Finding the best kayak paddle is essential for enjoying your day on the water. The right kayak paddle can make a big difference, whether you are on a short trip around the lake or an overnighter.
This article will look at different paddles and discuss what to look for when buying a kayak paddle.
The kayak 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
A kayak paddle is one of the most critical pieces of kayaking equipment. 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. As a result, you will expend a lot of energy and want to get the most out of all that effort.
That said, if you are in a hurry, here are our top kayak paddle picks:
Kayak Paddle Reviews
There are different kayaks (more information) and types of paddles. You will struggle to navigate your kayak if your paddle is too long, short, or heavy.
Having the best kayak paddle may not seem like a big deal, but if you spend enough time on the water, you will see the difference when you have the right paddle.
AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Hybrid 2-Piece Kayak Paddle
- Fiberglass reinforced blade
- Carbon shaft
- Two ferrule options
This paddle is great for anglers, high-angle, and fitness paddlers due to the full profile of the blade. In addition, 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. In addition, 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 wet. The paddle has 15-degree adjustable increments to feather to your desire.
Many sizes available
Incremental adjustments for fine-tuning feathering
Some users need a stiffer paddle
The Aqua Bound Manta Ray is one of the best overall kayak paddles because it’s lightweight, durable, and powerful. In addition, you get this easy-to-swing paddle at a very reasonable price. The Aqua Bound Manta Ray is powerful and efficient.
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
The OCEANBROAD 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. In addition, the blade has a gentle curve, 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 nicely. 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 at 230 cm, which may not be a good fit for shorter paddlers.
Great for beginners
Three-angle adjustable shaft
It comes with drip rings and a leash
Entry-level paddle, not great for experienced kayakers
Only available in one size
OCEANBROAD is a budget kayak paddle that displaces water well, and it is a solid option if you are a beginner and just getting started kayaking. 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
The Poseidon is an excellent kayak paddle for recreational paddlers, and it is a great entry-level option if you are a beginner or just getting started kayaking.
The Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blade is durable and gives you a solid push. You want a blade gliding 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 is available
At 226 cm long, this paddle is a good size for the average paddler. The blade is small but will get you where you want to go. The shaft gets hot if you paddle in the bright sun on a hot day. However, a solid, budget kayak paddle will serve you well.
SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle
- Designed to Perform: Our original kayak paddle features an asymmetrical design with 3...
- Convenient and Comfortable, Floats on Water: 2-piece construction offers easy...
- Professional-Grade Durability: With an aluminum construction and black molded plastic...
- Save Time and Money, Have More Fun: We keep your needs at the forefront of everything...
- Quality Marine Products That Make Sense: At SeaSense, we have been providing...
- Plastic blades
- Two-piece construction
The SeaSense is an excellent paddle for all-around use. The Xtreme 1 paddle is lightweight, sturdy, and feels good in your hands. In addition, you will be happy with the overall performance of this kayak paddle.
The blade is made of black molded plastic to 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 nice to take your paddle apart and toss it in your trunk. One drawback to the black shaft is that it will get hot on sunny days, even with foam grips.
Foam padding on the shaft
Durable plastic blade
Budget kayak paddle
The foam grips might shed
Drip rings don’t work well
This highly-rated paddle is excellent for recreational users. This is a solid option if you are looking for an economical paddle that will get you around the lake.
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 recreational kayakers. This is an excellent entry-level paddle for beginners. You won’t have to break the bank with an excellent 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. In addition, the shaft breaks down into two pieces, so it’s easy to store and is portable.
The drip rings will help 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 retrieve it.
Available in three colors
Three locking positions on the shaft
Only one size is available
The Overmont kayak paddle is a good value. It’s lightweight, durable, and will get you where you need to go. Of course, you can spend much more 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
- BEST SELLING: The Bending Branches Whisper is one of the best-selling recreational...
- CONVENIENCE FOR ALL: The Whisper kayak paddle is a great entry level paddle for...
- USA MADE/HANDMADE: Proudly hand built in Osceola, Wisconsin, USA, by a team of...
- LIGHTWEIGHT BUT DURABLE: The Whisper's durable two-piece aluminum shaft is controlled...
- ADJUSTABLE CONTROL: Utilize the snug-fitting 3 hole snap-button ferrule for...
- Polypropylene blade
- Aluminum shaft
- 0° and 60° feathering angles
You don’t have to spend much 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 at 0° and 60°.
The shaft breaks down into 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
It comes in only one size
Whisper is one of the best kayak paddles because of 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
- ENHANCED FEATURES: Our new & improved carbon kayak paddles now features a...
- FEATHERWEIGHT: This carbon paddle is exceptionally lightweight at just 28.5 ounces...
- UNMATCHED COMFORT: Its reduced weight places less strain on your shoulders and...
- VERSATILITY: Our kayak oar doubles as a versatile canoe paddle, delivering effortless...
- DIMENSIONS: Blades are 18 in x 6.75 in, Shaft diameter is 1.125 in. Our kayak paddles...
