Ask the Gear Guy

Keep kayak paddles from slipping


kayak-200x148Q. When I’m kayaking, my paddle is always slipping through my hands. Can you help me?
– Slippery Trey, Covington, Va.

A. As an avid kayaker, I’ve experienced the exact same problem myself. There are a couple things that could be going on here. Lots of different stuff can make the shaft of your paddle slippery, including mud, sunscreen, even grease from your hair. So, your first task is to give the shaft of your paddle a really good cleaning. Do this with water, a tiny bit of dishsoap and a rough sponge.

Once the paddle is free of slippery stuff, make sure your hands are clean before you paddle. I don’t mean wash-your-hands-before-dinner clean. Just make sure there’s no mud or sunscreen on your hands. Every time before paddling, I reach down into the riverbed and grab a handful of pebbles or gritty sand and wash my hands with that. It totally works.

If your paddle is still slipping, you might try rubbing a small amount of wax on the shaft where you grip it. Mr. Zogs Paddle Wax ($1.75; www.nrsweb.com) works fine. Hope that helps!

Comments about “Keep kayak paddles from slipping”

  1. LOLmister says:

    Try using rowing grips made by Oartech or Concept

  2. Anonymous says:

    beeswax does it for me–Derek.

  3. Wahiawa says:

    Try synthetic leather batting or football catchers gloves. They’ve got good grip, and fit snugly so it won’t chafe when wet.

  4. Kayak Enthusiast328 says:

    Is the paddle slipping from your hands when the kayak is going faster than the river current or when the kayak is going slower than the river current? Sometimes, when the current becomes quite strong above someone’s skill level of navigating a kayak (such as a class #3 or class #4 river current and water tumbling over rocks), the hydrolic force of the water running over rocks has enough force to grab the kayak paddle from the person navigating the kayak.

  5. Rowboat Enthusiast3287 says:

    How do you keep both paddles of a row boat from jumping out of open paddle holders when rowing a rowboat? Is there anything special that can hold the paddles in place; or, should I keep practicing my rowing technique to have a more gentle, smooth rowing stroke when I row a row boat?

  6. murphy says:

    Wear a pair of kayaking gloves with leather palms.

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