A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Best Dragon Boat Paddle

best dragon boat paddle

In the exhilarating world of dragon boating, the paddle you choose becomes an extension of yourself—a tool that can enhance your performance or hinder it.

In this guide, we delve into the key factors that every paddler, whether novice or seasoned, should consider when choosing a dragon boat paddle.

For those looking for a recommendation that combines quality, performance, and affordability, consider checking out our Faler Carbon Fibre dragon boat paddle to see if this is the right paddle for you.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

Feature Category Details
Paddle Weight

- Lightweight (300-340g): Ideal for sprints, less fatigue, flexible, breaks easier.

- Heavier (360-400g): Less flex, more power, durable, better "feel".

- Mid-weight (~350g): Balance between speed and power.

Blade Shape

- Dihedral Blades: Reduces flutter, smoother strokes, less effective surface area.

- Flat Blades: Heavier, more connected strokes, more prone to flutter.

Grip Type

- T-Grip: Simple, comfortable, fits most hands.

- Ergo Grip: Molded for extra comfort, more secure hold.


- Fixed Length: Stronger, more affordable.

- Hex Key Systems: Adjustable, requires maintenance to prevent rust.

- Hot Glue Adjustable: Less convenient, no rust issue.

Surface Finish - Smooth vs Matte: Matte offers better grip when wet, especially without grip tape.
Sizing Considerations - Factors include paddler’s anatomy, water type, and seat position. Sizing method involves sitting in the boat and adjusting paddle length to water level.
Price vs. Performance - Look beyond initial cost; consider durability, performance, and the paddle's long-term value.
Specific Paddle (Faler Carbon Fibre) - Offers high-quality performance, made of aerospace-grade carbon fibre, IDBF certified, with a flat blade design, matte finish, and grip tape.

- Paddle Tip Protector: Protects paddle tip.

- Grip Tape/Tubing: Enhances grip and control.

- Paddle Bag: For protection and ease of transportation.

Maintenance and Care - Regular checks for wear, cleaning, proper storage, attention to adjustable parts.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Dragon Boat Paddle


Contrary to the common misconception, lighter isn’t always better when it comes to dragon boat paddles. The weight of a paddle significantly influences its flex and sturdiness.

  • Lightweight Paddles (300-340g): Ideal for sprints, these paddles reduce fatigue and quicken stroke recovery, enabling you to maintain a high pace easier. They flex more, which can help take off some of the stress off your joints while sacrificing a bit of power. However, the downside is that they break easier.
  • Heavier Paddles (360-400g): Heavier paddles flex the least, which can be rough on the joints but are the most efficient for producing high power. For longer distance races, where the paddler isn’t producing maximum power each stroke, these paddles are ideal for maximizing efficiency. Some paddlers feel that the added weight helps them control the paddle better. They are also more durable than their lighter counterparts.
  • Mid-weight Paddles (~350g): A versatile choice, especially for beginners, offering a balance between speed and power.

Blade Shape (Dihedral vs. Flat)

The shape of the blade is another critical factor, with flat and dihedral blades being the primary options. A dihedral is an elevated ridge along the middle of the blade.

dragon boat dihedral

Here are the key differences:

  • Dihedral Blades: The design helps to reduce blade flutter (i.e. side to side motion) and thus promotes stable, even strokes. This can lead to a smoother stroke. The downside is that there is less effective surface area for the paddle to compress during the pull phase, which will make the strokes feel less heavy. The more stable feel can also help beginners or less experienced paddlers gain confidence.
  • Flat Blades: Often preferred by experienced paddlers, these blades offer more “bite”, leading to heavier, more connected stroke. The downside is that the lack of the dihedral means the blade is more prone to blade flutter.

Grip Type

The grip type affects how the paddle feels in your hand throughout the race. Here are the common options you’ll out there:

dragon boat t grip
  • T-Grip: Simple and comfortable, this grip fits most hand sizes and is a reliable choice.
  • Ergo Grip: Featuring molded finger indentations, this grip offers extra comfort and a more secure hold.

Choosing the right grip comes down to personal preference.


