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10 Phenomenal Kayak Paddle Reviews for Smooth Sailing in 2018

Sports & Outdoors

Find the best kayak paddle. Bestazy delivers you a wide range of price points, in addition to a buyer’s guide to help you decide which is best for you.

Last updateNovember 7, 2018
Reading Timeloader Minutes
Spencer Lowe
Today’s expert
Spencer Lowe
10 Phenomenal Kayak Paddle Reviews for Smooth Sailing in 2018

Our leaders

Best of the best
Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle
5 / 5

Pros

Light weight

Comes in any size

Portable

Comes in many color varieties

Excellent for beginners and experts

Cons

Expensive

Learn more
Pros

Responsive

Outstanding warranty

Durable

Highly adjustable

Light

Cons

For experienced kayakers only

Expensive

Learn more
Best for the money
ADVANCED ELEMENTS Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle
4.5 / 5

Pros

Lightest kayak paddle

Versatile

Highly portable

Highly storeable

Durable

Very affordable

Cons

Not as responsive as others

Quality concerns with ferrule

Lower quality materials

Only one length option which is very short

Learn more
Pros

Lightweight

Durable

Low-angle ready

Cons

Expensive

No Posi-Lok ferrule

Learn more
Runners up

Also good products

4 / 5

This super light carbon paddle is an awesome product if you fit its single size option.

Carlisle Magic Mystic Plus Kayak Paddle
Polypro Blades/Fiberglass Shaft
4 / 5

The bend in this paddle’s shaft will keep your joints comfortable on long tours.

Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle
with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece)
3.8 / 5

This is one of our favorite beginner options for its durability, price point, and quality.

3.6 / 5

This is a gorgeous wooden kayak paddle that functions at a high level.

3.5 / 5

This paddle is a good option if durability is your chief concern.

3 / 5

Sometimes, you just need something affordable! This product gets the job done for a very fair price.

How We Decided

31Products
Tested
67Hours
Spent
06Experts
Interviewed
17Consumers
Consulted
Spencer Lowe
Today’s expert
Spencer Lowe

Spencer is a long time kayaking fanatic. He knows kayaks like the back of his paddle.

General shopping guide

If you are a kayaker (or Catholic school teacher), you probably already know how big a difference the right paddle can make. When it comes to your comfort and efficiency on the water, it’s essential that you have the best kayak paddle for you.

The right kayak paddle will keep you cruising along at a nice pace while also holding off your fatigue. But everyone is different, of course. Depending on your body type, fitness, and experience, what defines the best kayak paddle might change drastically.

This is where picking a kayak paddle can get a bit complicated. You’ll need to understand a few things about yourself as well as how you intend to use the paddle before you make any purchases.

Luckily, Bestazy has assembled an excellent buyers guide and gathered some great options that you might consider depending on your sizes, styles, and preferences.

best kayak paddle

Research You Can Trust

Here at Bestazy, we value the trust and total confidence that our readers place in us above all else besides revenue from daily unique visitors.

So you can be certain that our reviews would never sell you down the river to, say, satisfy our uncontrollable lust for fresh clicks.

But in all seriousness...

A very meticulous group did collaborate to bring you some of the best possible paddle options on the market. We consulted a wide range of industry professionals and expert opinions and sifted through tons of products before narrowing down the list to these selected ten.

You can be certain that if you choose a paddle using this buyers guide and product list, you’ll be getting an outstanding product!

Considerations

The 30-Second Review

We get it: you don’t always have time to read an entire article on every single product you buy. With that in mind, Bestazy brings you everything you need to know to make a decision in just 30-seconds!

First, remember that there are three primary tiers of materials that are most common in shafts. In order from affordable to high-quality, they are aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.

The same goes for kayak paddle blades. There are three basic materials to look out for: plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. The firmest of these is carbon fiber, which will function the best in all respects while remaining lightweight.

Paddles will also be made entirely from wood sometimes, but you’ll need to assess these individually. They’ll likely function outside the normal spectrum of other paddles on a less linear quality.

You should also keep in mind that fiberglass and carbon fiber are going to be a bit less durable than aluminum and plastic in most cases. If you are a beginner, it might be a good idea to go with one of those options as you learn proper paddle maintenance.

kayaking kayaker kayak water sports 40859 - 10 Phenomenal Kayak Paddle  for Smooth Sailing in 2018But that’s not all that matters.  

You also will need to take some measurements compare those against recommended paddle lengths. To use these charts, you’ll need to know your height and the width of your kayak.

Note that if you fall between two size options, you should go for the shorter one. Shorter equals lighter and lighter equals less fatigue.

There are a few other extra options to consider, as well. Some paddles will have bends in the shaft to allow you for more natural hand placement. Some will be ovalized for a more comfortable grip.

