There is no hard and fast rule for choosing the right overall paddle length, because it is partly a matter of personal preference and paddling style.
- General touring paddles are roughly 7' to 8' long (210 to 240cm)
- Rough guideline for paddler height: under 5'4" use a 215-220cm paddle; 5'4" to 6' 220-230cm; and over 6' 230-250cm
- The beamier the kayak, the longer the paddle: Paddlers in big folding double or inflatable kayaks often like long paddles—close to 250cm. Whitewater boaters prefer shorter paddles (205cm) for strength, more vertical paddling style, maneuverability and quickness.
- Longer paddles apply more leverage to each stroke but require more effort. Shorter paddles require less leverage but allow a rapid cadence and smooth acceleration. Most kayak racers use paddles of 220cm or less with a high-cadence, vertical stroke that also works well for recreational paddlers in more demanding conditions.