It’s summertime! It’s time to get your kayaks out and go out for a pleasant ride on the river, the lake, the ocean, or wherever floats your boat.
If you’re exploring different options for the best kayak paddle, one that’s the perfect size for you, then you’re in the right place!
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite paddles to suit different kayaking styles and skill levels.
Kayaking is one of the most enjoyable recreational activities you can opt for, especially when you’re camping. It’s a good workout that helps you strengthen your core and develop good balance, all while enjoying nature.
Every day is a good day for kayaking. Hot sunny days, cooler autumn days, or even in the moonlight, who doesn’t love a nice evening out in the water?
But, what can quickly turn a pleasant adventure into an unpleasant one? The wrong gear! One of the most important components besides your kayak that will determine whether or not you’ll enjoy your water adventure is a paddle.
Choosing the perfect paddle can be daunting and thus, we decided to make things a lot easier for you. In this article, we will give you our top 5 picks for our favorite Kayak Paddles of the year.
Then, we will comprehensively talk about all the things you should know about paddles and kayaks before investing in a paddle. So let’s begin!
Our Top Picks: Best Kayak Paddles
- Werner Kayak Paddle (Best Overall)
- Bending Branches Kayak Paddle (Runner up)
- Seasense X Treme Kayak Paddle (Best for beginners)
- OceanBroad Kayak Paddle (Best Value)
- Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle (Best recreational paddle)
Quick Answers: The Best Kayak Paddles
1. Werner Camano Kayak Paddle
Weight: 964g | Length: 83 to 94 inches | Shaft material: Carbon | Blade material: Fiberglass | Style: Low angle
The Werner Kayak Paddle is the best one that you can opt for if you want gentle power. This is a great paddle for any adventurer who’s after a smooth handling paddle that also gives you decent power when you need it. We think it deserves 4.9 stars out of 5!
The Werner Camano Kayak paddle features a high-quality carbon blend shaft with fiberglass blades. This is the lightest paddle on our list and it gives you a smooth yet controlled pace when you’re out on the water.
It comes in different lengths varying from 83 to 94 inches (220 cm to 260 cm). Thus, you can select the length that works best for you.
We liked the lower swing weight of the paddle which works well to keep you on the water for as long as you want without putting too much strain on your arms or your back.
The mid-sized low-angle blades make the paddle really easy to use. We found the Werner Camano to go through the water with little to no resistance!
Overall, though it’s a bit on the pricey side, it’s lightweight, it’s smooth and we found it absolutely seamless in terms of performance.
- Weight: 964g (34 oz.)
- Length: 210cm to 240cm in 5cm increments
- Pieces: 2
- Shaft shape: Bent
- Shaft material: Carbon
- Blade design: Asymmetrical
- Blade shape: Low angle
- Blade material: Fiberglass
- Blade offset: 0 – 75º Right or Left Hand Control (15º Increments)
2. Bending Branches Whisper Kayak Paddle
Weight: 1049g | Lengths: 87 or 90 inches | Shaft material: Polypropylene | Blade material: Fiberglass | Style: Low-angle
If you’re after a reliable and efficient kayak paddle that’s lightweight, then you should consider this one. It gives you a flutter-free stroke with its reinforced blades. We think the Bending Branches Kayak Paddle deserves 4 Stars out of 5.
The Bending Branches Whisper paddle is the 2nd lightest on our list. It’s a little bit heavier than the Camano but not by much. It is also a 2 piece design which makes it easier to store and therefore a great option when you don’t have much space.
While paddling you will notice that the paddle flows almost effortlessly through the water. It gives you the resistance-free push that you need to move the kayak through the water.
It has a 3 hole snap-button ferrule and you can adjust the angle from 0 to 60 degrees. The blades are made from reinforced fiberglass while the shaft is made from aluminum and coated with a 3M versa fit.
The only drawback of the Bending Branches kayak paddle is that since the shaft is made from aluminum, it will heat up during summer. However, the shaft has 2 versa fit grips that will help you paddle more comfortably.
- Weight: 1049g
- Length: 87 or 90 inches (220 or 230 cm)
- Pieces: 2
- Shaft material: Aluminum
- Blade material: Polypropylene
- Blade shape: Dihedral, asymmetrical
3. SeaSense Xtreme 2 Kayak Paddle
Weight: 1190g | Lengths: 84, 96 inches | Shaft material: Aluminum | Blade material: Polypropylene Nylon | Style: Low-angle
We think that the SeaSense Xtreme 2 Kayak Paddle hits the bullseye in terms of reliability and price. Although it’s not the lightest we’ve tried, it’s still really easy to use and is perfect if you’re new to kayaking. That’s why we decided to give it 4.8 stars out of 5!
