Best Kayak Paddle In 2017 – Buying Guide and Reviews

By Kevin Arnold | Outdoors

May 16
best kayak paddle in 2017

Introduction

Kayaking has gained popularity because it is the best way to strengthen your physical condition.your health and have a lot of fun. If you have not tried kayaking before, it is never too late to have a shot at it. As a matter of fact the key of paddling success depends not only from your initial power, but also from the right equipment.

Obviously, paddling involves the use of paddles in order to move the vessel through the water. Undoubtedly, it is a little tricky to select the right one, if you think that there is a large variety of paddles on the market. After researching and asking kayak experts, we gathered some useful information and features you have to look for in the best kayak paddle.

Product

Length

Materials

Rating

Price

Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle

96 Inches

Plastic molded blades and aluminum shaft

Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Kayak Paddle

220cm
230cm
240cm

Polypropylene blades and aluminum shaft

SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

84 and 96 inches

Plastic blades and aluminum shaft

SeaSense X-Treme II Kayak Paddle

84 and 96 inches

Plastic blades and aluminum shaft

SeaSense X- Treme II Mix Kayak Paddle - Budget Choice

84 and 96 inches

Plastic blades and aluminum shafts

C arlisle Expedition Fiberglass Touring Kayak Paddle - Runner Up

220cm
230cm
240cm

Fiberglass blades and shaft

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle - Best Kayak Paddle

220cm
230cm
240cm

Polypropylene Blades and Fiberglass shaft

Types Of Kayak Paddle

Length

This factor is very important because the appropriate length definitely contributes to high speed, stability and control. The length scale starts from 190cm up to 250cm. Generally speaking, you should choose the right size of your kayak paddle according to your height and width of the kayak.

I would like to illustrate my point with an example. For instance right size of the shaft for a 180cm man or woman is: The distance between the arms at shoulder level and slightly more centimeters X 2 = 170cm.

Thus the right size is 170cm plus the length of the two blades. As far as the width of the kayak is concerned, the size of the paddle increases relative to the width of the vessel. Below you can see a table which analyses the exact size.

Your Hight

Distance between your arms at shoulder level and slightly wider

Best Kayak Paddle Size

≥ 160cm

65cm-75cm

190cm-215cm

160cm-180cm

70cm-90cm

215cm-235cm

<180cm

80cm-100cm

235cm-250cm

Blade Shapes

Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Blades

If you draw an imaginary line about the shaft it will divide the blade into two parts. If both parts have the same shape, the blade is called symmetrical, whereas the reverse is called asymmetrical.

Wing

This blade type was first used by the Olympic Swedish Team almost 35 years ago. It has a rounded shape and the main characteristic is that it looks similar to a common table spoon. The shape facilitates the paddler to cover long distances, but it lacks in speed.

Dihedral

The outstanding feature of this blade shape is that it has two power faces. Imagine that it has the shape of a flattened upside down ‘’V’’ letter. Moreover, it is designed to give you a smooth paddling experience.

Equally important is the fact that it significantly decreases the vibration and allows better gliding.

Greenland

The blades are long, flat and mounted on a short shaft. It is important to mention that you will not have to put much effort to paddle. Consequently the cadence decreases so you will have more strokes per minute.

Greenland blades are considered to be ideal especially for rolling due to the symmetrical shape.

Feather Design

The majority of kayak owners pay no attention to the feathering of their kayak paddle. First of all, we would like to explain the term ‘’feathering’’. Feathering serves the aerodynamic purposes and it is actually the action of adjusting the blades at an angle to each other.

Consequently, there are feathered and unfeathered paddles.

Advantages of a feathered paddle:

  • Wind: If the wind is at your face, the angle of the blade makes it easier to cope with the wind. While the one side is in the water, the other side will be cutting through the wind. (No wind resistance=easier paddling).
  • Comfort: It is scientifically proven that many paddlers suffer from chronic wrist strains. Thus, it would be a good idea to choose a feathered paddle in order to avoid wrist strains. We would recommend it especially for long paddling and fishing tours.
  • Speed: Your kayak gains in speed as you can do more strokes per minute with a feathered paddle.

