Do Kayak Paddle Drip Rings Work?

Who is ready to talk about kayak paddle drip rings?  These innocuous little rubber circles are common with most kayak paddles, but what purpose do they serve?  In this post, we answer this question and more.

When you go kayaking, you probably expect to get a little wet. That’s kind of the nature of the beast.  But you may want to limit the amount of water that makes its way into your kayak. This brings us to drip rings.

Many people don’t think twice about the little rubber rings that come with their paddle.  Now it’s time to fix that.

What are kayak paddle drip rings?

Drip rings are small, rubber rings attached to the paddle shaft on each end of a kayak paddle.  Some of the rings are cup-shaped, and others are flat. The purpose is to keep water from running down the paddle shaft and into your lap on your upward stroke.

While each manufacturer might have its own design, most paddles you buy have drip rings. The idea is to keep water out of your kayak when you paddle. Although it’s a great idea, it doesn’t always work.

Click here to read more about other parts of a kayak paddle.

Do kayak paddle drip rings work?

Whether or not drip rings work is up for debate. Some people argue that drip rings don’t always work and actually collect more water. Different factors can affect how well drip rings work.

The rings can break down over time and let water pass right through. It’s important to make sure you have a good fit.

Your stroke can play a factor

Your paddling stroke can play a role in whether or not kayak paddle drip rings work or not. 

Aggressive paddlers tend to have a high stroke angle and might expect to get more water in the kayak. With a high-angle stroke, your top hand will be up around shoulder height. The drip ring can collect water, hold it, and drop it squarely in your lap.

The higher your paddle goes, the more likely you are to get water in your kayak. Gravity is weird that way.

A leisure paddler will tend to use low angle stroke, which is slower, more relaxed, and less likely to take on water from your paddle. There is time for the water to slowly make its way from the blade to the drip ring, where it can fall back where it came from.

Do you need kayak paddle drip rings?

Drip rings are a personal preference.  Some people use them, and others don’t.  Most paddles will come with them, and if not, you can purchase them separately.

Whether you use them is up to the paddler.  If you paddle in warm conditions, a little water might feel nice and help cool you down.  Alternatively, you probably want to keep as much water out of the boat on a cold day or in cold climates as possible.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference, water, and weather conditions.

How to install kayak paddle drip rings

Kayak Paddle Drip Rings pinPin

Installing drip rings will be specific to each paddler.  Install the drip rings so that they are not submerged when you paddle.  This will not only collect water, but you will have water above the drip ring, which will roll right down the paddle shaft into your kayak.

If the drip rings are too close to you, then water may drip into your kayak before the ring has a chance to do its job.  You will need to play around with positioning to find what works for you. 

Try the six or eight inches from the blade for starters and go from there. If you don’t have a tape measure with you, a good rule of thumb is one to two fist-widths from the blade.

To get the rings on your paddle, install them on each shaft section (opposite from the blade) before you put your paddle ends together.

As we mentioned earlier, keep an eye on your stroke as well. If you have a high angle or more aggressive stroke, you may need to have the drip rings further away from the blade.

How to adjust drip rings

Drip rings are easy to adjust.  After installing the drip rings, you can move them up and down the paddle shaft as needed. The rubber rings are very flexible and usually slide easily. You can adjust them on the go if you need to.

Wrapping up

Now you know more about those little rubber rings on your kayak paddle.  Drip rings can be an effective way to keep water out of your kayak when you are paddling. 

Make sure the drip rings are set up correctly to keep water out of your lap.  It may require a little experimenting to find the right placement.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.