I always find kayaking to be a fun sport. The sheer pleasure and thrills you can get while paddling through the water are absolutely enjoyable.
But of course, just like any other sport, we should always have the right gear and equipment with us at all times. In the event of kayaking, one of the most essential gears is a kayak paddle.
If you already own a kayak but are not satisfied with the paddle that comes with the package, you might want to consider shopping for a new one. My top kayak paddle reviews will help you decide which is the best kayak paddle for your kayaking adventures.
Top Rated Kayak Paddles | The Comparison
We have analyzed and reviewed all the best paddles out there for kayakers and anglers and found something to compare within. Let’s check and pick that suits you.
My Top Picks for Best Kayak Paddle
The Carlisle Magic Plus is a lightweight paddle made of fiberglass-filled polypropylene blades. The paddle’s blade design is asymmetrical and slightly spooned to provide strong yet smooth strokes while reducing too much pressure on your joints.
The paddle combines its ergonomic blade design and lightweight material without sacrificing your comfort. It is also designed to take a beating whether from being used repeatedly or from rocky and rough terrains.
It is a good paddle to consider when you just started kayaking. However, do keep in mind that it is considerably heavy for a fiberglass paddle.
Wins & Fails
- Made of polypropylene material
- Available in 3 different lengths
- Water blocking rings are flimsy
- Heavier than advertised
The Escape is a good paddle for those starting out. Its nylon blades are fiberglass-reinforced which makes it stable and easy to glide through the water. It also has comfortable and easy-to-control oval hand grips because the aluminum shaft had been anodized and heat-treated. It also adjustable because of its three-blade offset angle setting feature.
It is convenient to store and transport because of its two-piece design. It is also advertised to have drip rings to refrain water from dripping down the paddle and prevent you from getting wet. It is available in three different lengths: 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm. and weighs 39 oz.
Wins & Fails
- Lightweight at only 39 oz.
- Oval hand grips
- Lacks stiffness
The Aquabound Manta Ray is a lightweight and stiff paddle that can take a beating with moving waters and is suited for big boats. The paddle’s carbon material in the blades helps give you that extra push because of how light it is.
The Aquabound Manta-Ray design is perfect for wider kayaks, upstream kayaking, or people who prefer paddles at a higher angle.
It also has an oval-shaped paddle shaft design for a more comfortable grip and drip rings to prevent water from running down to the user.
Wins & Fails
- Can be disassembled into two pieces
- Availability of multiple adjustments
- The shaft has rough surfaces that can cause cuts and blisters
The Compact Touring paddle is a good choice to consider if you are in need of a convenient and easy-to-carry paddle. Even with its collapsible feature, it does not sacrifice its stiffness and strength for convenience. It’s a paddle suitable for casual use and activities.
It weighs 2.7 lbs which makes it lightweight – something paddlers look out for in an ideal paddle as it helps them reduce fatigue and stress on their joints and arms. The blades are asymmetrical and unfeathered to provide more power and easy maneuverability.
Wins & Fails
- Extremely portable
- Only weighs 2.7 pounds
- No padded grip area
- Somewhat tough to disassemble and reassemble
The Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass paddle is a simple paddle that is suited for day trips and long-distance traveling. It weighs 33 oz and has 220 cm in length. It is also available in various lengths such as 230 cm and 240 cm.
The paddle has a feathering option at 60 degrees or sets in line with just a push of a button. The blades are made of fiberglass which provides more power and easy maneuverability because of its light swing weight. The paddles are naturally translucent gold in which you can see the fiberglass fibers. Its shaft can also be disassembled into two pieces.
Wins & Fails
- The oval shape gives a better grip
- Scratches easily
The SeaSense X-1 is aluminum, a lightweight paddle that measures 84 inches long and is collapsible into two pieces. The blades are made of molded plastic which contributes to its lightness. The angles of the paddles are also adjustable. SeaSense’s main objectives with their kayak paddles are value and comfort.
