Finding the best kayak paddle is an essential part of enjoying your day on the water. Whether you are out for a short trip around the lake or an overnighter, the right kayak paddle can make a big difference. In this article, we will look at different paddles and talk about what to look for when you make your purchase.
A kayak paddle is one of the most critical pieces of equipment when it comes to kayaking. Unless you have a motor attached to your kayak, your paddle is how you power the boat. Even on short kayak trips, you will pound out a lot of strokes without realizing it. You will expend a lot of energy, and you want to get the most out of all that effort.
- 1 Best kayak paddle
- 2 AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Hybrid 2-Piece Kayak Paddle
- 3 OCEANBROAD Kayak Paddle
- 4 Pelican Poseidon Paddle
- 5 SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle
- 6 Overmont Kayak Paddle
- 7 Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece Kayak Paddle
- 8 Best Marine Kayak Paddle
- 9 Pelican SYMBOSIA Angler Kayak Paddle
- 10 Werner Tybee FG IM 2 PC Straight Paddle
- 11 Werner Camano Fiberglass Bent Shaft Kayak Paddle
- 12 How to choose the best kayak paddle
- 13 Wrapping up
Best kayak paddle
There are different types of kayaks (more information) and different types of paddles. If your paddle is too long, too short, or too heavy, you will struggle to navigate your kayak. It may not seem like a big deal to have the best kayak paddle, but if you spend enough time on the water, you will see the difference when you have the right paddle.
The paddle you choose will ultimately come down to three things:
- The type of water you will be paddling
- Your height and arm length
- The type of boat. A wider boat (like an inflatable) usually requires a longer paddle and a more narrow boat, a shorter paddle
AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Hybrid 2-Piece Kayak Paddle
- MADE IN OSCEOLA, WISCONSIN, USA. Like all Aqua-Bound paddles, the Manta Ray 2-piece...
- 2 PIECE CONSTRUCTION. The Manta Ray breaks into two pieces with Posi-Lok ferrule for...
- Injection-molded abX II blades are reinforced with fiberglass fibers, stronger than...
- Ovalized paddle shaft provides a comfortable grip
- Drip Rings included
- Fiberglass reinforced blade
- Carbon shaft
- Two ferrule options
This paddle is great for fishermen, high-angle paddlers, and fitness paddlers. This is due to the full profile of the blade. Manta Ray is excellent for those looking for more power out of their stroke.
The fiberglass-reinforced blade is lightweight and robust, unlike many plastic blades out there. The dihedral shape blade is efficient, so you don’t waste energy when you are paddling. This paddle is excellent if your kayak is heavy or weighed down with a lot of gear.
The carbon fiber shaft is durable and lightweight with an oval-shaped grip area. This shaft has a ribbed surface, so it won’t slip in your hands when it’s wet. The paddle has 15-degree adjustable increments, so you can feather to your desire.
Many sizes available
Incremental adjustments for fine-tuning feathering
Some users need a stiffer paddle
This is one of the best kayak paddles because it’s lightweight, durable, and powerful. You get this easy to swing paddle at a very reasonable price. The Aqua Bound Manta Ray is designed with power and efficiency.
OCEANBROAD Kayak Paddle
- DURABLE AND AFFORDABLE: This kayak paddle is with high-quality aluminum alloy shaft...
- USERES FRIENDLY: The oar shaft is designed with a shrinking PE tube cover. It...
- POPULAR LENGTH AT 230CM: Not too short, not too long, the oar is 230cm (90.5 inches)...
- FREE LEASH/3 ANGLES/ DRIP RINGS: All OCEANBROAD kayak paddles come with a free bungee...
- WORRY FREE PURCHASE: OCEANBROAD offers complete customer satisfaction of replacement...
- Aluminum alloy shaft
- Fiberglass reinforced blade
- Great for beginners
This is a great kayak paddle for beginners. It’s an entry-level model that will suit you well for getting around the lake. This paddle is excellent for anyone who is just getting started kayaking.
The fiberglass-reinforced blade is durable and stiff, great for beginner kayakers. The blade has a gentle curve to it, which helps you gain powerful and efficient strokes. The blade is strong enough to help you push off the beach to get on the water.
