Best Kayak Paddles – How to Choose a A Good Kayak Paddle

best kayak paddle

best kayak paddle

The Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle

Owning a well-built and expensive kayak is of little use if you don’t have the right paddle alongside it.

It is true that paddles are included when purchasing a kayak. However, while manufacturers pay a great deal of attention to the materials and design of the vessel, there is less effort spared on the paddles.

Therefore, if you want the best kayak paddle, you are going to often need to buy it separate from the paddle.

The options below contain many of the attributes that make up a superior paddle.

This includes durability, well-designed blades, and the overall construction of the paddle.

Best Kayak Paddles

SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

The SeaSense X-1 is the kayak paddle that I would recommend to beginner kayakers or those who don’t have a particular paddling style.

If you like to switch it up with your paddling, this model is versatile enough to cater to various techniques.

The foam grips are ideally placed along the shaft to make sure that you can comfortably use a paddling position that you are comfortable with.

The shaft is made from durable aluminum. This helps to balance out the weight of the paddle while also ensuring durability.

In addition, the shaft is also largely corrosion resistant, making it an easy paddle to maintain.

The blades are made from molded plastic, allowing for added strength.

This paddle is 84 inches long and weighs just a little over two pounds. Therefore, even smaller paddlers will be able to use it with ease, without feeling burdened.

There are adjustable drip guards, ensuring that your hands stay dry all throughout your journey.

The X-1 is great for anyone who travels a great deal with their kayaking gear.

This paddle can be disassembled into two smaller pieces and carried with ease. This paddle is strong, light, and comfortable enough to be used on longer kayaking trips and works well with all types of kayaks.

To top all of this, the X-1 is also one of the least expensive paddles on this list. You get great quality, for just a fraction of the cost.

Specs:

  • 84 inches, 2.2lbs
  • Made from aluminum and molded plastic
  • Foam grips
  • Adjustable drip guards
On Sale
SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle, 84-Inch
378 Reviews
SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle, 84-Inch
  • Two Piece Aluminum Construction
  • Lightweight, Black Molded Plastic Blades
  • Adjustable Drip Guards/Foam Rubber Grips
  • Floats

Airhead AHTK-P2 Kayal Paddle

For the kayakers who are a bit more experienced and who value efficiency, the Airhead AHTK-P2 paddle is a great performer.

Something that I noticed about this paddle when I took it out to test it was that it favored left-handed paddlers more.

While those who are right handed shouldn’t have too much trouble with this paddle, it is best suited to left-handed individuals.

The size of the blades, as well as the curvature, mean that the paddles are quite efficient in the water. They take the energy being expended by the paddler and convert into some serious power.

This makes this paddle well suited to longer distances as you will not get tired as quickly.

The shaft is made from aluminum which does it give it a certain amount of durability as well as makes it lightweight. It is also protected from corrosion and similar wear and tear.

The paddle, in total, is seven feet long and weighs over two pounds, which makes it suitable for paddlers of most sizes.

One of the benefits of this paddle is that it floats. This means that if you happen to drop it in a deep body of water, you won’t have to worry about it sinking to the bottom.

There are two foam hand grips to ensure continuing comfort as you use this paddle. It also breaks up into two equal parts, ideal for both travelling as well as storage.

Specs:

  • 7 feet long
  • Curved blades
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Foam grips
  • Drip rings
On Sale
AIRHEAD AHTK-P2 Deluxe Kayak Paddle 2 sect Alum 84' Curved Blade
142 Reviews
AIRHEAD AHTK-P2 Deluxe Kayak Paddle 2 sect Alum 84" Curved Blade
  • 7-foot, 2-section kayak paddle with curved blades
  • Breaks into 2 pieces for easy storage and transport
  • Adjustable blade angle for standard and offset paddling
  • Curved blade surfaces promote greater paddling efficiency
  • Lightweight aluminum shaft, drip rings, and foam hand grips

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

If I had to crown one paddle more progressive than many of the others on this list, I would choose the Carlisle Magic Plus.

With these features and at this price tag, this paddle is best suited to more serious kayakers.

In particular, those who like kayaking in whitewater are going to be especially pleased with what this model has to offer.

Unlike many of the other cheaper options, this kayak is made from fiberglass and polypropylene. The shaft is composed of fiberglass, making it incredibly light to hold in your hands, especially for long periods of time.

Also, shafts made from this type of material are unlikely to be impacted by continuous exposure to sunlight.

It is also great at resisting mildew and bacteria growth as well. Then, there are the blades, which are largely why this paddle is great for whitewater kayaking.

The blades are constructed from high impact, glass filled polypropylene. As such, they perform well even when there is a lot of pressure and abuse from the water.

Despite the durability of the blade, it still affords the paddler a little bit of flex. Due to this, there is less strain put on the paddler’s arms, not only making this paddle more comfortable, but also easier on the joints.

Even the design of the blades is conducive to its performance. The paddle is available in varying lengths – 220cm, 230cm, and 240cm.