Adjustability in a paddle offers convenience but comes with its considerations. Fixed length paddles, made out of one piece carbon fibre, are stronger because the entire blade and shaft is made from one piece, and is more affordable.

dragon boat paddle adjustable

In contrast, the main benefit for hex key systems is the fact you can adjust it whenever you want, but require vigilant maintenance to prevent rusting. Hot glue adjustable paddles provide a middle ground, allowing for a less convenient method for changing length but without the rusting issue.

If you find yourself paddling on various teams and sitting in different positions frequently, an adjustable paddle would be a prudent choice.

Surface Finish (Smooth vs Matte)

The finish of your paddle might seem like a minor detail, but it can impact your grip, especially when wet. Matte paddles offer better grip if you don’t have grip tape installed, but ultimately, the choice between smooth and matte comes down to personal preference.

Sizing Matters: Factors Affecting Ideal Paddle Length

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the appropriate paddle length, including:

Implication on Paddle Length
Paddler’s Anatomy
The height of the paddler's torso and arm length affect the leverage the paddler has on the paddle and the distance the paddler needs to reach down to get into the water.
Taller paddlers generally need a longer paddle, and vice versa.
Fresh vs. Salt Water
Fresh water is less dense, causing the boat to sink deeper, while salt water is denser, making the boat sit higher.
In fresh water, a relatively shorter paddle is needed, while in salt water, a relatively longer paddle is required.
Seat Position
The boat surges forward, compressing water near the bow and creating a wave that affects paddle length.
Paddlers upfront might need shorter paddles, while those around seats 5-6, at the trough of the wave, will need longer paddles.

How to Size Your Paddle: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sizing your dragon boat paddle correctly is essential for optimal performance and comfort. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you find the perfect paddle length:

Step 1: Sit in the Boat with Everyone in It

Ensure that all team members are seated in the dragon boat in their respective positions. This step is crucial as it simulates the actual conditions and water level the boat will have during paddling.

Step 2: Hold Bottom Arm Out Parallel to the Water

With your paddle in hand, extend your bottom arm out so that it is parallel to the water. This position will help you gauge the distance between your hand and the water surface.

Step 3: Remove Top Hand

Once your bottom arm is correctly positioned, remove your top hand from the paddle. This allows you to focus on the alignment of the bottom hand and the paddle shaft.

Step 4: Rotate Paddle Upside Down

With your bottom hand still holding the paddle, rotate it upside down so that the blade is pointing to the sky and the handle is pointing down towards the water.

Step 5: Hinge Forward Slightly

Hinge forward and then observe the distance between the top hand grip (now at the bottom) and the water. The grip should be close to the water surface. If it’s not, adjust the length of the paddle accordingly until the grip is near the water level.

Here's a video going over it:

This method of sizing your paddle is advantageous because it takes into consideration not only your arm length and torso height but also the water conditions and the boat’s water level with all paddlers in it. By following these steps, you can ensure a more accurate and personalized paddle length, tailored to your individual needs and the specific conditions of each dragon boating session.

Price vs. Performance: Investing in the Right Paddle

A dragon boat paddle is a long-term investment in your sporting journey. When selecting a paddle, it’s important to look beyond the initial price tag and consider the longevity and durability of the paddle. Will it withstand the rigors of regular use? Is it built with materials that resist wear and tear? A paddle that offers consistent performance and stands the test of time can be a more cost-effective choice in the long run, even if it comes with a higher initial investment.

Why Faler Paddles are the Best

faler dragon boat paddle

We know we're biased, but here is why the Faler paddle offers the best value on the market.

High-Quality Performance without the Price Tag

Faler Carbon Fibre Dragon Boat Paddles distinguish themselves by offering exceptional performance without the hefty price tag. It's the best choice for paddlers seeking the best of both worlds.

Material and Construction Excellence

Crafted from aerospace-grade carbon fibre, Faler paddles epitomize strength and durability. The one-piece carbon fibre construction, whether in fixed length, hot glue adjustable, or hex key adjustable, ensures a robust and reliable paddle that withstands the demands of the sport.

