Can You Use A Kayak Paddle In A Canoe?

This article will address this crucial question: Can you use a kayak paddle in a canoe? In addition to answering this question, we will also discuss other queries related to the topic, such as is it better for a solo canoeist to use kayak paddles? Or how do you choose kayak paddles for a Canoe?

Couple paddling in a canoe and fishing.

Is it ok to Use Kayak paddles for a Canoe?

The good news is that you can use Kayak paddles for Canoeing. However, that being said, you will need to ensure that the paddles are compatible with the Canoe. The paddles should be long enough to support the hands and wrists.

The majority of the canoes are made for two individuals and designed to enable paddlers to canoe for an extended time. However, paddlers switch sides every once in a while, but canoes are constructed so that stern and bow paddlers balance each other out, so the canoe keeps on moving straight.

This is the reason why solo canoeists are more interested in using kayak paddles for canoeing. Kayak paddles are also a popular choice for canoeists with small children or dogs. The kayak paddle’s biggest advantage is eliminating the need to change the blade from each side.

This reduces injuries and the risk of accidents. So if you like to do solo canoeing and are interested in using a kayak paddle, you can use it.

How to pick a Kayak Paddle for Canoeing?

This may surprise some people, but Kayak paddles come in different shapes and sizes. It is tough to choose one for a canoe since they also come in different sizes. There are a few things you should consider before investing in a Kayak Paddle:

Center Height of the Canoe

The gunwale of height matters greatly, as it will decide how long the kayak paddle should be. Most canoes have a height in the center lower than the height of the stern and the bow. This is the case so that canoers can easily paddle their canoe.

If you opt for a kayak paddle for a canoe, it should be a long one so that you can easily dip the blades in the water and enable it to generate power. The height of the canoe’s gunwale should always be considered before buying a kayak paddle.

When you are in the canoe and attempt to put the paddle’s blade in the water, your hand or wrist should not come within 4 to 6 inches of the gunwale of your canoe. Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t be leaning towards a particular side to generate power.

Width of the Canoe

This is an important factor, and you should always consider it before buying a kayak paddle. The idea here is to invest in a long kayak paddle so that its blades can easily dip in the water and generate effective power and driving force for the canoe. However, the paddles should not impact the sides of the motion of the canoe.

There are several varieties of paddle strokes that you can use to propel the canoe forward. For instance, Whitewater kayakers use higher-angled strokes to make evasive and quick maneuvers. On the other hand, Touring kayakers use lower-angled strokes to keep the kayak moving at a cruising speed.

Usually, the type of paddle strokes used by touring kayakers works fine with canoes as well. And the longer your kayak paddle will be, the easier it will be to maintain lower-angled strokes. If you buy a short kayak paddle, you will need to lift the hand closest to the blade to make a proper stroke in the water.

Also, you will need to extend your hands past the sides (gunwales) of the canoe to make an effective and proper stroke. When the hands are placed on the kayak paddle, it should enable you to paddle the canoe effortlessly, without leaning too far out of the canoe.

Seat Design of the Canoe

Before investing in a kayak paddle, you need to consider the canoe’s seat design. In some cases, the seat design might dissuade you from buying a kayak paddle for the canoe. You should have no issues using a kayak paddle for canoes whose seats are either above or secured at the sides.

However, some canoes come with seat designs set lower in the canoe. At the same time, these seats are great, as they lower the center of gravity in the canoe, but they are not compatible with kayak paddles. So if you own a canoe with a sunken seat design, you should avoid investing in a kayak paddle.

Size of the Paddler

Before buying a kayak paddle for the canoe, you must consider your size. The most important factor will be the height of your torso. Tall paddlers naturally need long kayak paddles, as their more distance between the water and their arms.

On the other hand, shorter paddlers do not require an oversized kayak paddle because they will be more troublesome. Since most canoes offer added height, experts recommend going at least one size up when buying a kayak paddle for the canoe. It is best to spend on a long paddle than to take the risk of buying a short kayak paddle that won’t be compatible with the canoe.

