2019 Best Kayak Paddle: Get Value for Your Money

We have different reasons for being on the water, be it on a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard. For me, the nicest part is always the serene quietness and the sighting of animals. For many, the sheer pleasure and thrills one gets when paddling through the water is the ultimate enjoyment.

Kayak paddling, being a sport just like any other, requires the partakers to have the right gears and equipment all the times. For kayaking, the kayak paddle is one of the most essential gears.

In most instances, one may own a kayak and feel unsatisfied with the paddle that comes with the package, hence the need to shop for a new one that meets the individual’s unique needs. For this reason, we have sampled some of the best kayak paddles currently available in the market. However, for a better understanding of why these paddles made it to the list. let’s first review the elements to consider when choosing a kayak paddle.

What to consider when choosing the best kayak paddle

A number of factors to consider when attempting to select the best kayak paddle exist, the fundamental of which include:

Length of the paddle

When assessing the length of a paddle, you have to keep in mind your height and the width of your kayak. Nearly all the types of kayaks, including the one you are using, are characterized by the width dimension. Generally, a wide kayak boat will pair well with a long paddle. Conversely, a narrow kayak will pair well with a shorter or smaller paddle. In terms of the height of the paddle, it follows that short individuals will make better use of a small paddle while taller individuals would work efficiently with long paddles.

Feathering

The feather simply defines the angle made by both blades when offset from each other. The blades are designed with feathers, whose purpose is to reduce wind resistance and allow smooth paddling in any water body or wind condition. Two types of blades exist: feathered and matched.

Shaft

Currently, only two shaft designs exist in the market for you to choose from, namely straight shaft and bent shaft. Of the two, the most commonly used shaft is the straight one. A preference attribute to its ease of use due to the uniformity of its weight. Some users have also stated their preference for the straight shaft draws from the fact. Its attachment is only at the blade compared to the bent shaft.

On the other hand, a bent shaft feature angled parts that ensure comfort when being used. In addition to allowing a better grip when doing power strokes. The design, it has been shown, helps ensure that your joints are not subjected to unnecessary stress and fatigue when you are paddling. Others have also pointed that the bent shafts promote proper back posture and guarantee more engagement with the paddle.

The shape of the blade

Just like the shaft, two blade types exist from which to choose, namely low-angle blades and high-angle blades. The low-angle blade has a longer and slimmer blade compared to the high-angle blade. Low-angle blades are recommended for use in relaxed and casual environments since the blade allows to use in a relatively parallel position to the water.

High-angle blades, on the other hand, feature shorter and wider blades compared to the low-angle blades. They are recommended for use in fast-paced waters since they allow to use in a relatively perpendicular position to the water. In addition, they are very efficient in delivering stronger strokes.

Material

The fundamental element to consider in a paddle is that it has to be lightweight. For this reason, most manufacturers use carbon fiber, fiberglass or plastic. For manufacturers that design paddles for use in high-paced or rough waters, extensively lightweight materials are preferred.

Top picks for best kayak paddles

The following are my top picks of the best kayak paddles:

  • Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle
  • Cannon Paddle Escape
  • Aquabound Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle
  • Advanced Elements Compact Touring Kayak Paddle
  • Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Kayak Paddle
  • SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle
  • Werner Tybee 2-Piece Paddle
  • TRAC-Outdoor Curved Kayak Paddle
  • Shoreline Marine X-II Kayak Paddle
  • Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle
  • Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle
  • Bending Branches Angler Scout Kayak Paddle

1. Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

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Made of fiberglass-filled polypropylene blades, the Carlisle Magic Plus is a truly lightweight paddle. Featuring asymmetrical, slightly spooned blades, the paddle provides strong, smooth strokes and at the same time helps reduce pressure on your joints. It combines its ergonomic blade design and lightweight material to ensure maximum comfort. Also, its design is such that it can endure heavy weather beating when used separately and from rocky and rough terrains. It is equally ideal for those who are just venturing into the kayaking sport despite being considerably heavy for a fiberglass paddle.

Pros of the Carlisle Magic Plus Paddle

  • Made of a reinforced glass polypropylene material
  • Available in 3 varied length sizes
  • Durable, lightweight design for smooth and efficient strokes

Cons of the Carlisle Magic Plus Paddle

  • Significantly heavier
  • Its water blocking rings can be flimsy

2. Cannon Paddles Escape

The Cannon Paddle Escape is recommended for those starting out on kayaking. It features among the best kayak paddles due to the fiberglass-reinforced nylon blades that make it stable and allows it to glide easily through the water. Further, its comfortable and easy to control oval hand grips, the result of the anodized and heat-treated aluminum shaft gives it an immaculate feel. Also, its three-blade offset angle feature makes it adjustable as needed.

