length and have shorter, wider paddle blades. Both styles come in all types of materials and price points.