5 Best Kayak Paddles: The Ultimate Paddle Guide for Kayaking

Kayaking is a great activity to enjoy with your friends and family. After a busy week, taking your kayak out on the water is one of the best ways to relax and relieve stress. It’s also a great activity to enjoy with your friends, children, or significant other. Whether you’re fishing, relaxing, or adventuring out on rough river rapids, you are going to need a dependable paddle to keep you moving. Let’s take a look at the five best kayak paddles, our favorite paddles to bring out on the water.

 

The 5 Best Kayak Paddles

5. Pelican Poseidon Angler Kayak Paddle

Pelican Poseidon Angler Kayak Paddle

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The Poseidon Angler Paddle from Pelican Boats is one of our favorite kayaking paddles. The Poseidon is a high-quality, lightweight paddle at an affordable price point.

What we really love about the Poseidon Angler paddle is the unique shaft design. It has an indexing feature where the shaft has both round and slightly oval sections rather than just being round. That way, you are in a position to firmly hold the paddle in your right hand while loosely gripping it with your left. This innovative holding position reduces fatigue so you can paddle longer and further.

In addition, the Poseidon Angler paddle comes with an integrated hook retrieval system that makes fishing easier and more efficient. On the shaft, you will also find a visible tape measure as well as the ability to adjust the blade angle between 0-65 degrees.

With a 98 inch (249 cm) length, the longer shaft and larger blades are a great option for wide kayaks, as well as people who are tall. The polypropylene blades are impact-resistant and reinforced with fiberglass for improved durability and strength. The shaft is aluminum.

For portability and storage, the paddle can be separated into two smaller pieces, which is really convenient when you are packing for a trip and loading up your vehicle.

Pros

  • Lightweight and sturdy.
  • Adjustable angle 0-65º
  • Available in a sleek sand color.
  • Has bigger blades and an extended shaft.
  • Adjustable drip rings to keep your hands dry.

Cons

  • Casual kayak users do not need the indexing shaft unless they have wrist issues.

 

4. Aqua Bound Manta Ray Paddle

Aqua Bound Manta Ray Kayak Paddle

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With the beautiful Manta Ray Paddle, Aqua Bound took their time to design a top-notch paddle with a lightweight carbon fiber shaft. While the lightweight shaft reduces fatigue, it is also strong and ovalized to enhance hand comfort. Additionally, the ribbed texture allows you to have a secure grip, even when your hands are wet.

Besides the oval shaft, Aqua Bound offers you two ferrule options: posi-lok and snap button. The snap button has a sturdy, corrosion-free, composite construction with infinite feathering angles. The posi-lock option consists of aluminum construction with a three hole snap button for 0 degree and 60 degree feathering angles.

The Manta Ray separates into two smaller pieces, which is great for portability and storage. The portability makes it a great option for those who plan to bring a kayak out on camping trips or vacations.

With six different length options ranging from 210 cm to 250 cm, there is a perfect size for each person, regardless of their height or the width of the kayak. The Manta Ray utilizes carbon-reinforced, injection-molded nylon blades, which are much stronger and more durable than common plastic blades.

Pros

  • Carbon nylon blade provides extra power per stroke.
  • High-quality and lightweight.
  • Has an innovative design.
  • Provides a fantastic swing.
  • Easily adjustable and strong.
  • The manufacturer includes drip rings on the paddle.

Cons

  • It is designed for the high-energy, high-angle paddler.

 

3. Bending Branches Angler Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Classic Kayak Paddle

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The Classic Angler Kayak Paddle from Bending Branches is an awesome option for those looking for a professional model and a lower price point. It is available in orange and green, with six different sizing ranging from 220 cm to 260 cm in length. The paddle features two oversized fiberglass-reinforced blades. While they provide great durability and strength, the blades still manage to weigh only 34 ounces, so they are great for paddling over longer distances while minimizing fatigue.

Utilizing a 3-hole snap button, the ferrule on this paddle is adjustable, with feathering angle options of 0º and 60º. Additionally, you can use the ferrule to adjust between left hand or right hand control.

Another awesome feature is the hook retrieval. There is a small groove in one of the blades that is great for rescuing a fishing pole line or freeing a hook that has become stuck. For storage and portability, the paddle separates into two smaller, compact pieces.

Pros

  • Has an elegant design and colors.
  • Oversize blades provide powerful, efficient strokes.
  • Separates easily into two pieces for storage.
  • High-quality, light, and durable.
  • Unique hook retrieval blade.

Cons

  • The snap button construction provides limited feathering angles.

