The Best Kayak Paddle and How to Choose the Right One
Updated on February 7, 2021.
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You’ve decided to take up kayaking. Congratulations! This is the best decision you could ever have made in your life up until this point. Seriously, kayaking is one of those sports that is great for the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Picking the right vessel is no doubt one of the biggest challenges you’ll face now that you’ve decided to become a kayak owner. But, equally important is picking the right paddle for the job. After all, your hands will be wrapped around this tool for the better part of the day. So, you might as well choose a great one.
We’ve rounded up some of the best ones we came across to bring you the best kayak paddle, and a couple of others that we believe are top contenders for the number one spot.
Best Premium Choice
1. Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Paddle
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If you’re looking for a paddle that offers the perfect balance between impact resistance, stiffness, and light swing weight, then you’ll love what the Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle brings to the table.
One of its most endearing qualities is the fact that it uses a mid-size blade face, which is something most avid kayakers look for when choosing a paddle. It also has a fiberglass coating, which makes the blade extremely stiff, and a dihedral surface to allow water to flow evenly to its sides. So, you don’t have to worry about any flutter with your strokes.
The shaft is made from a carbon blend for both the straight and bent variants, making it one of the most lightweight paddles you’ll come across. The fiberglass blades translate higher efficiency with each stroke for less energy.
This is something that’s not easy to achieve with any other blade. All in all, you’re going to move through massive amounts of water with this paddle.
- Carbon blend shaft makes it extremely lightweight
- The dihedral fiberglass blade provides the stiffness required for maximum efficiency
- Minimized risk of fatigue during long tours
- Has plenty of color options to choose from
- The adjustable ferrule minimizes feathering for a tight, firm fit
- The low angle paddle may make it difficult to track in a straight line
2. Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Paddle
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If you’re in the market for an affordable, rugged, and durable paddle that cuts through the water as a hot knife does through butter, then the Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Kayak Paddle was designed with you in mind.
It was made for the recreational paddler and comes in two pieces for easy transportation. It uses a push-button system to lock the two ends of the shaft together in a straight line, or at a 60-degree angle for left and right-handed control.
It has anodized aluminum paddle shafts that have an insulated area where you can grip. This counters the heat conductivity and fluctuations synonymous with aluminum shafts. While it may not be as lightweight as its carbon fiber cousins, its swing weight is surprisingly bearable. And, at its price, it is a worthwhile tradeoff.
- Tape-like insulation on the aluminum shaft adds warmth to your grip
- Comes with built-in drip guards to keep cold water away
- The aluminum shaft offers a surprisingly light swing weight
- It is ideal for both left- and right-handed kayakers
- Its appearance is rather utilitarian
Best Budget Choice
3. SeaSense X-Treme 1 Paddle
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The SeaSense X-Treme 1 Kayak Paddle is the perfect mix of practicability and affordability. It is not only a great choice for anyone dipping their toe into the kayaking world but is also an excellent option for intermediate users who would rather not break the bank for a high-performance paddle.
It is chock-full of features designed to make it easy to use, with the most notable ones being the ergonomic handgrips and the adjustable drip guards. While advanced kayakers might want something slightly superior, the true value of the SeaSense X-Treme comes from its affordable price point.
There aren’t very many paddlers in the market that offer that level of performance at such a low cost. The two-piece aluminum shaft comes with three locking positions that allow you to adjust your strokes – a feature that experienced kayakers will appreciate.
The blades are made from lightweight fiberglass coated nylon, to allow you to cut into the water with ease and drive more power into each stroke. The fact that it also comes with a seven-year limited warranty is a true testament to the quality of this particular paddle.
- Offers great value for money
- Is made from durable materials
- The two-piece collapsible shaft makes it easy to transport
- It is backed by a seven-year limited warranty
- Ergonomic grips
- May not be as lightweight as some of the other paddles in the market
Best Overall Choice
4. AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon Paddle
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The true value of the AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle shines through when used by advanced kayakers and hobbyists alike. If you’re looking to hone your kayaking skills, then this is the paddle you need.
It is super lightweight, sturdy, and comfortable to use. From its exquisite design, high-quality construction, and ease-of-use features, you can tell that a lot of care was put into the creation of this paddle. It truly is a masterpiece.
The Manta Ray was made for the high-energy paddler who enjoys getting their kayak to cut through the water at high speeds. Based on your level of experience and muscle power, this paddle can get you moving at medium to fast speeds with minimal energy expenditure.
The one thing about it that stands out is its unique blade shape. It was made to produce outstanding driving power with every stroke you take. If you’re a high-angle or high-energy paddler, you’ll be able to experience this power and efficiency in action.
The fact that the entire paddle weighs a measly 1.84 lbs. makes it one of the lightest tools on the market right now. You have the carbon fiber shaft and carbon-reinforced nylon blades to thank for that.