Others will be feathered. Feathering is when the blades are set at different angles so that the blade outside the water can cut through air easily. This increases control and reduces fatigue.

Lastly, if possible, you should always go with an asymmetrical dihedral blade design, which prevents fluttering as your paddle moves through water.

Everything You Need to Know

Buying a paddle might seem like a trivial part of the kayaking experience, however, there’s actually a lot going on just beneath the surface.

At this point, Bestazy would ask that you pause for a moment and reflect on that sick ass pun. 😎

Although choosing a paddle may seem easy, you’ll need to keep several important details in mind if you want to end up with the best possible experience on the water.

Additionally, many of the products on this list are built to last and have outstanding warranties meaning you’re likely to be using them for a long time. That means that how you conduct yourself throughout this purchasing process could stick with you for years–unless you are a supreme court nominee in which case consequences don’t exist.

Lookin’ at you, Brett. 🍺+🙅+🕒=⚖️?… 🤷

For the rest of us, getting the wrong paddle could mean a long time with sore backs, slow speeds, and short excursions. A bad paddle will quickly wear you down and slow you down.

So, make sure to give each paddle you consider a close look in each of the following categories of functionality.

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Shaft Material

In the old days, people used to make paddles from wood. This is a perfectly fine material for a paddle which excelled at water transportation for literally millennia.

(Just don’t let any of those drunken frat bros near it.)

Nowadays, however, we have many more options for lightweight, durable materials that are suitable for paddling. You can find well-made kayaking paddles in aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, and even carbon.

Aluminum is the most common kayak paddle material. It’s cheap and durable. Many people will start their kayaking career with an aluminum paddle, however, most eventually upgrade to something a bit lighter. Also, note that aluminum paddle shafts will become very hot or cold with the outside temperature.

That being said, aluminum paddles are still a staple in the kayaking paddle market since they’re so durable. This durability and affordability make them great as spares or for guests since you don’t have to worry much about how they get treated. Aluminum paddles hold up to abuse extremely well.

However, if you plan on taking more lengthy excursions, you’ll probably want the lightest kayak paddle possible.

Like these:

Plastic is also relatively common when it comes to inexpensive kayak paddles. Plastic is lighter than aluminum but not as durable. Much like the aluminum paddle, plastic paddles are good for beginners.

When you are really ready to upgrade, you’ll probably want to look into fiberglass paddles. These paddles are very lightweight and pretty durable. You’ll want to be a bit more careful where you throw them than with aluminum paddles, but they do hold up pretty well.

You can find decent fiberglass paddles for relatively affordable prices.

If you want to ensure that you are getting the highest functioning paddle material on the market then you should look no further than carbon fiber. These are extremely low weight, which you will really start to notice around the thousandth stroke. On long trips, this can make a huge difference when it comes to stamina.

Pro-tip: Playing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song can also increase rowing stamina by upwards of two billion percent. 🎝♪ Dun-dun da-da-dun-dun da-da-dun-dun da da da da. ♪🎝

The downside here is that if you do decide to go for carbon glass, you’ll need to be prepared to shell out nearly twice the cost of paddles made of other materials.

Blade Material

Blade material is a huge component of managing paddling fatigue. Since the kayak paddle blades are at the ends and must be lifted above the kayak repeatedly, the weight of the blades is felt more than any other part of the paddle.

There are several prominent blade material that you will want to consider, which you may recognize from the previous section: plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.

Let’s take a look.

Plastic is common and affordable, but it has some serious drawbacks when compared to the other two materials. It’s true that plastic paddles are less prone to chipping, however they’re more likely to completely crack. They are also heavier. Most importantly, plastic is much less stiff than the other two options, meaning your paddles will be significantly less efficient and responsive.

It’s true that fiberglass can chip more easily than plastic. However, fiberglass will never completely crack, meaning you’ll always be able to make it back to shore. It’s also much lighter than plastic and highly responsive due to the stiffness of the kayak paddle blades.

Keep in mind that there may be varying degrees of fiberglass used in the blades. Some might only be fiberglass coated or reinforced. Pure fiberglass construction is most ideal.

Carbon fiber takes all of those positive qualities to a greater extent. You should expect to pay more for this peak performance.

kayaking 1149886 1280 - 10 Phenomenal Kayak Paddle  for Smooth Sailing in 2018

Length

Getting the right kayak paddle size depends primarily on two other measurements: boat width and kayaker height. The size of your paddle will also be different depending on how you plan to use it.

Depending on your plans you may be whitewater kayaking or flat water kayaking. You might also have shorter or longer than average proportions. Each of these options will matter when it comes to kayak paddle length.

The best plan is to make your kayak and paddle purchases at once, that way you can focus on getting the right size of both for your body type (since ideal kayak width depends a lot on height as well).

However, this is not always possible.