Its two-piece design, an allure for many, that offers 60 degrees right- or left-hand control, makes it convenient to store and transport. It also features drip rings that serve to refrain water from dripping down, thus preventing you from getting wet.

Cannon Paddles Escape

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Pros of the Cannon Paddle Escape

  • Very lightweight, at only 39 oz.
  • Oval hand grips for ease of handling
  • Check drip rings that help keep you dry
  • Check exists in 3 different lengths: 220 cm, 230 cm, and 240 cm

Cons of the Carlisle Magic Plus Paddle

  • Lacks stiffness

3. Aquabound Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle

Aquabound Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle

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The Aquabound Manta Ray Paddle is favorite for high-angle paddlers, those are seeking more power, using bigger boats and those who have a knack for moving water, thanks to its beefy blades. Weighing just 29.5 ounces, the Aquabound Manta Ray paddle tops the list of lightest, high-angle injection molded paddle you can get in the market presently. It’s stiff, durable blades make paddling easy. Balancing this power is its ovalized, 100 percent carbon composite shaft, which also ensures minimum strain and fatigue to the joints. The paddle is designed for use in wider kayaks when doing upstream paddling and for use by those who love high-angle paddling. It’s Posi Lok® ferrule system that clicks firmly and securely into position not only ensure stability but is also corrosion-free and offers infinite feathering angles.

Its oval-shaped paddle shaft design offers a more comfortable grip. It also features drip rings that ensure no water runs down to your hands.

Pros of the Aquabound Manta Ray Paddle

  • Can be disassembled into two pieces
  • Features multiple adjustment capabilities

Cons of the Aquabound Manta Ray Paddle

  • The shaft bears a rough surface that can cause cuts and blisters

4. Advanced Elements Compact Touring Kayak Paddle

Advanced Elements Compact Touring Kayak Paddle

The Aquabound Manta Ray Paddle is a favorite for high-angle paddlers, those seeking more power, those using bigger boats and those who have a knack for moving water, thanks to its beefy blades. Weighing just 29.5 ounces, the Aquabound Manta Ray paddle tops the list of lightest, high-angle injection molded paddle you can get in the market presently. Its stiff, durable blades make paddling easy. Balancing this power is its ovalized, 100 percent carbon composite shaft, which also ensures minimum strain and fatigue to the joints. The paddle is designed for use in wider kayaks when doing upstream paddling and for use by those who love high-angle paddling. It’s Posi Lok® ferrule system that clicks firmly and securely into position not only ensure stability but is also corrosion-free and offers infinite feathering angles.

Its oval-shaped paddle shaft design offers a more comfortable grip. It also features drip rings that ensure no water runs down to your hands.

Pros of the Aquabound Manta Ray Paddle

  • Lightweight, at only 2.7 pounds
  • Extremely portable
  • Check aluminum alloy shaft for strength and durability

Cons of the Advanced Element Compact Touring Paddle

  • No padded grip area
  • Exclamation TriangleDisassembling and assembling can be tasking and challenging

5. Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Kayak Paddle

Designed to cater to your needs for a day in the water, the Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass paddle boasts a durable, extremely lightweight build that features a fiberglass blade and shaft. Its characteristic simplicity makes it ideal for day trips and long distance traveling. It also has a push button that allows blade adjustment to secure just the right angle.

The paddle has a feathering option at 60 degrees or sets inline with a simple push of a button. For enhanced power, the blades are made of fiberglass and the light swing weight guarantees easy maneuverability. Its shaft can be dismantled into two pieces, hence easy to transport. For the appeal, the paddles are made naturally translucent gold, through which one can see the fiberglass fibers.

Pros of the Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Paddle

  • The oval shape that gives it a better grip
  • Relatively lightweight and portable as it only weighs 33 oz.

Cons of the Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Paddle

  • It is not scratch proof

6. SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

The SeaSense X-1 is a two-piece collapsible, aluminum-based, medium weight paddle that measures 84 inches long. The blades are made of molded plastic, a material that contributes to the lightness of the paddle. Its angles are also adjustable, which when complimented with value and comfort, earns it a worthy position among the best kayak paddles.

That it is able to float on the water makes it easy for the paddler to retrieve it should it slip off hand and into the water. It also has hand grips that prevent your hands from tiring out or developing blisters, hence comfortable to use. Its unique adjustable drip guards further make it an excellent choice for many.