The shaft is made from aluminum, is sturdy, and snaps together nice and tight. The drip edge will help keep water out of your boat, where it belongs. There are three different adjustment options on the handle for feathering. This paddle is available in 230 cm, which may not be a good fit for shorter paddlers.
Great for beginners
Three-angle adjustable shaft
Comes with drip rings and a leash
Entry-level paddle, not great for experienced kayakers
Only available in one size
This is a budget paddle that displaces water well. If you are a beginner and just getting started kayaking, this is a solid option. The paddle is durable, inexpensive, and will serve you well on kayaking day trips.
Pelican Poseidon Paddle
- Two sturdy pieces of aluminum construction. Impact resistant fiberglass reinforced...
- Adjustable drip rings to help keep hands dry for a better grip
- Enforced push-button connection with 0 or 65˚ angle adjustment
- The perfect fit! Our 89 inch (226cm) long paddle is not too short and not too long....
- Ovalization: The shaft goes from a rounded shape to a slightly oval shape (called...
- 226 cm long
- Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blade
- Aluminum shaft
This is an excellent kayak paddle for recreational paddlers who enjoy a relaxing day on the water. If you are a beginner, or just getting started kayaking, this is a great entry-level option.
The Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blade is excellent for durability and gives you a solid push. You want a blade that will glide through the water quickly with minimal flutter. This blade is designed to give you speed and control when you are on the water.
The shaft is a two-piece, sturdy aluminum shaft. The shaft has easy push-button connections for 0 of 65-degree angle adjustments for feathering to your desired angle. The straight shaft is straight and slightly oval-shaped, where your hands should go.
Two pieces are easy to transport
Shaft is adjustable
The black aluminum shaft can get hot in hot weather
Only one size available
At 226 cm long, this paddle is a good size for the average paddler. The blade is a little small but overall will get you where you want to go. The shaft does get hot if you are paddling in bright sun, on a hot day. It’s a good value paddle that will serve you well.
SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle
- Two Piece Aluminum Construction
- Lightweight, Black Molded Plastic Blades
- Adjustable Drip Guards
- Foam Rubber Grips
- Plastic blades
- Two-piece construction
This is an excellent paddle for all-around use. The Xtreme 1 paddle is lightweight, sturdy, and feels good in your hands. You will be happy with the overall performance of this kayak paddle.
The blade is made of black molded plastic, so it will be durable. Its asymmetrical shape helps displace the right amount of water to get you where you want to go. The paddle is available in 84″ or 96″. Most blades are measured in centimeters.
The shaft is aluminum and comes in two pieces for storage. It’s really nice to be able to take your paddle apart and toss it in your trunk. One drawback to the black shaft is that it will get hot on hot sunny days, even with foam grips.
Foam padding on the shaft
Durable plastic blade
The foam grips might shed
Drip rings don’t work well
This highly-rated paddle is great for recreational users. If you are looking for an economical paddle that will get you around the lake, this is a solid option.
Overmont Kayak Paddle
- Two Piece Heavy-duty Construction for Easy Storage
- Feather-shaped Blades and Double Serrated Teeth Edge Design
- Three Locking Positions
- Hollow Aluminum Shaft Tube can Well Keep the Paddle Float on the Water
- Package includes a Paddle Leash
- 222 cm
- Three angle adjustment
- Aluminum shaft
The Overmont kayak paddle is an excellent option for weekend warriors and other recreational kayakers. This is an excellent entry-level paddle for beginners. You won’t have to break the bank to a great kayak paddle
The curved blade helps to reduce resistance and provides you with more power from each stroke. The double serrated edge gives you more control in the water. The blades are fiberglass reinforced polypropylene making them durable.
The shaft is lightweight aluminum, so it’s robust and durable. The shaft breaks down into two pieces, so it’s easy to store, and it is very portable. The drip rings will help to minimize the amount of water that makes its way into your kayak. If you drop your paddle in the water, don’t worry, it will float until you can retrieve it.
Available in three colors
Three locking positions on the shaft
Only one size available
This is a good value paddle; it’s lightweight, durable, and will get you where you need to go. You can spend a lot more money on a kayak paddle, but this one is priced very well. A lot of recreational paddlers will find this paddle worthy.
Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece Kayak Paddle
- FLUTTER-FREE STROKE: The Whisper enables you to smoothly pull through water and...
- ADJUSTABLE CONSTRUCTION: This recreational paddle easily separates into two pieces...
- PADDLE FARTHER: The fiberglass-reinforced blades offer the perfect balance of weight...
- ALUMINUM SHAFT: Lightweight, strong aluminum shaft has 3M Versafit over the oval grip...
- MADE IN USA: As the world’s largest manufacturer of quality canoe and kayak...
- Polypropylene blade
- Aluminum shaft
- 0° and 60° feathering angles
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on the best kayak paddle. The Whisper kayak paddle is one of the top-selling paddles around. It’s an excellent entry-level paddle for folks who want to spend the day on a lake. You get value and durability out of this paddle.
The polypropylene blade is durable and can take a beating. The blades are well constructed, and you won’t get any flutter here. The paddle is available in a 230 cm model.
With the aluminum shaft, you get a three-hole snap-button ferrule. The feathering angles are adjustable 0° and 60°. The shaft breaks down in two pieces for easy transport and storage. You also get an ovalized shaft with coated grips that are easy on your hands.
Breaks down for storage
Blades don’t flutter
Comes in only one size
What makes Whisper one of the best kayak paddles is its durability and value. You will be hard-pressed to find a kayak paddle that gives you more bang for your buck. This is an entry-level paddle that feels more like a higher-end paddle.
Best Marine Kayak Paddle
- How Are We Different? - Our kayak paddles are made of a carbon fiber shaft and...
- Why Best Marine & Outdoors? - Our company goal and mission is to help people find...
- Who Is Our Paddle For? - The number one piece of advice most advanced kayakers will...
- How Does It Work? - At 234cm in length (92 inches) our kayak paddles are the perfect...
- Who Are We? - Located in Massachusetts, Best Marine & Outdoors is a leading provider...
- Fiberglass blades
- Carbon fiber shaft
- 234 cm
This carbon fiber kayak paddle is excellent for anyone looking for a lightweight paddle that is easy on your shoulders. If you are looking for the best kayak paddle to make your day on the water more enjoyable, this is a great option.
The blade is reinforced fiberglass, which makes it lightweight, easy to handle, and durable. You will get more power and efficiency out of each stroke. This means you won’t be wasting energy every time you swing the paddle.
The carbon fiber shaft adds to the lightweight theme of this paddle. Carbon fiber is a top-of-the-line material that is durable, lightweight, and very strong. With the combination of lightweight materials, this paddle weighs in at 33.5 ounces.
Carbon fiber shaft
Breaks down for storage and transport
Only available in one size
Some users say the drip rings are flimsy
This paddle gives you the ability to glide through the water with minimal effort. The combination of fiberglass and carbon makes this one of the best kayak paddles. It’s durable, efficient, and easy to swing. If you are looking for a top-of-line kayak paddle that won’t cost you a fortune, this is an excellent option.
Pelican SYMBOSIA Angler Kayak Paddle
- Fishing ready - Integrated hook retrieval system, Tape measure along the shaft and...
- 94. 5 in to 99 in height adjustment for wider kayaks like the CATCH 120NXT
- Impact resistant fiberglass reinforced nylon blade for great durability
- Adjustable drip rings to help keep hands dry for a better grip
- 3 lb. (48 oz. ) only - 0-65˚ blade angle adjustment
- Fiberglass reinforced nylon blade
- Adjustable fiberglass shaft
- 0° to 60° blade angle adjustment
The SYMBOSIA Angler Kayak Paddle is an excellent match for your fishing kayak. Anglers will especially love the hook retrieval system on this paddle. If you are not a fisherman, no fear, you can still use this well-rounded paddle.
The large Fiberglass reinforced nylon blade gives you excellent control and efficiency with your stroke. One thing that makes this paddle unique is the built-in retrieval hook. Getting your hook or lure unsnagged is less of a hassle with this built-in feature.