The shape of the Paddle

There are many types of shapes for kayak paddles, but you will need to choose the paddle that can deliver the best performance. For instance, if you participate in canoe sports and frequently compete, you should get an asymmetrical, flat blade that is perfect for short distances. If you canoe for long distances, you will need a spooned or curved Greenland blade.

Material of the Paddle

Usually, the kayak paddles are made of carbon fiber, a highly durable material. The best quality kayak paddles are also made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is durable, but it is also lightweight and strong.

Carbon fiber kayak paddles will serve you well for long-distance trips and enable you to easily and effortlessly paddle the canoe. However, you need to understand that carbon fiber kayak paddles are more expensive than other paddles.

If you have a small or narrow canoe, you can opt for a short kayak paddle made of cheap materials. You can also buy wooden, multi-piece, or aluminum alloy paddles. While it is not mandatory to invest in expensive kayak paddles, if you can afford them, you should buy them.

Advantages of using a Kayak Paddle for Canoeing?

  • You can easily and efficiently pull the water: The strokes enable the paddle blades to pull the water efficiently. Solo canoeists are better at paddling with a kayak paddle than double paddlers.
  • Fewer strokes required: There is no need to go for constant strokes with a kayak paddle. Just ensure your canoe is balanced, and it will move straight ahead without issues.
  • Easier on the shoulder if you have pain: Long days canoeing on the water can take a lot out of a canoer. So, if you have a high-quality kayak paddle, you can use it because it will not give you aches and pains.
  • Easier to use in windy conditions: With kayak paddles, paddling in windy conditions is easier because they require less effort than other paddles.

Why are Solo Canoers better at using Kayak Paddles?

Two individuals often do canoeing; however, solo canoeing also exists. Solo canoeing requires one paddler to alternate from side to side and steer strokes to keep the canoe’s balance. This is where using a kayak paddle makes a world of difference.

When you use a kayak paddle for canoeing, you use fewer strokes, less stress on the shoulders, and lower side-to-side movements. There are many features of kayak paddles that solo canoers can take advantage of.

A feature often found in kayak paddles is that the paddle can be feathered to reduce the wind effect of catching the paddle’s blade when it is not in the water.

The main difference between a Canoe and Kayak Paddle?

Kayak paddles have blades on both sides of the shaft. You can alternate between each blade of the paddle while in the water. Canoe paddles are different from kayak paddles because they have just one blade at the end of the shaft.

For a canoe paddle, you will have to lean over one canoe side. Kayak paddles are longer than canoe paddles and have thinner shafts. On the other hand, canoe paddles are thicker, and the blade is very broad. Kayak paddles are good for gaining and maintaining speed, whereas canoe paddles are good for delivering powerful strokes.

Kayak paddles are usually more convenient than canoe paddles because you don’t have to kneel or turn too much to turn sides. Kayak paddles also make paddling easier and more comfortable and don’t exhaust the paddler.

What is easier to paddle, a Canoe or a Kayak?

Canoes and kayaks are displacement hulls, and their speed depends on how long they are. The main difference is that kayaks are usually lighter than canoes. Kayaks are also narrower and longer than canoes. As far as speed is considered, kayaks have the edge here, as they are faster than canoes.

For most paddles, kayaks are easier to paddle than canoes. However, canoes have a wider frame and are generally more well-balanced than kayaks, but if you are not strong, you won’t be able to canoe at a quick speed.

Remember that paddling doesn’t only depend on your strength; it largely depends on the type of paddle you are using and how reliable it is.

How to use a Kayak Paddle for Canoeing?

To use the kayak paddle for canoeing, you must hold it with both hands. Each blade will move in and out of the water. A kayak paddler is paddled with a technique known as Paddler’s Box. This technique is used to increase the efficiency of the paddle and helps the paddler avoid injury.

The paddler’s box is an imaginary box that runs from the hands to the paddle, across the chest, and around the arms and shoulders.

Best Kayak Paddles for Canoeing

We have addressed this important question: Can you use a kayak paddle in a Canoe? We must now move forward. Most paddlers are often confused about buying a kayak paddle for their canoe. Fortunately for them, we are here to help and give them some much-need clarity. Below is a brief list of some of the best kayak paddles on the market:

Poseidon Paddle by Pelican Sport

This is a two-piece paddle; it has 94.5 inches and can be adjusted to 0 or 65 degrees. This paddle is made of aluminum, and it has a shaft made of aluminum and reinforced blades made of fiberglass.

