Say goodbye to aching arms and hands, by finding the best kayak paddle for you! When you match a paddle to your height and the length of your boat, you’re on your way to picking the right one.
However, it’s often hard to sort through so many options on the market.
Therefore, this guide lets you know the pros and cons of 5 of the best kayak paddles, to get you out on the water in comfort and style.
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5 Top Kayak Paddles 2020
|SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle||Plastic blades, Aluminum pole, Foam grips||High angle/low-angle||CHECK CURRENT PRICE|
|Bending Branches Angler Scout 2-Piece Snap-Button Kayak Fishing Paddle||Fiberglass blades, Aluminum pole||Low-angle||CHECK CURRENT PRICE|
|Aquabound Sting Ray Kayak Paddle||Carbon paddle, Carbon blades||Low-angle||CHECK CURRENT PRICE|
|Advanced Elements Compact Touring Kayak Paddle||Aluminum shaft, glass-filled nylon blades||Low-angle||CHECK CURRENT PRICE|
|Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle||Fiberglass blades, Carbon shaft||Low-angle||CHECK CURRENT PRICE|
Find the Best Kayak Paddle for You
This paddle is made from aluminum, which means it is a heavier weight than some. Aluminum is also notorious for being cold. However, it’s paddle is equipped with pads for the grips, which prevent your hands from freezing on cold days. They’re adjustable too, so you can place them wherever you need to for extra comfortability while kayaking.
This version of the paddle is 84”, which is great for someone around 5’ 6”. If you’re taller, consider this 96” paddle. Also ensure that the length of the paddle is accurate for the width of your kayak.
Another perk to this paddle is that it floats, so if you accidentally lose it the search won’t be too hard!
- Plastic blades
- Floats, so you can find it easily
- Good for mid-height people
- Two pieces
- Very reasonably priced
- Foam grips subject to wear and tear
- Aluminum and plastic combination makes for a heavier paddle
- Double-check this paddle is a good length based on your kayak width
This is a paddle designed for fishing fans, with a built-in tape measure. Yes, that means you can check the length of your catch right there on the shaft of the paddle.
Better yet, it easily separates into two pieces, so it’s super easy to transport to your next fishing spot.
Another fishing-friendly perk is a hook-retrieval notch on one blade. Therefore, if you snag your line on a tree or a piece of rubbish, you’ll easily get your hook free again with your paddle.
For comfortable paddling, fiberglass blades are lightweight, durable and allow for a smooth kayaking experience.
Bending Branches has also developed many lengths for this kayak paddle. They have 220, 230, 240, 250, and 260 cm available. Finally, this paddle is made in the USA, which makes it a winner for anyone conscientious about where their equipment is made.
- Made in the USA
- Paddle has hook retrieval system
- Fiberglass blades
- Two pieces
- Has varying lengths
- Reasonably priced for such a light paddle
- Aluminum shaft
- No grips
3. Aquabound Sting Ray Kayak Paddle
Carbon is a fantastic word, when it comes to looking for the best kayak paddle for you. It’s lightweight and doesn’t absorb the temperature, which is a major perk of this paddle.
The blade is extremely easy to paddle with and affords you a lot of speed. This, combined with the light weight of the carbon, makes it one of the best kayak paddles for beginners.
You’ll find this paddle in 210, 220, 240 or 250 cm.
Additionally, this paddle can be split into two parts. This makes it much easier to haul around, no matter where you choose to take your kayak.
To make sure this paddle won’t come apart while you’re kayaking, it has Posi-Lok. This is simply an extra durable system that prevents you from accidentally pulling in apart.
- Carbon blade
- Carbon shaft
- Made in the USA
- Varying heights (210, 220, 240, 250 cm)
- Two Pieces
- Posi Lok
- Feather can be adjusted
- Mid-range price
- Make sure the length of the paddle fits the width of your kayak
- No grips
4. Advanced Elements Compact Touring Kayak Paddle
If portability is at the top of your wishlist for the best kayak paddle, the Advanced Elements Compact Touring option could be for you.
It breaks down into four separate parts, therefore packing down to a tidy little package that’s easy to transport anywhere you want.
Another top perk to this paddle is how lightweight it is, coming in at just 2.7 pounds. Along with being another great benefit for traveling with your kayak, this helps to prevent arm fatigue while you’re out on the water.
An aluminum shaft and blades made from glass-filled nylon contribute to the light weight and to durability.
- Breaks into four parts for transport
- Affordable price
- No grips included
5. Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle
With a carbon shaft, this paddle is lightweight so it’s not going to cause much difficulty or strain while paddling.
