When choosing a kayak paddle, your decision is just about as important as choosing the kayak itself. Not all paddlers are created equal, and nor are the paddles themselves. There are factors such as your fitness level and water location to consider before acquiring a new paddle.
If you choose a paddle that’s too long for your size, you may struggle to paddle out on the water. If you choose one that is made with weak material, it could break and you could find yourself up the creek without a paddle — literally!
However, there is a large and expanding market of kayak paddles which can make finding the right one for your lifestyle a bit tricky. That is why we have rounded up some of our top picks for the best kayak paddle for you to choose from.
So, let’s go through them…
Top 10 Best Kayak Paddle In 2021 Reviews
1 Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle
First up on our list is an excellent choice for recreational paddlers who want a paddle that is going to allow them to stay on the water for a long period.
The Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle features a wound fiberglass shaft that is extremely durable and resistant to snapping or cracking. The blades are made of polypropylene with a fiberglass reinforcement that creates a balanced and efficient paddling experience.
The asymmetrical blade design reduces torque and prevents wrist fatigue while you paddle. The blades also have a slightly spooned shape that pulls more water and efficiently propels you through the water.
Get the ideal length for you and your boat size…
This paddle is not a one-size-fits-all type of product. With the Carlisle Magic Plus, you have the option of choosing a 220 cm, 230 cm, or 240 cm model. This allows you to find the ideal length for you and your boat size. The 220 cm option is also quite lightweight at 35 ounces.
Caters for both the right-handed and the lefties too…
You are also getting extraordinary versatility with this paddle. When the day is finished, you can break down this paddle into two pieces for easy storage. You can rotate the blades as well for left or right-handed use.
- Fiberglass shaft.
- Asymmetrical blade design.
- Spooned blade shape.
- Different size options.
- Versatile blade.
2 Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle – Best Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle
If you are more of a serious paddler that needs a high-quality paddle for touring or professional reasons, then our next kayak paddle might be the one for you.
Werner kayak paddles are considered high-end when it comes to kayaking accessories, and this one is no different. The Camano is available in a variety of lengths, from 205 centimeters all the way to 260 centimeters. This allows just about anyone to find a Camano that’s right for them.
The Camano is one of the few carbon fiber kayak paddle options you can find…
At only 1.5 pounds, this paddle is one of the lightest on the market.
It’s light enough to reduce swing weight and stiff enough to deliver an efficient stroke. This makes it a great option if you are into long-distance kayaking.
A Smartview ferrule allows adjustments for significant feathering options and matched blades. These options basically guarantee that you will have the paddle that is right for you, which is an important consideration for serious paddlers.
The blades are made from strong and light fiberglass. They are shaped for low-angle paddling to give you the most of each stroke. This award-winning design promises outstanding performance on multi-day trips.
You can get the Werner Camano in one, two, and four-piece options. Whatever your lifestyle, Werner has a paddle for you. This is definitely the paddle for serious kayakers but bear in mind that this kind of quality paddle doesn’t come cheap.
- Carbon fiber shaft.
- Fiberglass blades.
- 10 length options.
- 1, 2, or 4 piece options.
3 AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle – Best Touring Kayak Paddle
Keeping with the touring theme, we are featuring another carbon fiber kayak paddle for you to consider. The Aqua Bound Manta Ray is a lightweight and durable paddle that guarantees comfort and dependability.
The Manta Ray is available in many lengths that will make finding the right paddle easy. Starting at 210 centimeters, the options increase by 10-centimeter increments up to 250 centimeters. Short or tall, there is an Aqua Bound paddle for you.
Lightweight, stiff, and strong…
The carbon fiber construction makes this paddle is lightweight, stiff, and strong which is exactly what is required for touring kayaks. At only 1.9 pounds, it alleviates potential exhaustion on long trips. The adjustable ferrule offers a wide variety of feathering angles so you can find the most efficient stroke every time.
Won’t snap or get weighed down…
The Manta Ray’s blades are unusually long and narrow, giving you the ability to maximize low-angle paddling. The fiberglass reinforced plastic material ensures they won’t snap or get weighed down by currents.
The Manta Ray comes only as a straight shaft, so if you are after a bent shaft this isn’t the one for you. This makes it a good choice for experienced kayakers who know what they are doing. It comes in a two-piece model which makes it easy to transport and store.
