Best Kayak Paddle for Beginners and Advanced

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If you enjoy kayaking and want to boost your kayaking experience with your inflatable kayak, then try upgrading your kayak paddle. You will notice a remarkable difference right away. You will want to extend your trips as kayaking will be much more enjoyable.

 

Getting kayak oars can be overwhelming for a first time buyer. That is why we have spent hours researching the essential features that a kayak paddle should have. You will see more details why each paddle is unique and why it has landed among our top picks. If you want to skip and get the best kayak paddles, we recommend the AQUA BOUND Sting Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle as the best kayak paddle.

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Why Trust Us

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

Whether you are looking for the best affordable, the best overall or best quality kayak paddles, just know that you are at the right place. We have reviewed it all and you can save the trouble of reviewing it yourself. In this guide, we have listed down 5 paddles as our top picks for Best Kayak Paddles for Beginners and Advanced Paddlers.

TOP KAYAK PADDLES

This paddle kayak is one of the lightest kayak carbon paddle. You will realize the difference in investing in a good quality paddle. AQUA BOUND Sting Ray can help you go long distances at a less tiring pace. It is sold with different kayak paddle lengths between 82 inches to 98 inches.

 

Its mid size blades are made of abX resin and reinforced with carbon fibers. This makes the blades stiff, light and strong. This carbonfiber kayak paddle reliably delivers 20% more power stroke, eliminating achy shoulders usually experienced when going into the 2nd hour of paddling. Many kayakers find that this paddle goes through water more smoothly and the blades do not flex easily. 

 

Some reviewers have feedback that this paddle feels like a 1 piece paddle, even though it is a two piece kayak paddle. This is because of its patented Posi-Lok ferrule adjustment system that locks and secures the 2 pieces so well together. 

 

One great feature you will love, are its drip rings. Not all paddles have this feature. They are cupped rubber rings found on both ends of the shaft, preventing water from running to your arms and body. The only setback is there are no color options.

 

If you are considering paddling long distances and need a paddle that can perform over extended periods, this paddle is the one for you. Aqua Bound is one of the best kayak brands for kayak paddles. 

Pros

  • Superior performance
  • Carbon shaft
  • Carbon abX resin blades
  • Patented Posi-Lok ferrule adjustment system

 

Cons

  • Less affordable
  • No color options

 

This kayak is popularly found in many kayak rental shops. If you are a novice kayaker, and just want a decent performance for recreational kayaking, this is one of the best kayak for the money.

 

This 2 piece kayak is convenient for transporting and storing them. The shaft is slightly ovalized, which you will find helps with gripping. There are also coated grips on both sides so you are not directly gripping on the aluminium. So the hand grips will not get hot from the sun.

 

The blades are constructed from polypropylene, while its shaft is made with aluminium, making the paddle durable. It can withstand being thrown around or banged against trees or rocks. But it can be bendy and may flutter when kayaking at high speeds. 

 

There is an adjustable feather setting for 3 blade angle options. You can set straight with 0 degree offset, left bias 45 degree angle and right bias 45 degree angle. 

 

There is a snap button system for you to dismantle or adjust the paddle. A general rule of thumb is to rinse your paddle after every ride to maintain the paddle in good condition. This paddle floats quite well in the water. It is recommended to get a paddle leash so that it will not float away.

 

Overall, Bending Branches Whisper is made for the general masses and considered one of the best cheap kayak paddle. 

Pros

  • Best affordable kayak paddle
  • Great for beginners
  • Durable
  • Packs into a compact size

 

Cons

 

  • Slightly heavier

This is a premium paddle that is popular for its  award winning blade design. The blades are considered medium-sized blades, which is ideal to cut through the water smoothly. Thanks to its usage of premium fiberglass, the blades are made super durable when pushing through the water. The features on this paddle are more suited to high performance paddling. It performs well in whitewater rapids. 

 

You will find the paddles are pretty light at only 24.5 oz to 29.0 oz. The large surface area on the blades allows you to get the maximum power when maneuvering in waters at ease. You will love the variety in color options, to match up your kayak.

 

As for the paddle shaft, it uses carbon fiber which makes it ultra-lightweight. At the same time, the paddles are strong enough to hold down choppy or calm waters.  Its Smartview adjustable ferrule allows multi-position feathering so that the blades are aligned at an angle to each other. This carbon fiber kayak paddle snaps easily and stays firm. 

 

 

Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle is the favorite choice among professionals and kayaking enthusiasts.

Pros

  • Award winning blade
  • Ultralight
  • Smartview adjustable ferrule
  • Multiple Colors

 

Cons

 

  • Premium price

If you are thinking of upgrading your paddle, this is a good choice. This carbon paddle glides through the water with ease, pushing you forward gently. There is padding on the shaft to prevent you from getting blisters on your hands. It comes with a bungee paddle leash to prevent you from losing your paddle when you want to stop and relax.

 

The shaft is made of carbon fiber, which is 5 times stronger than steel. It’s strong enough to push off stumps, or downed trees. You will appreciate that it is pretty light at 33oz. This is much lighter than your regular paddle. You can paddle longer without getting tired easily. It is built with fiberglass reinforced PP blade and coated with UV protection. It can last longer even under the sun.   

