39EGYTtHRxIslKLPambXIVQ5uLXLWoflphZUrGfi7JY Angle Oar Adaptive Kayaking Equipment page contents E1238296C9AB2A3A16BD08114EFAF308
  • Meg McCall

Paddle vs Oar: What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between an oar vs paddle, and is there such a thing as a kayak with oars? In this short post, we give you the answers!

Young man rowing a rowboat around 1950.


Definitions vary slightly, but generally speaking, an oar has a flat blade on one end and is held by the paddler on the other end. In addition, an oar is usually connected to a vessel with some type of oarlock and pin, or paddle pivot, and often comes in pairs. With an oar, you can let go, and the oar stays secured to the boat.

In this photo, circa 1950, Angle Oar co-founder Jim Van Gompel uses oars on a boat he built himself.

oar vs paddle


A paddle, on the other hand, can have a single blade or double blade. The main distinction is that paddles are typically held by the paddler and are not connected to the vessel. That means if you let go, you’re going to lose your paddle in the water or elsewhere.