Best Kayak Paddles – Reviews and Guide 2017

If you’re looking for the best kayak paddle, you’re in the right place as I’ve done extensive research to find the right paddle for your kayak. No matter how good your kayak is, the paddles you use make a huge difference, so make sure you get the best ones available. Aside from the reviews, I have a buyer’s guide here as well.

Best Kayak Paddle Buying Guide

How To Choose A Kayak Paddle

  • Length: the length depends on your personal preference, how you like to paddle and the width and height of your kayak, but most paddles range from 200 to 260 cm.
  • Paddling Style
  • Shape of Blades: blades come in many different shapes and they're not just for looks. They each have different purposes
  • Shaft: Straight shaft or Bent shaft
  • Low-angle paddling: a low angle paddling has a slower cadence and more suited for long trips. These blades’ flatter angle also means they’re slimmer and longer compared to high angle blades.
  • High Angle paddling: aggressive kayakers will like high angle blades as they have a faster cadence. These blades are suitable for use in moving waters, and they enhance the kayak’s maneuverability and acceleration. High angle paddling also requires more effort so it’s good exercise too.
  • Width of boat and Height of paddle
  • Grip: Grip plays an important role during paddling. It is important to be comfortable to ensure effiency when paddling

The rule of thumb is the taller you are, the longer the paddle must be. A 5’0” paddler will find a 220 cm paddle satisfactory, while a 6 ft. tall rider will need a 230 cm paddle even if their boats are the same size.

Paddle Sizing Guide

Low-Angle

  • Under 5': 210 cm
  • 5' to 5'6": 215 cm
  • 5'6" to 6': 220 cm
  • Over 6': 220 cm

These measurements are for boats with widths of 23” or less. Wider boats may require larger paddles.

High Angle Kayak (kayak widths 26”)

  • Under 5'1": 200 cm
  • 5'1" to 5'4": 205 cm
  • 5'4" to 6': 210 cm
  • Over 6': 220 cm

Paddle Blade Materials

The lighter the material the easier it is to paddle, but you’ll be giving up on strength. The ideal paddle is one that offers a nice balance between weight and strength. If you’reon a whitewater kayak, powerful paddles are ideal, while light paddles are suited for touring.

  • Fiberglass: fiberglass paddles are affordable, durable and suitable for recreational and touring use. Available in different colors, these are also lighter than other paddles.
  • Carbon Fiber: carbon fiber is lightweight and comes with a distinct look. They’re more expensive than fiberglass but offer superior performance. Carbon fiber paddles are most useful for multi-day expeditions, as its light weight reduces the pressure on your shoulders.
  • Nylon/Aluminum/Plastic: these paddles are durable, affordable and need very little maintenance. Plastic paddles are best suited for beginners and recreational use. The drawback with these paddles is they’re a little heavy and they also feel a little cold during the winter.

Paddle Blade Design

Feathered: if the blade isn’t feathered, it means the blades are lined up with one another. If it is not feathered, it means they’re at angles to each other and not on the same plane. The advantage of a feathered blade is it cuts down fatigue and minimizes wind resistance.

As the blade goes through the water, the other blade slices in the air. Most feathered blades have angles from 30 to 45 degrees, and the smaller the angle the lighter it is on your wrists. However, the large angles do provide greater proficiency for paddling.

Feathered blades are designed in such a way that a hand is in control of the paddling. This control hand turns the shaft with every stroke so the blades go into the water at the best possible angle. Both touring and whitewater paddles have control hands, and you can even change the angle of the feather.

Blade Shape: The majority of paddle blades have an asymmetrical design. This gives the blade a narrower profile and does not require as much energy from you. You’ll also want to look for a dihedral shape because it produces an angle similar to that of an aircraft wing. This ensures water flows evenly and smoothly on the blade.