The shaft is made of fiberglass, helping to make this a lightweight fishing paddle. The shaft is also adjustable, so it will fit a lot of different paddlers and kayaks. The paddle weighs in at 48 ounces, which is not as lightweight as some on this list but is still a solid option.
Adjustable length shaft
Shaft is slightly oval-shaped for proper hand positioning
0° – 65° blade adjustment
Not as lightweight as some paddles
If you are in the market for one of the best kayak fishing paddles, you have met your match. The Pelican SYMBOSIA is a stable paddle at an affordable price. The hook retrieval feature helps set your lure free if you get in a jam. This paddle is a substantial value.
Werner Tybee FG IM 2 PC Straight Paddle
- High Angle Blade Shape
- Mid-sized Fiberglass Reinforced Blades
- Adjustable Ferrule with Smart View Technology
- Premium carbon blend shaft with grip indexing for comfort
- Surface Area: 608 sq. cm
- Fiberglass reinforced nylon
- Carbon blend shaft
- Straight paddle
If you are a leisure kayaker but want to experience a higher-end paddle, the Tybee FG is a great option. This is a great paddle if you are on a budget but still want a high-performance paddle. This is an excellent option for beginner to intermediate paddlers.
The blades are a combination of fiberglass and nylon, which make them durable and impact resistant. The asymmetrical, dihedral blade design reduces torque and fluttering, allowing you to paddle smoothly. The blade is built for an efficient stroke.
The two-piece carbon blend shaft is lightweight, adjustable, and durable. The Smart view ferrule will give you the perfect offset, and oval shape makes the paddle ergonomic.
Makes efficient use of your stroke
High performance at a reasonable price
Might be too long for a narrow kayak
Suppose you are looking for a solid upgrade over the aluminum paddle that probably came with your kayak. In that case, the Tybee FG is a great option. This is one of the best kayak paddles because it’s lightweight, customizable, and won’t break the bank.
Werner Camano Fiberglass Bent Shaft Kayak Paddle
- Mid-size Premium fiberglass blades , continuous weave, low angle design
- Advanced dihedral power face , 52 x 16 cm, 650 sq in.
- Carbon blend shaft, 2-piece take-apart design, adjustable offset
- Handcrafted in Sultan, WA, 1-year manufacturer warranty
- Average weight: Neutral Bent Shaft: 964g (34 oz.)
- Carbon bent shaft
- Fiberglass blades
- Adjustable ferrule
Here we are at the high end when it comes to the best kayak paddle. This is a popular paddle for those looking for enough power to get around quickly and smoothly. Camano 2 offers the right blend of performance and design.
The mid-sized fiberglass blade is impact-resistant, lightweight, and durable. The dihedral blade shape provides a smooth stroke by directing the water flow evenly on each side. The blade is designed to be efficient with your stroke.
The key feature that sets this paddle apart from others on this list is the bent shaft. The shaft is designed to be ergonomic to reduce strain and fatigue on your wrists. The Smart-View adjustable ferrule is simple to use. With the push of one button, you can break your paddle down, or set your feather angle (15-degree increments).
Natural bent shaft design
Shaft is designed to reduce wrist strain
High end paddles are expensive
It might be more than the average paddler needs
If you are looking for a high-end adjustable paddle, the Camano bent shaft kayak paddle is a great option. It’s easy to adjust, it’s lightweight and durable. You can easily break it down for storage or transport. The Camano is very well constructed, and you won’t be disappointed.
How to choose the best kayak paddle
When you are looking for the best kayak paddle, you need to think about your paddle angle, low angle and high angle. The angle refers to the stroke in relation to the water. Imagine your hands gripping your paddle out in front of you, and your hands are level.
With the low angle stroke, when you tilt your paddle to the right or left, your top hand will be somewhat higher than your lower hand. Low angle is a typical paddling style for a lot of recreational and touring kayakers. For this type of paddling, you need a longer paddle.
With a high angle stroke, your top hand will be much higher than your lower hand. High angle paddling is more aggressive. You will have a steeper angle into the water, which helps generate more power. This is what you do when you want to get somewhere fast. Shorter paddles with a robust blade are suitable for this type of stroke.
Kayak paddle length
We discussed the paddle angle, and how that plays a role in the length of paddle, you should consider. To confuse matters, paddle length is measured in centimeters even though some of the critical factors determining paddle length are measured in inches.
