How to Choose The Best Kayak Paddle

In the same way that ink is important to a fountain pen, a good kayak paddle is just as critical to this brilliant sport as finding a quality kayak itself.

Without a good paddle, you would find yourself in a million problems. In fact, you do not want to face while on the trip and trying to have the time of your life. For example, the paddle might not authorise a lot of control in quick water, or that it is too large or too heavy for your form and strength. It is very easy to go wrong trying to pick a paddle, but it is also extremely difficult to find the right one for you.

That is the exact aim of this article. In this short guide, we will go through all of the things you should be able to find in a good paddle. Also, we’ll show you how exactly you can find the best kayak paddle suiting you.

Feature to consider

Style

First and foremost, before you even walk out of your home, into the car and out to a shop somewhere in search of the best kayak paddle. You’d better look more into and quickly write down your paddling style: Either you paddle high – or you paddle low. This is a critical step to picking the right paddle that suited you, as many paddles are fashioned for different styles of rowing.

If you are a high angled paddler (With your upper hand above or equal to your shoulder height), it is recommended that your paddle be short in length and compensate with a wider blade. This is because of the high angle that the paddle comes into contact with the water due to your rowing style. Also, the configuration amplified the effectiveness of this rowing method.

Style

Image source: Style

On the other hand, if you are a low angled paddler (Vice versa, with your upper hand below your shoulder), your paddle should be long and the blade thinner than that of the higher angling rowers. Due to the shallower angle that your paddle enters the water, this would bring out the true potential of your rowing style.

When you first dabble in kayaking, your instructors or teachers would have already taught you a thing or two about these two fundamental positions already. High angled paddling is aggressive and more strenuous. However, they create a lot of thrust and momentum for your kayak, fitting for a race or in violent water. Low angling paddling is much more relaxed and less intensive, fitting for a nice outing on the surface of the water somewhere. Depending on your circumstance, you would use these two styles interchangeably – however, you would always find yourself favoring one style over the next.

This ‘Favourite’ style of your choice would be the subject your paddle should address fittingly.

Size Chart for Low Angled Paddlers

Paddler Height Kayak width under 23 in. 23 in. – 28 in. Over 28 in.
Under 5 ft. 210cm 220cm 230cm
5 ft. – 5 ft. 6 in. 215cm 220cm 230cm
5 ft. 6 in – 6 ft. 220cm 220cm 230cm
6 ft. and above 220cm 230cm 240cm

 Size Chart for High Angled Paddlers

Paddler Height Kayak width 26 in. and under Kayak width over 26 in.
Under 5 ft. 4 in. 205cm 210cm
5 ft. 4 in. – 6 ft. 210cm 215cm
6 ft. and above 215cm 220cm

Torso Height

The actual size and height of your torso are vital to picking out the paddle that cooperates best with you, i.e., you would be most comfortable using. When sitting in your kayak, your paddle would largely rotate around the center of your torso. Therefore, if it is too long for you, you would find yourself in an uncomfortable position swinging around an oversized stick.

And if it’s too short for you, of course, it would be awkward in your seat. Try to reach out and get the blade to make contact with the water instead of letting it naturally happen with your arm’s motion. So make sure you have this information in handy to give to the store’s clerk when you’re out seeking that brand new paddle.

Torso Height

Image source: paddling.com

Length

The most important thing to look out for when choosing a new paddle for your next trip is the length. Of course, there are several, and they are made with different people in mind. The criterion are your height, the length of your kayak. And of course, as we have mentioned before: Your rowing style would also be of great help to finding out the best kayak paddle for you!

Width

The blade is going to be the part that makes contact with water – and it is going to constitute the width of the paddle. The hydrodynamic effects of the blade in the water change dramatically to its size as well as the way you use it. As said, your paddling style is the most important information to an accord on when deciding on the width of your paddle.

Blade Materials

Just like any modern sporting equipment, kayak paddles are also available in a multitude of materials you could choose from. And as you can expect, they all have their pros and cons.

