Kayaking is one of the things that many people look forward to the most about the warm months. To get the most out of your kayaking experience, you need to buy one of the best kayak paddles on the market. If you don’t know enough about paddles to make an educated decision, then this buying guide will benefit you greatly.
This Shoreline Marine kayak paddle is very comfortable to hold in your hands. It features foam grips that make long kayaking trips feel much more enjoyable. At 96 inches long, this paddle should work well for most average-sized people.
It has a drip guard to help keep you from getting wet during aggressive paddling bursts. The contour-molded blades are very effective at cutting through the water, so this paddle performs quite well. It’s an excellent all-around kayak paddle that is useful in many ways.
- Features foam grips for your comfort
- 96 inches long
- Has an aluminum shaft
- The paddle has an effective contour-molded design
- Drip guards will keep you from getting too wet
This is a good kayak paddle for anyone who wants to do some casual kayaking. It’s durable, and the aluminum shaft feels quite durable. You should have a good experience if you choose to buy this.
Despite the shaft being made of aluminum, it doesn’t feel too heavy in your hands. There are indeed lighter paddles available on the market, but this will work well for general kayaking. It may not be as well-suited for vast amounts of speed, but it works well for most purposes.
- The simple and comfortable design of our Kayaking Paddle will keep you moving on the water all day
- With foam grips for added comfort, and double drip guards to help keep you dry, the design will keep you paddling all day!
- Three position pin system allows you to rotate the aluminum shaft to customize the paddle blade angle to fit your style and experience level maximizing comfort and the power of your paddle stroke
The SeaSense X-1 is a favorite kayak paddle that feels easy to use. It’s made from aluminum and feels pretty sturdy in your hands. You shouldn’t have any fears about this particular paddle having any durability issues.
This paddle will work well for long kayaking trips as it feels very lightweight. You usually have to buy a more expensive paddle to get something that feels this light while remaining durable but this design is pretty good. If you want to go out on kayaking trips for an entire afternoon, this paddle will work well.
It has some convenient features that people will like as well. Drip guards are present to help keep you as dry as possible. The foam grips feel pretty nice in your hands and help to keep things comfortable.
- Has drip guards
- Convenient and comfortable foam grips
- Measures 84 inches long
- Made from aluminum in two pieces
- Can float
This is a great buy as long as you aren’t incredibly tall. For most average-sized people, this will be a perfectly-sized kayak paddle. Taller kayaking enthusiasts may find it to be a bit on the short side.
The overall lightweight feel of this paddle makes an easy recommendation. It’s made of aluminum but still feels very light. It has a sturdy feel to it as well so you can feel confident in its durability.
Essential features of this paddle help to push it over the edge as a recommended buy. The drip guard and foam grips are nice, but it’s also great that it floats.
- Two Piece Aluminum Construction
- Lightweight, Black Molded Plastic Blades
- Adjustable Drip Guards/Foam Rubber Grips
SeaSense has made another immensely likable paddle with the SeaSense X-Treme II Kayak Paddle. This paddle features a feathered blade design and feels good for picking up speed in your kayak. You should feel comfortable gripping this paddle as it feels natural to hold.
The drip guards are adjustable on this paddle so you’ll be able to put them where they’re most useful. There’s a support ridge as well that gives you a greater sense of strength when paddling. It has a two-piece construction design, making it nice and easy to store when you’re done with your kayaking trip.
- Support ridge aids with the strength of paddling
- Two-piece construction makes it easy to store
- It can float
- Feels comfortable to grip
- Has a feathered design
- Adjustable drip guards are convenient
This is a great paddle to buy if you need something that can work well with ordinary kayaking. It shouldn’t be a problem to take this paddle out on trips regularly as it feels comfortable in your hands. It’s relatively light, but it could be lighter.
This paddle can float, and it has many other features that will be useful to you. The adjustable drip guards are a nice touch, and the support ridge is convenient too. This is a recommended paddle for people who want to experience recreational kayaking for fun.
- Feathered Blade Design
- Two Piece Construction For Easy Storage
- Adjustable Drip Guards
SeaSense is a very prevalent maker of kayak paddles. Their effort here with the X-Treme II Mix kayak paddle is overall pretty good. It has a feathered design similar to the prior model, but it’s different in several ways.
