Kayaking is the favorite sport of many and having a good quality kayak paddle can help you paddle for many hours without being exhausted. Choosing a paddle can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a beginner and have a number of options available to choose from. The best kayak paddle is the one that is the most comfortable for you and meets your requirements of kayaking. Apart from that, the price is also a major concern when buying anything durable.
There are many considerations that should be taken into account before selecting a kayak paddle. To make your decision easier, we have created this buying guide on how to choose the best kayak paddles. Also, we have picked the 10 best kayak paddles and evaluated them for you so that you make the best and informed buying decision.
Best Kayak Paddles Buying Guide
Purchasing a kayak paddle is a big decision because it is the tool that will make everything happen while you’re kayaking. And in some ways, a kayak paddle is more important than the vest and kayak itself because it is more intimate and is used continuously. If you’re willing to buy the best one for your kayak, you must consider these factors:
Kayak paddles are available in different lengths that range from 210 to 260 centimeters. There is a big difference in the height and width and that will determine how you’ll handle the paddle. If your kayak is wide, it will be handled well with a longer paddle because it will be easier to reach the water with long paddle. If you’re using a sea kayak, you’ll need a paddle a bit shorter and vice versa.
Another important thing to consider is the torso height. To measure this, you’ll have to sit on a chair and measure the distance between your nose to the level you’re on the chair. This distance is the torso height and it will help you choose the paddle length for you. Some thing you need to decide about the size of the kayak paddle is whether you do low angle paddling or high angle paddling. If your hand remains below your shoulders while you paddle, it means you are a low angle paddler and if it is higher than your shoulder while you paddle, and then you are a high angle paddler. If you do low angle paddling, you’ll need a longer paddle and vice versa.
Blade and shaft type:
When choosing the blade type, most of the people get confused. For kayaking, the double bladed paddles are the best keeping in mind the performance and price. This is because while kayaking you’ll have to raise the blade higher throughout the tour. The blade of the paddle is available in different materials. The construction of the blades is normally done using plastic blends or polymer that are infused with fiberglass nylon. If you want something affordable, go for the nylon or plastic blades.
The fiberglass blades are also good but they are pricier than the plastic ones but are lighter than them. The aluminum material is used for shafts and blades and is quite durable and inexpensive too. The aluminum material is good for beginners. If weight is an issue for you, the most lightweight blades are those that are made up of carbon-fiber. The carbon-fiber blades are the most expensive ones, but they are worth it and are suitable for all types of kayakers. If you’re a full-time kayaker, you must consider investing in the carbon fiber blades as they are one of the most durable yet the most lightweight ones available.
The blade shape is another thing to be considered. Blades of paddles can be of different shapes and they have a big impact on the paddling performance. The two main types of blade shapes are short flat blades and long skinny blades. The short flat blades are for situations in which immediate power is needed for stopping or steering. High angle paddling requires short fat blades because they deliver more energy to each stroke. The long skinny blades are good for low angle paddling and are suitable for deep and calm waters.
Shaft design options:
Following are the different shaft design options:
Straight vs Bent:
The shaft is that part of the blade that runs between the blades in a line and allows you to control the paddle and create a variety of strokes. Straight shafts are cheap and they are more popular because of their affordability. However, the bent shafts are a little pricier but they put less strain on the hands, especially the wrist area. The straight shafts are good if you want to make powerful strokes to fight the strong currents. The bent shafts offer a natural grip and reduce fatigue on the hands.
To reduce the wind resistance while the upper blade is in air, some paddles allow blade offsetting. The blade offsetting improves the efficiency of the paddles and is comfortable on the wrists too. The matched blades are aligned by contrast. Almost all the paddles are designed so you can choose between feathered or matched blades and you can also decide which of your hand rotates in the stroke.
1 piece, 2 piece and 4 piece:
The single piece set offers the lightest possible weight and has a strong shaft too. If you go for kayaking on a daily basis you’ll find the single piece set more comfortable. The standard paddles are available in 2 pieces while the 4 piece set is the one that is further broken down. 4-piece paddles are available in smaller sizes and they are good if you want to save space and have a greater number of kayakers on board.
Diameter of the shaft:
The standard diameter shafts are good for most of the paddlers but if you have small hands and want to improve comfort, you must look for paddles with smaller shaft diameters.
If you will be touring on kayaks of different widths, a good option will be to go for the paddle shafts with a length adjustment of 15 cm. The length adjustment of 15 cm is also good if the paddle is used by paddlers of different heights.
