The paddles you choose to use for kayaking can make a huge difference in your overall comfort and energy levels out on the water. Luckily, choosing the right kayaking paddles isn’t that hard to do, if you know what to look for and what to avoid altogether.
Ranging from about 210cm to 260cm in length, lengths in kayak paddles vary tremendously. The size that’s suitable for you depends on your style of paddling, your height and the width of your kayak. The taller you are, the longer the length of your paddle needs to be.
Depending on your paddling style, there are two different styles of paddles you might want to consider:
- Low angle paddling – this is a more relaxed style with a slower cadence. This style of paddling is very effective for long trips. Low angle paddles have slim blades and are longer than high-angle blades
- High angle paddling – this is a more aggressive style of paddling with a faster cadence. Essentially, this style of paddling is used in moving water where acceleration and maneuverability are important.
The lighter the weight of the blade, the easier the paddling will be. The very best paddles offer you a great balance of weight and strength. For touring purposes, the weight of the paddle is a crucial determining factor. Strength is a key aspect for whitewater paddles. There are any different blade materials available such as:
- Fiberglass – fiberglass blades are great for touring and recreational use. They’re lightweight and are usually super durable, and they also fall in the middle of the price range when it comes to paddle blades.
- Carbon fiber – carbon fiber is the high-performance choice for blades, but it’s going to cost you a lot more. The extra investment however will definitely worth it when you notice the reduced weight after a day of paddling.
- Nylon / Aluminum / Plastic – requiring minimum maintenance and coming in as the most affordable, these paddles are great for beginners. They also make for great spare paddles and are a great choice for general recreational uses. The only downside to them is that they’re HEAVY!
Although most kayak paddles have simple and straight shafts, some of them feature bent-shafts. These shafts have a kinked section that positions hands at a more comfortable angle during the power portion of your stroke, minimizing discomfort and fatigue.
There’s also one-piece and two-piece paddles. Two-piece shafts disassemble quickly for easy storage and transportation. Then there are also 4-piece shafts, which are great for backup paddles and for use on inflatables.
Shafts generally come in two shapes: oval and round. Oval shafts provide you with a much more comfortable grip than round shafts.
The Best Kayak Paddles-Kayak Paddle Reviews
The market seems flooded with kayaking paddles, each one seemingly better than the last, but here’s our top picks for the best kayaking paddles available on the market today in no particular order…
This is an exceptional choice for a recreational kayak paddle, and we love the fact that it brings you great value at an attractive price.
It has 3 locking positions, and can pull apart into two pieces, that makes it easy to store and transport.
The feathered blade design and added support ridge gives you the strength you need for your stroke.
Okay so for all goals and purposes, wooden paddles don’t make for the best touring or all-day kayaking paddles, but we love the look of this sleek old-school paddle!
It’s a single (not double) paddle, so you definitely won’t be using this guy out on the white waters or anything that can be described as intense.
If you’re all about cruising and enjoying the waters at a slow pace, this is a great paddle!
If you’ve got the finances to invest in the best, the Carlisle Expedition is your best bet!
It’s been consistently rated as the best sea kayaking paddle on the market and was designed for long distance paddling, so it’s super lightweight and durable.
This paddle is perfect for everyone and anyone from beginners to pros, although we’d only recommend this paddle for seasoned kayakers who don’t mind to splurge.
Okay so this paddle is making waves in the kayaking world as seems to be one of the very best whitewater kayaking paddles out there.
It’s flexible enough to be used for just about any kind of kayaking, which makes it even more popular.
The Magic Plus is lightweight, durable and provides just the right balance between strength and flex.
Seattle Sports might be relatively new to the world of kayaking, but their Sea Whisper paddle is one of the cheapest carbon fiber paddles on the market, which immediately qualifies it as a great option for lightweight paddling.
The carbon shaft is super durable and we love the quick adjust features that help you make small adjustments on-the-go.
Coming in as the lightest paddle in its price range, the Sting Ray Hybrid is a really great investment to make.
The only downside to it is the fact that it’s not recommended for use beyond Class I waters, so you won’t be able to tackle whitewater or ocean kayaking with this paddle!
We love this lightweight, durable and efficient paddle, because it’s great for anglers.
The wide paddle design makes for perfect use in trolling and it’s also great for longer trips because it’s relatively lightweight.
The Wrap Up
When it comes to finding and investing in the right kayaking paddle, there are a lot of variables you need to consider. Just like the kayaks themselves, there are a lot of different styles aimed at specific activities. Some paddles are better suited for whitewater kayaking, while others were intended to be used only on flat and calm waters.
Always remember to keep the key elements in mind before investing: size, weight, length, style, blade shape and the materials.