This paddle is made using plastic for the blades and aluminum for the shaft. It feels pretty standard in your hands, and it’s simple enough to get a proper paddling motion going. It’s not as lightweight as some people would like it to be but it works well for regular kayaking purposes.
There are two different paddle colors to choose from when you buy this. It’s pretty impressive looking, and the design of the blade looks pretty neat. If you want something for your kayak that looks a bit stylish, then this paddle will fit the bill.
- Stylish blade design and color
- Made from aluminum and plastic
- Feels pretty good in your hands
- Feathered blade design
- Two-piece construction makes storage easy
- Has adjustable drip guards
- Support ridge for added strength is a nice touch
- It can float
If you enjoyed any of the prior SeaSense paddles, then this one should work great for you. It isn’t a high-performance paddle, but it works great for recreational kayaking. It has all of the positive features that you expect out of the X-Treme II line.
The adjustable drip guards are still a very convenient feature that many will like. The support ridge is here to give you that extra feeling of strength. It’s simple to store as it is made to break down into two pieces.
One of the most likely reasons you will want to purchase this comes down to the visual appeal. It has a neat look to it, and the blades stand out. If you think this paddle will look nice paired up with your kayak, then it makes sense to purchase this.
- Feathered Blade Design
- Two Piece Construction For Easy Storage
- Adjustable Drip Guards
The Carlisle Magic Plus is a fantastic kayak paddle for those looking for high performance. This paddle is made using fiberglass for the shaft, making it very durable. The polypropylene blade feels nice and cuts through the water super smoothly.
If you want to go a little faster than normal in your kayak, this type of paddle should be able to provide you with what you’re looking for. It’s effortless to use this paddle because it is so lightweight. It feels almost effortless to glide the blades through the water.
This is an incredibly durable paddle that you’ll be able to use for many years. It might cost a bit more money than some standard aluminum paddles, but you’re getting increased performance. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of your kayaking experience, this could be exactly what you want.
- Made from fiberglass and glass-filled polypropylene
- Incredibly durable
- Very lightweight
- Three different lengths available
- Two different color options
This is definitely a kayak paddle that you should buy. If you’re seriously into kayaking and want to invest a little bit into a nice paddle, this is an easy one to recommend. It will work well for high-performance kayaking and feels very comfortable to hold.
There are some great features that make this paddle special. You can order it in three different lengths, meaning that it can be a great option no matter what size you are. It also comes in two different colors, and both of the colors on the blades look really nice.
When you want to go a little faster and enjoy having a lightweight kayak paddle, you can turn to an option such as this. It’s a little more expensive than some of the other paddles, but it performs better in many areas. Think about what you want to do with your kayak and then decide if this is right for you.
- Carlisle's asymmetrical, slightly spooned blade shape combines with a lightweight, flexible fiberglass shaft to produce smooth yet powerful strokes.
- The wound fiberglass shaft provides a sweet compromise between the stiffness needed for a strong paddle stroke and the flex needed to reduce stress on your joints.
- Carlisle's Magic Plus paddles can take all of the punishment you dish out while giving you a great day on the water.
How to Choose a Kayak Paddle
First things first. There are four main types of paddles:
- Whitewater paddles offer exceptional durability and feature maneuverability and effectiveness. Whitewater paddles are mainly designed for harsh conditions thrown at you when on your whitewater adventures.
- Recreational paddles are a great bet for a recreation day on the water with family and friends. They work great exploring fishing and coastlines. The shafts are either composed of fiberglass or aluminum materials. Recreational paddles are long lasting and economically priced.
- Touring paddles offer durability and comfort even after spending the whole day on the water. They are incredibly light since they are made of special nylon resins. The blades are reinforced with carbon or fiberglass thus increasing the durability of the paddle.
- Performance paddles are the technologically advanced paddles for the serious paddlers and for those who want the greatest and latest paddling innovations. The shafts are made of carbon. The performance paddles reduce joint strain, thanks to their lightweight materials and ergonomic design. They are super lightweight hence decreasing their swing weight and offer less fatigue.
Consider Your Paddling Style
There are two main paddling techniques that you can use when kayaking – low-angle paddle stroke and high-angle paddle stroke.
