Paddling FAQs


1. I'm brand new to paddling, where do I start?

Outrigger and Dragon Boat:Start with our list of associations and see if there is a club near you. Outriggerand dragon boat paddling are organized sports with clubs and racing associations. Involvement with a local club is key to becoming part of the sport of outrigger and dragon boat racing.  From that starting point you will have the opportunity to learn from more experienced paddlers, gain appreciation for the culture around these paddling sports and become part of a community of paddlers.

SUP: Stand up paddling is the fastest growing water sport in the world. Getting started  can be as easy as renting a board and paddle for a day.  Getting your first experience on the water is enough to show what an easy learning curve there is for the beginner.  The next step is to take a  lesson or join a clinic. Many of our KIALOA retail shops offer this opportunity.  There are many aspects to paddle boarding like exploring your regional waterways with friends and family, surfing your local break, or racing in the many events happening year round.  Boards and paddles are often designed for these specific activities. KIALOA's paddles are categorized by use to help you find the right one for your needs.


2. How do I choose my paddle length?

KIALOA offers paddles in 1 inch sized increments as well as many adjustable paddle options. Finding the right size can be complicated by a lot of opinions and, as you would expect, KIALOA has an opinion as well!


Paddle Size Chart

Correctly sizing an outrigger paddle can prevent injury and maximize your power.If your paddle is too tallfor your height and reach, your shoulders will be punished.If it is too small your powerwill be compromised. So what is perfect? First, listen to your coach. Try out the various sizes your club has and ask your coach which is the best fit for you. Second, remove your legs from the equation. We have an excellent chart that sizes a paddle by your height and can be spot on for many people but its flaw is that when you paddle you're sitting. Torso length, shoulder width and arm length play huge factors in sizing. Watch our video for the best way to size an outrigger paddle.


Paddle Size Chart

Stand up paddling is a new and constantly changing sport. Sizing a paddle is very often specific to the activity and the paddleboardyou are using for that sport: surfing, touring, or racing. One of the best ways to find the perfect size isby using a KIALOA adjustable paddle and playing on the water until you find the most comfortable length. Many of our dealers also have rental and demo paddles you can try. Use our find a dealer tool and give them a call!

Another option is to purchase an adjustable paddle guaranteeing you have the right size for any paddler or activity.  The KIALOA adjustable paddle is state of the art for ease and accuracy. If several family members are sharing one paddle, adjustable is the way to go.

The KIALOA SUP sizing chart is also a great tool. SUP sizing is very forgiving within a few inches if you are a recreational paddler and if you are a racer or surfer, our chart will point you in the right direction.


Dragon boat paddle sizing is very dependent on the opinion of your particular coach. KIALOA defers to the wisdom of the experts in your club who know you, the boat you paddle in and their coaching style. KIALOA Offers our dragon paddles in half inch increments to help find your best fit.


3. Why are there different paddle shapes?

The tear drop is the most classic paddle blade shape. It puts most of the surface area towards the bottom of the blade and tapers towards the shaft. This efficient design creates a strong catch allowing a skilled paddler to change the depth of their stroke thereby using more or less of the surface area depending on boat speed. Read Alan Goto's article "Size Matters."

Experimenting with different blade shapes changes where the surface area lands on a paddle blade. Round blades have the most even surface area, where tear-drop shapes put surface area towards the bottom. Shortening and lengthening the blade effects surface area as well.  

KIALOA designs paddles with the user  and the use in mind. Each of our paddles are shaped and sized to maximize its intended use. Outrigger, SUP and dragon paddles are used for entirely different water crafts that move at different speeds.  And within each sport there are racers, surfers, recreation, distance, sprints, etc.  All these disciplines have specific needs from their paddle and KIALOA has spent 25 years listening to our paddlers and designing equipment that improves your experience on the water.


4. How do I choose what blade sizeis best for me?

Simply put, the size of the blade is determined by the speed of the craft. With a faster craft the paddler can tolerate a larger paddle blade.When paddling in a heavier and slower craft, the paddler will appreciate a smaller blade. Things that determine craft speed vary quite a bit. There are manyvarieties of design and uses forboats and boards.Some are designed for speed, some are designed to surf, while some are designedfor optimal stability.In addition, there is the paddler's size, strength and fitness to take into account. A paddler on a touring board with gearwho is planning on traveling formany miles a day will want a smaller blade. A paddler in a 6 man outrigger canoe witha team offit, strong paddlers will want a larger blade. All of the KIALOA paddles are designed with their best use in mind and are offered in blade sizes appropriate for that activity.


5.Should I get an adjustable or a sized paddle?

An adjustable paddle is an excellent choice for clubs, rentals, demos and families that will be sharing paddles. It is also a very versatile paddle that can be sized for different paddling activities. For example white water paddlers often need to adjust their length on the fly as they continually move through changing waters. A paddle that is sized for you is ideal if you will be the only one using it or if you specifically paddle in one discipline (eg racing, surfing, fitness, etc.) A sized paddle is lighter in weight and requires very little maintenance.


6.How do I choose the best paddle for me?