It is also able to float which makes it easy for the paddler to retrieve in case it gets accidentally dropped into the water. With regard to comfort, it also has hand grips to prevent your hands from tiring out and acquiring blisters.
Wins & Fails
- Comfortable grip padding
- Floats in the water
- Not really lightweight
- Blades are flat-shaped as opposed to being round
The Werner Tybee paddle is made of fiberglass. It measures 205 cm long and weighs 3.1 pounds. The nylon blades are reinforced with fiberglass to make them durable and withstand most water conditions in lakes, bays, and rivers. It is also shaped in an arch manner for easier, smoother water maneuverability and more powerful strokes.
An adjustable feather is an added feature that you can adjust in 15-degree increments depending on your comfort preference and situation. The carbon shaft makes it lightweight and suited for day-long recreational water activities and tours.
Wins & Fails
- The size is suitable for most kayakers
- Maybe a bit heavier than expected
The TRAC-Outdoor curved paddle is an adjustable paddle that weighs only 2 pounds and 4 ounces. It is available in 7 feet and 8 feet versions, making it perfect for any kayakers or a wide-set boat.
It’s a simple paddle that gets the job done with its features including adjustable feathering options, rubber handgrips, and drip rings. It also has dock hooks and a handle to make it convenient to use. This paddle provides both comfort and functionality.
Wins & Fails
- Good for calm or just a bit of moving water
- Good quality for an affordable price
- Suitable for inexperienced and experienced kayakers alike
- Incorrectly advertised length
- The handle is not durable
The Shoreline Marine paddle measures 85 inches long and made of aluminum which is known to resist corrosion. Its material is suited for rocky and rough terrains, thus removing the need to worry about damaging your paddle. One of its features is a high impact handle, and its lightweight design makes it durable and prevents unnecessary strain and fatigue.
It is collapsible into two pieces for portability and has foam grips to prevent hand blisters. It also has adjustable angles with three options in between the blades. It also floats for easy retrieval if you ever drop it into the water.
Wins & Fails
- Easily collapsible
- Sturdy design
- Blades are thin and can easily warp when exposed to heat
- Wobbly connection joint
This paddle released by Aquabond has its popular blade style for being versatile. The pure carbon shaft with low swing weight provides durability and stiffness. It also comes with a Posi-Lok ferrule system which secures corrosion-free composite construction and has a dual release button. The paddle shaft is oval-shaped to allow a comfortable and easy grip, making it ideal for whole-day use without strain and exhaustion.
The blades are carbon-reinforced and suitable for low-angle paddlers. This paddle gives the same kayaking enjoyment but with less effort required. You can quickly get from destination to destination with its help.
Wins & Fails
- Easy to control blades
- No exhaustion or fatigue felt while using
- Uncomfortable shaft texture
The Lifetime Kayak Youth paddle is perfect for those starting out in kayaking. The blades measure 7 x 15 inches and are made of lightweight material, making it weigh only 1.7 lbs. It can be disassembled into two pieces at the push of a button to give convenience for both storage and transport.
It also features easy retrieval when accidentally dropped into the water. The shaft’s diameter measures three and a half inches which are suitable for little kids to handle.
Wins & Fails
- Able to withstand rough waters
- No drip rings
- Flimsy ends
This paddle is designed for anglers and is known for being multipurpose besides propelling the boat. It is made of sturdy fiberglass that is reinforced with nylon and has an aluminum shaft. It also allows the option to have the blades matched or feathered at a 60-degree angle. It also comes with heavy-duty drip rings to prevent water from coming into the boat.
The paddle has a measurement feature that allows you to quickly measure any catch. It also has a hook attached to one of the blades, making it useful to retrieve a catch or remove snags.