One of the most admiring features of SeaSense Paddle is its two-piece construction. We like this feature because it helps you to easily carry it around and it takes less storage space. This is a big plus if you want to take it camping.
The SeaSense kayak paddle is 96 inches long with fiberglass-filled nylon blades. This gives the paddle good balance which helps with navigating your way through the water. It has support ridges that make the paddle feel strong and sturdy.
The Seasense Xtreme 2 paddle has ergonomic grips made from foam rubber. We found the paddle quite comfy and we didn’t get sore at all while using it. We also felt like the grip helped give us better control of the paddle.
While we loved how the paddle is easy to use, we felt it was a bit heavier than other ones we’ve tried. Overall, the SeaSense Xtreme 2 is a great entry-level paddle that’s perfect for beginners or anyone who’s after an affordable paddle to simply have fun in the water.
- Weight: 1190 g
- Lengths: 84, 96 inches
- Pieces: 2
- Shaft shape: straight
- Shaft material: Aluminum
- Blade material: Polypropylene Nylon
- Blade shape: Asymmetrical
- Blade design: Feathered
4. OceanBroad Kayak Paddle
Weight: 1111g | Lengths: 86, 90.5, 95 inches | Shaft material: Aluminum Alloy | Blade material: Fiberglass | Style: Low-angle
From drip rings that stop the water from dripping on you to the PE tube cover and the bungee leash, we love the accessories the OceanBroad paddle comes with. It suits beginners and intermediate paddlers alike, and offers great value for money. For this reason, we’ve given it 4.5 stars out of 5!
The OceanBroad Kayak paddle’s shaft is made from a top-quality aluminum alloy with a shell thickness of approximately 1.1 mm. Whereas the blade is made with fiberglass-reinforced Polypropylene. We liked how sturdy yet lightweight the paddle feels.
It’s really comfy. Even after using it for a few hours, our hands didn’t get sore. The shaft has a shrinking PE tube cover which helps provide a better grip all while making sure you don’t get any blisters on your hands.
The paddle measures 90.5 inches or 230 cm which we think is a good standard size that’s comfortable for most people.
This paddle can also be detached into 2 sections which makes it easy to store and carry around. It also comes with a free bungee paddle leash to keep the paddle secure. It also features three different locking positions for variant angle preference.
Overall, the OceanBroad paddle is a great lightweight kayaking paddle that’s also affordable. Best of all, it’s suitable for beginners as well as intermediate kayakers.
- Weight: 1111g
- Length: 86, 90.5, 95 inches
- Pieces: 2
- Shaft material: Aluminum Alloy
- Blade material: Fiberglass
- Blade shape: asymmetrical
5. Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle
Weight: 1179g | Lengths: 84.7, 87 or 96 inches | Shaft material: Polypropylene | Blade material: Fiberglass | Style: Low-angle
We found the Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle to be one of the most versatile. We think it deserves a solid 4 stars out of 5!
The best feature of the Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle is its 3 material Shaft construction. The shaft is made of aluminum, carbon, and fiberglass. This gives it great stability even through rough waters.
The paddle’s aluminum and fiberglass shaft has PP blades whereas the one with a carbon shaft has PC blades.
The Leader Accessories paddle features a push-button connection with three locking positions that you can adjust with ease.
This model has water-resistant rings that function to prevent water from flowing down the shaft tube and flooding the kayak.
Overall, we think the Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle is a decent paddle that keeps you moving on the water easily. It may not be as advanced as the other models on our list but it still does everything you’d expect from a budget-friendly kayak paddle.
- Weight: 1179g
- Length options: 84.7, 87 or 96 inches (215, 220, 243 cm)
- Pieces: 2
- Shaft material: Aluminum, carbon, fiberglass
- Blade material: Polypropylene
- Blade shape: Asymmetrical
Best Kayak Paddles Buying Guide
As you might have noticed, all paddles are different from one another and offer a bucket full of features that make each one special and unique.
All of the above 5 Kayak paddles work smoothly but which one is the best kayak paddle for your personal kayaking needs? How do you differentiate between all these models and select THE perfect one for you?
We’ve put together a list of factors and features to help you determine the ideal Kayak paddle so keep reading!
Types of Kayak Paddles
First, let’s take a look at the different types of kayak paddles to help you determine which type will suit your kayaking style.
Recreational kayak paddles
These paddles are inexpensive and are often heavier. They’re designed for recreational use and are ideal for short trips or for casual kayakers.
Touring kayak paddles
Touring kayak paddles are lightweight and are perfect for lakes or slow-moving rivers. They’re designed to be comfortable even after many hours or days of use.