The kayak design also plays an important role in the performance of the kayak paddle. If your kayak is wide, you’ll need a longer paddle to keep proper balance. However, there are some things that should be kept in mind about the kayak design. For example, a tall person with a narrow kayak will need to have the same paddle length as a short person with a wide kayak. Also, solo kayaks require shorter paddles as compared to the tandem kayaks. Another situation to consider is when there are two people of same torso but different seat height. In this situation these people will be needing different paddle lengths
To keep the blade placement in the water properly, you’ll need to maintain proper paddling form and reach beyond the gunwales of the craft. Bending your knuckles on the deck is not a comfortable thing to do and you won’t even want the blade to face too much or too little power in the water.
Sometimes people of same heights and same overall body stature might feel the level of comfort of the paddles differently. While one kayak paddle is comfortable for one person, it might be uncomfortable for the other even if he has the same height. The length of the torso plays an important role here as determine the best and the most suitable length that will work for your kayak paddle. There are various charts available that will help you measure your torso height and the preferred paddle length. Some charts have also listed the high angle style and the low angle style according to the torso height.
Type of water:
Picking a kayak paddle involves so many considerations and thus we have included the type and nature of water in which you’re going to kayak. It will get easier for you if you narrow down your choices according to this factor. Following are the types of water you might go for kayaking:
Lakes and rivers:
If you’re going for kayaking in lakes and rivers, you must know that you’ll be going to spend a lot of time in your boat. Touring kayak paddles are good for such trips that involve camping, exploring, day tripping, and river running. A recreational paddle is good too if you think you won’t have to spend much time in water. Such paddles are good for shore exploration, exercise, short trips, and fishing. These paddles are very inexpensive and are durable too. If you feel you’re going to face a lot of rocks, gravel, or sand, then you must consider durability of the paddle. A wider blade is good if the water is shallow and has many obstacles.
Sea touring or flowing water:
A light weight paddle is good for going for sea touring or into the flowing waters. Touring kayak paddles and performance kayak paddles are good for extended trips too as they get lighter as you move up. This reduces the strain on the wrists and prevents fatigue. Kayaking geeks mostly choose responsive paddles with a carbon shaft that can reduce the weight during the journey. Fiberglass blades or compression molded carbon can also do good as they are very lightweight and deliver more power with each stroke. If you suffer from sore shoulders during long trips, you must go for carbon composite blades or any light weight kayak paddle with fiberglass.
If you want kayak paddles that are durable, efficient, and can really cut off the water, the whitewater paddles are perfect for you. The whitewater shafts are made up of fiberglass or carbon and they have that extra strength that is needed to fight the flow of whitewater streams. The whitewater is rugged and to fight it you’ll need kayak paddles that can even take hard knocks easily and stand up to every type of condition. However, these paddles can break too if the condition gets intense, but a perfect and durable kayak paddle will fight till long. If you want to be on the safe side, keep a 4-piece paddle with you too that is easy to store and can help you in adverse situations.
Types of kayak paddles:
There are different types of kayak paddles and we’re going to discuss only the main ones so that you pick the best one out of them according to your requirements.
Touring kayak paddle:
The touring kayak paddles are designed to be very comfortable even after many hours or days of use. These are light weight, ergonomic, and durable and are perfect for sea or slow moving rivers. These kayak paddles are available in various blade shapes and styles.
Recreational kayak paddle:
These kayak paddles are designed for recreational use and are inexpensive and heavier. The kayak paddles are durable and are suitable for short trips or for people who don’t go for kayaking often. The kayak paddles can increase fatigue and are thus not recommended for long trips.
Whitewater kayak paddle:
The white water kayak paddles are durable are able to withstand impacts easily. They are suitable for you if you go kayaking in white waters where there are a lot of rocks, sand, and sediments. These kayak paddles are designed to fight against strong currents and easily cut through them. The white water kayak paddles have thicker shafts and wider blades to come out easily in the intense conditions.
Performance kayak paddle:
Performance kayak paddles are designed especially to boost the performance of the kayakers. They are very durable and are extra light too. These kayaks are equipped with advanced features and can withstand strong waves and currents too. They prove to improve the performance particularly if there is low wind resistance and give more power and speed to the kayaker. These kayak paddles are comfortable and reduce the fatigue on hands too.
10 Best Kayak Paddles
Kayaking is the favorite sport of many people but some get very confused when they see a lot of brands on the market. Having the best kayak will allow you to improve your performance and continue your journey without being exhausted or fatigued.
How we tested and picked?