Sometimes you already have a kayak or are planning on renting. In this situation, you’ll want to focus primarily on your own height as this will ensure that the paddle is at least highly functional, if not quite ideal.

For flat water, if you are under 5’10”, then you’ll want to use a 220 cm to 230 cm paddle, ideally with a 17 to 23-inch kayak. If you are between 5’11” and 6’2”, you’ll want to use a 230 cm to 240 cm paddle with a 23 to 25-inch kayak. Any giants out there over 6’3” will want to go for over 240 cm, ideally with over 25 inches of kayak width.

For whitewater, you’ll want to shave about 40 cm off of each of those recommended lengths.

One final thing to keep in mind:

If you fall right between two recommended lengths, it’s usually better to go with the shorter paddle. This will make your paddle lighter and thus increase stamina. The exception to this would be if you are a person with a proportionally shorter torso, you may need that extra length.

Blade and Shaft Shape

The shape of the paddle is also going to be a big factor. You’ll need to analyze both the blade and the shaft, as well as how they connect, to understand exactly what paddle you are getting.

Blades

There are several terms you’ll want to know for picking out your kayak paddle. The first is asymmetry. Most modern kayak paddle blades are asymmetrical. Because of the angle that paddles go into the water, it’s better for one half of the blade to be shorter than the other.

You’ll also want to know the meaning of dihedral. A dihedral blade will have a rib down the middle, which splits and guides the water allowing it to flow off of the blade more smoothly.  A paddle without this rib can sometimes flutter or vibrate in the water–greatly reducing efficiency and tracking responsiveness.

Also consider this…

Depending on how long you are on the water for, you’ll want a wider or more narrow blade. A narrow blade will reduce fatigue since it’ll be lighter. A wider blade would be better for shorter stretches since they handle better. The increased surface of a wider blade allows your kayak to go faster, as well.

Shafts

There are several variations of the traditional kayaking paddle shaft you may want to consider.

A bent shaft is always a good idea if it’s an option. It may take a day or so to get used to, however you’re muscles and joints will thank you in the long run. The two bent sections of these paddles allows your hands to more naturally grip the paddle, reducing fatigue and discomfort.

Paddle shafts will either be one-piece, two-piece, or four-piece. This won’t have much bearing on quality, however, if portability or storeability is important to you than you may want to go for a two or four-piece.

Some paddle shafts may be ovaled in order to better fit into the palm. Most people find this to be a welcome addition to any paddle. Some people might not want to get used to the less traditional feel, however, so keep that in mind if that sounds like you.

One other shaft option:

Kayak paddle shafts don’t really come in a variety of sizes for different hand measurements. However, if you find that a normal paddle it too big for your hands, you can go with a small-diameter shaft paddle. These are your only two options.

Feathering

Feathering can be a great addition to a paddle for experienced kayakers. In fact, it’s such a good addition that most paddles allow you to adjust whether a paddle is feathered or matched (unfeathered). Some even let you adjust the degree to which the paddle is feathered.

But what is it?!

Feathering refers to the angle of the kayak paddle blades on the shaft in relation to one another. If the kayak paddle blades are on the same plane, they’re matched. If one is on at a different level they’re feathered.

Feathering the blades in this way allows the blade that’s not in the water to produce less drag in the wind. This increases efficiency and will help with control your paddle on particularly windy days.

Paddling Styles

There are two paddling styles in kayaking: low-angle and high-angle. High-angle paddling is more advanced and difficult to perfect. Poor form with a high-angle style will kill your stamina faster than anything. High-angle paddling requires a shorter shaft and wider blades.

If you are a beginner or even intermediate kayaker, you’ll probably want to go with a low-angle paddle. Low-angle paddling is what most people use with typical recreational kayak paddles.

For information on how to perform proper low and high-angle strokes, see the “A Few Things to Know” section a bit further down.

Kayak Paddle Reviews For You

01

Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle

Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle

When it comes to kayaking paddles, you’d be hard pressed to find a more trusted name than “Werner” (although, “Bestazy” also comes to mind).

Werner paddles are often deemed synonymous with the highest quality on the market. In fact, if you’ve read any paddle reviews on Amazon, you’ve probably seen the phrase, “If you want something better go with a Werner.”

This association is not misplaced. Werner paddles are truly phenomenal, and the Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle is no exception.

Here’s why.

This premium paddle makes use of some of the finest materials on the market.

The blades are made of very high-quality fiberglass. This fiberglass will keep you paddling longer and with more control since it's both lightweight and firm. This lightweight is essential when it comes to the blades since the weight at the end of the paddle is felt the most.

The shaft also goes above and beyond when it comes to material and weight. This carbon fiber shaft is our favorite on this list due to its fatigue reduction and comfort.

This paddle weighs in at 27.25 ounces, however, this will vary slightly depending on what size you chose. It comes in 220 cm through 260 cm lengths with 10 cm increments.

