Can You Use Kayak Paddles in a Canoe? (Everything You Need to Know)

You might be wondering whether or not you can use kayak paddles in a canoe because you broke your canoe paddles. Perhaps you only have access to kayak paddles right now, you are transitioning to canoeing, or you prefer kayak paddles in general.

There are a few things to consider so you can make this work for you. It might not be as effective as getting the appropriate paddle for canoeing, but it can work. Before settling for a kayak paddle, let us tell you how possible and what to look out for. 

Can I Paddle My Canoe with A Kayak Paddle?

Yes, you absolutely can! Some people prefer canoes as a vessel and kayak paddles to paddle. You might not see it often, but this combination exists, and it is just a matter of preferences.

Canoes are generally made to hold two paddlers at a time, and usually, paddlers will switch sides now and then. Canoes are designed so both paddlers can balance each other and maintain a straight heading.

So long as you, or all paddlers, have the same paddle and paddle incoordination, as usual, it will work just fine. However, kayak paddles are mostly popular amongst solo canoeists. They are also ideal if you like to stroll on the water with your pet or kids because it is safer and remove the need to switch the blade after every stroke.

The best type of kayak paddle for a canoe

Now let’s go through what you need to know before choosing the best type of kayak paddle for you and your canoe.

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Kayak paddle sizes

It would be best to make sure that the paddle is long enough for your wrists and hands to be positioned far enough. It helps to avoid colliding your hands with gunwales of your canoe during your paddle strokes. Moreover, it depends on the size of your canoe as well as your height.

It might be tricky to find the right kayak paddle if your canoe is too big for you. You will require a longer paddle which might be heavier and harder for you to use efficiently. 

But, to tackle this issue, you can opt for high-quality, lightweight paddles.

Kayak paddle material

The best material for kayak paddles is carbon fiber. It is what the highest quality kayak paddles are made of. Carbon fiber is very lightweight while being very strong and durable, so it might be a good choice if you require a longer paddle to suit your canoe.

It will serve you very well for longer trips and improve the ease of paddling a canoe using a long kayak paddle. However, remember that carbon fiber kayak paddles are very expensive.

If your canoe is relatively narrower or smaller than most others, you can settle for shorter kayak paddles made of cheaper materials. You can get wooden shaft kayak paddles, aluminum alloy paddles, single or multi-piece paddles too.

You don’t have to confine yourself to the best of the best, but why not if you can afford it and absolutely need it or much rather prefer it.

Kayak paddle blade shapes

There are various kayak blade shapes you can find, but the one you choose will depend upon the kind of performance you want. For example, if you canoe as a sport and compete, you will be better off getting a flat, symmetrical blade for shorter distances. However, if you canoe longer distances, you will need a curved, spooned, or Greenland blade.

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The size of your paddle blades will matter as well. If you need a more powerful stroke, a larger blade will help. But, if you want faster, lighter strokes for better endurance, you can opt for some smaller blade sizes.

Is It Easier to Paddle a Kayak or Canoe?

Kayaks and canoes are both displacement hulls whose speed depends upon their lengths. The difference in them is that kayaks are generally lighter than canoes of the same size. Kayaks are often narrower and tend to be longer to make it easier to move faster and maneuver.

Kayaks might be easier to paddle for many people. However, canoes tend to be more well-balanced due to their wider frames, but they won’t go as fast as kayaks unless you’ve got the muscle for it. So yes, kayaks are often easier to paddle than canoes.

Remember that paddling is not only reliant on your strength but the right paddle for you can make paddling so much easier.

What Is the Difference Between a Kayak Paddle and A Canoe Paddle?

Kayak paddles have blades on either end of the shaft, and you alternate between each blade in the water. Canoe paddles are different because they have a blade on one end of the shaft. To use a canoe paddle, you have to kneel over to either side of the canoe.

Kayak paddles are often longer, with longer and thinner shafts than canoe paddles. Canoe paddle shafts are thicker, and the single blade is usually wider too. Kayak paddles are good to gain speed, and canoe paddles are good for more powerful strokes.

The kayak paddle might be more convenient because you can easily switch sides without turning or kneeling over much. It also makes it easier to paddle comfortably and without exhausting yourself too soon.

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Canoe paddles require good posture to maintain balance, and they are better for duo paddlers because it helps with balancing the vessel if they alternate sides incorrect coordination.


To answer your question, you can use kayak paddles in canoes, and they can be effective and convenient. They can even be a better choice than canoe paddles if you ensure that the paddle is the right length, size, and material.

Note that kayak paddles are usually more convenient for solo canoeists! Hopefully, we were able to help you learn everything you needed to know about choosing and using a kayak paddle as a canoeist.

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