Wins & Fails
- Durable and can take a beating
- Measurements rub off and can stain clothes
What to Consider in a Kayak Paddle
There are several factors to consider when picking out the best kayak paddle for you. Here are some factors to look out for:
Paddle length (Based on Kayak Width and Paddlers Height)
When considering the length of your paddle, you have to take note of your height and width of your kayak. The type of kayak you are using is determined by its width. Generally, when you are using a kayak boat that is wide, a long paddle should pair it. Alternatively, when using a narrow kayak, a shorter or smaller paddle is ideal. When it comes to the paddler’s height, a small paddle is good for short users and a long paddle is for tall users.
Recommended Paddle Length based on Kayaks Width & Paddlers Height:
- If you are under 5.5 Feet, and the Kayak width is under 23 Inches; then you need 210cm Paddles. For 24 to 28 Inch (width) kayaks, you need 220cm paddles and for 29 to 33 inch (width) kayaks; you need 230cm paddles. And for even wider kayaks (34″ or above); you need 240cm kayak paddles.
- If your height is 5.5 to 5.9 Feet, and the kayak width is under 23 inches; you need 220cm paddles. The wider the kayak is; the bigger paddles you need to drive your kayak comfortably and respectively like 230, 240, and 250cm.
- If your height is 6 Feet+, then for 23inch Kayak (width), you need a 220cm paddle. For 24″ to 28″ kayaks; you need blades of 230cm and for 29 to 33″ width of kayaks; you need 250cm paddles. Kayaks that are wider than 34 inches; you need 260cm kayak paddles.
The feather is the angle of both blades when they offset from each other. Blades have feathers to reduce wind resistance and to allow you to efficiently paddle in any body of water or wind condition. There are two types of blades namely feathered and matched.
Feathered blades are at an offset angle from one another which helps prevent wind resistance. It mimics the way feathers on animals are positioned. Meanwhile, matched blades are uniform in design, thus making them offset at the same angle as each other.
There are two shaft designs to choose from: a straight shaft and a bent shaft. A straight shaft is commonly used between the two. Some say when it comes to weight, a straight shaft is a better option because of its uniformity. Some would prefer a straight shaft because its attachment is only at the blade compared to the bent shaft.
A bent shaft has angled parts, making it comfortable and allows better grip, especially when doing power strokes. It helps prevent unnecessary fatigue and stress on your joints. Some would say that bent shafts promote proper back posture and more engagement with your paddle.
There are two blade shapes to choose from low-angle and high-angle. Low-angle is commonly used mainly for relaxed and casual environments. It has a longer and slimmer blade than a high-angle blade. A paddle with a low-angle blade shape is used relatively parallel to the water.
High-angle is used in fast-paced waters. It has a shorter and wider blade than a low-angle blade. A paddle with a high-angle blade shape is used relatively perpendicular to the water which allows the paddler stronger strokes.
Most kayak paddle blades are made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or plastic which are all lightweight. Some manufacturers use lightweight materials on a heavier scale for paddles that are used in high-paced or rough waters.
Different Types of Kayak Paddles
There are different types of kayak paddles namely recreational, touring, whitewater, and performance paddle. Here is a list of their distinguishing features and where they are well-suited for:
A recreational paddle is for relaxed and calm trips, hence the term “recreational”. It is used for exercise, water exploration, and short trips. The materials usually used in a recreational paddle are aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic. It is heavier than a touring and performance paddle and also the least expensive among the three.
A touring paddle is used for lakes and slow-moving bodies of water. It is an optimal choice when you are going to spend plenty of time in a river or lake. It is usually made of lightweight fiberglass or carbon shafts. It is suitable for all-day use in the water.
A whitewater kayak paddle is meant for rough and fast-moving waters. Compared to the other two, it can most definitely take a beating. It is the perfect paddle for rapids and rugged conditions.
A performance kayak paddle is suitable for kayakers who prefer the latest paddle innovations and new ergonomic designs. It is lightweight and varies in features.
These paddles have the same use of propelling you forward in a kayak boat but vary in terms of capabilities, uses, and water situation. Always assess what you need in a paddle and where you will be paddling when picking your paddle type.