Paddling Styles and Blades

Unsurprisingly, many people have no idea that there are two paddling styles, high and low angle paddling. Many paddle manufacturers categorize blades into high-angle and low-angle blades which are both asymmetrical. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

High Angle Paddling

High angle paddling style is well suited for white ‘’moving’’ waters. While the one blade is deeper in the water, you are holding the other side with your hand more vertically. Generally speaking this paddling style maximizes the power of each stroke and concurrently increases your speed.

For this reason, many paddle companies designed high angle paddles with short blades which are made of high density materials. This paddling style might be more efficient as it gains in speed and maneuverability, but it is also much more demanding and exhausting.

Low Angle Paddling

The low-angle paddle is long and usually narrow and you have to hold the shaft more horizontal while paddling. The shaft is basically held at a 45-degree angle. This paddling style is ideal for long kayaking tours just because you do not have to put much effort.

The low angle paddling style involves dipping in the water the one side of the blade quite far from the boat. Consequently, that gives you more stability and this is especially important for beginner paddlers.

Top Brands that make the Best Kayak Paddles

Many people tend to ignore the importance of a good kayak paddle. However, manufacturers took to heart all modern kayaking need and placed them into their products. Below, we will present some of the best top brands in the paddle constructing branch.

  • Carlisle: This Company was founded in 1917 and has gained in popularity the last 30 years. They are paying special attention to the blade design and materials.
  • SeaSense: As a matter of fact, it is a leading company in contrasting boat and marine supplies. The paddles of SeaSense are especially designed for beginner kayakers. They use light materials and try to maximize efficiency with special blade designs.
  • Bending Branches: An American brand that plays a leading role in the paddle construction branch. Lastly, they released some special kayak paddle models especially designed for fishing. They try to craft paddles for different kayaking purposes.
  • Cannon Paddles: True to their name, this brand managed to design blades that cut through the water like a cannon. Being for many years one of the most famous and well-known paddle constructing company, they managed to craft paddles that will fulfill every demand.

Reviews of The Best Kayak Paddles in 2017

After researching thoroughly the market and testing some of them we brought to you the seven Best Kayak Paddles. Each kayak paddle review will not only present and analyze the highlight features but also inform you about the advantages and disadvantages. Accordingly, we will declare the big winner.

Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle

Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle

Unsurprisingly, the 96 inches Shoreline Marine paddle is definitely on the list of the best kayak paddle. It is really durable as it is made of high quality materials.

Main Feature

Durability: The highlight of the kayak paddle is its durability. The aluminum shaft and molded plastic blades are really sturdy and will provide an excellent paddling experience

Key Features and Specifications

  • Drip Guards: If you are fed up of getting wet while kayaking, this paddle is designed for you.
  • Extra Comfort: The grips feature EVA foam material which is an anti-skid and ‘’soft for the hands’’ material.
  • Bulky Paddle? Never more: The paddle consists of two pieces that you will have to attach together every time you want to use it.
  • Blade Construction: Not only the material, but also the construction proves that it will provide you an extraordinary paddling experience. The blades cut the water through like butter.
  • Dimensions: 96.5 x 6.83 x 2.1 inches
  • Weight: 2.35 pounds

Things We Liked

  • Smooth kayaking experience due to great blades
  • Portable
  • Durable Materials

Things We Didn't Like

  • If you drop it in the water it might sink after a short time
  • Some customers claim that the two parts keep pulling apart

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • Worked great for a while but today it broke after a 7 month use
  • Amazing paddle and I can say that they were not expensive at all.
  • Quite good! Shoreline Marine did a great job!!

Final Verdict

Overall, many people would recommend this paddle. The only drawback and the most important thing is that it sinks. There is nothing worse to lose your paddle in the middle of nowhere. However, utilizes some features that some expensive paddles would be jealous of.

Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Day Tripper Kayak Paddle

With a quick look, we can figure out that the Carlisle Day Tripper paddle is suitable and ideal for beginners and basically for high angle paddles. Moreover, it is suitable for right or left hand use. If you are just taking up with kayaking it would be a good choice.

Main Feature

Blade: Both the shape and material are excellent. The polypropylene asymmetric blades will surely provide an efficient kayaking experience.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Shaft: The Carlisle Company pays special attention to the materials for each paddle model. The Day Tripper has a shaft made of aluminum which is a very light material and also corrosion resistant.
  • Angle Position: By pushing a button you can change the angle position of the paddle at 60°degrees.
  • Two Piece paddle: If you have lack of space, this paddle will be perfect for you. Especially useful for inflatable kayak owners.