Paddle Shafts

When you're looking into kayak paddles, make sure you look at the shafts. The majority of paddle shafts are straight, while bent shafts have a kinked part that places your hand at a more relaxed angle. This design also reduces fatigue and discomfort as well as possible shoulder injuries.

bent vs straight shaft kayak paddle

There are 2 and 4 piece shafts available which can be taken down for easy storage. Women may find shafts with small diameters a better option as it minimizes fatigue. Generally speaking there are two types of shafts; round and oval. The round shape is traditional and offer better grip. Oval shafts however, are more comfortable to use.

Carrying a Spare Paddle

No matter what type of paddle you decide to buy, make sure you bring a spare paddle along. This is especially important if you’re going on a multiday kayak journey. Paddles are easy to buy these days and they’re portable too so there’s no reason not to buy one.

Kayak Paddle Buying Guide Summary

These are the major points to consider:

  • If you’re going to paddle on slow moving rivers or lakes, look for a touring kayak paddle. Paddles for touring kayaks are also suited for camping, exploring, river running and recreational use.
  • If you’re going to spend most of your time kayaking in deep water, the blade material and shape should be based on your stroke. If you’re going to kayak in shallow water, get a wider blade.
  • For shore exploration, exercise, fishing and short trips, recreational kayak paddles will be more than enough.
  • For extended, multi-day trips or kayaking in moving or flat water, look for the previously mentioned touring kayak paddles or those marked performance paddles.
  • If you kayak in rocky waters or sandy bottoms, get paddles built of polypropylene, nylon or fortified with carbon fibers or glass.

Best Kayak Paddle Reviews

Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle Rounded 96"

The Marine Kayak 96 inch paddle is designed for different kayaks with emphasis on function and comfort. The drip guards are there so you remain dry, and the 3 position mechanism provides extra flexibility. Even if you spend hours kayaking, the foam grips keep your hands comfortable.

The blades are contour molded, and thanks to the 3 positon system you can paddle the way you like. Beginners will like the way the Marine Paddle feels in the hands, and it’s particularly useful for those who prefer long paddles. Another advantage of this paddle is its durability.

This paddle is often used by beginners, but it’s versatile enough for experienced kayakers as well. The paddle is also easy to store, unlike other paddles that are a pain to store away. The construction is very strong and holds up well even with continued use.

Pros

  • Drip guards do the job of keeping you dry
  • Comfortable to use
  • Good for beginners and advanced users
  • Sturdy built

Cons

Summary

The Marine Kayak paddles are high quality and provide the kind of power and flexibility you’d expect from more expensive paddles. They’re stylish and functional and can withstand heavy duty use. If you’re looking for paddles that make paddling straight easier, then you’ll like these.

SeaSense X-TREME II Kayak Paddle, 96-Inch

The X-Treme II Paddle sports a feathered blade design, giving it the edge over other paddles. Ideal for use on different types of kayaks, the X-Treme II paddle is of a 2-piece construction, making it easy to store when you’re done it. Unlike other paddles, a lot of thought wentto the X-Treme II’s design so it’s easier to use.

There are three locking positions, giving you greater flexibility while kayaking. Its drip guards are adjustable, allowing you to customize the kayaking experience. What makes the X-Treme II paddle different from the rest is the presence of the support ridge, giving it extra strength.

A lot of paddles have trouble finding the right balance between flexibility and durability, often compromising one for the other. The X-Treme II is one of those paddles that is able to balance this out. It isn’t the lightest paddle, but you don’t have toover exert yourself using it.

Pros

  • Available in different sizes
  • Handling is convenient
  • Works well on different kayaks
  • Overall good quality

Cons

  • Requires some effort to use in very windy conditions
  • The grips can slide a bit in rough waters

Summary

The X-Treme II is an outstanding paddle and offers a good amount of customizability that is only found in high end paddles. The two componentson the X-Treme II fit nicely, and the spacing on the grips are properly done. These paddles are in short, high quality products that do what they’re supposed to.

SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle, 84-Inch

The X-1 Paddle is constructed of aluminum and the two piece design makes it more convenient to use. Weighing just 2 ½ lbs. the X-1 also floats in the water so you can pick it up in case it’s dropped. It has foam rubber grips and the drip guards help keep your handle steady.

The plastic molded blade is one of the company’s most popular products, owing to its quality,comfort and durability. Unlike otherpaddles they attach and detach quickly, ideal for storage. The paddle works fine as it is, but it’s easy to adjust the angle if necessary.

Adjustability is one of the main strengths of the X-1, but we cannot overlook its versatility and lightweight design. The fact that it’s lightweight may give off the impression that it feels “cheap”, but if you’re going to spend hours kayaking you’ll appreciate its lightness even more.

Pros

  • Has a lifetime warranty
  • Floats if you drop in the water
  • The angle is easy to adjust
  • Easy on your hands

Cons

  • More suited for recreational kayaking than anything else
  • Handle is a bit narrow

Summary

The X-1 Paddle is cost effective and works very well on different types of kayaks. This is not the fanciest paddle, but it is of decent quality. The grips are also good and the drip guards really work. At 84 inches the X-1 is a bit shorter than the other paddles, but that’s a blessing for those who find long paddles unwieldy. If you’re on a touring kayak a longer paddle is better, but for beginners the X-1 will do nicely.

Naviskin 5 Color Available Aluminum 2 Pieces Construction Kayak Paddles 87-Inch

Kayak paddle reviews have given theNaviskin 5 good feedback and it’s well earned. At 87 inches the paddle is suitable for beginners and recreational activities and you can choose from white, yellow and black. Like most quality paddles, it in a two-piece construction for convenient storage.

The asymmetrical paddle has a solid grip and its aluminum component is resistant to corrosion. The handle is high impact and the molded blade allows for smooth movement in the water. The paddle is also lightweight so you can use it forlong time without tiring out.

The Naviskin is ahigh quality paddle that combines its lightweight features with performance. A beginner will find its design very efficient and ergonomic, but it’s also practical and works fine for recreational kayaking. At 87 inches it is just right for newcomers, not too or short.

Pros

  • Available in different colors
  • Solidly built
  • Not heavy at all
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Paddle will sink if left in water too long
  • May be too short for most sit in kayaks

Summary

TheNaviskin 5 is one of the better feathered blade paddles. Its multiple locking positions provide lots of customizability, and it doesn’t compromise durability. Beginners will also like its light weight. While it’s available in different colors, the functionality and quality is the same, and that’s a good thing.

Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddle/Boat Oars, 96-Inch

The Intex has a dual purpose. First it serves as a solo kayak paddle, and when you connect it becomes 48 inch oars. Either way the paddle is lightweight and doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your hands. Made from aluminum, the paddle is designed to last a long time.

The paddle has drip rings and at just 3.5 lbs. is not too heavy or light. With its 96 inch length it is ideal for a lot of kayaks and handles smoothly in lakes. The connector is adjustable so you can twist the blades’ angles. The blades are made of plastic so they’re durable and have a nice curve. A dual purpose paddle may not be on your radar, but it’s a nice feature to have nevertheless.

Pros

  • Construction is solid
  • Large blades
  • Has a solid, heavy feel
  • Adjustable connector
  • Perfect for those who like long paddles

Cons

  • Not ideal in choppy waters
  • Hand grip doesn’t have cushions

Summary

The Intex paddle is one of the most cost effective paddles today and it’s not every day that you find a dual paddle that is effective at both. If you’re having problems with short paddles, then the Intex is what you’re looking for. It isn’t just long but also well-made and is forgiving enough for beginners.

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle - Polypro Blades/Fiberglass Shaft 90.5-Inch

The Carlisle Magic Paddle is made of fiberglass and filled with polypropylene, giving it a lightweight feel yet durable. Available in Cloud and Sunrise colors, the Magic Paddle has a somewhat spooned blade, and the asymmetrical shape allows the shaft to produce smooth and reliable strokes.