Typical Width of Different Kayaks (You need to know this before choosing a Paddle)
|Kayak Name||Width (In Inches)||Long (In Feet)|
|Recreational Kayak||26″ to 30″||6′ to 12′|
|Touring Kayak||22″ to 25″||12′ to 15′|
|Performance Kayak||19″ to 22″||15′ to 18′|
|Whitewater Kayak||n/a||7′ to 11′|
Types of Materials Used in a Paddle Construction
The material of a paddle is an essential factor when choosing one on the market. Some materials offer comfort and convenience while kayaking, and some materials aid in providing more powerful strokes. It all depends on your interest and personal preference. Here are the most common materials used:
Fiberglass is most commonly used and is considerably inexpensive. Despite being inexpensive and light, it is a durable material.
Plastic paddles are one of the cheapest and usually come with the kayak you have already purchased. This kind of paddle is usually used by beginners.
Aluminum is the cheapest but also one of the heaviest. A lot of people purchase paddles made of aluminum due to their affordability.
Wood paddles are lightweight and also inexpensive just like fiberglass. These paddles are not used very often but are durable and tough. People who purchase wood paddles lean towards their aesthetic, woody look.
Carbon fiber paddles are not as common as the other types like fiberglass, and one of the reasons is due to their quite high price tag. Although being quite expensive, carbon fiber is considered very lightweight.
Paddle Shaft Shapes and Pieces
Kayak paddles are available in a variety of lengths and shapes. Different shapes and sizes are required for various stroke techniques and paddler sizes. The kayak paddle shapes are:
Flat and Symmetric: This type of paddle has blades with sections on both sides of the line that are exact mirror images of the other. Whitewater paddlers and other kayakers who prefer a high stroke while touring generally use flat and symmetric paddles.
Curved and Asymmetric: Asymmetric paddle’s blade has a larger surface area on one side of the line while the other side has a small surface area. This type of paddle is mostly preferred by kayakers who want a more leisurely low stroke while kayaking.
Aleutian and Greenland: The blades of this type of paddle have an extremely narrow design. Greenland shapes paddle allows a kayaker to perform strokes that were traditionally needed to move and roll in various situations when kayaking in the ocean. Moreover, with this type of paddle kayakers can paddle at a higher pace.
Generally, kayak paddles have three main parts. They are the shaft, the power face, and the back face. The power face of the paddle catches the water when a kayaker takes a forward stroke. On the other hand, the shaft is the backbone of a paddle. Kayak paddle shafts are also available in different shapes. They are:
Straight Paddles Shaft: This type of paddle shaft is regular and preferred by most kayakers. This type of paddle shaft is made from aluminum, wood, or composite. Straight shaft paddles lift water at the end of the stroke and it tends to slow down the kayak.
Bent/Crank Paddles Shaft: This type of paddle shaft is the alternative to a straight paddle shaft. Usually, the shaft bents in the area; where the normal hand position lies. The bent shaft minimizes the amount of wrist flex during the forward stroke. So kayakers who find it hard to execute proper torso rotation prefer this type of paddle shaft.
What about Kayak Paddle Extensions?
If you are looking for something extra to suit your existing paddle then kayak paddle extensions are a great option. There are various types of kayak paddle extensions available in the market and they are made from high-quality materials to ensure durability. You can add a carbon fiber paddle extension to your paddle and you will get an extra reach which was required for paddling.
How Do I Know What Blade Shape to Choose?
What types of blade shape you should choose depends on your requirements, skills, experiences, and water types. An asymmetrical blade is relatively narrow and it is more uniform when it’s pushing through the water. On the other hand, dihedral blades allow water to flow smoothly and evenly over both halves of the blade. So you can easily track straight with your kayak. Moreover, narrower blades are very comfortable for long stretches of paddling therefore these types of blades are the best option for a full-day tour or a multiday trip. Wider blades are preferable for quick powerful strokes and popular among kayakers who want quick acceleration. There is also a different type of blade available that has a J-shaped notch in the blade to retrieve snared fishing lines and hooks.
What is a good kayak paddle?