 

 

The angles of the paddle are adjustable, to 3 different loking positions for different paddling angles. There are drip rings provided to prevent water from flowing to your arms. Everything about this paddle is good quality from price point. You will absolutely love this paddle.

Pros

  • Carbon fibre shaft
  • Smooth in water
  • Lightweight kayak paddle
  • Durable
  • Comes with a bungee paddle leash

 

The shaft is made of carbon fibre rather than aluminium, making it solid yet light. Lighter materials are used to keep the weight down. This also means it is easy to grip the shaft, as it does not easily heat up. Carbon fiber materials also are anti-corrosive making the oar long lasting and durable. 

 

The paddle separates into 2 different pieces, making it convenient for transportation. You will find 3 holes with a snap-button ferrule to feather the blade to 3 different positions. Weighing at 34oz, it is definitely easier to paddle longer hours. 

 

 

There is a 5 feet leash that comes along with the paddle to prevent your kayak from floating away. There are also drip rings to prevent water running down the paddle shaft. If you love fishing, then this feature is great for you. It has hook snags that can be used to remove lures from bad casts. 

Pros

  • Hook retrieval notch
  • Drip rings
  • 5 feet leash
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

 

Cons

 

  • Only available in 1 size

View More Kayaking Tips

How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

Kayaks can typically cost between $30 to $300. The big variation in price pretty much depends on the materials and designs used in construction of the paddle.

Best Kayak Paddle 4

Length

What size kayak paddle should you get? Basically, the taller the paddler is, the longer the paddle needs to be. To get the right length, take your height and add another 8 to 12 inches. For the average population, a good kayak paddle size is between 82 to 102 inches.

 

If you have a wide kayak, a longer shaft helps prevent your hands from hitting the side of the boat. 

 

Some paddles have an adjustable shaft, that allows a maximum of 15 cm in buffer adjustment. This helps if you are sharing the same paddle with another person with a different height.

Material

When choosing a kayak paddle, it is good to know that there are 3 commonly used materials for paddles shafts. There are aluminium, fiberglass and carbon fiber.

 

The type of elements used in constructing the shaft plays a part in determining weight and durability of the paddle. You will experience less fatigue when paddling if it is lighter in weight. 

 

Aluminium alloy is more affordable and still able to maintain its functionality for a paddle. However, it is not as lightweight and strong as fiberglass or carbon fiber. 

 

 

Fiberglass are usually stiff and lightweight, putting them as mid range paddles. Carbon kayak paddle is the lightest and does not flutter, which is great if you are looking for performance on the water. However, of the 3 materials, fiberglass tends to be the most expensive.

Blade design

Best Kayak Paddle 2

There are 2 types of designs, feathered or non-feathered. Feathered blades offset at an angle to each other, while non-feathered blades are aligned straight with each other at 0 degrees feather. Non-feathered blades are usually easier for beginners, as it is less complicated.

 

Feathering helps to avoid creating wind drag, giving an edge in paddling speed. It also helps reduce wrist fatigue, as one blade pushes away the water while the other cuts through the air.

 

 

Wide and short blades will create more power when paddling, which is required in whitewater kayaking. Long narrower blades are more lightweight, which helps if you plan to paddle longer hours. 

Number of Pieces

Paddles can be broken down into a number of pieces, 1, 2 or 4 pieces. But for professional kayakers, they usually opt for 1 piece as they do not need to worry about the paddle coming apart. Another benefit from this is, it is much lighter as there is no need for a connector piece.

 

However, if you often travel for your kayaking adventures, then having a 2 or 4 piece paddle helps when you want to pack into a smaller size to fit into a bag. Here are some recommended waterproof backpacks to store your paddles.

Type of kayaking

Best Kayak Paddle 3

If you plan to perform white water rafting, you will bound to have more collisions with rocks. You definitely need a whitewater paddle that has feathering and will not break easily. 

 

If you plan to perform kayak touring with your SOT (Sit On Top Kayak), which means paddling in the calm waters for the whole day, then look for a kayak oar that is lightweight and durable.

 

If you are just a recreational kayaker, then getting one with just the basic functions is sufficient. 

Accessories

Some kayaks come with drip rings that help prevent water from running to your arms and body. They are cupped rubber rings that are found on both ends of the shaft.

 

Another accessory that some paddles may have is the paddle leash. This prevents you from losing your paddle overboard. This is particularly useful for fishing enthusiasts when you need to quickly drop your paddle and pick up the rod. This is definitely one of the best kayak paddle for fishing.

Summary

 

Weigh on factors that matter most to you. You will be able to find one paddle, among the 5 selections above, that is perfect for you. We find that normally, standard kayaks sold are kayaks with paddles. Usually, if you want to upgrade your paddle to see a noticeable difference, then it might be good to just get a better performing paddle without frills. If you still cannot decide what is the best, then we recommend AQUA BOUND Sting Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle as the best overall Kayak Paddle.  This paddle is built with a durable and lightweight shaft and blade, which is really the most important factor for a good paddle.

What’s Next

If you are looking to upgrade your kayak seat, then check out the Best Kayak Seat.

I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have questions about any of the 5 best kayak paddles, or want to leave your own personal review, feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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