How to Choose an Outrigger Paddle

Outrigger Paddle Sizing:

Use the chart below for another option to determine what outrigger paddle length might be best for you.

  1. If you have broader than average shoulders, go to the high end of the range.
  2. If you have a longer torso than average for your height, go to the high end of the range. 
  3. When ordering a paddle to be used with a one or two person canoe or an Unlimited OC-6, go to the middle or low end of the range. Most people use a shorter paddle in OC-1/OC-2s  and Unlimited OC-6s versus a traditional six person canoe.
  4. Remember, these are general guidelines so please take into account your personal preferences.
Your Height Paddle Length
5’0”-5’2” 46”-47”
5’3”-5’5” 47”-49”
5’6”-5’8” 48”-50”
5’9”-5’11” 49”-51”
6’0”-6’2” 50”-52”
6’3”-6’5” 51”-53”


Outrigger Paddle Rules

Outrigger paddles used in OC-6 races must conform to the rules of the sanctioning association. While this may seem like a confusing situation, most associations tend to follow the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's (OHCRA) canoe paddle rule. Why? OHCRA is the largest association and is the sanctioning body for the Moloka'i Hoe. All KIALOA Hybrid and wood outrigger paddles designed for OC-6 use are built to the OHCRA rule and are legal for use in all of Hawaii’s outrigger races. Any single bladed outrigger paddle may be used in a rudderless Va'a, unlimited OC-6, OC-1 or OC-2, whether it is wood, hybrid or full carbon. Ultra-light full carbon outrigger paddles might seem the obvious choice, as they tend to be the lightest construction material, but Hybrid style paddles tend to be the dominant type of paddle. 

Outrigger Paddle Size and Shape

KIALOA offers a variety of blade shapes and sizes designed with different applications in mind. The overall guiding principal is this: the slower the craft the smaller the blade. The strength, fitness and technique of the paddler contribute to craft speed as well as the craft itself and both factor into your choice of outrigger paddle. Understanding how you are going to use the paddle as well as your own experience will help guide you to the perfect paddle. Never forget to ask your coach and experienced teammates for help choosing! Keep in mind that full composite outrigger paddles are not sanctioned by OHCRA for six man paddling in Hawaii.  

Double Bend vs Single Bend

Most KIALOA single bend paddles have a 10 degree bend where the paddle blade meets the shaft.  The KIALOA double bend has a second bend in the shaft up near the t-top with a 10-17 degree angle at the blade, which varies by model.  Double bend paddles tend to have more blade angle because the second bend in the shaft near the T-Top angles the shaft forward and reduces the blade angle. This forward tilt of the shaft in the bottom hand grip area allows your wrist to hold the paddle in a more neutral position. This reduces fatigue as it is a more biomechanically sound wrist position. 

The Choices 

Hybrid Paddles

KIALOA's Hybrid outrigger paddles are constructed of a carbon blade, a triple laminated wood shaft, and a hand shaped wood t-top all of which conform to OHCRA race rules. Hybrid outrigger paddles tend to be the most popular in the racing scene. Whether it is the natural shock absorbing qualities of the wood shaft, or the slightly heavier weight, which makes control of the paddle easier in the wind and surf, the vast majority of hardcore paddlers choose Hybrid outrigger paddles.  

  • Paea: The Paea Hybrid is a stiff large surface area blade designed for the OC6.  This is the paddle of choice for Lanikai Canoe Club, the first Hawaiian club crew to cross the line in the 2017 and 2018 Moloka'i Hoe.
  • Hoku: The perfect six man paddle available in a 10 degree single bend or a 16.5 degree sweeping double bend.  The surface area of the Hoku is slightly larger than the Nehu and is more suited for male paddlers.   
  • Nehu:  This hybrid has a thin blade with a slight hook at the tip for a clean entry and very strong catch. Ideal for 6 man and regatta paddling for both men and women. This paddle is available in single bend and  double bend.
  • Mekana: A women's specific paddle available in a 10 degree single bend or 16.5 degree sweeping double bend. The Mekana has a slimmer and lighter oval shaft and a blade with a smaller surface area. Perfect for women in both OC-6 and OC-1.
  • Axel II: This is our best selling single bend paddle.  A great paddle for OC-1 and OC-6.  Available in single bend only.
  • Teva Hoe: This is the largest blade in the KIALOA line-up and offers the experienced paddler more versatility. It is a Tahitian style paddle with a 15 degree double bend. It has a very thin blade and aggressive PowerHook at the tip.

Composite Paddles

The word composites is defined as such: A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual.  The most common types of composites used in KIALOA composite paddles are Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, and Fibrelite.  

  • Ekahi: The Ekahi is a full carbon double bend paddle designed for the V1.  The blade is stiff and large in surface area.  The Ekahi features a unique flat back design which facilitates on hull steering corrections in a V1.  Though not specifically designed for the V6, the Ekahi is becoming the paddle of choice for many paddlers in the V6 Unlimited Va'a.
  • Kaho'olawe Adjustable:  A bomb proof adjustable paddle constructed out of Fibrelite and Fiberglass is perfect for clubs.  Its adjustability means you always have the right size for your paddlers.  It is also a great tool when trying to size a paddler when they are ready to purchase their own. There is also a fixed version that is our most affordable and durable outrigger paddle.
  • Keiki Kaho'olawe Adjustable: The Kid's Kaho'olawe is adjustable for growing paddlers and is super durable. Constructed out of Fiberlite and Fiberglass.  Made to last! 
  • Wacky Shaft: This S shaped shaft was designed to relieve stress on the wrist and forearm while maintaining a powerful neutral position at the catch. We have many testimonials that this paddle relieves pain and tingling in the hands and forearms allowing you to paddle longer and stronger. It is a full composite outrigger paddle with a carbon/glass shaft and and comes with the choice of the Axel II or Nehu carbon blade.  
  • Keone: This is our first full carbon paddle designed specifically for outrigger paddlers. It has an Axel II blade and is ideal for one man paddling for both men and women. It has a one piece construction giving it a natural flex unlike its much stiffer competitors.

    Outrigger Steering Paddles 

    • Hawaiki Hybrid Single Bend:This blade is perfect for the paddling steers person but can also handle more aggressive steering and poking. Also available in Hybrid Double Bend and Full Carbon Double Bend.
    • Biscuit Hybrid: This blade was designed for mid-water conditions. It is lighter, thinner  and has slightly less surface area than the Foti which allows the steersman to paddle more while steering. It is ideal for regatta racing  as well as mild to mid ocean conditions.
    • Foti Hybrid: This blade was designed with the Moloka'i Channel crossing in mind. It has a larger surface area and sturdy blade  which is required to maneuver a boat in bigger water conditions. The Foti is ideal for big active water that may require stronger corrections. It is also good for smaller or less experienced steersmen as the larger blade adds force to your corrections.  
    • Mirror Pond Hybrid: Brought back by popular demand in 2013, this blade was designed for the more experienced steersman.  The paddle has a 7 degree bend, slightly more than the standard 5 degree bend of most steering paddles. This allows for more efficient paddling and paddle steering. Best for use in the calm waters of Kona, or rivers, lakes and bays. Not recommended for regatta racing. Available in both Single Bend and Double Bend.
    • Small Craft WarningHybrid : The name says it all! This large Hybrid steering blade is designed for huge conditions when you need a lot of control.

    For further help choosing a paddle please contact us:

    • email: e-mail
    • phone: 541-382-5355
    KIALOA employs experienced paddlers and paddle makers.  Let us know how we can help.