Whether you prefer to smash in the rapids or take recreational river cruises, we have compiled a list of the best kayak paddles that meet the requirements of many different types of paddlers. We picked the kayak paddles considering their important features such as their durability, ergonomic design, and comfort. The other factors such as style of paddling, length and size of the paddles depend on the individual choice and thus we didn’t consider these factors before compiling the list. Following is the list of the top-notch kayak paddles for a kayaking enthusiast like you:
1. SeaSense X-1 Kayak paddle:
The SeaSense X-1 is very easy to use and it is one of the best kayak paddles on the market. It is very durable and is made up of aluminum which gives a solid and sturdy feel to it. In spite of being sturdy and strong, the kayak paddle is quite lightweight and is an excellent choice for long trips. It has a good design and works well for all types of sea adventures. The kayak paddle is a good investment if you aren’t too tall as it is perfect for most of the average-sized people.
The kayak paddle measures 84 inches and has a blade design. The kayak paddle has a very well-balanced blade construction which boosts the overall performance. Hard plastic has been used in the construction and the symmetrical shape offers great stability to kayaking. Also, the kayak paddle reduces fatigue and strain on the wrists. The kayak paddle has drip guards and foam grips that provide comfort to the user. The drip guards keep the water away from the hands while foam grips will make sure that the paddle never slips from hands.
One good feature is that you can break the paddle into two pieces for easy transportation. If you have an inflatable kayak, this feature will prove to be very handy. Also, if in case you dropped the paddle in the water, it won’t go away and will start floating.
- It is very lightweight and portable.
- It can be converted into 2-pieces.
- It doesn’t sink.
- There are drip guards to prevent hands from getting wet.
- The foam grips make it more ergonomic.
- The blade is too narrow.
2. Sea Sense X-Treme II Kayak paddle:
Another good quality kayak paddle by Sea Sense is the X-treme II kayak paddle that features a blade design and is good for you if you want some speed while kayaking. The kayak paddle has a natural grip and has an overall ergonomic design that keeps you comfortable for long. The paddle is especially designed for high angle paddlers as it has a feathered asymmetric blade. The kayak paddle has is very well constructed and comes in two sizes with lengths 84 and 96 inches so that you choose according to your preference.
The kayak paddle is very portable as it can be broken down into two pieces and easily stored in a backpack or your car. Inflatable kayak owners must have this as it is lightweight and portable both. The feathered blade has 3 locking positions that allow you to paddle smoothly without struggling much. The three locking positions of ferrule allow you to change the angle easily too. The shaft is made up of aluminum while the blade is made up of fiberglass nylon and you can easily use it in the fresh water or salt water. The material of the kayak paddle makes it resistant to rust and corrosion.
The grips are very convenient and there are adjustable drip guards that prevent you from getting wet due to dipping of the blade in water. There is a ridge present in the middle of the shaft that allows you to make powerful and extra strong strokes. The kayak paddle can float if dropped in water and thus you don’t have to worry if it gets into the water by mistake. Overall, this is a great kayak paddle that goes well with normal kayaking. The paddle is light and can be a good choice if you want to take it on regular trips with you. If you want a good quality kayak paddle for recreational kayaking, this one won’t disappoint you.
- The paddle is made up of sturdy materials.
- The feathered blade maximizes the efficiency of the stroke.
- It will not sink if dropped accidentally.
- It is good for both salt water and fresh water usage.
- It is very portable.
- It has three angle positions.
- It is quite affordable.
- It can be not as good for adult paddlers as the diameter of the shaft is too small.
3. Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak paddle:
The Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle is a very stable and sturdy one and it can withstand a lot of abuse and strikes. It can survive well in harsh conditions. The blades of this kayak paddle are made up of high density fiberglass polypropylene and if you have a closer look it will look like a spoon. The blades have an asymmetrical shape and are suitable for many different types of paddling styles. However, it works well for low angle paddling and is good for horizontal strokes.
The shaft of this kayak paddle is made up of wrapped fiberglass and it is very flexible and durable. The kayak paddle is for those who are looking for high performance high kayak paddles. The polypropylene cuts smoothly through the water and it feels so good. If you’re looking for going a bit faster in your kayak, this paddle won’t disappoint as it gives speed to kayaking. Also, it is very sturdy and offers effortless paddling to glide through the waters.
The kayak paddle is available in two different colors and in three different lengths too. The three different lengths of this kayak paddle are 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm. If you want to invest in a good quality kayak paddle and want some serious kayak paddling, this one will be a good choice. The kayak paddle feels comfortable to hold and there are different sizes to make sure your size fits the paddle. Though the kayak paddle is a bit expensive than other paddles, but it performs very well and delivers good value if you love speed kayaking.