The paddle design also leaves nothing to be desired. It uses a mid-sized asymmetrical, dihedral blade (see: What You Need to Know). Functionally, this means you’ll be buying a much more functional and responsive paddle. In testing, we noticed zero fluttering as the paddle moved through the water.

The Smart View Adjustable ferrule allows you to set your Camano 2 to several different angles, while also providing a highly secure connection for this two-piece paddle.

Keep in mind that werner paddles come with a pretty hefty price tag. So you’ll probably want to keep your investment secure with a kayak paddle leash.

Now for the sexy part:

Warranty information. Werner paddles come with a one-year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Features

  1. Fiberglass and carbon fiber construction
  2. Dihedral, asymmetrical blade
  3. HD graphics
  4. 2-piece construction
  5. Smart View Adjustable ferrule


Pros

Light weight

Comes in any size

Portable

Comes in many color varieties

Excellent for beginners and experts

Cons
Expensive

02

Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle

Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle

Aqua-Bound’s competitor to our top pick is nothing to splash at. Although Werner win’s best paddle, Aqua-Bound takes best blade. It's also our favorite choice for experienced kayakers.

But keep in mind: If you currently use the popular low-angle paddling technique, this is not the Product for you. This is a high-angle paddle. This means it's intended for very experienced kayakers who have perfected the high-angle stroke technique--a difficult task.

But if that’s you…

This is an outstanding option.

Aqua-Bound uses a patented material they call Carbon abX. It's lighter, more firm, and holds up better to abuse than fiberglass. The blades are asymmetrical and dihedral so you’ll definitely feel a power and responsiveness in your strokes.

Additionally, these blades are quite wide, which is to be expected from a high-angle paddle. This does add a bit of weight, however we found the power-boost more than makes up for extra load.

The shaft is made of 100% carbon composite, which compounds the effects of the carbon blade’s lightness. Additionally, the shaft is ovalized, which is always a welcome addition. In tests, we found that this paddle kept us comfortable for an extremely long time when used properly.

You’ll also love the total control over feathering you get with the Posi-Lok ferrule system. With this system, you can adjust the blades to any angle you desire. Bestazy found this system highly functional and easy to use.You can find this paddle sized in ten centimeter increments from 210 cm to 240 cm. It weighs about 29.4 ounces depending on the length you chose.

If you are a fisherman, don’t forget to tag a rod holder onto your cart at checkout! Additionally, you may also be interested in this article if you love to fish.

All about that warranty?

Then you are in luck. Aqua-Bound backs their products against all reasonable breakages for two-years. This is not an industry standard warranty--Aqua-Bound goes above and beyond in this regard.

Features

  1. Intended for high-angle style stroke
  2. Carbon blades and shaft
  3. Posi-Lok ferrule
  4. Ovalized shaft
  5. Asymmetrical, dihedral blade


Pros

Responsive

Outstanding warranty

Durable

Highly adjustable

Light

Cons

For experienced kayakers only

Expensive


03

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle

The Advanced Elements Ultralite Pack Paddle is an outstanding value option with a few tricks up its sleeve.

What are they?

This a rare four-piece paddle, which means that this is the most portable paddle on this list. For this reason, the Advanced Elements Ultralite is a great option for any backpackers or anyone with an inflatable kayak (that link also has my all time favorite fishing kayak).

This paddle can also be used without the middle section in case you are in need of something super portable or the lightest kayak paddle possible. In this mode, it's 20 ounces and 169 centimeters. This is a cool addition that may turn out to be extremely useful depending on the buyer.

If portability is important to you, you’ll have a hard time finding a better option than this paddle.

To go with that portability, this paddle also comes in an extremely lightweight--23.6 ounces.

What’s it made of that keeps it so light?

Nothing special. This kayak paddle is made with an aluminum shaft and a plastic blades. We would’ve liked to have seen something a bit fancier, but we also understand that this may have reduced backpacking viability due to durability concerns.

In our tests we did notice that this paddle was a bit less responsive than the previous options on this list--plastic simply isn’t as firm as other materials.

This paddle accomplishes its low weight by offering only a single, quite short length option. We’d have liked to have seen a little bit longer option on this paddle for anyone particularly tall or that uses a wider kayak. The paddle is 224 cm long.

The blades are asymmetrical and dihedral, which should do a great job of preventing flutter.

Our last criticism of this paddle is that the ferrules don’t seem quite as functional as they could be. There are reports of these connections being both too tight to pull apart and too loose for comfort.

This product has a one-year warranty against manufacturer defects. You’ll need to prepay for postage if you need repairs and commercial or non-recreational use voids the warranty.