Whitewater kayak paddles
White water kayak paddles are strong and are able to withstand impacts. These paddles have thicker shafts and wider blades and are perfect for whitewater where there are a lot of rocks and strong currents.
How To Choose The Right Size Kayak Paddle
Length is the first thing you need to examine in a Paddle. Even if you have the optimal weight, material, and feathering angle, if the length is not right, the paddle won’t perform as well as it should.
The length matters because it defines how much effort you will have to go through when using a particular paddle. The wrong size paddle can cause blisters on your hand and can make you exert more force than usual. You might even end up with back or shoulder pain after a day out on the water.
There are two major ways you can determine the length of the paddle that will work best for you.
Width of the Kayak
When we talk about Kayak measurements with respect to Paddle’s length, we are concerned only about the width of the kayak. If a kayak is narrow, you might need a shorter paddle than if you had a wider kayak.
A paddle should be long enough that it can easily sweep through the water on either side of you without putting too much strain.
Size of the Torso
After measuring the width of the kayak, you need to measure yourself.
This is important because of the size of your torso while concluding the distance between the water and you when you are in the kayak. If you have a longer torso, you will need a longer paddle so that you can easily balance it.
To measure your torso, take a seat on your kayak and write down the distance from the surface of the seat to your nose.
There are two types of weight when it comes to a kayak paddle, the actual weight, and the swing weight.
The actual weight is simply the weight of the paddle itself. The swing weight is the weight that you feel while paddling. Since natural forces like water resistance and gravity affect the exertion you put out, the actual weight and the swing weight differ.
Lightweight material helps to improve the performance of the paddle. Thus most professionals recommend that you buy lightweight paddles because they give superb performance results.
One of the easiest ways to measure the swing weight of a paddle is to pick it up and swing it through the air a few times. Though air resistance is not as strong as water resistance, you will get an idea of the swing weight.
Carbon Fiber and Graphite Paddles Blades are the lightest you will find in the market.
Kayak Paddle Sizing Chart
|Kayak Width||Under 23″||24″ to 28″||29″ to 33″||34″+|
|Height Range||Recommended Paddle Length|
|Under 5’5″||210 cm||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm|
|5’5″ – 5’11”||220 cm||230 cm||240 cm||250 cm|
|6’+||220 cm||230 cm||250 cm||260 cm|
Factors To Consider To Choose The Best Kayak Paddle
The Shape of the Blades
The shape of the blades concludes how easily you can maneuver your kayak. There are two major types of blades – Symmetric and Asymmetric Blades. There are also 2 different configurations – Feathered and Matched.
Symmetrical Blades vs Asymmetrical Blades
Symmetrical blades have the same shape on both sides whereas asymmetrical one doesn’t.
Whitewater paddlers and those who prefer a high stroke while touring tend to prefer symmetric blades.
The asymmetrical shape of the blades allows the blade to penetrate deeper into the water at an angle which helps to increase the speed. It also puts minimum strain on your wrists, shoulders, and your back.
Hence, if you’re a recreational kayaker, we suggest that you opt for an asymmetrical blade since they maximize the functionality of the paddle with the least amount of effort.
Feathered or Matched
Let me explain what we mean by feathered or matched configurations.
A paddle that has blades on either side in different alignments is known as a feathered paddle whereas if both blades have the same alignment, it’s a matched paddle.
Though a matched paddle is easier to learn on and is just as efficient as a feathered one, the latter one tends to be more popular. Why? Because it helps with the strokes and hence improves its overall performance.
Many paddles, some of which we’ve discussed above, give you the option to rotate the blades in different angles. You can choose between a matched as well as a feathered configuration
Another thing to consider is the width of the blade. A wider blade also called a high-angle blade offers increased acceleration with more forceful, more powerful strokes.
So if you’re going to be in whitewater where you need good control of your kayak, a paddle with a wider blade would be a great choice. This is also true if you have a wider kayak that requires more force to get around.
On the other hand, a narrow blade (low-angle) offers less resistance than the former allowing you to go further with less fatigue. These are called low-angle blades. If you plan to relax in the kayak for longer periods, narrow blades are best.
Straight Shaft or Bent Shaft Design
The shaft is the part that holds the blades together. That’s the part that allows you to control the paddle. There are two types of shafts you can choose from.
These are the most popular because they’re more affordable than bent shafts. Straight shafts are good if you want to paddle through strong currents because they allow you to make powerful strokes..
Bent-shafts feature a slightly curved section that helps position your hands more comfortably. This prevents your hands and joints from getting sore during the power portion of a stroke.
