Best Kayak Paddles
Kayaking is one of the best past times of the summer season when you are up at your cottage or a friends cottage. Or maybe you do not have a cottage and like to make day trips up to nearby lakes and explore with your kayak. Whatever the reason, kayaking is a time to paddles peacefully down a stream or river and be one with nature. Now, if you are an avid kayaker or just bought a kayak for this upcoming season, you are probably looking for some extra gear, and there is a no more important piece of gear than the paddles. The kayak paddles allow you to control your direction and momentum while cruising downstream, and if you are in the market for a new set, the below guide will lend a hand.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Lightweight and easy to store
Blade shape allows for use in multiple types of river environments
- Bending Branches
- Werner Camano
- Intex Dual
- Aqua-bound manta ray
- Seasense x-treme II
- Carlisle magic plus
- Solstice 4
- Advanced elements ultralite pack
- Shoreline marine propel motion
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Expert Interviews & Opinions
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top Ten Kayak Paddles
1. Bending Branches
Lightweight and easy to store
Blade shape allows for use in multiple types of river environments
The aluminum shaft can get cold and slippery – harder to handle with time
Designed with both the angler and the kayak fan in mind, this paddle helps you to excel at navigating the river waters to catch your next meal.Read more
The blades are made from reinforced fiberglass that allows for easy movement and an overall reduction in weight.
This paddle features a number of unique design choices that make it perfect for both fisherman and kayak enthusiasts alike, The fiberglass reinforced blades feature a smart hook retrieval system, so you won’t have to worry about snagged lines, or lost lures. Plus the shaft has an easy to read ruler, so determining the size of your catch is easy as well.
The two blades on this kayak paddle are asymmetrical around the shaft by a small amount and are fairly long as well. They’re perfectly suited for the river waters that are a bit calm, but still, have a ripple or two on the surface-- in other words a great place to go fishing in.
The aluminum shaft is lightweight and easily splits into two separate pieces with a simple push of a button. It’s easy on the hands but can get a little slippery as the day goes on.
This paddle can quickly break down into two pieces, through the use of a snap button ferrule. This makes storage relatively simple and straightforward. Plus transportation is a breeze since it can easily fit into most car trunks, or in the bed of a pickup truck along with your kayak easily.
2. Werner Camano
Smooth & Stable paddling
This kayak paddle from Werner is a durable, top of the line paddle and most likely will be the last paddle you ever need to purchase. Built with durability in mind, this paddle will help you keep stable and flow down the river, so you can see nature at its best without hassle.Read more
The blade material is comprised of fiberglass, which ensures it is durable and lightweight.
This paddle is designed to be easily taken apart and to be lightweight and easy to carry. The paddles design also features two good sized grips and a secure locking mechanism that allows for easy feathering.
The blade is slightly asymmetrical around the shaft, giving a more dorsal fin type of shape that allows for both low angle and high angle use.
The shaft is created out of a carbon fiber material that is relatively strong and lightweight.
This paddle breaks down into two separate pieces that can easily be stored in various locals including the back of cars, trucks or with the kayak itself.
3. Intex Dual
Can act as two paddles or one larger one
The connector could be better
Intex is known for making a variety of products for the pool and outdoor industry, and these affordable paddles are a great set to get if you are shopping on a budget or need a backup pair of kayak paddles.Read more
This kayak shaft is made from an aluminum shaft which means it is lightweight and will not weigh you down as you paddles downstream. The paddles are made from rubber and plastic to ensure they can hold up to the use you intend to put them through this summer season.
This paddle has a basic design and was manufactured for maximum efficiency while paddling downstream. When not connected this paddle acts as two individual paddles but if needed and you are going on a solo adventure, this paddle can be connected to give you one double ended paddle.
This paddle comes highly rated from previous customers due to the durability and price. These paddles are great to have on hand and even if you have a great set of paddles you are currently using, these are great for back-up in case something happens to your current pair.
The fact that this paddle disconnects and can be transformed into two paddles is great for portability. They are also lightweight due to their aluminum design and weigh less than a pound.