 

2. SeaSense Kayak Paddle

SeaSense Kayak Paddle

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In our opinion, the SeaSense Kayak Paddle is the best budget option available. It may be hard to believe there’s a durable, reliable kayak paddle for under $50 USD, but SeaSense really hit the ball out of the park with this one.

The SeaSense paddle is available in two different sizes, 83 inches and 96 inches. Additionally, both sizes are available in 5 different color options: white, yellow, military green, red-black combo, and orange-yellow.

The blades are constructed with fiberglass filled nylon, which is extremely lightweight and durable. It’s rare to find a paddle with fiberglass blades in this price range. Additionally, the shaft is lightweight aluminum, featuring fantastic foam grips for a secure, comfortable grip.

While the SeaSense paddle is perfect for beginners and intermediate kayakers, if you are an advanced kayak user, you may want to opt for a higher-end model. The blades can be a bit stiff and the paddle features no flex shaft, which affects adjustability. This means it also is not the best choice for long-distance paddling over a long period of time.

Pros

  • Lightweight and ergonomic.
  • Great for recreational kayaking.
  • High-quality and durable.
  • Breaks into two pieces for storage.

Cons

  • The shaft does not flex in any way; it limits comfort for serious, long-distance paddling.

 

1. Best Marine Kayak Paddle

Best Marine Kayak Paddle

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The Best Marine Kayak Paddle is our favorite paddle to bring kayaking — and it retails for less than $100 USD. The paddle is 234 cm (92 in) long, while weighing only 33.5 ounces, which is great for paddling over long distances or for long periods of time. We love it — paddling truly feels effortless.

The shaft is made of premium carbon fiber, which is extremely high-quality, durable, and lightweight. Many kayaking enthusiasts and advanced users favor carbon fiber shafts over the aluminum and fiberglass models because they are typically more lightweight. Because advanced kayakers prefer carbon fiber models, they tend to cost more than the aluminum alternatives. This carbon fiber paddle, however, is both high-end and affordable. At its price point, it truly is a steal.

One of our favorite features, which is unique to the Best Marine Kayak, is the included 5 foot leash. The leash attaches to the paddle on one end and the kayak on the other, securing the paddle and preventing it from floating away or sinking if you lose your grip. Additionally, there are two very effective drip rings that are great at keeping your hands dry and in control of each and every paddle.

For easy storage and portability, the paddle’s shaft separates into two smaller pieces. In addition, the

Pros

  • Affordable and durable.
  • Highly sturdy.
  • Carbon fiber shaft.
  • Adjustable and lightweight.
  • Includes a 5 foot leash.

Cons

  • There are more lightweight models available.

 

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Perfect Kayak Paddle

Kayaker Using Paddle on a LakeWhen choosing the perfect paddle for your kayak, there are a few factors that are important to consider.

Type of Kayaking

Before buying a kayak paddle, it is important to think about what you are planning to use it for. Certain paddles are designed for specific uses. For instance, white water paddles are not intended to be used as fishing oars. You also should not use a white water kayaking paddle for touring, since touring paddles are typically a longer length.

This is important because the type of kayak you are using varies in width depending upon the activity it is designed for. For instance, a touring kayak usually has a width of 22 to 25 inches, while a performance kayak usually has a width of 19 to 22 inches.

Paddle Length

The paddle length you need is determined by two factors: your height and the width of the kayak. For people who are below 5’ 5”, you should choose a paddle between 210 cm and 240 cm. Those who are 5’5” – 5’11” should opt for a paddle that is 220 cm – 250 cm. For kayakers who are 6’ and above, appropriate sizes usually range between 220 cm – 260 cm.

While this is a great start, remember that your height must also be factored in. Please refer to this awesome paddle sizing chart to help you choose the perfect length for you.

Low Angle vs High Angle

Low angle paddles are more comfortable and relaxing. As you paddle, your wrists will not go above your head, which makes kayaking gentle on your body. Enjoy the slow speeds, and have a relaxing day on the water with no hurry. Low angle paddles enable you to cover more distance through the increased endurance you gain as you row, but will take a longer time to reach that distance.

For those who want a more physical paddling experience, a high angle paddle is a great choice. High angle designs enable you to execute fast, powerful strokes. This is achieved by the angled blade hitting the water at a more perpendicular angle. A high angle is ideal for those who want to paddle at high speeds, but it also requires you to exert more strength and energy.

Adjustable Feather Angle

Feathering is the ability to change the angle of the blade on the paddle. This is a great feature for beginners and novice kayakers because they can try out different angles and figure out which works the best for them.