Features

  1. Four-piece design
  2. Two functional states
  3. Asymmetrical, dihedral blades


Pros

Lightest kayak paddle

Versatile

Highly portable

Highly storeable

Durable

Very affordable

Cons

Not as responsive as others

Quality concerns with ferrule

Lower quality materials

Only one length option which is very short


04

Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Hybrid 2-Piece Snap-Button Kayak Paddle

Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Hybrid 2-Piece Snap-Button Kayak Paddle

It's no coincidence that two out of three of our highest rated paddles are from Aqua-Bound. They make outstanding kayaking equipment. And when it comes to the Sting Ray Hybrid 2-piece paddle you can expect the same.

If you were impressed with the last aqua-bound but are wary of the high-angle stroke, this may be the paddle for you. It comes with many of the same features and is intended for the low-angle kayaking style.

Let’s take a look.

It has a flutter free asymmetrical dihedral blade. The blade on this model will be a bit skinnier than on the high-angle model. However, with a low-angle stroke, that's something you are going to want since it reduces weight.

This model uses fiberglass reinforced blades and a carbon shaft. This combination will make for an extremely light weight paddle that will hold off fatigue on long trips.

This paddle as two-piece construction, which makes it a bit more portable than a one-piece. The furrell holding these pieces together is made in the adjustable snap button style.

You won’t have as much control as with the Posi-Lok system, but you’ll still be able to choose between feathered and matched blades. It would have been nice to see a Posi-Lok option on this paddle.

In tests, we found that the blades were firm and that the paddle increased our tracking responsiveness. It performed best in flat water or slow moving rivers.

Bonus equipment: If you are an avid kayaker, you probably know how frustrating it's to have water sloshing around at your feet. If that sounds like you, consider purchasing a bilge pump.

Aqua-Bound has an outstanding two-year warranty that covers most reasonable breakages.

Features

  1. Fiberglass reinforced blades
  2. Adjustable blade angle
  3. Carbon shaft
  4. 2-piece kayak paddle construction

Pros

Lightweight

Durable

Low-angle ready

Cons

Expensive

No Posi-Lok ferrule


05

KERCO Boomba 2-Piece Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle

KERCO Boomba 2-Piece Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle

This is an excellent option for beginners, as well as those upgrading from a lower-end paddle for the first time. This model will get you most of those high-end features you need for relaxed touring without breaking the bank. You can’t go wrong with a carbon fiber kayak paddle.

With this model, you’ll be getting the best materials without all the frills that can run up the price. The shaft is 100 percent carbon fiber and the blades are a carbon reinforced polymer.

These blades aren’t quite as firm as some of the other high-end carbon fiber kayak paddles, but you’ll certainly notice an upgrade in feel if you are switching from aluminum, plastic, or wood. The blades are asymmetrical and dihedral, so you shouldn’t notice any flutter.

71jYcOh2cmL. SL1500  300x200 - KERCO Boomba 2-Piece Carbon Fiber Kayak PaddleIf this is going to be your first high-end paddle, allow me to introduce you to a product you are definitely going to want. A kayak paddle leash will keep your paddle connected to your boat so that no matter what happens out there, your shiny new paddle won’t get lost.

A kayak paddle leash is a necessity if you plan on getting a premium paddle.

This paddle weighs 29.3 ounces.

What’s the downside?

There are a couple.

First, you should know that this carbon fiber kayak paddle only comes in a single size--230 cm. That means if you fall outside of the recommended height range for a 230 cm paddle (see: What You Need to Know), then this is likely not the paddle for you.

Second, there have been a couple reports of breakages in normal use among other reviews. Although you’d likely receive a replacement, this could be bad news if you are deep into a tour.

No warranty page was available for this product, however Kerco states that they'll replace the paddle within the first twelve month if there are any breakages.

Features

  1. Carbon shaft and blades
  2. Asymmetrical, dihedral blades
  3. Adjustable feathering

Pros

Quality with affordability

Lightweight

No fluttering

Excellent material

Cons

Only a single size available

Reports of breakages


06

Carlisle Magic Mystic Plus Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Magic Mystic Plus Kayak Paddle

If you are looking for a solid beginner paddle that won’t break the bank, this is another great option.

Additionally, if you are thinking about upgrading from lower end models, but aren’t sure it’ll be worth it, then this paddle can give you an idea of what you are paying for. The Carlisle isn’t going to function quite as well as the high-end model, but it'll give you a sense for what a high-end model is and give you a nice performance boost in the meantime.

This is an aluminum shafted paddle, however, the aluminum is tempered meaning the paddle will be able to use less materials. This will decrease weight, increasing paddling stamina.

Additionally, you are getting plastic blades with this product, however this plastic is reinforced with fiberglass in order to give it a more firm feel.

You really shouldn’t compare this to a normal aluminum and plastic paddle, since this paddle is much more lightweight and responsive than those more cheaply made models.