The wound shaft manages to strike the right balance between flexibility and stiffness. The end result is a powerful paddle stroke, but it has the flex which cuts down the stress on the joints. Getting the balance right is really difficult, but the Carlisle Magic makes paddling easier.

Pros

  • Available in different lengths
  • Easy to maintain
  • Well-balanced
  • Works well for touring

Cons

  • Heavy for a fiberglass paddle
  • Not easy to take apart

Summary

The Carlisle Magic Paddle is versatile, and it’s one of those that you can use in rapids, flatwater and others without missing a beat. There is a lot to like in these paddles, but its real strength likes in the way you’re able to adjust the angles to suit your needs. For most people the standard angle works all right, but other options are available.

Curved Kayak Paddle

Contrary to what is described in some sites, the paddle is available in 7 ft. and 8 ft. sizes, not 7’8” or 8’8”. Even so, the paddle has a sturdy built which enhances its performance and capabilities. In addition, the paddle comes with dock hooks and a handle for better control.

The Curved Kayak Paddle is suitable for recreational kayaking, but the build makes it suitable for experienced kayakers too. If you have a kayak and aren’t happy with the paddles that came with it, the Curved Paddle is a worthy replacement, or you purchase this as a backup.

Pros

  • Paddles are easy to adjust
  • Light construction
  • Design is sturdy
  • Has received positive reviews online

Cons

  • Listed height is incorrect in some online retailers

Summary

The Curved Paddle has gotten a lot of good feedback, and as most reviewers have noted the paddle works as well as expected. When it comes to kayak paddles the thing you want is one that will get you across waters without a hitch. The Curved Paddle does precisely that and more.

Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Kayak Paddle - 2 Piece 90.5-Inch

The Carlisle Day Tripper blade is made from polypropylene, ensuring it is stronger than others. The shaft meanwhile is constructed of aluminum that’s been tempered lightly for the right balance of flexibility and durability. The paddle weighs just 37 oz. and it is available in three sizes, 220, 230 and 240 cm.

The powerful aluminum shaft and the polypropylene blades make this an excellent choice. It is cost effective yet doesn’t give away anything in terms of performance and efficiency. Its 2-piece push button design also enables feathering at 60 degrees for left or right control.

Pros

  • The paddle can be broken down for easy storage
  • Paddles float nicely
  • Offers a solid grip
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • There are some complaints about poor packaging

Summary

The Day Tripper is a great example of an effective paddle. It is just the right weight and the design makes it easy to break down and store. If you’re an advanced user, you’ll also like the feathering feature as it makes changing styles easier. For lakes, this is the kind of paddle you’ll want to bring along.

Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle Blade 72-Inch

Lifetime Kayak makes some pretty good kayak paddles for kids, and this is one of their best efforts yet. At 72 inches, the length is just right for small kayaks and boats, perfect for kids. The shaft and blade are well-designed with just the right combination for ease of use and durability.

This is a two piece shaft for convenience, and it’s a great introduction for young children. This paddle is made from aluminum and floats nicely in the water in case it is dropped. As far as age is concerned, the Lifetime paddles are good enough for years to come.

Pros

  • Ideal for young kids
  • Well built
  • Light enough for young kids
  • Wide blade

Cons

  • Good for small kayaks only
  • Doesn’t come with drip guards

Summary

These Lifetime paddles are ideal for kids 3 years old and above. It is fully functional but at the same time it’s sturdy and lightweight. The paddle attaches nicely in the center with a pushpin, and unlike other paddles for kids, there is no wiggle room. You’ll want to supervise your child at first , but they’ll quickly learn how it works. In short this is great for kids.

Conclusion

We spend a lot of time researching what kayak to buy the paddle isn’t given a lot of thought. One reason is that the most kayaks are bundled with paddles so we use those.

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