Paddle length is pretty clear-cut and comes down to how wide your boat is, and how tall you are. For a general idea, the wider your boat, the longer your paddle. Of course, your height also plays a role. The taller you are, the longer your paddle should be, especially if your boat is narrow. Your paddles should be easy to submerge in the water.
A 230cm paddle is a good guideline if you are of average height and have a relaxed stroke. This is good for a leisurely day on the water with a low-angle stroke. If you are an aggressive paddler, or speed is your game, a shorter paddle of 210cm to 220cm is a viable option.
Based on the research I have done, the guide below gives you a general idea of what paddle length would work for you. This is just a guide, and other factors come into play, including your stroke and what your goal is on the water.
If you are in-between sizes, a shorter paddle is recommended. These are simply guidelines; you will want to check the website for the brand you are interested in. Manufacturers have slightly different size guides.
Some guides use torso height, which measures the top of your hips to the bottom of your neck, or shoulder area. Other guides use your height, i.e., how tall you are. There are some nuances when sizing, so it’s best to check with the brand you are considering.
To recap, the right paddle length will depend on a few different factors, including:
- User height
- Kayak width
- Stroke angle
When you are choosing the best kayak paddle, the blade plays an important part. You want a paddle blade to be lightweight, durable, and affordable. The materials vary, but you can typically expect the following categories. Let’s start with entry-level and work our way up.
- Plastic, nylon, and aluminum – These are great paddles for beginners but tend to be heavier than other materials. Because these paddles tend to be inexpensive, this is the type of paddle you can expect to be included with specific starter model kayaks. Paddles in this category can take a beating, then you can upgrade once you have the hang of it.
- Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene – These are durable, perform well, and are more lightweight than plastic. You can expect a rigid blade with less flex that gives you an efficient stroke.
- Carbon Fiber – Sometimes, you will hear the term “composite,” and carbon fiber falls in this category. These paddles are stiff and lightweight, which makes them very efficient for paddling. Carbon fiber will cost you, as they are on the high end when it comes to price.
Click here to read more information about the parts of a kayak paddle.
The shape of the blade also makes a difference in a good paddle. A lot of basic paddles are symmetrical. These work well with a high angle stroke, where the blade is even in the water. Many people prefer an asymmetrical paddle with more surface area. Most recreational paddlers have a low-angle stroke, and a larger blade is ideal.
Similar to blades, shafts come in many of the same materials. Aluminum shafts are pretty standard and inexpensive. One downside to aluminum shafts is they can get hot and/or cold depending on the weather conditions. For example, I live in a warm-weather climate and aluminum shafts get pretty hot in the summer.
As you move your way up to fiberglass and carbon fiber shafts, you can expect better performance and a higher price. Higher performance comes from lightweight materials that are stiff and glide well through the water.
Straight shafts are very common, and you probably see a lot of these. Bent shafts don’t put as much strain on your wrist because of the angle.
You will also see that some shafts will break down for storage and transportation. They might break down into two pieces or four pieces.
You might not give much thought to the two rings on either end of a kayak paddle. These drip rings are often overlooked but are a critical element to keep water out of your kayak. Drip rings are designed to keep water from getting in your kayak as you paddle.
Most paddles will have three or more holes where the shaft pieces connect. This gives you the option to have the blades aligned with one another on the same plane, or have them feathered. Feathered blades are offset, or not on the same plane. Feathering lets you adjust the blades of how you like them. Some people want the blades lined up, some prefer offset.
If you are looking for the best kayak paddle, you have a lot of options. There are a ton of price points and features available. Different materials used will affect the weight and performance of the paddle. It’s important to know what your goals are with the paddle.
Some people are looking for a kayak paddle as an upgrade from what they currently have or the one that came with their kayak. Other people are searching for a replacement kayak paddle.
If you are an occasional kayaker, you might not want nor need a high-end paddle. On the other hand, if you ARE a leisurely paddler, you might want a high-end paddle to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.
I always encourage people to set a budget and see what features are available in that price range. If you decide you want more or fewer features, then you can always adjust your budget.