- Excellent lightweight construction materials
- Collapsible into two pieces for easy transport
- Damage-resistant blades
- It is backed by a two-year limited warranty
- Comfortable and secure grip even when wet
- It is pricier than other models on the market
5. Poseidon Angler Fishing Kayak Paddle
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For all the fishing lovers out there, the Poseidon Angler Fishing Kayak Paddle was specially designed for this very purpose. It is crafted with several handy features that are meant to optimize your fishing experience.
It has a built-in tape measure and hook-retrieval system along the 98-inch long shaft that comes in quite handy in fishing expeditions. The length of the paddle also makes it perfect for a long day spent out on the waters.
The fact that it is built using premium grade materials adds on to its charm. The blades are made of impact-resistant polypropylene reinforced with fiberglass to enhance durability.
The rigid blades cut through the water easily to give you the speed, power, and motion required to propel you forward with minimal effort. At 3 lbs. it is considered slightly heavier than what would qualify as a lightweight blade. But, in the case of the Poseidon, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
All in all, this paddle is tailored for avid fishermen. It is certainly one of a kind.
- Sturdy aluminum shaft and fiberglass-reinforced plastic blades make it quite sturdy
- It is built to last
- Has several fishing-specific features
- Comes with adjustable spill guards to prevent your hands from getting wet
- The paddle might be on the heavier side
6. OCEANBROAD Kayak Paddle
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Designed with exceptional attention to detail, the OCEANBROAD Kayak Paddle is a great option for all your kayaking needs. Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate user, or you’re simply looking for something that guarantees high performance during your long tours, this paddle fits the bill.
It is made from premium quality materials and is built to last. From its fiberglass-reinforced blades to its carbon fiber composite shaft, this particular paddle is as light as they come weighing a measly 33 ounces. But, don’t let its lightweight nature fool you. This paddle is one of the most durable wear-resistant models you’ll come across.
It comes in two pieces that you can put together easily and collapse once your day on the water ends. Its rigid blades, lightweight shaft, durable assembly, and adjustable set point give you everything you would want in a high-performance paddle. Is it worth the price? We certainly think so.
- Made using premium high-quality materials
- Lightweight and durable
- Collapsible for easy transport
- Multiple color selection
- Comes with a free bungee paddle leash
- Blade surface area may be too small for some users
7. BEST Marine and Outdoors Kayak Paddle
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If you’re on the hunt for a durable, lightweight paddle that’s specially designed for fishing, then you need to check out the BEST Marine and Outdoors Kayak Fishing Paddle. It is made of a lightweight carbon fiber shaft and sturdy ABS blades that are built for rugged conditions.
The shaft also has a built-in 40-inch measuring mark on the surface as well as two drip rings to prevent water from running down the shaft. This ensures that your hands remain dry to improve your grip.
It also has a hook retrieval notch and cut-out on the left paddle blade. These come in handy when hooking your fishing line through it, to save both the lure and hook from getting away with a bad catch. At 34 ounces weight, the BEST Kayak Paddle is one of the lightest ones you’ll come across.
- It is collapsible and therefore easy to transport
- Ergonomic grip for comfortable use
- Perfect for fishing and conventional use in still waters
- Comes with built-in drip guards
- Some users find the blade surface area a little small
How to Choose the Best Kayak Paddle – Buyer’s Guide
With so many different types of kayak paddles on the market right now, picking the right one can be a daunting task. Nonetheless, given how much time you’ll be spending on the water gripping the frame, you need to ensure that the one you choose is up to the task.
There are three main factors you need to consider when choosing the best kayak paddle for your water activities.
The length of the paddle you choose will, in large part, be determined by the width of the kayak and your height. Here’s a paddle sizing chart for reference.
To know what length paddle you should get, use the chart to look up your height, and compare it against the width of the kayak. Where the two values converge on the chart is the ideal length of paddle you should buy. Generally, the taller an individual is, and the wider the corresponding kayak is, the longer the paddle they’ll require.
The most commonly used materials in the construction of paddles are wood, aluminum, and synthetics like fiberglass and carbon fiber – for the shafts, and nylon/plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber – for the blades.
Fiberglass and carbon are the lightest of the bunch and are also the most durable. The ones made from aluminum shafts tend to be heavier, although they also exhibit extreme temperature fluctuations due to their high level of heat conductivity.
As for the blades, you want to go for the ones reinforced with fiberglass. These offer enhanced rigidity, which increases the efficiency of every stroke. Keep in mind though that they usually cost significantly more than aluminum and wood paddles.
The physical weight of the paddle plays a big role in its performance. Heavier ones require more effort with each stroke, which in turn increases the risk of getting fatigued at a much faster rate compared to using lightweight paddles.
Paddles constructed from synthetics like fiberglass and carbon fiber are tremendously lighter than those made with aluminum shafts.
Pick and Choose From the Best
Now that you have some pretty solid options to go on, use the information detailed here to help you decide on the best kayak paddle for your specific kayaking needs. Once you do, grab your kayak and paddle, and head on to the water. There’s truly nothing better.
In the meantime, check out our guide on the different types of kayaks, as well as our top recommendations for each.