Things We Liked

  • Adjustable Feathering
  • Stiff Blades
  • Portable
  • Suitable for right or left handed use

Things We Didn't Like

  • Unfortunately, there is no foam grip and that makes it a little uncomfortable
  • Drip Guards are placed too high
  • Could have a better shaft

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • Light as expected and quite good design
  • Just what I needed! All the family loves them.
  • Good Oars and definitely good price!

Final Verdict

To sum up, it is equally important to mention that they are quite cheap. If you do not want to spend a fortune for a paddle you can choose it. Generally speaking, it is a good selection for newbies as it has only one angle position.

SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle

Seasense X-1 Kayak Paddle

With a shaft made of aluminum and a weight of 2.2 pounds it is definitely a good choice. What is not to love? Furthermore, the symmetrical plastic molded blades are hydrodynamic and are perfect for long touring and fishing.

Main Feature

Balanced Blade Construction: The most outstanding feature of this kayak paddle is the blade design. Manufacturers used hard plastic to make it durable and gave to it a symmetrical shape. It is scientifically proven that symmetrical blades offer great stability and will not get easily tired while kayaking.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Easy transportation: You can break down the shaft into two pieces. Especially useful for inflatable kayak owners
  • Drip Guards: They are keeping away the water from your hands
  • Grips: The grips have anti-skid foam rubber pads. The paddle will never slip from your hands
  • Dimensions: 44 x 6.75 x 1.75 inches
  • Floats: There is no problem if you drop it in the water. If you want you can attach it on a lanyard
  • Lightweight

Things We Liked

  • Extremely affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Does not sink

Things We Didn't Like

  • Sometimes it can be hard to separate the two pieces
  • Low efficiency
  • Too narrow blade

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • Amazing, cheap paddle and it seem to be sturdy enough. I use it basically for the ocean.
  • Great kayaking paddle!
  • Awesome paddle, but I cannot easily break it down…

Final Verdict

Finally, if you want an ‘’easy for the wallet’’ paddle, this is the perfect one. From our point of view we would highly recommended for beginners and children.

SeaSense X-Treme II Kayak Paddle

Seasense X-treme II Kayak Paddle

On the first place, this paddle is especially designed for the high angle paddling style as it utilizes a feathered asymmetric blade. It comes in two sizes, 84 and 96 inch so you can choose it according to your height and kayak width. There is no doubt that the combination of price and well-constructed design makes it one of the top choices between many other paddles.

Main Feature

Easy Storage: If you are considering of getting this paddle, you should not exclude portability from your vocabulary. You can break it down into two parts and store it in your car or backpack. Every inflatable kayak owner would agree that this is the best solution for inflatable kayak paddle.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Fight the wind and waves-Feathered blade: Three locking positions of the feathered blade so you can paddle more easily without struggling. The ferrule offers three locking positions giving you the opportunity to change the angle.
  • Material: The aluminum shaft and the fiberglass nylon blade make the paddle corrosion and rust resistant. Consequently you can use it both for freshwater and saltwater.
  • Grips: Convenient
  • Adjustable Drip Guards: The drip guards protect you from getting wet due to consecutive dipping the blade in the water.
  • Ridge: For extra strong strokes there is a ridge placed in the middle of the shaft.
  • Weight: 84 inch: 2.45 and 96 inch: 2.60

Things We Liked

  • Feathered blade maximizes the stroke efficiency
  • Sturdy materials
  • The paddle is portable as you can break it down in two parts. Highly recommended for inflatable kayak owners.
  • Both for saltwater and freshwater use
  • Three angle positions while others have only two
  • Affordable
  • If you drop it accidentally in the water it will definitely not sink

Things We Didn't Like

  • The diameter of the shaft is a little small for an adult paddler
  • Since it is a feathered blade paddle it could utilize a longer shaft so you do not have to sacrifice maneuverability

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • The paddle deserves definitely a five star rating. Will you find something better for that price? Of course not! I bought them and I am satisfied.
  • I suppose that the blade shape is not efficient.

Final Verdict

Finally, this recreational kayak paddle has a good design and will help you paddling like a pro. It is especially designed for extra maneuverability and finesse movements. Emphasis should be laid that the main characteristic is that it is portable so you do not have to worry about lack of space.