Low-angle paddling is a relaxed and slower method of paddling typically used by recreational paddlers. The low-angle paddling technique is best suited for longer trips on the water, as it is more effective in conserving energy. With low-angle paddle stroke, the angle of your kayak entering the water is typically more horizontal than with the high-angle paddle stroke.
Also, the low-angle paddle stroke is a more reasonable cadence. The reason behind these is that the blade design used in low angle paddling is elongated and thinner, leading to lower exhaustion over an extended period paddling.
High-angle paddling is a more intense and aggressive paddling technique used mainly in moving waters. The high-angle paddle stroke is impressive for acceleration and maneuverability. The paddle design of this stroke has a broader blade, and it is a little bit shorter.
When you are paddling your kayak, it uses lots more aggressiveness as you are dipping the paddle blade much closer to your kayak. The pushing hand spreads much higher, leading to a power stroke via the water which enables you to move faster, more like a sprint. The high-angle paddle stroke is best if you’re kayaking for fitness or hitting choppy white waters.
How the Height and Width of Your Kayak Can Make Difference
The boat width plays a significant role in determining the proper length of the paddle. The general rule is that the taller the paddler, the lengthier the paddle which is required. This just means that the wider the boat, the shallower the angle between water and paddle, which needs a bit more length.
For instance, a paddler that’s 6’2″ and has 26-inch wide kayak will be happier with a 230-centimeter length paddle for low angle paddling. On the other hand, a paddler who is 5′ tall using that same kayak would be better suited with a 220-centimeter length paddle. The width of your kayak is essential. Here is a chart that you can use for general guidelines.
Does the Quality of a Kayak Paddle Matter?
If you want to have the best experience while kayaking, it’s in your best interest to have the best equipment to use. Buying yourself a nice kayak paddle can make a big difference in keeping the experience as fun as possible. You can get by with using a more inexpensive paddle, but it isn’t likely to be as effective as some of the better paddles that are available.
Inexpensive paddles are often not made to be as durable, and you won’t be able to get as good of a motion going with your paddling because of this. The very best kayak paddles on the market are designed to help you paddle as efficiently as possible. They can be made from many different materials and which style you will prefer mostly depends on personal preference.
Generally speaking, paddles made from lightweight materials are thought to be the best for pure performance. You’ll be able to paddle faster and get a better motion going when you use one of these paddles. They can be significantly more costly than other options, but if you want a paddle that performs well, it can be worth the price.
Whether or not it is okay for you to buy a more inexpensive paddle is dependent on what you want from your kayaking experience. If you’re going to get out on the water and paddle around, then an average paddle should be sufficient. For those who plan on kayaking through more turbulent waters, getting a durable and reliable high-end kayak paddle makes more sense.
Some people enjoy using kayaking as a way to relax, and others treat it more similar to a sporting endeavor. Think about the type of kayaking that appeals to you the most. If you want speed and performance, then the quality of a kayak paddle does make a huge difference.
What Type of Materials Are Kayak Paddles Made From?
There are many different ways that kayak paddles are made. Some materials are more common than others when it comes to these paddles, but they are quite varied. Sometimes you may even run across a paddle that was made using a material you wouldn’t think of.
The most popular materials that are used to make kayak paddles are plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, nylon, and carbon fiber. Usually, these materials will be used in combination with each other. The most inexpensive kayak paddles, also the most common ones, are made using plastic for the blades and aluminum for the shaft.
For most people, these plastic and aluminum paddles are going to perform fine. They will be able to stand up to a lot of paddling and will be a reliable tool for you. These aren’t as high-performance as some other paddles, but they’re very affordable and work great for general kayaking.
When people want something a bit more durable that offers more exceptional performance, they turn to fiberglass models. Fiberglass paddles are solid, and you’ll find that they’re lighter than the plastic ones. They cut through the water efficiently, and many people prefer paddles made from this material.
One downside to the fiberglass paddles is that sometimes the blades are prone to chipping after continued use. It would be very unusual for them to crack significantly, though. Small chips shouldn’t hurt the performance much at all, so they aren’t too much of a worry.
The most expensive and highest-performance kayak paddles are made from carbon fiber. These paddles are incredibly lightweight, and it makes paddling through the water a breeze. You’ll feel as though you have the best experience using this type of paddle for a rigorous kayaking trip.