One way they do compare, though:

We especially love this paddle because it doesn’t really cost any more than a typical aluminum and plastic paddle.

This paddle weighs around 35.3 ounces, depending on the length. It comes in three lengths 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm.

This paddle also has a few other great things going for it.

Although this paddle isn’t quite as high-functioning as some of the more expensive options on this list, it's will be quite a bit more durable. Aluminum simply won’t break.

Our favorite feature of this paddle is the bent shaft. This is really an underrated feature that most paddles don’t include. In testing, we found that the bends in the shaft allow the kayaker to more comfortably hold the paddle, without having to put so much stress on joints. You’ll notice this feature’s effect in your stamina, but also after the tour since your joints won’t be hurting at the end of the day.

That makes this an especially good option for anyone with joint troubles.

In testing, we found this to be one of the most comfortable paddles to use--a great option for anyone looking for recreational kayak paddles.

Carlisle doesn't  mention their paddles on their warranty page, where it mentions a lifetime warranty. Bestazy is currently trying to pin down a warranty period for this product.

Since this is our choice beginner product, we would like to take a moment to remind readers that you should always wear a lifejacket when on the water.

Features

  1. Bent shaft
  2. Fiberglass reinforced blades
  3. Tempered aluminum


Pros

Good for beginners

Very comfortable

Affordable

Durable

Cons

No warranty information currently available

Not premium quality


Polypro Blades/Fiberglass Shaft

07

Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle

Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle

If you are looking for something similar to the last option, but aren’t crazy about bent shafts this might be a great paddle for you (there’s probably a phallic joke somewhere in there about bent shafts, but I’m honestly a little bit afraid to find out what it's).

You’ll be getting a very similar product with this paddle, minus the bend.

The blades are again fiberglass reinforced plastic. This won’t function quite as well as pure fiberglass or carbon fiber blades, but they'll get the job done pretty well.

The shaft is also made with the same type of heat treated aluminum. Rather than a bend, however, this product uses an ovalized shaft to increase comfort. This is an excellent addition.

The feathering on this paddle is adjustable to three settings. This is a two-piece paddle, and the connection seems pretty solid. The drip rings on this paddle are a bit wider than average, which we found to be a nice, simple addition that went a long way with regard to comfort.

This paddle does weigh in quite a bit heavier than others on this list at nearly 40 ounces. This may be a better option for someone who doesn’t take particularly long tours. The paddle comes in three lengths: 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm.

Buy with caution.

Although we do like this paddle a lot when shipped as intended, there have been some reports of sloppy business practices and quality assurance. Two other reviewers did not receive their drip rings and one received a broken shaft.

This product does come with a warranty that will cover you in the event that this happens to you. The warranty last one-year and covers defects in manufacturing.

Features

  1. Ovalized shaft
  2. Fiberglass reinforced blades
  3. Adjustable feathering
  4. Heavy duty drip rings

Pros

Affordable

Comfortable

Adjustable

Cons

Reports of defects

On the heavier side

May drain stamina for some kayakers


with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece)

08

Bending Branches Impression Wooden Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Impression Wooden Kayak Paddle

This wooden kayak paddle has several things going for it. And if aesthetics matter to you, you’ll have a hard time finding a better paddle to suit that need.

The Bending Branches Impression paddle is going to feel quite a bit different from you average kayaking paddle. Most paddles are going to put performance over comfort, however, this paddle is ideal for anyone in search of the opposite.

Why?

The wood construction of this paddle means that it'll have a bit more give than other paddles on this list. When it runs through the water, the paddle will give in minuscule ways, which eases joint pain and muscle discomfort.

This comes at the cost of paddling power, meaning that you won’t get as much speed as you would from something more firm. This paddle has extremely wide blades, however, which helps mitigate this factor.

Additionally, this paddle isn’t going to freeze or heat with the day’s temperature. You can use this paddle any time of year without needing gloves or other gear.

Here are the downsides.

This isn’t the lightest kayaking paddle around. The combination of the wood construction and wide blades makes this is a very heavy paddle. This is not the paddle you will want on a long tour or even a medium one.

If you are someone who kayaks primarily on small ponds, however, this may be a great option. The feel will be much less responsive, but you’ll be comfortable.

It does have some standard features that you might have expected to be missing in a wooden kayak paddle. It's a two-piece, which most wooden kayak paddles are not. Additionally, it has three adjustable feathering options.

All “reasonable requests” for breakages are covered by this paddles warranty for up to a year.

Features

  1. Beautiful wood construction
  2. Two-piece
  3. Feathered

Pros

Won’t freeze or overheat

Comfortable

Stylish

Cons

Unresponsive

Heavy

Fatiguing


09

Bending Branches Whisper Aluminum

Bending Branches Whisper Aluminum

Turns out, Bending Branches makes great modernized paddles, as well! This beginner paddle is a great option for anyone who is just getting into the watersport.