SeaSense X-Treme II Mix Kayak Paddle - Budget Choice

Seasense X-treme II Mix Kayak Paddle

Undoubtedly, you will not overlook the beautiful design of this paddle as it comes in 2 different colored blades attached on a black shaft. It comes in two sizes. 84 and 96 inches and utilizes some extraordinary blade features. Whether you have a hard-shell or inflatable kayak, you will definitely be satisfied with its functionality.

Main Feature

Lightweight and Portable: It can be broken down into two parts and it is extremely lightweight if you imagine that the 84’’ paddle weighs only 2.25lbs. These two factors serve the portability purposes.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Blade Design: The feathered asymmetrical blade gives you the opportunity to increase the efficiency of each stroke. Due to the blade design and the minimal weight it is not only ideal for surf kayaking and rough waters, but also for touring and fishing.
  • Drip Guards: Do you feel your hands wet while you are paddling? With this paddle you will definitely forget about that feeling. The dip guards are adjustable and they are protecting you from the water.
  • Multiple Angle Positions: Surprisingly, it features three locking positions whether you are high angle or low angle paddling.
  • Ridge in the middle of the shaft
  • Sink safe: The materials both of the shaft and blades allow the paddle to float on the water surface.

Things We Liked

  • Versatile Paddle
  • Sink Safe
  • The drip guards offer protection from the water
  • Three angle positions in order to choose which is the most suitable for each paddling style
  • Feathered blade
  • Lightweight

Things We Didn't Like

  • Both paddle sizes are a bit too small
  • The grip is not thick enough.

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • I would describe it as the heck of the deal. Wonderful and affordable paddle.
  • Sometimes the drip guards do not work and I get wet. But I like the color

Final Verdict

Summarizing, the most important factor before choosing a paddle are the blades. Consequently, this paddle has a good design and you can use it whether for rough or still waters.

Carlisle Expedition Fiberglass Touring Kayak Paddle - Runner Up

Carlisle Expedoion Touring Kayak Paddle

True to its name, it is a great paddle for touring and other activities. The beautiful gold color makes it extraordinary and if you take a closer look at it during daylight you can see the fiberglass fibers. Additionally, it is important to mention the fact that this is a professional paddle.

From our point of view, we would like to figure out that it would be a good selection especially for anglers. It offers maneuverability and flexibility.

Main Feature

Maneuverability: The 17' x 7" blades are constructed of fiberglass and they are also feathered. Feathered blades are designed for rough waters and offer maneuverability. Some activities like fishing require many movements.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Two piece shaft: This feature makes the paddle extremely portable
  • Materials: Surprisingly, not only the blades are made of fiberglass, but also the shaft.
  • Available in three sizes: 220cm, 230cm and 240cm
  • Feathered: At 60°degrees

Things We Liked

  • Durable and Sturdy blades and shaft
  • Portable
  • Nice Sporty Flair
  • Drip Guards
  • Lightweight

Things We Didn't Like

  • Expensive
  • Only feathered at 60°
  • Not suitable for beginners

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • Beyond my expectations! Nice!
  • Definitely 5 stars. It is really lightweight. I have been using it every time and it still remains like new.
  • This is the best paddle I have ever bought!

Final Verdict

Finally, if you want to paddle like a pro this is the best choice. Undoubtedly, the Carlisle Expedition is a paddle that will definitely not disappoint you at all. However, the only drawback is the price.

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle - Best Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

First of all, the Carlisle kayak paddle definitely deserves a place in our best kayak paddle list. There is no doubt that it is a value for money paddle. It is able to withstand any harsh abuse and is capable to cope with every water circumstances.

Main Feature

Great Blade! : The blades are made of high density fiberglass polypropylene and have an asymmetrical shape. If you take a closer look at them they look slightly like a spoon. The blades are able to withstand multiple conditions and they you can use this paddle for many paddling styles.