Pros of the SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

  • Comfortable grip padding
  • Floats on water hence easily retrievable

Cons of the SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

  • Has flat blades as opposed to having round ones
  • Exclamation TriangleIs comparatively heavy

7. Werner Tybee 2-Piece Paddle

Werner Tybee 2-Piece Paddle

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Built on a standard performance level, the Werner Tybee 2-Piece paddle is suitable for those who desire a more casual approach to paddling but at the same time seek to enjoy the Werner Paddle’s exquisite performance. It is made of fiberglass, measures 205 cm and weighs about 3.1 pounds.

The paddle’s nylon blades are reinforced with fiberglass for enhanced durability, and to enable them to withstand any water condition, be it a lake, river or bay. Its arch shape allows for easier, smoother water maneuverability and gives you room for more powerful strokes. The Werner Tybee paddle also features an adjustable feather, one that allows 15-degree increments depending on your comfort preference and the prevailing situation. The lightweight carbon shaft further makes it suitable for a day-long water recreational activities and tours.

Pros of the Werner Tybee Paddle

  • An average size that most kayakers find manageable
  • High angle blade shape for more aggressive paddling

Cons of the Werner Tybee Paddle

  • At 3.1 pounds, some may find it a bit heavy

8. TRAC-Outdoor Curved Kayak Paddle

TRAC-Outdoor Curved Kayak Paddle

In addition to its unmatched longevity, the TRACT-Outdoor Curved Paddle is fantastic, thanks to its solid construction, quality drip guards, immense feathering options and rubber hand grips. This adjustable paddle weighs only 2 pounds and 4 ounces and is available in 7 feet and 8 feet versions, aspects that make it usable in any kayak or with a wide boat.

The paddle shaft is made of anodized aluminum with the blades made of reinforced polypropylene. It features a three-position push-button feather setting that makes handling easy. It also has dock hooks and a handle designed to make it convenient for the user, providing both comfort and functionality.

Pros of the TRAC-Outdoor Curved Paddle

  • Ideal for paddling in calm or just a bit of moving water
  • Great quality at a reasonably affordable price
  • checkCan equally serve both inexperienced and experienced kayakers well

Cons of the TRAC-Outdoor Curved Paddle

  • The handle wears out easily

9. Shoreline Marine X-II Kayak Paddle

Shoreline Marine X-II Kayak Paddle

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This 85-inch collapsible paddle is made from aluminum to ensure that it remains resistant to corrosion for a long as it remains in use. It also features a high impact handle that is both lightweight and durable, further cementing its place among the best kayak paddles available in the market. The Shoreline Marine paddle construction material makes it suitable for rough and rocky terrains, which relieves you of any worry about damaging the paddle during use.

As an accessory of the adventurer, the paddle has foam on the handle for added comfort during use, drip guards to prevent water from running onto your hands, and an adaptive design that makes it ideal for greater distance travel with less fatigue. It is collapsible into two pieces for portability, has adjustable angles that offer you three distinct options in between the blades, and floats on water hence easy to retrieve should it slip off your hands.

Pros of the Shoreline Marine X-II Paddle

  • Sturdy design for satisfying service
  • Easily collapsible

Cons of the Shoreline Marine X-II Paddle

  • Thin blades that easily warp when exposed to heat
  • Exclamation TriangleA rickety connection at the joints

10. Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle

X. Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle

Built to offer superior performance, the Aquabound Sting Ray paddle features low swing weight, the result of a carbon shaft with carbon abX blades. Ensuring its versatility are such features as a Posi-Lok ferrule system that secures its corrosion resistant composite build and a dual release button.

Also, it has an oval-shaped shaft for an easy and comfortable grip, which will allow you to use it the whole day without experiencing much strain. Its carbon-reinforced blades will work best for low angle paddling, with the dihedral blade design eliminating any blade flutter, allowing you a smooth paddling stroke.

Pros of the Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Paddle

  • Well-designed blades for easy control
  • Low swing weight that eliminates exhaustion due to extended handling

Cons of the Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Paddle

  • The shaft texture may be uncomfortable to some

11. Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle

Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle

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Further, its curved, asymmetrical blades and vinyl covered hand grips that limit the shaft diameter to no more than three and a half inches makes it suitable for kids of any ages.

Further, its curved, asymmetrical blades and vinyl covered hand grips that limit the shaft diameter to no more than three and a half inches makes it suitable for kids of any ages.

Pros of the Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle

  • Ability to withstand rough waters
  • Kid-friendly design

Cons of the Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle

  • Its lack of drip rings can be unnerving
  • Exclamation TriangleIts flimsy ends can be a nuisance

12. Bending Branches Angler Scout Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Angler Scout Kayak Paddle

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The Bending Branches Angler Scout, famed for being a multi-purpose paddle in addition to propelling the boat, is designed specifically to meet the needs of anglers. It comes with an adjustable, snug-fitting ferrule system with a three-hole snap button.