This allows you to choose a shaft length that is best suited to your own height and size.

Specs:

  • Varying shaft lengths
  • Constructed from fiberglass and glass filled polypropylene
On Sale
Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle - Polypro Blades/Fiberglass Shaft (Cloud, 230 cm)
254 Reviews
Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle - Polypro Blades/Fiberglass Shaft (Cloud, 230 cm)
  • Blade material: glass reinforced polypropylene
  • Shaft material: wrapped fiberglass
  • Available blade colors: cloud, sunrise, and dark cherry
  • Available length: 220 cm, 230 cm, 240 cm
  • Weight: 39.8 oz

Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle

The Shoreline Marine paddle is a favorite among paddlers, especially recreational and beginner paddlers.

Although it doesn’t offer up the greatest performance, it is mid-range both in price as well as design.

The shaft is made from good quality aluminum, ensuring that it is relatively strong, lightweight, and resistant to corrosion.

In fact, you can use this paddle in saltwater areas and not see any rusting or warping.

The shaft is a little long at 96 inches. Therefore, this might be better suited to taller individuals or those who will not tire easily.

The blades are made from plastic and while they are efficient, these are not the strongest blades around. It is important to be careful with the blades because it can snap if there is too much pressure exerted on it.

Of course, for this price point, it is a little difficult to complain about limited durability and they do help you to move smoothly through the water.

It does have a three position system, however. As a result, you will find it easy to customize the paddle to suit your preferred paddling style.

The foam grips on the shaft and well padded and appropriately placed. This allows you to use the paddles for a long time and still maintain the same level of comfort.

There are drip guards on either side, ensuring that your hands stay dry the whole time.

This paddle can be pulled apart into two separate and smaller parts.

Specs:

  • 96 inches, 2.35lbs
  • Contoured, plastic blades
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Three position system
Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle Rounded 96'
911 Reviews
Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle Rounded 96"
  • Length: 96 inches
  • Drip guards to help keep you dry
  • Three position system
  • Contour molded blades
  • Foam grips for comfort

Solstice 4 piece Quick Release Paddle

Like many of the other kayak paddles, the Solstice paddle too can be broken down into smaller pieces.

This particular design stands out, however, as instead of the typical two segments, the shaft can be separated into four pieces.

This makes even easier to carry with you and can even be stored in a backpack.

Fortunately, while the paddle can break down into smaller pieces, it interlocks well. This means that you don’t have to worry about it falling apart while you are paddling.

The shaft is made from aluminum and is of average length. Therefore, it is suitable for a wider range of paddlers.

The blades have been designed so that are quite efficient in the water. Even with the least amount of effort, you are going to find it easy to move forward. This makes it a preferred option for longer trips as you can reserve a lot of strength with this paddle.

The paddle allows for you to choose your favorite of your three positions, and accommodates your particular style quite well.

The shaft contains two foam grips for added comfort. One of the grips is an indexed grip. This allows you to instinctively know the angle at which the blade is at. This is an interesting feature that is not often found but can be very useful to experienced kayakers.

The paddle also has drip guards to prevent you from getting drenched while paddling.

Specs:

  • Aluminum shaft
  • Index foam grip
  • Four piece setup
On Sale
Solstice by Swimline 4 piece Quick Release Paddle
89 Reviews
Solstice by Swimline 4 piece Quick Release Paddle
  • Aluminum Performance Paddle
  • 4 piece Quick Release
  • 3 position adjustability
  • compact for storage and travel
  • the outdoors awaits, dip your blade and take off

Crooked Paddle Company Curved Paddle

At this price, the Crooked Paddle Company Curved paddle is actually a good bargain.

It is made from lightweight, high-quality materials, taking this paddle to the next level. The shaft of the paddle is made from aluminum. Lightweight, tough, and resistant to corrosion, this is a material that will last you for a long time, even if you tend to kayak in saltwater areas.

Then, there are the blades which are made from fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades. The first thing you can expect from these blades is that they are going to be tough and durable. Much like the shaft, the blades are going to last you for ages, making this paddle a great investment.

Of course, this material also makes the blades incredibly light and is a viable option even for the paddlers without a great amount of strength.

The design of the paddle enables you to use any of the three position settings that you are most used to.

There are foam grips on either side of the paddle, with one of the sides having an indexed grip.

This comes in useful for more experienced kayakers who don’t want to keep glancing down to check the angle of their blade.

The paddle is available as a seven foot and an eight-foot option. The paddle can be disassembled into two pieces, allowing you to easily transport it.

The paddle comes with a two-year warranty.

Specs:

  • Aluminum shaft, fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades
  • Available as 7 and 8 feet
  • Indexed grip
  • Drip guards
Curved Kayak Paddle
87 Reviews
Curved Kayak Paddle
  • Lightweight anodized aluminum shaft with fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades
  • Three position push-button feather settings
  • Tow piece designed for convenient storage
  • 2-year warranty

How to Choose a A Good Kayak Paddle

There is a lot to consider when choosing the right kayak paddle. From the size of the shaft to the shape of the blade, here is what you need to know about the process:

The Shaft

The shaft and the blade are often composed of two separate materials as they each need to perform a different function.