Carbon fiber is super durable so you won’t have to worry about whether or not it will hold up. You can use these types of paddles for a very long time and will be able to feel confident in their reliability. The price point on the carbon fiber models is pretty high, though, so it’s usually something that only serious kayaking enthusiasts splurge on.
It’s also important to note that sometimes carbon fiber shafts are combined with nylon blades. The nylon blades perform similarly to plastic ones. They’re relatively common but work great for general kayaking purposes.
Are There Differences In Blade Designs?
Yes, there are some variations in the ways individual blades are designed. The most common paddle designs that are used in modern times are an asymmetrical dihedral shape. It would be unusual to see a paddle with a different form, but there are some custom designs out there that experiment with different ideas.
In a typical blade design, it is a bit shorter and somewhat narrow on one of its sides. This design is perfect for pushing through the water. You’ll notice a little rib down the center of the blade as well, which helps to make the water pass over the edge evenly on both sides.
Where you will see more variation with blade designs is in how full they are. Some blades are made to be a bit wider because people want to be able to paddle more powerfully. Experienced kayaking enthusiasts like these for their quick acceleration capabilities.
Blades that are more narrow are well-suited for longer kayaking trips. They’re lighter and overall more comfortable to use because of it. If you’re planning on kayaking for an entire afternoon, then you’re going to want a narrow blade on your paddle for the best results.
You’ll find that kayak paddles have two designations as well. They will either be labeled as low-angle or high-angle paddles. There are differences in how you go about paddling depending on which type you’re using.
Low-angle stroking sees you paddling while your shaft is only tilted a little bit. The high-angle stroke is tilted much further, and people turn to this kind of method for better speed. Keep in mind what type of stroke you wish to perform before deciding to buy a particular paddle.
There are also some variations of blade designs that are used in fishing kayaks. Sometimes a little notch is placed on the blade so that a fisher can use the paddle to recover a hook or attempt to untangle a line. It’s useful to know that these blade types are out there if you plan on fishing in your kayak.
It’s also important to quickly mention that your blades can be set on a paddle in either a matched or feathered fashion. What this means is that paired blades are aligned with each other perfectly. Feathered blades would be ones that are at an offset angle in comparison to each other.
Whether or not you decide to use matched or feathered blades is up to you. Some people prefer a feathered setup as it reduces the pull of the wind on your blade when it comes above water. Know that you’ll be able to play around with your setup to see what works best for you.
What Are Some Differences in the Shaft Designs?
There are only two significant variations of shaft designs that you will come across. You can buy a paddle with a straight shaft or a bent shaft. A curved shaft design can feel more comfortable to some people.
Many people say that a bent shaft design allows their hands to be placed more comfortably during paddling. Some people who have problems with their joints have found curved shaft designs to be particularly helpful. Others just can’t get used to gripping the paddle this way and prefer the traditional straight design.
Does the Paddle Length Matter?
The length of your paddle is going to make a pretty big difference in your performance. You should make an educated decision about what length you should buy depending on how large your kayak is. If you have a wider kayak, then you’re going to want a longer paddle to get the best experience.
It’s also important to consider your size when picking a paddle. If you’re a tall person, then you’re likely going to need a paddle that is a few inches longer. Sometimes it can be a good idea to try to get a feel for how high up you’re sitting in your kayak before deciding on what paddle length will be best for you.
Sometimes when your kayak is more narrow than usual, it’s essential to buy a bit longer of a paddle as well. Just make sure that you don’t buy one that is too long for you to use comfortably. To get the most out of your kayaking experience, you need to be able to use the paddle efficiently.
Buying a kayak paddle will be much simpler when you understand what you’re looking for. It’s important to consider exactly what you need to have the best time possible. If you’re merely looking to do some casual kayaking, it shouldn’t be too difficult to buy an inexpensive paddle and be fine.
For those who want to explore more choppy waters or who want to go fast, it can be a great idea to get a high-performance paddle. These might be a little more expensive, but they will perform incredibly well for you in all areas. Taking paddle durability into account is also smart since you will want the paddle to last you for a long time.
You even need to think about what type of stroke you’re going to be performing and how long the paddle needs to be. There is a lot to consider, but if you take it one step at a time, it shouldn’t be overwhelming to come to the proper purchasing decision. You’ll be able to find the kayaking paddle that is perfect for your needs.