Its primary material is a nylon reinforced, sturdy fiberglass while its shaft is made of aluminum. Its heavy-duty drip rings further to make it the perfect tool for a seasoned kayaker.

In addition to providing all the necessities, the Bending Branches Angler Scout has a dual tape measure built in the shaft and hook retrieval system fixed on the blades, impressive features that make it one of the best kayak paddles available.

Pros of the Bending Branches Angler Scout Paddle

  • Exquisite design for Anglers
  • Exceptional durability
  • Check adjustable length in 10 cm increments

Cons of the Bending Branches Angler Scout

  • Risk of stained clothes when the measurements rub off

Material types used in kayak paddle constructions

Now that we know the best kayak paddles available in the market, your choice of a paddle should also factor in the material used in its construction. While some materials provide comfort and durability when kayaking, others only succeed in ensuring you can manage more powerful strokes. To inform your decision, here are some of the materials most commonly used.

FiberglassUsed mostly because it is comparatively inexpensive. It is also very light and durable. PlasticPaddles made of plastic are arguably the cheapest and often comes with the purchased kayak. Only suitable for kids use. AluminumAlso the cheapest paddle material yet one of the heaviest. Often purchased due to affordability. WoodJust like paddles made from fiberglass, the wood paddle is lightweight and pocket-friendly. Core qualities are durability and toughness, yet rarely used by most. Most users only value their aesthetic quality. Carbon FiberThe best paddles in the market: durable, lightweight and simply exquisite. Rarely used due to their expensive price tags.

Types of Kayak Paddles

While one may argue that kayak paddles are made to serve all purposes, the truth is that different kayak paddles are designed for different uses, which could be touring, recreational, performance and whitewater paddling. Below is a list of features that show the suitability of a paddle, which we hope will guide your selection for the best kayak paddle based on your needs.

Touring Paddle

A touring paddle design intended to use when kayaking in lakes and slow-moving water bodies. The preferred materials for this kind of paddle are fiberglass and carbon for the shafts, to ensure lightweight and ease of handling. This makes them suitable for use for trips and activities that last for even the whole day.

Performance Paddle

For those who are always looking for the latest paddle innovations and the accompanying ergonomic designs, the best kayak paddles are the performance ones. Often, such paddles are lightweight and incorporate varied design features.

While these paddles all deliver the intended purpose, that of propelling you forward in a kayak boat, they vary extensively in terms of their capabilities, extended uses and suitability to water situations. For this reason, it is advisable that you take your time to assess not only what you need in a paddle, but also the nature of where you will undertake your paddling activities.

Whitewater Paddle

If you intend to go kayaking in rough and fast-moving waters, then the best kayak paddle for you is definitely a Whitewater paddle. Compared to the other types of paddles, a Whitewater paddle is built to withstand a beating, while at the same time offering the much-desired durability and ease of handling. This makes it the perfect choice for rapid and rugged conditions.

Recreational Paddle

Just as the name suggests, a recreational paddle design is for the use in relaxed and relatively calm trips, such as during an exercise, a water exploration escapade or a short trip. For most manufacturers of this type of paddle, the preferred materials are aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic. By design, recreational paddles tend to be heavier than touring or performance paddles, and are often comparatively cheaper than all the other paddle types.

Based on this review, you are likely to have mixed experiences when using a paddle in an environment or purpose for which it is not intended. For instance, using the heavier recreational paddle when on a long tour, as opposed to using a well-designed touring paddle will see you strain a lot during the journey, and suffer immense exhaustion thereafter.

Summary

Taking to the water in a kayak is only half the journey, ensuring that you enjoy the kayaking experience requires you to have the best tools at your disposal. As we have seen, a paddle is not only an essential tool for a kayaking trip but having the best paddle will guarantee a memorable experience.

It is for this reason that we have offered to explore some of the best paddles for kayaking available in the market. To further aid in your selection for the quality paddle, we have reviewed the materials frequently used in making paddles, with a focus on their respective unique qualities. Among the frequently used materials are fiberglass, carbon fiber, plastic, wood, and aluminum, which vary in quality and ease of handling. Also, we have offered an expository analysis of the different types of paddles, namely touring, performance, recreational and Whitewater paddles, and shown that while a paddle may deliver its primary goal, of pushing you through the water, using an appropriate paddle for the specific intended purpose will deliver a memorable experience.