Best Kayak Paddles: 2020 Top Picks and Buying Guide

12/20/2019

Paddling is one of the most important things you need to learn in kayaking. Doing it right will help you to get from one point to another. Aside from mastery of the right techniques, you should also invest in the best kayak paddles.

The best paddles are designed for your highest level of comfort. It should be lightweight. An ergonomic design is also a must-have, making it easy to grip. From the length to the materials, there are several factors to consider when deciding which one is best to buy.

Clueless about the best kayak paddles to purchase? Keep on reading and learn from our recommendations.

Our Top Picks for the Best Kayak Paddles

You might end up being overwhelmed with the long list of options available on the market. Do not take this as an excuse to choose just any paddle. This section lists down some of our top recommendations.

1. SeaSense Kayak Paddle

SeaSense Kayak Paddle

If you are looking for a budget-friendly alternative, this is one product that should be on your radar. It is made by a brand that has been in the market since 1984, so you can be confident about its quality.

With the feather-blade design and the two-piece construction, you can expect it to deliver exceptional performance. Not to mention, the blade is made of fiberglass-filled nylon. It also has ergonomic foam handles, which will make it effortless and comfortable to grip.

For versatility, users can choose from three locking positions. This is easy to adjust depending on individual requirements.

Lastly, the paddle’s length is 96 inches. This is quite longer than standard models and may interfere if you have set-up a fishing line.

Pros:

  • Has a good grip
  • Comes with a reinforcement for better durability
  • Offers three locking positions

Cons:

  • Drip guards can be quite tricky to adjust
  • Can be too long and might interfere with your fishing lines

Overall

This budget-friendly kayak paddle is made of a durable material while keeping the weight at a minimum, making it hard to match when it comes to its portability.

2. Bending Branches Whisper 2-piece Snap Button Recreational Kayak Paddle

BENDING BRANCHES Whisper 2-Piece Snap-Button Recreational Kayak Paddle

With the two-piece construction of this kayak paddle, it is a great option if you are looking for portability. The shaft is made of high-strength aluminum. This is a material known for its durability while also being lightweight, so it won’t be a problem transporting the paddle.

While it is designed as an entry-level kayak paddle, the manufacturer claims that this is good for all levels. When used, this will be effective in making your strokes flutter-free.

The blades of the paddle are fiberglass-reinforced. This allows you to paddle smoothly without getting easily tired. It is also coated with an all-around grip, which will contribute to your comfort.

Lastly, you will also love how it is completely made in the USA. Best of all, it is manufactured by a company that has been operating since 1982.

Pros:

  • Made using lightweight materials
  • Provides a perfect combination of durability and weight
  • 100% made in the USA

Cons:

  • Hand grips may easily get hot upon sun exposure
  • Blades are not designed for kayaking in shallow water

Overall

With fiberglass-reinforced blades and aluminum shaft, this kayak will help in making you paddle smoothly without easily getting tired.

3. Aqua Bound Manta Ray Carbon 2-piece Kayak Paddle

AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle

For those who are looking for the perfect option for high-angle paddlers, this is one option that should not be ignored.

There are two versions of this product. One comes with a Posi-Lok ferrule system. It clicks and locks automatically to connect the two parts of the paddle. The other option has a snap button ferrule.

We also love how the paddle is made using a top-notch material that is hard to match in terms of durability. The blades are made of carbon-reinforced injection molded nylon, which is way better than most plastic blades. It also has 20% more power per stroke.

The shaft of the paddle, on the other hand, is made of a lightweight carbon fiber. It has a lightweight construction, which is great in terms of preventing fatigue. It is stiff and strong for the best power transfer. To add, the shaft has a ribbed texture, making it easy to hold even if your hands are wet.

Lastly, these paddles are handcrafted in Wisconsin. As the manufacturer claims, it is made by paddlers and for paddlers.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Made using sturdy materials
  • Offers multiple adjustments

Cons:

  • Water can get trapped in the shaft
  • Can cause blisters

Overall

Delivering more power per stroke compared to most of its competitors, this perfect choice for high-energy and high-angle paddlers.

4. Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle

Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle

The steep price can easily discourage most people to choose this product, but that should not be the case. Every dollar will be worth it given its premium construction and superior performance.

Among others, one of the best things about this kayak paddle is the fiberglass blade. It has great swing weight and balance, especially for low-angle paddling.

The 2-piece design is also a plus, which allows the kayak paddle to be portable. You can easily break it down into two pieces and conveniently bring it in your kayaking trips.

If you are looking for versatility, you have another good reason to love this paddle as it comes with an adjustable ferrule system. You can change the angle at increments of 15 degrees from 0 to 60 degrees.