The answer to this question depends on a lot of things that include kayaking skills, kayak types, water types, purpose, the height of the kayaker, etc. For an excellent kayaking experience, you will need a kayak paddle that suits you. Kayak paddle length is one of the most important things that you should consider before choosing a paddle. There are three factors to consider when choosing the correct length:
- Height of the kayaker
- The width of the kayak
- The type of kayaking
If the paddle is too short then there are chances you will constantly bang your hands on the side of the kayak. Moreover, you will find it a bit difficult to reach the water with your paddle. On the other hand, too many long paddles also have disadvantages. Longer kayak paddles tend to be heavier and weight and excess length produces more strain that may lead to an injury. Because of the long length, your strokes will be further from the boat, causing you to zigzag rather than travel straight. You can follow the below table:
|Paddler Height||Kayak Width|
|Under 23″||23″ to 27.75″||28″ to 32″||Over 32″|
|Recommended Paddle Length|
|Under 5′||200 cm||210 cm||220 cm||230 cm|
|5′ to 5’6″||210 cm||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm|
|5’7″ TO 6′||220 cm||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm|
|OVER 6′||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm||250 cm|
Should Kayak Paddles be Offset?
If you want to enjoy the full fun of kayaking then you have to learn how to use a paddle the right way. Paddle feathering is also very important and in this technique, you have to adjust the left and right ferrule at an angle but not in a straight direction. Different types of paddles available and they have their own ferrule systems. But you should always look for paddles that offer offsetting between 0 and 60 degrees. However, offsetting is not mandatory but in some conditions offsetting might come handy. For example, if you are participating in a kayaking tournament and want to max out on your speed and efficiency then offsetting your paddles might be the best option.
What Happens When you Use too Long of a Paddle for Kayaking?
Longer kayaks have a lot of advantages, this type of kayak is easier to paddle, provides excellent stability, and can carry heavy loads with less loss of performance. If you are using a long paddle then you can track better, move faster, and glide farther with each stroke. So, a long paddle ensures greater efficiency with less effort. However, if you are using too long a paddle compare to your height and kayak width then you will face quite a few problems. The strokes will be far away from your kayak so you will find it a lot more difficult to control your kayak thus you will lose speed as well. So use a long paddle that is according to your heights and kayak’s size.
Do Kayak Paddles Float?
Yes, most of the kayak paddles available in the market float if they left in the water undisturbed. It is also an important feature that you should consider before buying a paddle. If your paddle floats then it will reduce the chances of you losing your paddles in the water. Paddles are made from different types of materials including metal, carbon fiber, reinforced plastic, etc. So a paddle would float or not mostly depends on build materials.
How Do I Choose a Kayak Paddle?
Choosing a kayak paddle is not an easy task. There are a few very important things that you have to consider before buying a kayak paddle.
Blade Shape: High-quality blades have an asymmetric shape. This type of shape is best for balancing the blade when it’s in the water. It also prevents fluttering or twisting. If you are looking for instant power then you can choose a spoon blade. On the other hand, the dihedral blade provides a smoother and more stable stroke.
Blade Size: Blade size has a great impact on power. If you are looking for maximum power then you should pick bigger blades. Medium size blades are best for creeking and general river running. You should pick the blade size according to your body size; bigger body, bigger blade; smaller body, smaller blade.
Paddle Shafts: Bent shafts are expensive but they will keep your wrist position at a neutral angle while stroking and it will reduce wrist fatigue and you will be able to apply more force efficiently. On the other hand, straight shafts are less expensive and stronger but they won’t provide the same performance as the bent shafts.
Paddle Type: You can either choose one-piece paddles or two-piece paddles. If you are a whitewater kayaker then one-piece paddles will be the best option for you. These types of paddles have a strong and solid design so they are more durable and long-lasting. But one major disadvantage is, the size of these paddles is fixed and sometimes size can be hard to travel with.