In addition, the blade can be adjusted to give your wrist a break during long sessions out on the water. Some paddles offer an infinite range of adjustability, some feature a few angle options, and others do not feature any adjustability at all. It’s important to decide how important this feature is to you before choosing your new kayak paddle.

Blade Material

When it comes to the blade material of a kayak paddle, it is a balancing act between being lightweight and affordable. There are three main types of blades: plastic/nylon, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.

  • Plastic/nylon blades are the most low cost option. This type of blade is typically used by recreational paddlers. While it is the most affordable option, there are a few major drawbacks. Most importantly, they are too flexible in the water for efficient strokes. They also degrade in the sunlight and are prone to cracking over time.
  • Fiberglass blades represent the middle tier in terms of price, perfomance, and durability. Compared to plastic/nylon blades, they are more lightweight and efficient in the water. While they are generally durable, fiberglass blades may chip around the edges over time.
  • Carbon fiber blades are the best option. They are usually quite a bit more expensive, but they are the lightest and provide the best performance. The lightweight and stiffness are the best for stroke efficiency. Additionally, the blades tend to hold up very well over time.

Shaft Material

Most kayak paddle shafts are either aluminum, carbon fiber, or fiberglass. Aluminum is durable, lightweight, and by far the most affordable type of shaft. However, it is also sensitive to temperature and will get very cold in cold weather and very hot in the sunlight. During the winter and summer months, many users find that they must wear gloves to withstand the temperature of their aluminum shafts.

Carbon fiber and fiberglass shafts are considered to be the professional standards and are recommended by advanced kayakers. Both are very strong, durable, and lightweight. However, carbon fiber and fiberglass shafts are significantly more expensive than aluminum shafts.

Design

While some paddles are one seamless piece, other models feature a two piece portable design. With the two piece paddles, the oars separate into two separate pieces for easier storage, transportation, and portability. On the other hand, single piece paddles can be difficult to fit inside of your vehicle or luggage.

Two piece designs are an extremely convenient feature and we highly recommend you choose a paddle that utilizes it. Most people have to travel quite a bit to get to the water and the two piece designs make it a whole lot easier.

Comfort

Another important factor to consider is the comfort of the paddle. Comfort starts with the shaft. A rubberized shaft feels great in your palms. If you buy a paddle with an aluminum shaft, we recommend that you make sure the manufacturer has coated it for comfort or added a PVC layer. Most carbon fiber and fiberglass shafts are comfortable enough to handle right out of the box. Also, some models come with cushion or foam grips for added comfort and control.

Remember, the blade angle and paddle length that you choose will also affect how comfortable you feel using the paddle, so be sure to keep those factors in mind as well.

 

Kayak Paddle FAQs

What is the best material for kayak paddles?

The two best types of paddles are carbon fiber and fiberglass. This applies to the shaft of the paddle, as well as the blades. Carbon fiber and fiberglass are both high-quality dependable options that should suit you well. However, many kayakers consider carbon fiber to be the best choice, due to its durability, efficiency, and lightweight.

While carbon fiber and fiberglass are the best options, they are also the most expensive. Lower quality, more affordable paddles typically feature aluminum shafts and plastic blades. These may not be professional quality, but they are perfect for novices and recreational kayaks.

How much does a kayak paddle cost?

The cost of a kayak paddle is determined mostly by the material used to construct the shaft and the blades. Paddles that utilize carbon fiber and fiberglass are typically much more expensive than paddles that feature aluminum shafts and plastic blades. There are kayak paddles that are appropriate for any budget, big or small.

Generally speaking, kayak paddles can range from around $50 USD to several hundred.

What if my kayak paddle is too long or short?

A properly sized paddle increases efficiency, performance, and endurance. If your kayak paddle is not the right length, it becomes much harder to stroke efficiently. Whether the paddle is too long or too short, you will quickly over exert yourself and run out of energy. You may also develop blisters from having to frequently move your hand along the shaft.

 

Conclusion

The secret to having a smooth kayaking experience is ensuring that you have the right tools for the job — especially your kayak paddle. It is important to choose a paddle that is the right size for your height and for the width of your kayak. It is also important to consider your budget and your preferred material. Most importantly though, remember to have fun! After all, that’s what taking the kayak out on the water is all about.

Have fun, we wish you smooth sailing! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. We’re happy to help!

 

Do you have a kayak paddle that you love? We would love to try it out. Let us know in the comments below! 

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