IDBF Certification and Blade Design

Faler paddles meet rigorous standards set by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), certifying them for competition use.

Razor-Thin Blade

The flat blade design, maximizing surface area and featuring a razor-thin tip, facilitates a clean catch and enhanced grip of the water during the pull.

Additional Features

Beyond performance, Faler paddles boast a premium matte finish and come with grip tape already attached, ensuring a comfortable and secure hold. Plus, with our satisfaction guarantee, you are protected in case something happens.

Dragon Boat Paddle Accessories

Enhancing your dragon boating experience goes beyond choosing the right paddle. Investing in quality paddle accessories can protect your equipment, improve your grip, and make transportation easier. Here are some essential dragon boat paddle accessories you might consider:

Paddle Tip Protector

paddle tip protector

The tip of your dragon boat paddle is prone to wear and tear, especially when it frequently comes into contact with the ground while it’s resting or when you’re holding it. A paddle tip protector is a small investment that can significantly extend the life of your paddle. We recommend Paddle%20Tip%20Guard" target="_blank">Dragon Guard as the best tip guard out there.

Grip Tape

dragon boat grip tape

Grip tape is a vital accessory for any paddler. It is wrapped around the handle of the paddle to provide additional grip and prevent slipping, especially when the handle is wet. Grip tape comes in various textures and thicknesses, allowing you to choose the one that feels most comfortable and secure in your hands.

Applying grip tape can enhance your control over the paddle, improve power transfer, reduce the risk of blisters during prolonged paddling sessions, and decrease forearm fatigue.

What we recommend is not grip tape per se, but grip tubing. Unlike tape, which is prone to peeling off and thus has a very short life, grip tubing is made out of one piece. There is no adhesive; instead, the shaft is inserted through the tube and is activated by applying heat, which causes it to shrink and mold tight to the paddle.

Our Faler paddles all come with grip tubing already applied. If you need to purchase separate grip tubing, you can purchase some here.

Paddle Bag

dragon boat paddle bag

 A paddle bag is a practical accessory for transporting and storing your dragon boat paddle. It protects your paddle from scratches, dings, and environmental elements when not in use. Paddle bags are typically designed with padded interiors and durable exteriors to offer maximum protection. Many also feature adjustable straps for easy carrying and additional pockets for storing small items like your water bottle, keys, or smartphone.

Final Thoughts

Armed with these insights, we encourage you to make an informed and thoughtful paddle selection. Whether you opt for our Faler Carbon Fibre Dragon Boat Paddle or another option, ensuring the paddle aligns with your needs and preferences is paramount to enhancing your performance and enjoyment in dragon boating.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I use the same paddle for both training and competition?

A: Yes, many paddlers use the same paddle for training and competition. However, ensure that your paddle meets the specifications and standards set by the competition organizers, such as IDBF certification.

Q2: How do I maintain and care for my dragon boat paddle?

A: Regularly check your paddle for any signs of wear or damage. After every session, it’s good practice to rinse it with water. Clean it with mild soap and water once per month, avoiding abrasive materials. If your paddle is adjustable, ensure that the adjustment mechanism is free of rust and debris. Store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Q3: What is the significance of IDBF certification for dragon boat paddles?

A: IDBF certification ensures that the paddle meets the International Dragon Boat Federation’s standards for competition use. It guarantees that the paddle’s design, dimensions, and materials are compliant with competition regulations.

Q4: Is it worth investing in a more expensive paddle with advanced features?

A: It depends on your individual needs, preferences, and budget. Assess the cost-benefit ratio, considering the paddle’s features, performance, durability, and how often you will use it. A more expensive paddle with advanced features may be worthwhile for frequent and competitive paddlers.

Q5: Why is the Faler Carbon Fibre Dragon Boat Paddle recommended?

A: The Faler Carbon Fibre Dragon Boat Paddle offers a balance of high-quality performance and affordability. It features aerospace-grade carbon fibre construction, IDBF certification, a flat blade design, and additional features like a matte finish and grip tape, making it a versatile and reliable choice.

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