Two-piece and four-piece construction
Most kayak paddles are designed to break down into pieces for easier storage. A paddle with a four-piece shaft has shorter sections than a two-piece model. This is good if you’re planning on hiking with your kayak or if you want to take it camping.
A paddle features a shaft and a blade. Both these components determine how well your paddle functions. Thus, buying a unit that has the best construction does matter.
If we talk about shafts, the most common and popular ones are Aluminum Shafts. They are affordable, resistant, and have a longer shelf life. The only downside of these is that they’re heavy and since it’s a heat conductor, your paddles might get extremely hot in summer and cold in winter.
To tackle this issue, most units have grips on the shafts. These grips not only help you handle the paddle comfortably at any temperature but also give the paddle better stability.
Some lightweight options are carbon and fiberglass shafts. They’re considered to be just as compact, durable, and reliable as aluminum ones. However, the difference is the weight and the price.
Just like the shaft, you get a variety of options when it comes to the materials used for the blades. Some of these are nylon, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and plastic.
Plastic and Nylon blades are inexpensive, lightweight, and beginner-friendly. The only downside is that they can snap and are prone to sun damage.
Fiberglass paddles offer great maneuverability, durability as well as reliability. They’re sturdy and rarely crack under pressure. Carbon fibers are also considered great materials for blades. Though they work just as wonderfully as fiberglass, they’re more expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1. How do I choose a kayak paddle?
The length of your kayak paddle is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing the best paddle for you. The main factors that go into choosing the correct paddle length include; the kayak’s width, your torso height, the type of kayaking you will be doing.
If your paddle is too short you will constantly bang your hands or knuckles against the kayak. You might even get a sore back from having to lean too far over to reach the water.
If your kayak paddle is too long, you might find yourself unable to lift and move it easily.
Q.2. What is the best kayak paddle for a beginner?
When you’re new to kayaking, it’s easy to get cut up into finding the best kayak and overlook how important it is to get the right paddle to go with it.
The wrong paddle can cause blisters on your hands and can make you paddle harder than you have. You might even end up with back or shoulder pain.
Hence, it’s important to select a paddle that’s suitable for your height, the width of your kayak, and the type of paddling you’ll be doing.
Just like there are different types of kayaks, there are also kayak paddles designed for specific purposes. Some are better for touring while others are better for whitewater.
Of all the paddles we’ve reviewed, we think the best paddles for beginners in our list are the OceanBroad and the Bending Branches Whisper. They’re both really easy to use and are suitable for different skill levels.
Q.3. Should kayak paddles be offset?
Not necessarily but it’s recommended in most situations and here’s why:
Blades on kayak paddles that are offset (feathered) provide a more comfortable grip and reduce strain on your wrist which is essential if you’re paddling for long periods.
Paddling when your blades aren’t feathered is easier, but it could cause more fatigue to your upper body and strain on your wrists. It’s also harder to paddle in the wind because the face of the top blade pushes through the wind.
Q.4. What happens when you use too long of a paddle for kayaking?
A paddle that is either too long or too short will hinder the kayaking performance. They can put extra stress on your back and make you exert extra force to move your kayak.
This can also lead to blisters on the hands. If the length is not right, you will probably move your hands along the length of the paddle a lot and this will cause swelling on your skin.
Q.5. Is a longer kayak paddle better?
As we discussed in the above question, a paddle that is too long or too short will make you work harder. So the answer is, no. A longer kayak paddle is not better.
A paddle that works ‘better’ depends solely on the width of the kayak, the size of your torso, the weight of the paddle, and the materials used in its construction.
Thus, it’s always important that you take these measurements into account before investing in a kayak paddle.
All these factors contribute to the performance of the paddle and how well you will be able to steer your kayak in the water. So always consider each and every one of these.
Q.6. How do you determine the right size kayak paddle?
A paddle consists of two parts that determine its overall operation –the blade and the shaft.
The material and width of the blade play a major role in how smooth and easy the strokes will be. We discussed in the above section that a wider blade has more resistance and offers great functionality.
Similarly, a paddle that has been measured accurately will give you the desired results.
Hence, in order to determine the right size of a kayak paddle, take notice of the measurements, size, and materials of both parts.
A Kayak paddle is just as important as the kayak itself. Without a paddle, there is no kayaking. Thus, choosing the best kayak paddle for yourself is very important.
An ideal kayak paddle should have the optimal length, the perfect weight, and the best materials. When we think of such a paddle, we think the Werner Camano is the best kayak paddle. It’s lightweight, durable, and perfect for most kayaking adventures.
We hope this article has helped you gain insight into the technicalities of a kayak paddle and now know which one is most suited to your needs. Happy Kayaking!