The carbon shaft also means your hands will stay warm and dry while you kayak. No need to worry about adjusting grips or replacing grips here.
To partner with the carbon shaft is a very interesting blade. This blade is made from fiberglass which gives it a good combination of flex and stiffness in the water.
It’s also a high angle, dihedral blade, which means it’s built specifically to help you go as fast as possible with stable forward strokes.
Much like the other paddles here, the Werner Camano Paddle can be split into two pieces. Again, this allows for very easy transport.
- High Angle Blade
- Dihedral blade
- Fiberglass blade
- Two pieces
- Good flex
- Varying lengths (220, 230, 240, 250, and 260 cm)
- Excellent for long time kayakers
- Not for beginners
- More expensive
- No grips
Tips on Buying the Best Kayak Paddle
As a beginning kayaker, one of the easiest qualities to overlook is the paddle angle. However, as the only way to move your kayak is by paddling it, it’s important to choose an angle that benefits you as a paddler.
A good option for racers is a paddle with a dip in the paddle face, often called a wing-shaped paddle. This allows you to get up to those high speeds you’re craving.
However, if you’re simply enjoying a slow ride around your lake, this shape isn’t the easiest for beginners.
If you hope to mainly kayak on rivers or at high speeds, you need to choose a paddle with a high angle. The higher angle allows you to move quickly through the water.
A low angle blade is similar to a high angle blade, but the blade declines at a slower angle. This paddle takes less energy to use but still provides good speed on the lake.
All of these blades can flutter when paddled through the water. This is because they don’t allow the water to flow over them in the best possible way.
Dihedral or dorsal blades rise to a peak in the middle of the face of the blade. This provides the best water flow, as the water strikes the peak and can flow both up and down the blade. Dihedral blades are best for beginners.
Aluminum paddles easily get cold in the water and are more difficult to paddle with because of their weight. For a beginner, aluminum paddles might not the best choice, but this depends on your capabilities. You can always buy grips to alleviate the cold.
Plastic paddles may not be quite as efficient in the water as others, because the plastic can bend, but they are easier to paddle with and stay warmer than aluminum paddles.
A plastic paddle would also be ideal for someone who is interested in river or rapid kayaking. It can withstand a beating that aluminum, carbon, and fiberglass paddles cannot.
The two more expensive paddles are carbon and fiberglass. They are both lightweight, stiff, and stay warm in colder weather. If you are an experienced kayaker and hope to do several all-day trips, these are the paddles for you.
Finally, if you are a classic kayaker and prefer to stay “old school”, consider using a wooden paddle. These can be heavy, but they are sturdy and paddle very well.
Wooden paddles are the only paddles which require upkeep. You must sand them regularly to keep them in good shape.
Keep in mind, most paddles come in a combination of two of these materials. The most common combination is carbon and fiberglass. This will often allow for a cheaper paddle while still being lightweight with high durability.
One quality to consider is this: how does your paddle handle the wind? Now, this may seem like an odd feature to consider, but if you’re holding one end of your paddle in the air, you don’t want it causing any resistance to your speed.
If a kayak paddle has one side which has a different angle, this is called feathering. In other words, that side of the paddle is meant for cutting through the air more efficiently.
Feathering is a good thing for kayak paddles to have, with one exception. You must do a lot of rotating with feathered paddles, so if you have stiff joints this may not be the ideal quality for your paddles to have.
Additionally, some kayaks allow you to alternate between feathered and unfeathered paddles.
Another detail that is easy for new kayakers to overlook is the length of the paddle. This is not dependent on your desired speed or distance you hope to go, or even the length of your kayak. Instead, this is dependent on your height. If you’re tall, choose a longer paddle.
For those over 6 feet, you want a paddle that measures 102 inches or 260 centimeters. Those under 6 foot should look for shorter paddles. Youth paddles have a specific designation.
Most kayaks are over 25 inches in width. If this is the case for your kayak, you want to make sure your kayak paddle is over 240 centimeters. If your kayak is under 25 inches in width, you can get away with a shorter paddle.
Padding or Grips
Some kayak paddles come with pads or grips for your hands and if your kayak rod is made from aluminum, this is ideal.
For tense hands or any sort of issue with grip or arthritis, pads are great. If you do not have either of these issues, you may not need or want to spend extra money for padding or grips.
Your hands and arms face a lot of the challenges when it comes to kayaking, so you need to choose the best kayak paddle based on individual preference.