For beginners, aluminum construction can be more of a bonus than for more experienced kayakers. If you aren’t very familiar with paddle upkeep, for instance, this paddle is going to be able to withstand a lot of that abuse that new users often put a paddle through.

This paddle won’t perform at a premium level, but it'll certainly get the job done for years to come. Further, the blades use a asymmetrical dihedral design, so they shouldn’t flutter at all.

Keep in mind that it's going to run quite a bit heavier than other paddles on this list, given that it's made of untempered aluminum. This paddle weighs in at just over 50 ounces.

This paddle comes in four lengths: 210, 220, 230, and 240.

As beginners often forget (okay, fine, as I did as a beginner), kayak paddles can sometimes float away. You’ll want to purchase one of these to make sure you don’t end up without a paddle. Also avoid Without a Paddle 2, because that movie was terrible. 💩

All “reasonable requests” for breakages are covered by this paddle’s warranty for up to a year.

Features

  1. Dihedral blade
  2. Asymmetrical blade
  3. Three weight options

Pros

Good for beginners

Durable

Cons

Not premium quality

Plastic blades


10

SeaSense X-Treme II Kayak Paddle

SeaSense X-Treme II Kayak Paddle

If you are on a tight budget but don’t want to be stuck with a bad paddle, you came to the right review. There is a reason that this paddle is one of the most popular on the market.

Although this one might not be as high functioning as some others on this list, it'll also outperform its price point by a huge margin.

Given it’s aluminum construction, it's lighter than you would expect at about 35 ounces. It also has a good an adjustable feathering ferrule, so you should see a bit less fatigue from weight and wind resistance than other paddles at a similar price.

It only comes in one rather long size at 243 cm, so if you are in need of something shorter, you might want to look elsewhere (SeaSence has other good, affordable paddles).

811IwrBy3fL. SL1500  300x92 - SeaSense X-Treme II Kayak PaddleThe blades on this product are plastic. However, they’re still asymmetrical and dihedral, so you can expect your paddle to be flutter free.

Here is what we thought.

In tests, this paddle did not perform at a premium level, but it did greatly exceed our expectations.

This paddle comes with adjustable, heavy-duty drip guards which worked very well and kept our hands dry and comfortable. It has an added ridge in the shaft for strength and two-piece construction for portability and storability.

We were also pretty impressed with the warranty on this paddle. It doesn't  appear that SeaSense puts any warranty period restriction on their limited manufacturer's warranty.

Features

  1. Two-piece construction
  2. Heavy duty drip guards
  3. Adjustable feathering

Pros

Market tested--highly popular

Affordable

Great for price

Great warranty

Cons

Low-grade aluminum

Single length option

Less responsive than other paddles on this list


Other Things To Know

There are a few other things you’ll probably also want to keep in mind. You’ll need to know about the different paddling styles available to you and how to properly execute each. If you are looking to get into high-angle paddling, now might be a good time. You’ll also need to know about safety information and paddle maintenance.

Low-angle Paddling

Low-angle paddling is ideal for more relaxed paddling over long distance. Using this style puts less stress on smaller muscle groups, allowing bigger groups with more stamina to get the job done.

Since the high-angle paddling style can also cause joint and muscle stress, this is a great option for anyone looking out for that rotator cuff in their shoulder.

A downside to low angle paddling is that the boat tends to turn back and forth more as you paddle. This slows things down quite a bit in terms of getting from point A to point B.

Here is the correct form.

With all paddling styles, you should hold your paddle like this: make sure that your knuckles align with the blade. Now, hold the paddle on top of your head. In this position, your hands should be a distance apart such that your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Lower your hands without moving them and make a mental note where they’re.

As you perform your stroke keep in mind that, for low-angle paddling, your hands should never go above your shoulder–this is what causes the paddle to stay at a relaxed, low angle. This put minimal pressure on easy-to-fatigue muscle groups.

With your hand that’s in the air, loosen your grip. This allows the paddle to turn naturally in your hand in preparation for the next stroke and saves your forearm muscles in the long run.

High-Angle Paddling

Mastering proper high-angle paddling technique is difficult. Further, using a high-angle technique without absolutely perfect form will far more harm than good. If you are pretty green to kayaking, this really isn’t the style for you.

If you do feel you are ready to move up to the more advanced paddling style make sure you give yourself a few days on the water to practice before any long excursion.

You’ll also want to make sure that you have the proper paddle for a high-angle stroke. These paddle will be labeled as such and are characterized by a shorter length and wider blade. These paddles are shorter because high-angle paddling occurs closer to the boat and wider for added power.

Why use it at all, then?

When properly performed, the high-angle paddling technique does wonders for your speed, power, and tracking. It’s ideal for more intense, shorter excursions such as whitewater kayaking or other situations with rocks or currents.