However, we recommend it for low angle paddling as it works great for horizontal strokes.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Shaft: The shaft is made of wrapped fiberglass. This material is not only durable, but also enough flexible.
  • Sizes: It comes in three sizes: 220cm, 230cm, and 240cm
  • Dimensions: 220cm: 4 x 10 x 48 inches,230cm: 5 x 15 x 100 inches and 240cm: 4 x 10 x 48 inches
  • Available in Many Colors

Things We Liked

  • Undoubtedly, the blade design is extraordinary and it utilizes great quality materials
  • Awesome for low angle paddling. You do not have to put much effort for the stroke
  • Sturdy
  • Long shaft
  • Portable

Things We Didn't Like

  • Heavy
  • The shaft diameter is big. That means that it is a little thick
  • Not suitable for beginners

Reviews from Amazon Customers

  • I’ve never seen such a blade. Hard paddle for hard use.
  • Good quality for the price
  • I am very happy with this paddle!

Final Verdict

Overall, if you want to invest in a good kayak paddle this would be a good choice. Most of you will find it expensive but it is a value for money product. The materials are of high quality and that is the main factor that increases the price.

Buying Guide

Since there are a large variety of paddles on the market it would be a little tricky to choose the right one. However, we tested some of them and managed to figure out the most important features you should look for in the best kayak paddle. Hopefully, the following points will play a significant role in your decision.

Blade Material

Just to make things murkier, each material serves a different purpose. However, it depends on you and your paddling style. Here are the most common materials used for the shaft and blade.

  • Aluminum
    As a matter of fact, aluminum is the most common material used mainly for the shaft of the paddle. It is not only lightweight, but also really affordable. After testing some paddles, we would like to emphasize that it is not recommended for winter period paddling.
  • Fiberglass
    The main important characteristic of this material is that it is durable and quite affordable. Paddles made of fiberglass are ideal for touring and long kayaking trips. Unfortunately, many people claim that the material is a little heavy.

Weight

Allegedly, kayak paddles must be lightweight. However, not all lightweight materials are sturdy enough. There are many benefits if you have a light paddle as it provides better control, maximizes the performance and makes it automatically portable.

Shaft

If you are an inflatable kayak owner, it would be a better idea to choose a paddle that has a multiple piece shaft. You can break the shaft down and transport it in your suitcase, backpack or car.

Moreover, we recommend a small diameter shaft for beginners and children. Some shafts have also grid guards which block the water. There is nothing worse getting wet while kayaking especially during the winter.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Feathered or unfeathered?

A: Many people have the wrong perception that feathered paddles are better. However, we would like to disagree because that depends only from you and your kayaking style. I would like to illustrate my point with an example.

If you are white water kayaking it is a good choice to use feathered blades in order to have a better control of the kayak. However, a little child that makes his first kayaking ‘’steps’’ should use an unfeathered paddle blade. The child will not face rough waters in the beginning.

Q: Are there special paddles for fishing?

A: Of course not. However you can choose feathered blade paddles with a short shaft. Fishing implies much maneuverability so you will need a paddle that offers you that feature.

  • Tips

Tip: If you are kayak fishing, it would be a good idea to use light color paddles. If you get lost, with a light color paddle you can be easier recognizable from the shoreline.

Q: Should I get a paddle that floats on the water or is it not necessary?

A: From our point of view, this is one of the first features you should look for in the best kayak paddle. There is nothing worse to lose your paddle especially during the winter period. Certainly, if you are a high experienced kayaker you will not face such problems.

Nevertheless, this is important for your safety.

  • Tips

If you have a paddle that does not float, it would be brilliant to adjust a lanyard on your hand and the paddle.

Conclusion

Finally, kayaking is the best way to relax and to improve your physical conditions. Moreover, it is an opportunity to spend some time with your family or friends reconnecting to Mother Nature.

However, before you start kayaking you must get a kayak and a paddle. The paddle is the ‘’human’’ motor of your vessel so you must get one with high ‘’horsepower’’. The key of success is in the blade shape and material.

This article analyzed thoroughly seven kayak paddles in order to make some suggestions and finally declare the winner of the great roundup. After testing the paddles, we made our decision. The clear winner is the Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle.

We characterize this paddle as the best kayak paddle out of seven because it combines well-constructed blades and sturdy shaft. All other paddles do not have this ‘’spooned’’ shape blades. The shape is very hydro and aerodynamic and the Carlisle Company promises a smooth kayaking experience.

In addition, we realized that some of them do not have the ability to float if you drop them in the water accidentally. That was a major factor for the low star rating as it could be a really serious problem especially for young kayakers.

Hopefully, this buddy will last a life time.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or further ideas do not hesitate to leave a comment below in the comment box.

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