The most important thing is to know what you will be doing with your choice of paddle sport (Outrigger, Dragon, SUP or Canoe). KIALOA offers many paddle choices that provide a good value for both the novice and for the more advanced paddler.Ask yourself if youneed a paddle that is on the "more durable"range orif you will be able to paddle in conditions that allow for a lighter paddle design. KIALOA offers a wide range of design features as well as both black paddle blades and options that are simply beautiful in color and pattern. Do you need a paddle that is specifically designed for a type of paddling like racing, surfing or fitness? KIALOA makes paddles that embody many of these features in one paddleor you can select highly customized paddles for very specific uses.KIALOA makes paddles that are designedacross the entire range fromultra durable to ultra light.


7.What is a dihedral?

This is a topic best said by the owner and designer of KIALOA Paddles, Dave Chun. Watch this video on the Dihedral.


8.Double Bend vs Single Bend?

For outrigger paddlers this choice is offered on almost all of our paddles. A single bend paddle has one bend where the blade meets the shaft.That describes the area where the blade angles from the shaft. A double bend has a bend where the blade and shaft meet and a second bend in the shaft at the top near the handle. There are ergonomic advantages for paddlers who have a more upright paddling posture in Double Bend paddles.  The choice can be almost entirelyyourpreference, but again, listen to your coach's advice. If you have a chance, try both and see what you aremostcomfortable with.


9.Paddle Materials: Wood vs carbon vs fiberglass vs hybrid vs Fibrlite™?

KIALOA strives to combine the best and newest materials available when researching and designing our paddles. The combination of wood and carbon in our Hybrid paddles permanently changed the landscape of outrigger paddling back in 2001. Carbon has a reputation for being light, stiff and strong. Fiberglass is known for flex, impact resistance and value. However, blending them can get the best from both materials. Without the hardening resins used to mold a paddle blade, carbon and fiberglass are just fabric with no inherent strength. Epoxy resin and thermoplastics are just plastic if not combined with the structural strength of carbon or fiberglass. The magic happens when you step outside the box of traditional combinations and KIALOA did this by creating Fibrlite™. Fibrlite blends polypropylene and uni-directional strands of either carbon or fiberglass to create a light, exceptionally durable and affordable paddle that performs at the level of the best epoxy carbon paddles.

10. How do I glue on my handle or resize my paddle?

We have some videos and downloadable instructions on our How To page HERE


11. How to I refinish my wood paddle?

KIALOA uses a clear polyurethane finish that you can buy at any hardware store. The best time to refinish a paddle is at the end of you paddling season when you can allow the paddle to completely dry out. Spot finishing is a great way to seal any exposed wood. There is no need to sand down an entire paddle to refinish the whole thing. Sand off the finish and any compromised (grayish) wood in the affected area. Apply a coat of polyurethane with a brush and allow to fully dry. Then sand smooth with a fine grit paper and apply another coat and allow to fully dry. One more coat should do it! Keeping any exposed wood sealed will add years to the life of your paddle and we thank you for taking the initiative to do it!


12. Do you have a warranty or repair policy?

KIALOA manufactures paddles to last. We back our product with a one year warranty against manufacturer's defects as well as affordable repair costs for paddles outside our warranty. Our warranty procedure is easy, fair and prompt. Warranty/Repair Policy Here


13. What are the advantages of a shaft that is stiffcompared with one with flex?

Shaft flex is an area of great debate. At KIALOA we have optimized the flex of each of our paddles to meet the specific paddling activity. Stiff shafts are preferred by paddlers who want to minimize the loss of energy. If you paddle long distances, or have shoulder, elbow or wrist problems you will prefer a shaft with a little more flex.


14. Round vs Oval shafts?

Our foundation as a paddle company is in outrigger racing paddles.From the beginning, KIALOA's oval wood shaft set the standard for the outrigger industry. In SUP we feature round shaft technology because round is an inherently stronger shape. Also, we offer adjustable length features which necessitate using a round shaft to fit our adjustable inserts.

15. How do I talk to a real person about this stuff?

Business Hours: Monday - Friday 7:00 - 3:30pm PST 

Call us at 360-793-0140 during business hours

Website and General Inquiries:

16. Prop 65 Information

BPA is a chemical present in all epoxy resins and therefore present in all composite products containing epoxy, which includes our carbon shaft on the Skagit FG.  An alternative for this with comparable mechanical properties currently does not exist, however our R&D team is continuously working with our suppliers to develop materials that are both free of harmful chemicals and environmentally friendly.  BPA is most harmful when ingested and therefore should not be considered for any products that touch food or drink.  Dermal exposure to products containing BPA, such that is in our shafts, is well under the safe harbor level for BPA and is therefore considered safe to use.  To avoid potential harmful exposure, please do not eat our paddle shafts or use them to eat or drink from.     (Our plastic blades are actually BPA free.  Carbon and FG blades contain BPA.)   


The paddle should disappear in the paddlers hand, it should be an extension of the person, and it is only working properly when people forget it is in their hand.” ~Dave Chun