Comes in a set of two
These paddles for your kayak from OceanSouth are great for beginner kayakers and provide a great blade that not only allows you to direct but also has a curved blade to allow you to gain maximum speed and control if needed.Read more
These kayak paddles from OceanSouth are built to last as they are made from a fiberglass and polypropylene material which means the blades will be durable and lightweight. The shaft is made from aluminum to ensure it is lightweight and can be carried easily.
This kayak paddle comes with two and is a double ended paddle, which means it has two blades (one on each side). The blade is curved which allows for maximum speed and control when in use.
These paddles come highly rated amongst previous customers as they are built to last and will provide the best control and speed when in use. These paddles are a little pricier than others on our list but after you use them, you will understand that the price is justified for ho they perform.
These paddles weigh 10 pounds but that is for two paddles, so each paddle weighs around 5 pounds which is a little heavy. These means they may be tougher to transport as you will already have the weight of your kayak. Best used if you have a partner or a two-person kayak.
5. Aqua-bound manta ray
Perfect for rougher waters
Able to be feathered between zero and sixty degrees
Harder to store than other paddles on our list
If your kayaking trip involves some serious rapids or the need for quick movements and adaptability, the Aqua-Bound MantaRay Fiberglass Paddle should definitely be on your list.Read more
Fashioned out of lightweight but durable fiberglass material, the blades are able to easily move through the water and move water out of the way with each powerful stroke.
The paddle is designed for use in rough waters and designed for high-angled entry into the water. It can also be easily pulled apart into two pieces for easy storage and feathering as needed. Overall it’s a simple and solid design.
Slightly asymmetrical in design, but still fairly wide, these blades are a great choice for situations where you really don’t know what’s coming around the next bend. Plus, with a snap of a button, you can easily adjust the angle of the blade from 0 degrees to 60 degrees in either direction. And with the overall wider profile, you actually end up doing less of the work, which is a great thing for a beginner.
The shaft is made from a lightweight reinforced fiberglass material that is surprisingly durable.
While it does come easily apart into two pieces, the blades and the elongated shaft overall makes storage and transportation slightly more difficult than the other kayak paddles on the list.
6. Seasense x-treme II
Relatively easy to use
Great for choppy waters
Blades bend a bit easier than we would like
If you’re looking for a relatively lightweight paddle that can easily be used in a wide array of situations, this paddle with a mix blade design will be a big help.Read more
The blades are made from a fiberglass filled nylon material that is very lightweight and strong. However, the blade themselves have been known to bend when being used to push off harder objects such as sand bars or rocks.
This paddle is designed to be easily used in a wide array of situations, especially one where there is likely to be higher winds, where feathering may be a good option.
This paddle is designed with an asymmetrical blade on each end. The blades are about as long as they are wide, which makes this paddle a great choice for choppy waters that are a bit harder to navigate.
The shaft is a two-piece aluminum shaft that is fairly lightweight and strong. It also features three locking positions for easy feathering.
Overall this kayak paddle is easy to store and transport, although the aluminum shaft can be a bit heavier than others on this list.
7. Carlisle magic plus
Usable in a wide array of situations
Designed to be easy on the joints
Easy to store
Blades have been known to become loose on occasion
Looking for a kayak paddle that will allow you to have a great day on the river without sacrificing your joints? The Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle is designed to do just that.Read more
The blades on this kayak paddle are made from a lightweight yet strong glass-filled polypropylene which allows for added strength as it pushes through the water, and flexibility to allow for a lower amount of impact on your arms.
The paddle weighs just under 36 ounces, and the lengths range between 220 and 240 centimeters or 86 to 94 inches in length, so chances are you’ll find the right size for your kayaking needs. Plus it easily breaks down into two pieces, so storing it isn’t a problem. The one complaint we had was that the blades were known to come loose over time. However, we don’t believe that they were designed that way.
The blade shape is slightly asymmetrical, which makes it a great choice for those situations where you don’t quite know what you’ll be facing. In addition, the overall scooped shape of the blade makes it easy to move it through the water creating powerful strokes without much effort.