- Carbon fiber.
- 5 length options.
- 1.9 pounds.
- Fiberglass blades.
- Straight shaft only.
4 ADVANCED ELEMENTS Compact Touring Paddle 4 – Best Novice Kayak Paddle
The Advanced Elements Compact Touring Paddle comes as only a single length at 231 centimeters. You’ll notice that this is a length that lies in the middle of the ranges we have covered so far. This makes it a good option for the average kayaker.
The straight shaft is made from aluminum, which is a fairly durable option for novice kayakers who are paddling on calm waters…
This probably describes most kayakers that you will encounter on the lake, so it is a good paddle to break onto the scene. However, the thing about aluminum paddles like this is that they weigh more than their carbon fiber counterparts. At 2.7 pounds, this paddle will lead to fatigue if you intend on taking multi-day trips.
Ideal for low-angle paddling in deep and calm waters…
The blades are made from glass-reinforced plastic. They are designed to withstand a number of potential hazards you would find in a river. They are asymmetrical, long, and thin, which makes them ideal for low-angle paddling in deep and calm waters.
So how can you use this?
The ferrule on this paddle is joined in the middle and allows for 60-degree feathering. You can also swap orientations to control if you are left or right-handed. The paddle breaks down into four pieces which makes it incredibly easy to store and transport in small spaces.
- Easy to transport and store.
- Glass-reinforced blades.
- Only one length option.
- Only straight shaft.
5 BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic – Best Fishing Kayak Paddle
Our next featured paddle is for fishing kayaks and provides all the features of a high-end paddle, at a price that won’t break the bank.
Features a 3 hole snap-button ferrule…
The Angler Classic from Bending Branches is a recreational paddle that can be separated into two pieces for easy travel and storage. It also features a 3 hole snap-button ferrule that is adjustable for feathering angles of 0-degrees and 60-degrees. It is also able to be adjusted for right or left-hand control.
The sturdy fiberglass-reinforced blades make this paddle both lightweight and durable. This makes for a smooth and low-effort paddling experience, even if your kayak is weighed down by gear. The grips are designed as an oval-shape that makes the paddle sit better in your hand. A special shaft coating adds to the overall comfort.
Features a unique hook-retrieval notch too…
This paddle features a unique hook-retrieval notch on one of the blades that gives you the ability to rescue your fishing line and lure in the event of a wonky cast. Simply reach out with the paddle and free the hook without having to get your hands dirty.
The Angler Classic comes in 5 different sizes between 220 centimeters and 260 centimeters which can accommodate most kayak sizes. Plus it comes in a sage green color that easily blends in with an earthy lake and allows you to sneak up on fish.
- Infinite feathering adjustments.
- Comfortable grips and shaft.
- Hook-retrieval notch.
- Straight shaft only.
6 Werner Paddles Kalliste Bent 2PC STD Kayak Paddle – Highest Quality Kayak Paddle
Next up on our list of the best kayak paddle options, is another top-of-the-line paddle from a well-known and trusted kayaking brand. Werner paddles are some of the highest quality paddles you can find, and this one is no different.
The dihedral bent design allows you to glide more efficiently…
This two-piece kayak features a dihedral bent design that allows you to glide more efficiently across the water. This design is geared more towards sport kayaking, but if you spend significant time on the water this is a great option.
Edges are reinforced with Dynel cloth…
The Kalliste’s mid-sized blades fit the needs for kayakers of nearly any size. Each blade is made from full carbon fiber so you know its both lightweight and durable. The flat back face makes for a smooth entry and exit of the blades in the water. The edges are reinforced with Dynel cloth which is impact and abrasion-resistant.
The patented Smartview adjustable ferrule is simple to use and exceptionally precise. Whether you or right or left-handed, you will be able to control this paddle and experience excellent tracking.
- Dihedral bent design.
- Carbon fiber.
- Dynel reinforced blades.
- Smartview ferrule.
- Very expensive.
7 SeaSense X-TREME KAYAK PADDLE – Best Value Kayak Paddle
This next featured paddle is for the no-nonsense kayaker that just wants an affordable paddle to get their kayak from point A to point B.
Not everyone is a professional paddler…
The SeaSense X-treme Kayak Paddle is a simple yet elegant option for those that don’t need the absolute best when it comes to their paddle. Not everyone is a professional paddler and most of us just want to get in a few strokes out on calm waters.
