Do Kayak Paddles Float? Here’s The Answer

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 23, 2022
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Yes, most kayak paddles float, but the degree of buoyancy varies depending on the paddle’s weight, material, and design. You need to install a paddle leash on your kayak to ensure your paddle is well secured on the kayak.

Key Takeaways

  • There are quite a few factors that determine whether a kayak paddle would float or not like the weight & density of the kayak, kayak materials, size & shape of the paddle, etc.
  • Symmetrical blades float better compared to other paddles because of their large surface area
  • Lightweight paddles will float but they are significantly pricier because of the synthetic material
  • If your paddle doesn’t float then you can use a paddle leash to secure your paddle to the boats

Factors That Determine How Well A Kayak Paddle Floats

Factors That Determine How Well A Kayak Paddle Floats

Understanding different kayak paddle designs are essential in determining their buoyancy before you buy. The materials, weight, and shape used to make a paddle have a significant role in determining whether the paddle will float or not. You will find some paddles sink quickly while others drift away quite fast when dropped on the water. Below are some factors that make these paddles behave differently in the same situation

1. The Paddles Weight And Density

The weight of a paddle plays a significant role in determining whether it will float or sink when dropped in water. A heavier and denser paddle will sink, while a light one will float. We recommend getting a light paddle since they are easier to paddle with and have less risk of sinking. Lightweight paddles are made from synthetic material, making them significantly pricier, but they are pretty efficient. The only time when you might need a heavier paddle is when you are paddling in windy weather because a heavy paddle is less likely to be blown away by the wind.

2. The Material Used To Make The Paddle

Wood has been used for years to make kayak paddles, and even with the rise in synthetic paddles, wood still maintains its status as the most popular material for kayak paddles. Wood is preferred because of its versatility, and aesthetic appeal, and also because it is light and robust with natural flex. Since there are different types of wood, paddles made of wood have different weights.

There has also been an increase in the manufacture of synthetic paddles recently. Synthetic paddles come in two different categories to fit different budgets. Some synthetic paddles have aluminum shafts and plastic blades; these paddles are more durable but weigh significantly more. The aluminum shafts also get very hot or cold, depending on the weather. Aluminum paddles are more likely to sink when dropped on water, but some float because of their plastic blades.

 The other type of synthetic paddles is made from carbon and graphite and are very lightweight yet stiff. However, they are relatively expensive compared to other paddles in the market. These types of paddles are more buoyant and will float better when dropped on water

3. The Size And Shape Of The Paddle Blades

The shape of your paddle blades plays a significant role in determining whether the paddle will float or sink—the more the surface area of the blade, the better the paddle’s buoyancy. Symmetrical blades float better because of their large surface area, but they aren’t optimal for kayaking. Asymmetrical blades provide better performance but compromise quite a bit on buoyancy. Some of these modern paddle designs are prone to sinking, but you will have enough time to retrieve them before they can get completely submerged.

Why Is It Essential For Kayak Paddles To Float?

Essential For Kayak Paddles To Float

As you question whether kayak paddles float, you might also want to know why it is essential for them to float. The main reason why you need kayak paddles to float is so that you don’t lose them. Imagine a situation where your paddles drop in the water and sink, and you are left there with the only option being to swim to shore and abandon your kayak.

Sometimes, you might forget to keep a firm grip on your paddle, and it’s knocked out of your hand by a wave or strong wind. If the paddle sinks, you’ll be left there without many options or solutions. Since you don’t want such a situation, you must get a kayak paddle that floats. With that, you can be sure that you can grab it back with ease if you accidentally drop the paddle in the water. However, you can choose to install a paddle leash on your kayak to ensure your paddle is secured to the vessel at all times.

What Is A Paddle Leash?

A paddle leash is equipment that allows paddlers to secure their paddles to their boats to avoid getting lost.  A paddle leash has two sides; one for attaching to the kayak and the other attached to the paddle. If your paddle drops on the water and the kayak keeps moving, the paddle leash will ensure you retrieve the paddle easily without having to get into the water.

You can buy a paddle leash for $10 or even less, and it will save you a lot of stress and hustle in case you lose your grip on the paddle. 

What Is A Paddle Float?

A paddle float is an inflatable bag attached to a paddle and acts as an outrigger to stabilize the kayak when a paddler wants to reenter the boat.


Kayak paddles are essential to any kayaking adventure; losing your paddle is the worst nightmare, especially in unfamiliar water. It would be best to be sure that your paddle can float since this will make retrieving it effortless. To test whether your paddle will float or sink, drop it in shallow water near the shore and wait to see how it behaves. This will help you be better prepared for anything you might encounter in case your paddle drops in the water. You can also get a paddle leash to ensure your paddle doesn’t float away when it falls into the water.



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