Many kayakers choose two-piece paddles because they are more portable and can be stored below deck. Moreover, these types of paddles can be a great backup for emergency situations. However, two-piece paddles are not as durable as one-piece paddles.
Paddle Materials: The materials of a paddle affect the performance so it is very important you check the build materials before making the final decision. Paddles made from fiberglass are light and flexible and it’s a good mid-range choice that provides durability, weight, and minimum cost. Carbons made paddles are stiff and very light. These types of paddles are expensive but they are worth it if you are looking for high performance or multi-day efficiency. Plastic or nylon-made paddles are durable and require low maintenance. These types of paddles are best for beginner kayakers or recreational paddlers.
What Size Paddle Do I Need for a 10-foot Kayak?
Generally, 10 foot kayaks are 30 – 42 inches wide depending on the design. So you should choose paddles that are 230 – 250 cm long depending on the paddler’s weight. If the paddler is less than 5 ft. then a 230 cm long paddle is appropriate. Paddlers between 5 ft. to 6ft. should pick 240 cm long paddles. For the kayakers who are above 6 ft; 250 cm long paddles are the best option.
Why does my Kayak not Go Straight?
There are many reasons a kayak might not go straight. It can happen because of poor paddling techniques, wrong body posture when paddling the kayak, not holding the paddles the right way, or not executing the right paddle strokes. So if you want to make your kayak go straight then you have to apply proper techniques as well as keep the body posture appropriate when paddling. Sometimes you may face this problem because of your dominant hand. So while kayaking tries to check your dominant hand and see if your kayak goes straight.
What is a Paddle Float Used for?
A paddle float is a small inflatable bladder that remains attached to the paddle and can be used for reentry into a kayak after capsizing in open water. Many beginner kayakers also use it for learning a kayak roll. There are two types of paddle float available. They are inflatable paddle float and foam paddle float. Inflatable paddle floats are very popular among kayakers because they provide more buoyancy compared to the foam paddle float.
Do you need a Paddle Leash?
Paddle leashes are made from bungee, webbing, or a flex hybrid of the two, and they are used for securing a paddle in open water with a kayak. If a kayaker capsizes in the water then the paddle might drift away through wind or waves and not be recovered. So if the paddle is attached to the paddle leash then there are no chances of paddles being washed away. Nowadays most of the kayak floats so if it drops in the water then the paddle might float away and out of your reach. So it is the best option to prevent this from happening.
What is the Best Place to Store Paddle Float?
You should store the paddle float in a place that is quickly accessible in a time of emergency. Many experienced kayakers store their paddle float behind the seat. You can also store the paddle float behind the back band if the bilge pump is too big to go sideways with your seat. Moreover, you can also attach the paddle float underside of your kayak’s deck with a strap if possible. However, when storing the paddle float make sure it is quickly accessible.
How do you Secure a Kayak Paddle?
The best way to secure a kayak paddle is to use a paddle leash. A paddle leash is a very important piece of equipment that allows the kayaker to keep their paddle attached to the kayak. You can easily attach a paddle leash to your paddle. Every paddle leash has two ends. One end has a carabineer or clip that attaches to either you or your kayak. Many kayakers attach this clip to their life jackets. The other end has a big loop and you have to slip it over the paddle’s blade and then tightened it to the paddle’s shaft. You can use a Velcro closure strip or a simple cinch lock strap to attach the leash to the paddle’s shaft.
How do I Keep my Paddles from Sinking?
Nowadays manufacturers are producing kayaks paddles that can float in the water which is a very important feature. So if you buy a floatable paddle then you don’t have to worry about the paddle sinking in the water. But for extra protection, you can use a paddle leash so that the paddle won’t drift away through wind or waves in the water.
Kayaking is a fun sport, and using the right paddle will help you enjoy that experience. Knowing the factors in picking the best kayak paddle for you will allow you to have an enjoyable kayaking adventure.
Hopefully, this list has helped you narrow down which product to go for.
If you have any thoughts regarding this article, leave a comment below. Happy kayaking!
Last update on 2021-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API