The asymmetrical shape of the blade is also a good thing. This is effective in the reduction of torque, allowing you to paddle with enough power without the need to grip the shaft firmly.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Comes with a secure locking mechanism
  • Equipped with high-performing blades

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to most of its competitors
  • The lock can get sticky after a while

Overall

This mid-sized kayak paddle is perfect for low-angle paddling. It features an adjustable ferrule system, a two-piece design, and a high-quality fiberglass blade.

5. Crooked Creek C11390 Tournament Angler Fishing Kayak Paddle

Crooked Creek C11390 Tournament Angler Fishing Kayak Paddle - 9'

This is one of the most affordable from the paddles that are listed in this buying guide, making it a great option for those who are looking for budget-friendly alternatives. Despite being economical, it is packed with features that won’t compromise its overall performance.

The paddle comes with poly-fiber composite dihedral blade. The blades also have reinforcements for added durability. It also has a fiberglass shaft with laser engravings for the measurement scale.

You will also like this paddle because of its versatility. You can adjust the blade in three positions. There is a push-button feather setting that allows you to do this.

The convenient two-piece design is also a plus. This makes the paddle space-efficient and portable.

This paddle is designed with the needs of fishing enthusiasts in mind. It has a weedless line/lure retrieval slot.

Pros:

  • Features a strategically positioned dock hook
  • Offers multiple blade adjustments
  • Provides excellent value for money

Cons:

  • Adjusting the blade can require some work
  • Some people find the blade to be quite small

Overall

For serious anglers looking for an affordable kayak paddle, this is a great option. This two-piece paddle has a poly-fiber composite blade and fiberglass shaft.

Choosing the Right Kayak Paddle

The options are plenty, but this should not be a reason for you to decide in haste. To find a kayak paddle that is suitable for your needs and preferences, below are the most important factors to consider.

Length 

One of the first things that you have to consider is the length of the kayak paddle, which should be proportionate for the height of the user. This will also depend on your boat. If the kayak is wider, you will need a longer paddle.

For users who are under 5’4”, the best kayak paddles are those that are anywhere from 215 to 220 centimeters. On the other hand, if your height is from 5’4” to 6’, a paddle with a length of 220 to 230 centimeters is recommended. If you are more than 6’, choose paddles that are 230 to 250 centimeters. As mentioned earlier, you also have to figure out the size of the boat to help you decide.

Blade

This is one of the most important parts of the kayak paddle, making it a crucial consideration. There are two types of blades – symmetrical and asymmetrical. If the blade is symmetrical, this means that the top and the bottom have the same shapes. It is a popular option for beginners as it delivers the same performance regardless of where you hold it. An asymmetrical blade, on the other hand, has a longer top edge compared to the bottom. This is a popular option amongst experienced paddlers because of the greater surface area, which will be crucial in improving efficiency when you paddle.

Consider the different blade materials. From the products mentioned earlier, the most popular is fiberglass. It is known for being durable and efficient. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, there are blades made of nylon and plastic. If you want the lightest blade, go for carbon fiber. There are also some paddles made of wood. It is quite demanding in terms of maintenance. It can also be quite heavy, which makes it not as popular as the materials previously mentioned.

When you look at the description of the blades of kayak paddles, one word that you will often encounter is dihedral. This means that there are two power faces. This design feature is great in terms of minimizing vibration or flutter, making it instrumental of your comfort.

Shaft

The shaft is another critical component. This is the part that connects the two blades. This is where you hold the paddle. If it is poorly designed, you won’t be able to grip the paddle properly, and this can negatively affect your performance.

Aluminum is a common material for the shaft of budget-friendly paddles. While the material is durable, it can easily get hot or cold depending on the environmental conditions. If you want a material that is lighter and more durable compared to aluminum, choose paddles with carbon and fiberglass shaft. They are less sensitive to temperature.

You also have to consider the diameter of the paddle. Pick one with just the right size for your wrist. It should also have an ergonomic shape and a strong grip so that you can hold it properly when kayaking.

There are two basic types of shafts on kayak paddles – straight or bent. Most of the options will have a straight shaft. Bent-shaft paddles, on the other hand, are known for being easier to hold and more comfortable because of its shape.

The feathering of the blade is also an important factor. You can choose from feathered or matched. When the blades are matched, this means that they are aligned. When the blades are feathered, on the other hand, they are not on the same plane. This is also beneficial in terms of reducing wind resistance.

Portability

It is important that you choose lightweight and compact kayak paddles that will be easy to bring with you on your adventures. Choose either two or four-piece paddles. This means that you can break them down into two to four pieces during transport. This will also come handy when you have to take the paddles with you on a plane.

There are also one-piece paddles, which is the best option if you are into whitewater kayaking. It has a solid design, but the biggest problem is that it is difficult to travel with this kind of kayak.

Conclusion

So, from the top options for the best kayak paddles above, which one can provide the best bang for the buck? This is a tough question to answer. If you will ask for our opinion, however, we will pick the SeaSense Kayak Paddle. We love how it uses lightweight but durable materials. It delivers excellent performance while making you comfortable.

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