The design of the paddles keeps the total weight to just under 42 ounces. The shaft is designed to enable beginners to find the perfect hand placement on the paddles. The shaft starts from a round shape and then turns into an oval-like shape.

This is known as indexing, and it is an amazing feature for beginners. The length of this paddle is perfect for canoers, and it comes with adjustable rings, which will enable you to keep the water out of the canoe when it drips from the paddle’s blades.

Slice Hybrid Lightweight Touring Paddle from Bending Branches

This paddle is lightweight and is manufactured by Bending Branches. This paddle is available in two dimensions:

  • 230 CM (94.5 Inches)
  • 240 CM (90.5 Inches)

The total weight of both the paddles is roughly 30 ounces. This paddle is perfect for solo canoeing; it comes with a push-button adjustment which will allow you to angle the paddle according to your requirements.

Depending on your requirements, this Bending Branches paddle will also give you right-handed or left-handed control. The shaft is 100 % carbon, and the reinforced polymer blades are stronger and more durable than plastic blades.

The blades are orange-colored, which will help improve the visibility while you paddle your canoe in poor lighting conditions or busy areas.

Adjustable Fiberglass Paddle by Vibe Evolve

The best part about this Vibe Evolve adjustable paddle is that you can adjust its length according to your needs. This paddle’s length can be increased from 90.5 inches to 98.4 inches. This means that this paddle will work for paddlers of all heights and sizes.

This is a two-piece paddle; it has a push-button adjustment and offers a 0 or 65-degree angle. The paddle is made of fiberglass, which makes it durable, and the total weight of the product is around 45 ounces.

The Catch the Kayak Paddle by Pelican

The Catch, the Kayak Paddle, manufactured by Pelican, is perfect for all the tall solo canoers. This paddle comes with additional length, perfect for tall people who struggle to paddle the canoe with short paddles.

The paddles have an average length of about 250 CM (94.5 inches) and are perfect for canoes that have a width of 34 inches or more. This incredible paddle comes with indexing, which enables beginners to identify hand placement quickly every time they pick up the paddle.

The paddle shaft is constructed from aluminum, which is a durable and reliable material, the blades of the paddle are made of plastic polymer, and the material is reinforced with fiberglass. The design creates a paddle that weighs approximately 33 ounces.

This paddle is two-piece and can be adjusted to a 0 or 65-degree angle. These paddles are perfect for canoes who like to fish during canoeing. The Catch, the Kayak Paddle from Pelican, comes with a hook retrieval system placed on the blades. There are also measures given on the paddle’s shaft.

Pungo Kayak Paddle by Wilderness Systems

This kayak paddle is constructed by Pungo and is the perfect choice for those canoers that want a paddle that comes with an adjustable feature. This paddle can go to a minimum length of 220 CM (86.6 Inches), and the length can increase to about 240 CM.

The length can also decrease, which makes this product unique, and even paddlers with a short height can easily use it to paddle their canoe. This is one of the most durable and reliable paddles on the market; its shaft is made of fiberglass and carbon fiber.

The blades of this paddle are made of fiberglass, which gives them sturdiness. The total weight of these paddles is approximately 30 ounces, and it is the only paddle on this list that comes with an adjustable Leverlock Ferrule system. Instead of having just two to three paddling angles, this paddle gives the paddler more versatility.

So, can you use a kayak to paddle in a canoe? Not only can you use them, but this list above will help you with the best kayak paddles available on the market.


In this article, we discussed this question: Can you use a Kayak Paddle in a Canoe? The answer to the question was yes; you can. However, we then answered several queries related to the question, such as things to consider before investing in a kayak paddle. All the relevant information is here, read it up and then decide.

Vanessa Hopkins

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Long-time kayaker who's proud to be part of this community. I strive to provide our visitors with insightful guides with the aim to improve their kayaking experience. I've been working with SunshineKayaking for over 5 years, providing world-class services.

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