This kayak paddle is constructed as a two-piece paddle that allows for compact storage and transportation. It is made from quality aluminum construction that, while on the heavier side, is fairly durable and able to withstand any breakage.
Decent durability means better value this price-point…
The blades are made from black molded plastic for decent durability that will provide you with a sufficient pull against the water. Relatively speaking this paddle is lightweight and great if you are out on the water for a few hours at a time. It also floats in case you lose your grip while you’re kayaking.
The ergonomic foam hand grips offer superior comfort while you grip and glide across the water. There are also adjustable drip rings to keep your hands dry while the paddle tosses up water while you paddle.
An asymmetrical design with 3 locking positions allows you to find the right length for the optimal paddling angle.
Why does this matter?
Asymmetrical blades allow for a smoother transition and deeper stroke. This ensures that you get the most out of each strike against the water.
- Comfortable hand grips.
- Asymmetrical design.
- Only straight shaft.
8 AT Paddles Geronimo Carbon Straight Shaft – Best Whitewater Rafting Paddle
If you are someone who likes to go whitewater rafting, you know what kind of perils await you. Choppy waters combined with jagged rocks create the potential for damage to your paddle. This next paddle is built to withstand it all.
Adventure Technology is well-known for its whitewater paddles…
The Geronimo model is a fantastic choice for serious kayakers. You can get one of these in a wide range of lengths, as well as a custom length. No matter the size of you or your kayak, there is a Geronimo for you.
The Geronimo is made completely of carbon fiber, which makes it one of the toughest and stiffest paddles around. Its thick blades offer maximum control, and blade edges are reinforced to endure the battering that comes with whitewater rafting.
This paddle comes only as a single piece to maximize its strength. Because of that, it’s only offered at 30-degree feathering and right-hand control.
All hope is not lost!
Adventure Technology offers users the option to custom-build their paddle. So if you need a different feathering angle or control with the opposite hand, you can still get a Geronimo that is right for you!
- Complete carbon fiber.
- Many length options.
- Custom build options.
- Not compact.
9 Wilderness Systems Pungo Glass Recreation/Touring Kayak Paddle – Most Versatile Kayak Paddle
If you are someone who is seeking a kayak paddle that is versatile and up for any adventure, then look no further than our next featured paddle.
Suits both touring and recreational users…
The Pungo Glass from Wilderness Systems is an exceptional paddle for either recreational touring purposes. The paddle’s shape and blade curvature deliver the perfect angle of entry and depth for smooth and efficient strokes.
Each blade is made with a resilient fiberglass blade that can endure some of the toughest environments. The shaft is made from 50 percent carbon fiber and 50 percent fiberglass that is both lightweight and quite durable.
The best part of this versatile paddle?
This paddle features a patented, low-profile Leverlock ferrule system that easily flips up to allow you to adjust it to any length between 220 centimeters and 240 centimeters. The Pungo Paddle can fit virtually any paddler, kayak, or stroke style. Plus, with 3 different color style options, you can find the perfect paddle for your taste.
- Leverlock system.
- Fiberglass blade.
- Composite shaft.
10 BENDING BRANCHES Whisper 2-Piece Snap-Button Recreational Kayak Paddle – Best Recreational Kayak Paddle
The last kayak paddle on our list is from Bending Branches which is a well-known name when it comes to kayaks and paddles. If you spend enough time on the water, you have probably seen their designs already.
Best suited for recreational purposes…
The Whisper model from Bending Branches is available in a wide range of lengths. Unless you are extremely tall, you should be able to find a size to suit you. This is a general-purpose paddle has is best suited for recreational purposes and has plenty of qualities that make it a good option for beginners.
The shaft is straight and constructed from aluminum, so you know it’s sturdy and dependable. However, at 2.3 pounds, it isn’t the best choice for longer trips as it can cause fatigue.
A good choice for beginners…
The Whisper uses a three-hole snap system and its ferrule is adjustable between 0-degree matched blades and 60-degree feathering. It works with either right- or left-hand dominance as well. This paddle is a good choice for beginners who don’t need precision feathering.
The blades are made from polypropylene nylon which offers sufficient strength for most excursions. The shape of the blades offers a compromise between high- and low-angle paddling. This makes the Whisper great for beginners or just as a dependable spare paddle.