The most common blade you can find is aluminum blades due to its budget cost, and are often the perfect starter paddles. The drawback to Aluminium is its weight, far too heavy and would make for an exhausting experience on the lake. Gradually, if they’re still interested in the sport, they could go for upgrades to lighter and more durable materials (Although they are certainly costly) such as carbon fiber.

Blade Materials

Image source: Paddle California

Carbon fibre paddles are the best you could find … while also the most expensive ones you could find. Due to its extremely lightweight, they are pleasures to handle on the water. However, you could find on the other end of the cost spectrum plastic, fiberglass or wooden paddles as well. They all have their respective benefits and setbacks. However, the main thing in question would be your ability to afford them and how you much you are dedicated to the sport, not much else here.

Blade Shape

While you are at the shop, you might see paddles with the normal (And stereotypical) straight, flat blades. But if you look aside, you probably would be able to find blades with odder shapes – sometimes even curving.

There are two main categories of blade shapes and are referred to as symmetrical and asymmetrical paddles. This is quite a simple concept. If you imagine a straight line cutting straight down the middle of the paddle, asymmetrical paddle will compose of equal halves. Asymmetrical blades – on the other hand – would have two different shaping halves.

Symmetrical blades are more preferred for paddlers who have to confront strong currents of the white water. Of course, in this circumstance, they would need as much power and control a paddle could provide them. More so, symmetrical blades are also recommended for high angled paddlers as well due to their more aggressive style.

Vice versa, asymmetrical blades are preferred by recreational paddlers or those with a lower angled paddling style.

Shaft

The paddle’s shaft is the part that’s going to handle the large majority of your balance in your kayak. Therefore, this time unlike the blades, you should find yourself a comfortably heavy shaft for best balance. It is also available in a wide range of familiar materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber.

Paddle Type

There are many breeds of paddles. There are those who are designed to tackle the violence and swirling water of rapid falls. And there are those better suited for a pleasurable trip around a calm lake.

If you’re expecting to surf through the turbulence of white-water, you should expect to have a larger buying grant. This is because you’re going to need the best paddles there are. The stronger and the more durable, the better – simple and weak ones sure are going to break apart in the flow.

On the other hand, if you’re expecting to make round trips with your family, the inexpensive and softer paddles would do wonder to both your performance and your bank account.

Review of the best kayak paddle

1.Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle Rounded 96”

If you’re looking for a good paddle to start your interest in kayaking, the Shoreline Marine is the way to go. The price comes in at $30 for a set, quite a reasonable price to begin with if you are just beginning to take part in this sport.

The quality itself is not bad. The entire paddle is 243.8 centimeters in total length, 2.3 pounds heavy could be disassembled into two separate parts for mobility. It also comes with a foam grip on top of a lightweight, strengthened shaft. At two ends, you would find corrosion and impact-resistant Aluminium blades. It is quite a nice balance between weight and usability, although I certainly would not count on it for trips rougher than a few strong wakes in a lake.

Pros:

  • Affordable – perfect for starters.
  • Comfortable to use, eliminating dripping.
  • Strongly built, but still reasonably light.

Cons:

  • The paddle was reported to break with rough treatments. After all, it is still a budget product.
  • A bit on the longer side and could be hard to use for those who prefer short paddles.

Verdict:

There is no doubt that for the money, this is one of the best kayak paddles for touring and light rowing. The paddle is best for those who participate in kayaking purely for recreational and sightseeing. But if you are looking for adrenaline in rougher water, you should avoid this one.

2.SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle, 84”

While the Shoreline Marine is a heavier and sturdier paddle fitting for more rigorous rows, the SeaSense X-1 is a cheaper alternative – $22 – but certainly not anymore inferior than the previous one.

The paddle is 84” in length and clocks with a weight of 2 pounds, almost a quarter time lighter than the Shoreline Marine and would make a for a more comfortable experience. The weight reduction is attributed mostly to the design of the paddle itself: The shaft is made from Aluminium while the paddles are from lighter, strengthened plastic. This gives a more balanced center of mass on your body from the weight of the Aluminium shaft. And of course, the adjustable drip guards and rubber grips also contribute to the general comfortability.

The paddle is also relatively mobile and can be disassembled to three pieces for better carriage.