- Fiberglass blades
- Carbon fiber shaft
- 234 cm
This carbon fiber kayak paddle is excellent for a lightweight paddle that is easy on your shoulders. Also, 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, making it lightweight, durable, and easy to handle. As a result, you will get more power and efficiency from each stroke, which means less wasted 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, durable, lightweight, and strong material.
With the combination of lightweight materials, this paddle weighs 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 allows you 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. Best Marine is an excellent option if you are looking for a top-of-line kayak paddle that won’t cost you a fortune.
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. However, 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 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 to fit a lot of different paddlers and kayaks.
The paddle weighs 48 ounces, which is not as lightweight as some on this list but is still a solid option.
Adjustable length shaft
The shaft is slightly oval-shaped for proper hand positioning
0° – 65° blade adjustment
Not as lightweight as some paddles
You have met your match if you are in the market for one of the best kayak fishing paddles. The Pelican SYMBOSIA is a stable paddle at an affordable price. The hook retrieval feature helps free your lure if you get in a jam. This paddle is a substantial value.
Perception Universal Kayak Paddle
- Designed to perform well with all sit-inside and sit-on-top recreational kayaks
- Strong fiberglass-reinforced blades with 3 feather angle options (L60/0/R60)
- Suitable for use in both placid and windy/rough conditions
- Dihedral (two-planed) blade design for smooth, stable, and flutter free strokes
- 2-piece take-apart construction allows for easy storage and transportation
- Fiberglass reinforced blades
- Two-piece aluminum shaft
- Straight paddle
The Perception Universal Kayak Paddle is a great option if you are a leisure kayaker but want to experience a tremendous all-around paddle. Additionally, this is great if you want a high-performance paddle on a budget.
The paddle works well with sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks since it’s universal.
This is an excellent option for beginner to intermediate paddlers.
The blades are fiberglass reinforced, which makes them durable and impact resistant. The asymmetrical, dihedral blade design reduces torque and fluttering, allowing you to paddle smoothly. In addition, the blade is built for an efficient stroke.
The two-piece carbon blend shaft is lightweight, adjustable, and durable. In addition, the paddle has three feather angle options to get the right fit for your paddling style.
Makes efficient use of your stroke
High performance at a reasonable price
It might be too long for a narrow kayak
If you are looking for a solid upgrade over the aluminum paddle that probably came with your kayak, the Perception Universal kayak paddle 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: 772 g (27.25 oz)
- Carbon bent shaft
- Fiberglass blades
- Adjustable ferrule
Here we are at the high end for the best kayak paddle. Werner Camano 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. In addition, the blade is designed to be efficient with your stroke.
The key feature of the bent shaft sets this paddle apart from others on this list. The shaft is 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
The shaft is designed to reduce wrist strain
High-end paddles are expensive
It might be more than the average paddler needs
The Camano bent shaft kayak paddle is an excellent option if you want a premium kayak paddle. It’s easy to adjust. It’s lightweight and durable. In addition, 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 a kayak paddle
When 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 higher than your lower hand.
Low angle is a typical paddling style for many recreational and touring kayakers. For this type of paddling, you need a longer paddle.
Your top hand will be much higher than your lower hand with a high-angle stroke, and paddling is more aggressive. In addition, you will have a steeper angle into the water, which helps generate more power.
High-angle is what you do when you want to get somewhere fast. Shorter paddles with a robust blades 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 the paddle, which you should consider. Paddle length is measured in centimeters to confuse matters, even though some 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, a good length 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 my research, the guide below gives you a general idea of what paddle length would work for you. This is just a guide. Other factors come into play, including your stroke and your goal 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. Also, 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.
The right paddle length will depend on a few different factors, including:
- User height
- Kayak width
- Stroke angle
When 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 – 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 blades– Sometimes, you will hear the term “composite,” and carbon fiber falls in this category. These paddles are stiff and lightweight, making them very efficient for paddling. However, carbon fiber will cost you, as they are on the high end in 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.
You can expect better performance and a higher price as you move up to fiberglass and carbon fiber shafts. Higher performance comes from lightweight materials that are stiff and glide nicely through the water.
Straight shafts are very common, and you probably see many 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. For example, they might break down into two pieces or four pieces.
You might not think about the two rings on either end of a kayak paddle. These drip rings are often overlooked but critical in keeping water out of your kayak. Drip rings keep water from getting in your kayak as you paddle.
Most paddles will have three or more holes where the shaft pieces connect, allowing you to have the blades aligned on the same plane or feathered.
Feathered blades are offset or not on the same plane. Feathering lets you adjust the blades how you like them. Some people want the blades lined up. Some prefer offset.
You have many options if you are looking for the best kayak paddle. There are a ton of price points and features available. In addition, different materials used will affect the weight and performance of the paddle. Therefore, it’s essential to know your goals with the paddle.
Some people are looking for a kayak paddle to upgrade from what they currently have or upgrade the paddle that came with their kayak. Other people are searching for a replacement kayak paddle.
If you are an occasional kayaker, you might not want 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 enjoyable.
I always encourage people to set a budget and see what features are available in that price range. Then, if you decide you want more or fewer features, you can always adjust your budget.
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.