The shaft is made from lightweight fiberglass material and features two easy to use grip areas that make paddling a lot easier on the hands and arms overall.
This paddle easily breaks down into two smaller pieces, so it can easily be stored along with your kayak, transported in just about any four-wheeled vehicle, and is lightweight enough to carry on its own.
8. Solstice 4
Easy to store
Compact size when taken apart
Very reasonable price
Blades could be stiffer for faster moving waters
The Solstice 4 Piece Quick Release Paddle provides a fantastic way for a kayaker to not only brave some challenging rapids but also a great way to transport their paddle and kayak to those potentially far off places.Read more
The blades are made of a hard molded plastic that is relatively lightweight and yet reasonably strong.
Unlike other of the best kayak paddles on this list, this paddle is designed for compact travel, and can easily be split into four separate pieces, the largest one measuring 30.5 centimeters in length. In addition, the overall weight is just 2.7 pounds, making it one of the lighter ones on the market. The only two real complaints we encountered was that the parts became harder to pull apart and put together with use and that the blades could be a little more stiff for use in more turbulent waters.
The blade is asymmetrical in shape, and relatively wide and short. This allows them to function well in faster flowing, more demanding waters such as a river, although some customers indicated the preference for a stiffer blade for more fierce rapids.
The shaft is made of aluminum and as stated earlier, can be easily divided into four segments for easier storage. It’s a matter of simply sliding the parts together or apart with a simple twist.
Of all the kayak paddles on this list, this one that has the ability to split into four parts provides the most versatility when it comes to storage and transportation. The relatively small size of the pieces – at most 30.5 centimeters- allows the paddle to be stored in a wide array of places, including the trunk of your car, carried in a large backpack, or even stored in the kayak itself.
9. Advanced elements ultralite pack
Extremely lightweight and easy to use
Easily stored in a backpack
Blades are shaped to handle most types of rapids that you would encounter
The shaft may be too small in diameter for some tastes
If you’re looking for one of the lightest and easiest kayak paddle to use, the Advanced Elements Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle may just be what you’ve been searching for.Read more
The blades are made of hardened resin plastic and are relatively lightweight.
The paddle is designed to be easily broken down into four separate pieces and reduces from a length of 224 centimeters down to a length of 60 centimeters. That’s a difference of over five feet! It’s clearly been designed for use on backpacking trips along with an inflatable raft or kayak. The overall weight is also surprisingly little, just 23.6 ounces. However, we did notice that the decrease in weight did mean less overall material, which could lead to breakage under more strenuous use.
The blade is symmetrical around the staff, but is relatively wide, making it ideal for use in multiple situations, whether it’s a calm lake or a river with calmer rapids.
The shaft appears to be a lightweight reinforced plastic material that is a bit thinner in diameter than most other kayak paddles but does become easier to handle after a while.
This particular kayak paddle is designed for storage in a backpack for use and transport in a wilderness environment. Whether you are portaging your kayak over to the next river or inflating one to use along the shoreline, this paddle can easily stay apart and fit into your backpack for easy retrieval later.
10. Shoreline marine propel motion
Longer shaft suitable for wider kayaks or taller people
The longer paddle may be difficult for storage
If you’re looking for a respectable lightweight paddle that is slightly longer than the others on this list at 96 inches in length, this kayak paddle may be just what you need.Read more
The blades are made with lightweight plastic material.
The paddle is designed to be easily broken apart with the push of a snap button into two pieces. In addition, with a simple twist of the shaft, the paddle blades can easily be feathered as needed by the user.
The blade is asymmetrical in shape and they are slightly curved. They are, however, a little bit more narrow than what is normally seen in river kayaking. This combination makes it a good choice for a variety of situations, but not including stronger or faster moving waters such as those around waterfalls or fast-moving streams.
The shaft is comprised of lightweight aluminum material with two grips on either side of the central point to aid in hand placement.
