The 5 Best Kayak Paddles 2018 [Reviewed] – Buyer’s Guide
A kayaker may not consider the importance of his or her paddle until the day after his or her outing. Choosing a high quality paddle means that your arms will not be incredibly sore and your hands will not get too cold.
It is crucial to choose a paddle that is the right length for your boat and for your height--each of these paddles have various perk to fit every kayaker in a different way.
Know which kind of paddle you need so that you can determine which of these five best kayak paddles are for you!
Table of Contents
- 1 5 Top Kayak Paddles 2018
- 2 The 5 Best Kayak Paddles For The Money
- 2.1 1. SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle
- 2.2 Pros
- 2.3 Cons
- 2.4 2. Bending Branches Angler Scout 2-Piece Snap-Button Kayak Fishing Paddle
- 2.5 Pros
- 2.6 Cons
- 2.7 3. Aquabound Sting Ray Kayak Paddle
- 2.8 Pros
- 2.9 Cons
- 2.10 4. Seattle Sports 060295 SeaWhisper Carbon Kayak Paddle
- 2.11 Pros
- 2.12 Cons
- 2.13 5. Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle
- 2.14 Pros
- 2.15 Cons
- 3 How to Buy Kayak Paddles
5 Top Kayak Paddles 2018
SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle
Plastic blades, Aluminum pole, Foam grips
Fiberglass blades, Aluminum pole
Aquabound Sting Ray Kayak Paddle
Carbon paddle, Carbon blades
Seattle Sports 060295 SeaWhisper Carbon Paddle
Carbon shaft, Plastic blade
Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle
Fiberglass blades, Carbon shaft
These kayak paddles focus on a range of style and design. It is important to know precisely what you need in a kayak paddle. Pay attention to the weight of each paddle and which style of kayaking they are meant for.
These small details will help you choose the best kayak paddle, which will result in the best possible kayaking experience. This article will focus on each paddles angle, material, feathering, number of pieces, and sizing options.
This paddle is made from aluminum, which means it is a heavier weight. Aluminum is also notorious for being cold, but this paddle is equipped with pads for the grips, which prevent your hands from freezing on cold days.
The grips on this paddle are foam, which does have a tendency to wear down over time. Pay close attention to this and be prepared to replace these grips as needed.
Another feature of the grips is that they are adjustable. This means you can move the grips where they best serve you, affording you extra comfortability as you kayak.
However, as you see the other kayaks on this list, you may realize that it is not as important for these grips to be on the paddle shaft. If a paddle shaft is not aluminum, the kayaker does not need the grips.
This version of the paddle is 84”, which is great for someone around 5’ 6”. If you are taller, consider this 96” paddle. Also ensure that the length of the paddle is accurate for the width of your kayak.
The blades are made of plastic, which means combined with the aluminum you are carrying a lot of weight. Be aware of this if you are new to kayaking, and if you purchase this paddle, do not take it out for a long time on the first day or you will quickly become fatigued.
Another perk to this paddle is that the paddle floats. If you lose it in the water, you do not have to go for a dive to find your paddle.
- Plastic blades
- Floats, so you can find it easily
- Good for mid-height people
- Two pieces
- Very reasonably priced
- Foam grips can face major wear and tear
- Aluminum and plastic combination makes for a heavy paddle
- Double check this paddle is a good length based on your kayak width
This paddle has an aluminum shaft, just like the Seasense X-1. However, this paddle does not have a grip. In other words--cold hands.
As this paddle is designed for a fisherman, you hopefully will not spend all day paddling around the lake. You will likely have long breaks where your hands are on a fishing rod and not on the paddle shaft. If this is the case, you should not have to worry about having cold hands.
The shaft of this paddle also has measuring tool for measuring your fish--this means you do not have to worry about carrying extra gear in your kayak. Although this is an additional feature, it is very beneficial for fishermen!
However, this paddle has fiberglass blades, which are considerably lighter than the plastic blades of the Seasense X-1. This makes for a much more lightweight paddle, allowing you more energy while paddling.
Another fisherman friendly perk is that the blade has a hook retrieval system. If you get your line hung up in a tree or on a lily pad or you catch particularly large fish, your paddle can actually help snag your line and land your catch (or drop your lily pad).
Bending Branches has also developed many lengths for this kayak paddle. They have 220, 230, 240, 250, and 260 cm available, which means this paddle is more height friendly than the Seasense X-1.
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--know the length you need!
- Reasonably priced for such a light paddle
- Aluminum shaft
- No grips
3. Aquabound Sting Ray Kayak Paddle
Carbon. Carbon, carbon, carbon. Carbon means your hands stay warm and your arms do not get sore--it is lightweight and does not absorb the temperature around it. The fact that this paddle is only made from carbon is a major perk for any kayaker.
The blade on this paddle is extremely easy to paddle with and affords you a lot of speed. This, combined with the light weight of the carbon, makes this the best kayak paddle for beginners.
This paddle is also made in the United States. If this is a major perk for you, definitely consider this kayak paddle.
Much like the Bending Branches Angler, this kayak paddle comes with varying height, although not as many options as the Angler. This paddle can be 210, 220, 240 or 250 cm in length.
Make sure the length you choose is good for your height and the width of your kayak.
Another perk to this kayak is that the feather can be adjust. The feather is simply how the blade hits the air--does it hinder your speed or not?
If speed matters to you, this is a major perk. If you are not concerned about speed, then you may not ever mess with the feather. Just be aware that you can change it if you need to.