- The shaft is long and thus it offers stable and balanced kayaking.
- It is very sturdy.
- It is portable.
- It is great for low angle paddling.
- It offers effortless paddling.
- The blade design is excellent.
- It is a bit heavy.
- It is not suitable for beginners.
4. TRAC Outdoor Products Curved Kayak Paddle:
The kayak paddle from Trac-outdoor product is a well designed one and is good for those kayakers who want a lightweight option. The paddle comes in two different sizes and thus there is no issue of height. It has an aluminum shaft which offers a firm grip to the users. The kayak paddle is also very lightweight and provides a solid base for paddling. The blade edges are made up of light and durable propylene and fiberglass materials. The paddle also features different feather settings which are very handy.
The kayak paddle has a curved design and has a tow piece style for easy storage. There are three position push button feather settings and there are two sizes which measure 7 ft and 8.8 ft. The kayak paddle comes with a 2 year warranty and can be replaced or refunded according to the company’s discretion. The kayak paddle is very stylish and has a nice blade curve. It is a good option for those who are on budget and want something strong but lightweight.
- It has an ultra-weight design.
- The blades are very durable.
- The aluminum shaft is quite well built.
- It is durable and good for entry level.
- It offers easy assembly.
- The build quality is not very good.
- The shape of the blades reduce efficiency.
5. Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece kayak paddle:
The Bending Branches Whisper 2-piece kayak paddle is a great one for beginners. Entry level kayakers can use this kayak paddle if they want to spend a day with friends or spend some time in the lake. The aluminum shaft is very strong and has a 2-piece construction which allows easy storage. The paddle offers flutter free stroke which allows you pull smoothly through the water no matter whether you’re a beginner or an expert. There is a snug fitting 3 hole snap button ferrule which allows adjustment for feathering angles.
The blades are rugged and fiberglass reinforced. The kayak paddle allows effortless paddling and produces less fatigue on the body. The grips are firm and are ovalized so that they sit in the hand comfortably. One blade of the kayak paddle has a convenient hook-retrieval notch that allows you to handle uncertain situations with ease. The lengths available for this kayak paddle are 210 cm and 240 cm. The kayak paddle is made from high quality materials and the good thing is that it isn’t expensive.
The blade of this kayak paddle has a high angle control which allows the experienced paddlers to paddle with ease in tough conditions. You can get maximum power from each stroke because there is very little flutter in it. The aluminum shaft of this kayak paddle is very sturdy and is heavier and thicker than other paddles. The main features of these kayak paddles are shaft and blades as they are very sturdy and are inexpensive too.
- The high angle blade shape is good for control and acceleration.
- The shaft is oval shaped and gives a comfortable grip.
- The blade material is sturdy and it doesn’t bend.
- The locking mechanism between the two pieces is quite weak.
- There is no padding on the shaft
6. Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle:
The Cannon Kayak paddle is very well designed and is perfect for beginners. You can benefit a lot from the comfortable grips and adjust the offset angles. The kayak paddle is very comfortable and gives a solid feel to the holder. The kayak paddle features an anodized aircraft grade aluminum shaft and there are heavy duty drip rings that prevent water from wetting your hands. The kayak paddle has a unique construction and it has been designed to be durable and comfortable.
There are two blades in the kayak paddle and both are present at the opposite ends of the shaft. The kayak paddle can be placed in three positions and that are 60 degree feathered right hand, 60 degree feathered left hand, and unfeathered. You just have to adjust the blade positions and the Cannon Paddles and your paddling style will easily get in line with the kayak paddles. The kayak paddle is available in three lengths and that are 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm. The kayak paddle is not the lightest but it’s strong and is designed to endure harsh conditions.
- The oval shaped grip areas are comfortable to hold.
- The anodized aluminum shaft is very sturdy.
- It is durable and lightweight.
- It strokes with ease.
- It is a bit expensive.
7. Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle:
The Werner Camano is a high-end kayak paddle that is equipped with a carbon fiber shaft that makes it sturdy and durable. It is lightweight and very strong and can easily withstand the harshest of conditions when the sea is rough. The durability and strength of this paddle makes it very useful to fight against tides and strong currents. The kayak paddle has a dihedral shape which allows you to paddle smoothly particularly if it’s a long trip. The blades are made up of nylon and are impact resistant.