Because of the longer length, even in two pieces, this kayak paddle is a bit harder to store overall. While it will fit in the back of a pick-up truck or garage, there may be some issues fitting it into smaller vehicles.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to kayaking, whether it’s in the open ocean or handling a Class Three rapids, your paddle is an essential tool. Each time your kayak paddle passes through the surface of the water, there is a chance that it might be damaged by the water, a rock, or even debris or litter. Therefore, it’s essential that the blade of the paddle be made of a material that is not only light enough to allow for good maneuverability but also strong enough to withstand what it may encounter.
With new innovations and designs, kayak paddles on this list make use of lightweight fiberglass or carbon fiber material, both of which are reasonably strong and lightweight, although they can have their disadvantages as well. Overall, when choosing your next set of kayak paddles, you want to ensure that the material will be tough and you can verify this by reading the customer reviews to see how the paddles held up from other customers who decided to purchase the paddles and put them to the test.
Of course, what the blade is comprised of really pales in comparison to what the overall design is. There are quite a few different designs available, and what you need greatly depends on what type of kayaking you’re planning on enjoying in your time on the water. If your adventures have you paddling through calmer waters, such as a lake or the open ocean, a Paddle Design that is suited for low-angle paddling.
These blades are usually long and narrow and require less effort and energy to move through the water. However, if you’ll more likely to be in environments that require powerful strokes and quick, high angle movement, a paddle that has blades that are wider and designed to quickly move water out of the way is probably more beneficial.
In one way, the shaft is the backbone of a quality kayak paddle. It’s what you hold onto and move to perform your stroke. It needs to be light enough to be comfortable in your hands, long enough to provide propulsion, and strong enough to withstand a great deal of abuse. Plus, it also needs to allow for easier storage and transport out of the water. That’s a pretty tall order.
Thankfully, most of the shafts in this list have found an ideal balance between strength, comfort, and durability without too much of a hassle. While not every shaft choice is not perfect for every situation, having a shaft that fits your needs generally speaking is a great idea.
Regrettably, you can’t spend all your time testing the waves. Sooner or later you’re going to have to bring your kayak paddles out of the water and put them into storage. Whether you’re transporting them to the next location or hanging them up for another season, being able to easily break down the paddles and store them away is essential to making sure they last.
Thankfully, the shafts listed here are well made and relatively easy to break down and put back together when necessary. Chances are you won’t have too many surprises here. Overall, the two factors you want to consider is if your kayak paddles compress or break apart in order to store more conveniently and that your paddle is lightweight to ensure when you are transporting it, it will not weigh you down. You already will have a kayak that you are transporting, you do not want any more extra weight then you need to carry.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When kayaking don't think that the more power you apply, the more stable and faster you will go. Kayaking is about the technique and with proper technique you will be able to float down the river with ease and be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of nature.
Make sure when looking for your next set of kayak paddles, that they are lightweight as some are heavier than the rest which could weigh you down and cause issues as you will have more strain on your body when transporting your kayak and paddles. Also, make sure if possible to connect your paddles to your kayak when transporting to make it easier to carry!
Other Factors to Consider
Like most sports that focus on the individual rather than the team, there are actually a few different types of kayaking that people can enjoy. Each type is based on the kind of water you will be traveling through, such as the open ocean, a lake, a river, or even the shoreline environment.
If you are a person who enjoys white water rafting, or the excitement of having to make quick decisions to make it through a difficult pass, chances are you’ll enjoy kayaking down a river with a few rapids and calm areas. If that’s the case, and you’re experienced enough for the challenge, a kayak paddle that allows for high-angled entry into the water, with wider, but shorter blades is certainly more suited to your tastes. However, if you prefer a little bit calmer approach, such as moving through more tranquil waters such as the ocean or a lake, a paddle that allows for a lower angle of entry and less powerful strokes may be more suitable.
Just as there are different types of kayaking adventures out there, there are different types of kayaks used primarily for each one. For example, a kayak that is used in a river environment is usually relatively narrow and is designed for increased maneuverability and speed. However, a touring kayak, which is mostly used in calmer waters, is usually wider and is made for stability and ease of movement.
Whichever type of kayak you use, the kayak paddle you choose should be long enough to fit the kayak in question. Essentially, the length of the kayak paddle is dependent on three main factors, your torso size, your overall physical condition, and the width of the kayak you’re using. The taller you are, or the wider the kayak, the longer the paddle should be. But you also need to take into account your physical condition, since longer paddles are often harder to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why are kayak paddle blades feathered?