The most common material used is aluminum. It is durable, easily shaped, and perhaps most importantly impervious to corrosion. Paddles made from aluminum tend to be the most affordable.

You can also find incredibly lightweight fiberglass and carbon paddles. Of course, these are a good deal more expensive. These are best suited for more experienced kayakers, who are focused on speed and performance.

People don’t typically take the diameter of the shaft into consideration but depending on the person, it can be quite important.

For instance, more petite people with smaller hands may find it quite uncomfortable to have to hold onto shafts with average diameters.

“You should always make sure that your hand can fully – and comfortably – enclose over the shaft”

The Blades

The Materials

To start with, let’s look at what blades are typically made from. Paddles that are cheaper tend to have blades made from plastic. These don’t require a lot of maintenance and they are affordable as well. The only issue that arises with such blades is that they can be a little heavy.

Carbon fiber and fiberglass are also being introduced into the market in a big way. Although they are the costlier option, they are light and durable. This can be particularly useful for those who paddle great distances in their kayaks.

The Design

Then, there is the shape and design of the blades. This can be quite a convoluted topic as manufacturers tend to do a lot of mixing and matching when it comes to the overall design of the blade. Therefore, it can be a bit difficult to accurately differentiate between the types available.

The most important things that you should keep in mind are the differences within symmetrical and asymmetrical blades, as well as long and wide blades.

In the beginning, symmetrical blades were quite popular but now it is asymmetrical blades that dominate the market. Symmetrical blades are ones where both sidelong halves mirror each other. With asymmetrical, on the other hand, the halves have different lengths and shapes. The advantage of asymmetrical blades is that they make paddling a lot more efficient. Therefore, you have to use up less energy with these type of paddles.

It is easy to see that some blades are longer than others, while others are wider. This, too, is relevant when it comes to choosing a paddle. It all comes down to what you are hoping to get out of your paddle. Do you want speed? Or, do you want something that easy to paddle? For speed, you should look for blades that are shorter and wider, as these offer up more power. If you want to save on energy, you can use a blade that is longer and narrower.

Style of Paddling

Your style of paddling also impacts your paddle purchasing decision.

The styles can be identified as being either high angle paddling or low angle paddling.

High angle paddling is what results in more powerful strokes, causing the kayak to move faster. Here, a shorter shaft is best, along with blades that are short and wide.

For low angle paddling, the shaft depends on what you are most comfortable with. The blade, however, should be a little longer and thinner so that it is more efficient.

Size of the Kayak

You will need to do more than just look at the paddle, you will also need to consider the kayak that you are using. In particular, you will have to make a note of the width of the kayak.

On average, recreational kayaks, particular those that are tandem designs will be quite wide. On the other end of the spectrum, you have sea and touring kayaks. These are quite narrow. The wider the kayak is, the longer your paddle is going to need to be. After all, it needs to hang over the width of the kayak and be long enough for you to plunge into the water.

The only addendum to this would be with whitewater kayaking.

Here, the focus is more on the size of the individual than the vessel. If you are particularly big or tall, you will find that longer paddles are well suited to your physique. On the other hand, more petite individuals would feel comfortable with shorter shafts.

Your Size

The size that you are will also impact the type of kayak that you will need. In terms of height, you can’t simply discern whether a paddle is going to be a good fit just by considering how tall you are. What you should be looking at here is the length of your torso. Take a look at this guide to find the right sized paddle for you:

Torso Length (Inches) Paddle Length (cm)
22 – 24 180 – 200
26 190 – 210
28 220 – 220
30 210 – 230
32 220 – 240
34 230 – 250
36 240 – 250
38 250

The other thing that you will need to keep in mind is your individual build. For individuals on the smaller side, you will have to determine if speed or power is your highest priority.

For those looking to be fast, you should opt for blades that have a smaller surface area. Conversely, if it is power that you are after, you should invest in a bigger blade.

If you are tall or particularly heavyset, you are going to need a balance that offsets you. Long paddle shafts and wide blades are often most suited to that task.

For well-built individuals whose main concern is performance, short paddle shafts with wide blades will suit you best. Such a paddle would offer greater power and speed.

Portability

It is becoming quite common to see kayak paddles that can be unlinked and separated into two parts. Considering that most paddles are between six and nine feet, this is a logical design. It allows you to travel with your paddles. It is important to carefully look at the point at which these two sides attach and detach. You will need to ensure that every time the pieces are locked together, it is secure. This is key to making sure that the paddle doesn’t fall apart mid-trip.

These are the things that you will have to look at when purchasing a kayak paddle of your own.

Of course, you can cut down on the hassle and just choose one shown here.


Last update on 2017-10-18 at 05:41 / Affiliate links / Images / Prices from Amazon Product Advertising API

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