- Good for beginners.
- Adjustable ferrule.
- Two pieces.
- Aluminum shaft.
- Small blades.
Best Kayak Paddle Buying Guide
Now that you have had a chance to check out a decent sample of kayak paddles, you are probably close to deciding which paddle you are going to get.
However, we realize we’ve thrown a lot of information your way, so determining which one is right for you might be a bit tricky. That’s why we have put together this handy buying guide with some of the most important factors to consider before making your decision.
Kayak paddles are usually available in lengths of between 210 centimeters to 260 centimeters. It may not seem like much, but the difference in length matters when it comes to how it will handle for both you and your kayak.
Let’s examine how the width of the kayak plays into your paddle length. Simply put, a wider kayak demands a longer paddle. If you have a narrow kayak, it’s easier for the blades to reach the water. So if you are touring in a sea kayak, you will need a shorter kayak. If you’re a recreational kayaker in a wide and stable kayak, you’ll want a longer paddle.
You will also want to consider your torso height to find the right paddle length for you. To do this, sit in a chair and measure from the tip of your nose to your groin area. Then find the paddle length that corresponds with that measurement.
- Blade and Shaft Material
There are a few different options as far as materials go and each one has fairly distinct advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes the blade and shaft are composed of the same material, and sometimes they aren’t.
Plastic or polypropylene is considered the low end of paddle material. It’s only real benefit is that it is cheap, so it’s good if you are on a budget or just starting out. But it is very fragile and can easily break if you encounter any hazards in the water.
Aluminum is another common material used in paddles. It is inexpensive and fairly durable, so it is probably the best option if you’re trying to strike a balance between cheap and strong. However, compared to other high-end paddles it is quite heavy which isn’t good for multi-day tours because it can cause fatigue. Also, it gets pretty hot if you are paddling in the sun.
The next level in paddle material would have to be fiberglass. If you are looking for a lightweight and dependable kayak paddle, you should seriously consider this material. It’s a great option for more experienced paddlers and offers exceptional performance on the water.
If kayaking is central to your life and you won’t settle for anything but the absolute best, then consider a carbon fiber paddle. These are ultra-lightweight and exceptionally strong. If you are into whitewater rafting or multi-day kayaking excursions, you simply cannot go wrong with carbon fiber. But keep in mind that the price increases significantly with these.
When paddle blades are feathered, it means they are offset to improve their efficiency. This reduces wind resistance by keeping the higher blade flat, so you can cut through the air and water at the same time. This option is usually easier on your wrists.
Comparatively, matched blades are in line with each other. If you are just going for a leisurely kayaking experience, matched will do just fine. Many paddles allow you to alternate between feathered and matched, as well as choose which hand you will operate with.
- Blade Shape
It may not seem like differences in the shape and size of a blade are important, but they have a significant impact on kayaking performance. There are basically two main options when it comes to blades.
Short and fat blades are ideal in situations that require immediate steering or stopping. If you are whitewater rafting, this kind of blade is extremely useful. Athletic paddlers tend to prefer fatter blades because they can produce more energy with a single stroke.
Long and skinny blades are ideal for touring and recreation. They are designed for low-angle paddling in calm and deep water because they maximize efficiency.
Before You Go
For comprehensive comparisons of other upgrades, accessories, and add-ons, do check out our Best Kayak Accessories Reviews, the Best Fish Finders Revews, the Best Kayak Seat Reviews, the Best Kayak Trailer Reviews, the Best Trolling Motor for Kayaks Reviews, and the Best Trolling Motor Battery Reviews.
For great informative articles for kayaking enthusiasts, have a browse through our ideas for How to Transport a Kayak without a Roof Rack, the difference between Sit on top vs Sit in Kayaks, and learn What are Scupper Plugs anyway?
Back to paddles…
Final Thoughts On The Best Kayak Paddle
We are confident that you have all the information you need to find the ideal kayak paddle for your lifestyle. Although if you need a little extra convincing, paddle over this way so we can offer you our top overall pick, which is the…The Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle
It brings good quality material and high-functionality into one convenient paddle. The fiberglass shaft compared with the fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene blades offer durability while keeping the cost low.
Its many lengths and feathering ability make this a great kayak paddle for people who are just starting, or those who have a bit more experience.