Not all kayak paddle blades are feathered, actually. The term feathering refers to the act of having the two blades at different angles from the horizontal line. When the blades are not feathered, the paddle can easily lay on the ground flat. When the blades are feathered, they are turned at angles to the horizontal, usually thirty, sixty or ninety degrees off the horizontal line.
The purpose of feathering is to help you keep control of your paddle during times when you’re traveling into higher winds. The higher angle- say sixty degrees- will allow you to cut through the high winds more easily and slice down into the water with each stroke. Conversely, if the winds are at your back, the tilted blades act something like mini sails, allowing you to harness the wind to help you power into the next stroke.
q: What are the different types of kayak paddles?
There are actually a few different ways to distinguish between different kayak paddles, including length, blade style, and style of the shaft. However, for the most part, kayakers tend to divide paddles into three basic categories – recreational, touring, and performance style.
The recreational style of kayak paddle is probably the one most people are familiar with. The shafts are usually straight, and measure between five and eight feet from end to end. The blades are usually asymmetrical in shape, and overall the paddles are designed for a wide array of uses both in calm and turbulent waters.
Touring kayak paddles, by contrast, are designed for kayakers who enjoy a longer trip in calmer waters, such as the open ocean or large lakes. The shafts are sometimes bent for more ergonomic use, and the blades themselves are often more narrow and symmetrical in shape. They are designed to help the kayaker move more smoothly through the water, not necessarily at a faster rate.
Performance style paddles, however, are designed for the serious kayak in mind, one who wants to push themselves to their limits, either for excitement or health purposes. They are usually comprised of ultralight materials that are designed to maximize the amount of speed and strength used in each and every stroke.
q: How much weight can they carry?
While a few pounds here and there might not sound like much when it comes to kayaking, everything can easily add up. Not only do you have to consider the weight of the water that you will be pushing with the paddle. Both those can add up pretty quickly. Since you can’t really change the weight of the water, the only option you have is to find a paddle that feels comfortable and light in your hands.
q: What type of blade shape do I need?
Generally speaking, there are two different types of blade shape that a kayaking enthusiast should consider when buying a paddle – symmetrical and asymmetrical. As their name implies, a symmetrical blade has the same basic shape around the shaft of the paddle, while the asymmetrical one does not.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Because of their shape, symmetrical blades are often easier to use, since it really doesn’t matter which way you hold them. They are often well suited for beginners or those situations where the speed of stroke is important, such as white water rafting.
q: How should I hold my kayak paddle?
There are a few steps to holding your kayak paddle correctly. The first is to make sure that the paddle itself is positioned well. Start with making sure that the concave, or curved side of the paddle faces you. That way, when it enters the water, it will push the water away from you propelling you forward. Next, if the blades are asymmetrical, make sure that the tapered edge is closer to the water. This makes it easier for the blade to cut the surface of the water. If you were to have the longer side enter the water first, you’d have much more resistance, which would lead to a less powerful stroke.
Now that you have the paddle in the right orientation, the next step is to position your hands correctly. Most people place their hands about 8 inches on either side of the shaft’s center point. A good rule of thumb is that your hands should line up comfortably with your shoulders. This wider grip allows for greater control and flexibility. If you’re traveling over longer distances, a slightly more narrow grip, one of about five inches on either side of a center point offers less control, but it is more relaxing.
Now onto the actual hand grip. One thing to realize is that one side is considered your “control side” and the other is considered the “loose” side. The control side is usually your dominant hand, and for most people, that is the right hand. On this side, your grip should be firm, but not excessively tight, and your knuckles should line up with the edge of the blade. The loose side as the name implies has the same basic style of grip but isn’t as tight. Essentially the control side is used to direct the paddle the way you want it to go, while the loose side is left to freely rotate so that the correct edge of the blade enters the water. And finally, try to keep the paddle itself a good distance, about a foot in front of your torso. This allows for the free movement of the paddle.