The kayak paddle is available in different bright colors that increase the visibility and adds to the safety. There is a cam-locking feature that allows you to adjust the blade angle and make precise adjustments. This kayak paddle is best suited for touring as it allows powerful strokes when kayaking. You can use it fo kayaking on calm rivers, lakes, and ocean touring. The kayak paddle is a good option for low angle paddling. The Werner Camano is available with either a carbon shaft or a fiberglass one and can be bought in either 1, 2, or 4 piece sets.
The Werner Camano Premiums is ultra-lightweight and it makes paddling through strong winds easier without letting you get exhausted. The blade is dihedral and mid-sized and it allows water to flow evenly on both sides of the blade and create a powerful stroke. There is a patented adjustable ferrule system where the two sides of the paddle come together. The design is very easy to use and clips together smoothly.
- There are a lot of different colors to choose from.
- It is very lightweight.
- It is solid and durable.
- It is available in different sizes to meet the needs of different sized people.
- It is a bit expensive.
8. Aqua Bound Sting Ray Fiberglass Paddle:
The Aqua Bound Sting Ray Fiberglass Paddle is designed with user’s comfort in mind. The kayak paddle is a 2-piece one with a fiberglass shaft that reduces strain and fatigue. It is an all-round recreational paddle that features an easy to use 3 hole snap button ferrule which allows 0 to 60 degrees feathering angles. These angles include right hand control and unfeathered control. The fiberglass is lightweight and it offers a lot of flex on each stroke. The shaft also feels warm in cold days which add to the comfort of the whole design.
There are rubber drip rings that keep water away from hands and lap and are very handy. The 2-piece design is very useful for transportation purposes as it allows the user to break it into two pieces and store it in a backpack or the trunk of the vehicle. The blade material is an ABX resin which is a blend of fiberglass reinforced nylon and it gives extra durability to the user for pushing barnacles or rocks. There are grooves on the ferrule that prevent sludge and sand build-up on the paddle. There are various lengths available that include 210 cm, 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm.
- Different size options available.
- It is lightweight.
- It features powerful strokes.
- The blade is sturdy and durable.
- It is affordable.
- Adjustable feathering is for two angles only.
9. Aqua Bound Sting Ray 2-Piece Touring Kayak Paddle:
If you’re interested in a touring kayak paddle, you must invest in this one. Aqua Bound Sting Ray Touring Kayak paddle is an amazing touring paddle and is good for you if you want a lightweight one. It has a 100% carbon shaft that is very sturdy and durable. The blade is a carbon reinforced nylon resin one which is stiffer than other paddles that use fiberglass reinforced blades. The blades are light and responsive and create effective and powerful strokes. Because of its lightweight nature, paddling gets very less tiring and effortless. The kayak paddle is however designed for flat lakes or slow moving waters and not for white water.
The kayak paddle is equipped with patented Sting Ray Posi-Lok ferrule which offers infinite feathering angles and is corrosion resistant too. The patented system is very well designed and it firmly locks the two pieces of paddles together. It is very easy to dismantle or adjust and it cuts through the water very smoothly and easily. The dihedral design of the blade prevents flutter even when there is too much pressure on it. The carbon shaft has a textured feel which allows the users to grip it firmly and easily.
- It has a sturdy locking mechanism.
- It is very easy to adjust and dismantle.
- The blade is smooth.
- It is very lightweight.
- It is expensive.
10. Bending Branches Angler Scout Kayak Paddle:
This is another beautiful kayak paddle from Bending Branches and is designed especially for anglers. It has a two piece construction and it is quite suitable for you if you’re searching for a fishing kayak. The blades are strong and the shaft has oval shaped and comfortable hand grip area that is present in most of the Bending Branches kayak paddles. There is no padding in the handgrips and thus you’ll need to wear gloves to get a better grip. The blades are fiberglass reinforced which make them extremely strong and allows you to push through the rough waters.
To ease fish catching, there is a tape measure along the shaft so that you can measure the length of the fish you’ve caught. However, don’t make this as the main feature to buy the paddle as the numbers fade off with use. The ferrule system is strong enough unlike other paddles and it allows easy dismantling and adjustment of the pieces.
- It has a solid construction.
- There is a hook retrieval system.
- There is tape measure to check the size of the fish.
- Price is a bit high.
- Handgrips have no padding.
Kayak paddles look simple but choosing the right one is not an easy thing. It is imperative to keep a lot of factors in mind so that you end up with a good and right product for you. Having the best kayak paddle will allow you to improve your kayaking performance by far and let you carry on your journey without being exhausted or tired. All the kayak paddles listed here are from top-notch brands are designed with durability, comfort, and flexibility in mind.
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