Additionally, this paddle can be split into two parts. This makes it much easier to haul around (and this is the feature that lets you change the feather).
To make sure this paddle will not fall apart when you are in the middle of your kayaking journey, it has Posi-Lok. This is simply an extra durable system which prevents you from accidentally taking apart your paddle.
- 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. Seattle Sports 060295 SeaWhisper Carbon Kayak Paddle
Like the Aquabond Sting Ray, the SeaWhisper has a carbon shaft. This means your hands will stay nice and warm if you are kayaking in colder climes.
However, due to the paddles being made of plastic, this paddle is not really any lighter than the aluminum paddles.
Because of this small feature, this paddle is not one for beginners or for those who plan on kayaking for extended periods of time.
You can adjust the feathering on this kayak paddle as well, just like on the Sting Ray. This may be beneficial if you are concerned about speed.
Again, if you are not concerned about maintaining a high speed, this is not a feature you would need.
Another adjustment that can be made on this paddle is the length. This paddle shaft allows you to adjust the length from 230 cm to 240 cm. This is ideal if you will be sharing your paddle with someone of a different height than you.
It can, however, be very challenging to keep this paddle at the full extension. Occasionally it tries to snap back, which can result in pinched fingers or a sore torso from having to twist to get the paddle in the water fully.
This paddle has the dorsall blade design. This is simply one of the best kayak paddle blade designs, as it prevents the water from causing too much resistance as you paddle.
An extra feature for this kayak paddle is the leash loop. This allows you to attach the paddle to your hand, which means if you drop the paddle or tip over, you will not lose your paddle. While seemingly small, this is a safety feature many of these paddles simply do not have
These features combine to make this a pretty ideal paddle for a new kayakers, other than the weight.
- Carbon Shaft
- Adjustable length
- Has hooks on blades to snag items in the water
- Dorsal blades--little resistance
- Good for beginners
- Can adjust feathering
- Good price
- Very heavy
- Plastic blades
- May not stay at longest length--may snap back
- No grips
5. Werner Camano 2 PC Straight Paddle
Once again, we have a carbon shaft. This means this paddle is lightweight, which means it is 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.
This blade is also a high angle blade, which means it is built specifically to help you go as fast as possible. Due to this feature, this paddle really is not designed for beginners, although it is not necessarily a bad choice.
There is very little water resistance from this blade as well. This blade has a dihedral to it, which means there is a ridgeline along the center of the blade.
As the blade strikes the water, the water is allowed to flow freely over the blade. This causes no extra fluttering to occur.
Much like the other paddles here, the Werner Camano Paddle can be split into two pieces. Again, this allows for very easy transport.
Also similar to many of the other paddles is the fact that this paddle has varying length. It can not be stressed enough that it is crucial for a kayaker to know what length of paddle is ideal for their height and for the width of the kayak.
If a paddle is chosen which is too short, it can cause too much rotation in the torso, leading to a very poor kayaking experience.
One place you would not want to take this paddle is in rapid type scenarios. This paddle simply cannot endure a beating which a river with rapids would provide--be cautious and choose a more durable, probably plastic, paddle for river kayaking.
- 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
- Will not hold up well in river scenarios
- More expensive
- No grips
When you are considering a river kayak, you want to make sure you have a wide enough beam and a high deck. If the deck of the kayak is too short you will run a higher chance of taking on water when going through rapids.
It is also important to consider how easy the kayak is to get to and from the water. For river kayaks, you also want to make sure the kayak is capable of carrying your weight and providing comfortability while taking sharp turns.
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 is important to choose an angle which benefits you as a paddler.
Another good option for racers is a paddle with a dip in the paddle face, often called a wing-shaped paddle. This also allows paddlers to get up to high speeds.
However, if you are simply enjoying a slow ride around your lake, this shape of paddle can cause a lot of pain 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 obviously declines at a slower angle. This paddle takes less energy to use but still provides good speed on the lake. This is a good blade for beginners.
All of these blades can flutter when they are paddled through the water. This is because they do not allow the water to flow over them the best possible way. Dihedral or dorsal blades rise to a peak just in the middle of the face of the blade.
This is 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.
Cheap, but not as high quality either. Aluminum paddles will easily get cold in the water and are more difficult to paddle with because of their weight. For a beginner, aluminum paddles are simply not the best choice.
Also cheap but a little better suited for beginners, is the plastic paddle. This paddle may not be quite as efficient in the water, 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. A plastic paddle can simply 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 stay heavy and thus will tire you out very easily, 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 keeping with a light weight and 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 are holding one end of your paddle in the air, you do not want it causing any resistance to your speed.
If a kayak paddle has one side which has a different angled, 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. If your joints can get stiff but are not always stiff, this may be a prime option for you.
Number of Pieces
Take into consideration: many kayak paddles be available to be bought in pieces. This is ideal if you do not have much room to haul your paddle in. It is also ideal if you want to be able to change the feathering (see above).
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 are tall, choose a longer paddle.
For those over 6 foot, you want a paddle that measures 102 inches or 260 centimeters. For those under 6 foot, 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. If your kayak rod is made from aluminum, this is ideal.
If you have 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 challenge when it comes to kayaking. Be aware of what works best for you.
Also be aware of your goal--do you want to go fast? Go lightweight. Choose a high angle. Do you want to cruise around your lake and sight see or fish? Choose a low angle and do not worry about the weight of your paddle, but make sure you do not choose aluminum as you do not want your hands staying cold for a long period of time.