Pros:

  • An extremely budget paddle, but still holds itself just fine in the water.
  • Light, very light due to its design.
  • Comfortable to use.

Cons:

  • The plastic blades would demand from you more power and can get tiresome in a while.

Verdict:

I will not recommend having a lot of thrills with this paddle just like the latter. It can take on the water with much effectiveness as the Shoreline Marine. Just like the latter, you should not expect it to hold up against the white water.

But if you’re looking for a budget option, the SeaSense X-1 is the one to go for being the best kayak paddle for the price.

3.Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddle/Boat Oars, 1 Pair, 96”

While other two paddles could be utilized as separate oars for actually boat rowing, the Intex is specifically designed to take on both jobs at the same time. The Intex would hold immense value for people who would like to try both kayaking and rowing at the same time. Both held the same fun over the water.

The paddle comes extremely cheap – only for $20 – even though the price could raise some skeptical eyebrows of its quality, it lives up quite nicely to its price and more. The entire unit comes in a single, 96” piece and when broken up into two pieces could nicely act as rowing oars. One of the drawbacks of the Intex is its weight: Up to 4 pounds. This is due to its Aluminium design and also attributed more to the longer shaft and larger blades it needs to act as both a kayak paddle and boating oars.

Pros:

  • Further down the cost spectrum, this is as cheap as you could get for a quality paddle.
  • Sturdy and can act as a reliable spare paddle when needed.
  • Large blades’ surface, which makes them more effective in higher water.

Cons:

  • The connector between the breakpoint can be relatively weak.
  • Too short for some.

Verdict:

If you’re looking for a water multi-tool, this is the one for you. It can hold itself both in calm water, and when needed, a little bit rougher plays can still be tolerated. And for the price, it’s not a bad deal, either.

4.Leader Accessories Marine Aluminium Kayak Paddles 87-inch for Kayaking Boating

A paddle on the more expensive and well-craft side, if you’re looking to make an investment on this as a serious hobby, this is one you should take note of.

At $35, the 87” paddle comes in as much more expensive than the rest of the paddles we have listed, and for good reasons. Relatively lightweight for its size (2.7 pounds), it not only could be a great introductory paddle but also could please even some picky hobbyists. The paddle could be broken down into two pieces and stowed away to act as a backup paddle, should you wish. And if you want to paddle with style, the Leader Accessories Marine is also available in five different colors.

Pros:

  • Durable materials made a strong paddle.
  • Curved paddle blades allow for better movements and less exhaustion in the water.
  • Stylish in 5 colors.

Cons:

  • The blades do not have a large surface, nor they are stronger in comparison to other models in the market.
  • Too short for some.

Verdict:

This is one of the best kayak paddles in the intermediary price range. Whether it could hold up against the white water, that’s a lot of debate depends on the intensity. However, I would most recommend this paddle for flat water, instead.

5.Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle – Polypro Blades / Fibreglass Shaft

And finally, we come to the last, and also the best kayak paddle on the list: The Carlisle Magic Plus. The paddle is certainly not cheap depends on the size you are going for, from $80 for the 84” option and up to $190 for the 94.5” size.

But it makes up for performance, and it fits completely the price tag it is branded with. The paddle is only roughly 2.5 pounds for the 84” option; this is attributed mostly to the lightweight fiberglass design of the shaft and the polypropylene blades. The fiberglass can subtly flex with your paddle stroke to relieve stresses and make for a much more comfortable experience on the water. The construction of the blades also give way to much more possibilities: With this one, you can fully and proudly tackle the white water with confidence.

Pros:

  • Very sturdy and can bear the brunt of the harshest water.
  • Lighter and more efficient in the water than average paddles.
  • Comfortable grip that allows better handling.

Cons:

  • Heavier than most expensive paddles.

Verdict:

This is the final upgrade you’re going to need once you fall into that passionate love with kayaking, and it’s going to make money worthwhile with some amazing experiences on the water.

Summary

There are many types of kayaking paddles out there.. And it could be confusing to sort through everything for the best kayak paddles you could get that would fit your needs. We hope this small article has helped you somewhat with this problem.

Whatever you choose, we hope you the best with the sport and never to stop paddling!

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