High-angle paddling can also be a good idea for ocean kayaking since you’ll need that extra power to navigate waves.

Here is how it works.

For this technique, you’ll want to raise your ‘up’ hand all the way to your cheek, causing the paddle to sit at a much steeper angle. This causes the blade that’s going through the water to sit closer to the kayak.

When the blade moves closer to the kayak, it trajectory through with water is much more horizontal. This means that your blade will curve out less on a vertical access–it’s this curve that causes the kayak to waddle left and right with every stroke, wasting power.

By eliminating this curve, you are eliminating much of the waddling as well, causing your paddle to travel in a much straighter and more controllable manner.

As you pull the water-end blade back with each stroke, loosen your grip on the air-blade side. You’ll naturally want to grip it tighter, but this will cause a lot of undue fatigue in your arms.

Check yourself often.

If you notice that your arm is lowering back down to the shoulder or that your small muscle groups are fatiguing right away, you probably need to reevaluate your paddling form overall. Make sure that you are holding your paddle with your knuckles aligned with the blade and arms at 90 degrees.

Safety

Always wear the appropriate gear when kayaking. You’ll need a life jacket regardless of your expertise or conditions. Anything can happen on the water.

If there are any rocks or protrusions at all where you are kayaking, you should also wear a helmet. If you are whitewatering, it’s essential that you are completely familiar with rapid classes and safety codes.

Make sure to plan your trip ahead of time in order to avoid any unforeseen issues that may lead to unsafe conditions.  University of Idaho has some great resources that make planning a trip easy.

And don’t forget:

You need to drink a ton of water while you kayak. You’ll be using a lot of energy and bodily resources to move the kayak, often on hot days. These conditions will dehydrate you fast.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of dehydration.

Maintenance

Kayaking paddles can be quite expensive. So you’ll want to protect your investment by keeping your paddle in tip-top shape.

Here is how to go about that.

Always store your kayak in a clean, cool, and dry location. This will prevent mold from collecting on you paddle.

The joint of two-piece or four-piece paddles is often where you start to see degradation. Sand and dirt will lodge itself in here on your excursions, so make sure to clean out your joints after every single use.

After cleaning it off, make sure to dry your paddle entirely before storing it. Storing your paddle wet is an awesome way to get mold and mildew on your paddle and surrounding equipment.

Parting Reminders

Overall, keep these few things in mind, and you should be okay.

The paddle length that’s best for you is going to depend on your height and boat width. Make sure to check the tables included in the buyer guide for the right size paddle.

Materials are extremely important. Ideally, you’ll one day purchase a fiberglass or carbon fiber paddle, since these perform the best. However, there are plenty of aluminum, plastic, and even wood paddles that can get the job done just fine.

Choose which style of paddling you are going to use carefully. Different expertise levels, water conditions, and scenarios are going to call for adjustments to your stroke.

Always be safe and take excellent care of your paddles. This means wearing the proper equipment and cleaning that equipment after every single use.

Leaders comparison
The winners

Best products from range

Best of the best

Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle

Our favorite paddle overall is the Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle. It's made from outstanding materials and designs which are going to function at a truly premium level, while still being durable. It includes all the features you’d expect such as adjustable feathering and a dihedral, asymmetrical blade design. The Werner name is trusted in kayaking with good reason.

Best for the money

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle

If you are looking for the best value than the Advanced Elements Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle is going to be your best bet. This paddle has many of the same features of high-end paddles, plus a few extras such as four-piece construction, all while remaining an extremely inexpensive kayak paddle. It's small enough to backpack with and is one of the lightest, best kayak paddles in existence.

If you feel that we have missed a paddle worthy of note or something crucial to selecting the best kayak paddle, let us know in the comments!

Runner-up

FAQ
Faq

Frequently asked questions

Q:

Why does my shoulder hurt after paddling?

You are probably putting undue stress on your rotator cuff--a collection of muscles meant to stabilize your movements more so than doing any heavy lifting of their own. This is extremely common with kayaking. You probably need to check your form or switch to a different paddling style. If you have shoulder problems, stick to a low-angle paddling style and make sure your hand never goes above your shoulder.

Q:

Are more expensive paddles really that different?

Yes, there's a pretty huge gap between low-end and high-end paddle performance. Things like fluttering, fatigue, and poor tracking are much less likely to happen with a lighter paddle built with better materials and designs.

Q:

I fall in-between two recommended paddle lengths. Which should I buy?

Get the shorter one. A shorter paddle will also be lighter since it uses less material. This will help with fatigue and control.


The team
The team

We made this review

Spencer Lowe
Writer Spencer Lowe
Tiffany Mueller
Editorial Director Tiffany Mueller
Valeria Garcia
Graphic Editor Valeria Garcia
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