10 Best Kayak Paddles in 2020: Buyers Guide

Some links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to learn more.

If you’re planning your next kayaking adventure, choosing the proper paddling gear will enhance your experience and ensure your safety on the water. The best kayak paddle is designed to let you paddle with ease and comfortably throughout your excursion. With many different paddle options and styles available on the market, choosing the best product for your needs can be overwhelming- but we’re here to help! 

Here at Seaside Planet we’re dedicated to supporting every adventurer’s needs, so we’ve created this guide to the 10 of the best paddles for kayaking and a simple guide breaking down the features to help you determine which is right for you. Keep reading to get one step closer to your next kayaking adventure!

Top 5 Comparison Chart

Carlisle Paddle Gear Magic Plus Kayak Paddle (Sunrise, 230 cm)
SeaSense 96 in X-TREME II Kayak Paddle-Black (008682)
Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece Snap-Button Recreational Kayak Paddle; (Aluminium Shaft/Black Blade - 230cm)
AIRHEAD Kayak Paddle, Deluxe 2 sect, 84", Curved Blade
Leader Accessories Marine Aluminum Kayak Paddles for Kayaking Boating, 87" L, Black
Carlisle Paddle Gear Magic Plus
SeaSense X-TREME II
Bending Branches Whisper Paddle
AIRHEAD Deluxe Paddle
Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle
2-Piece Snap Construction
2-Piece Construction
2-Piece Snap Construction
2-Piece Construction
2-Piece Construction
220cm / 230cm / 240cm / 250cm Length
213cm / 244cm Length
230cm Length
213cm Length
215cm / 220cm / 227.8cm / 215cm / 243 cm Length
1.3 / 2.5 Pounds
1.9 / 2.3 Pounds
2.3 Pounds
3 Pounds
2.4 / 2.6 Pounds
Wrapped Fiberglass Shaft
Aluminum Shaft
Aluminum Shaft
Aluminum Shaft
Aluminum, Carbon and Fiberglass Shaft
Glass Reinforced Polypropylene Asymmetrical Blades
Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Asymmetrical Blades
Polypropylene Nylon Asymmetrical Blades
ABS Curved Blades
Molded Plastic Asymmetrical Feathered Blades
Rubber Drip Rings
Ergonomic Foam Ruam Rubber Grips
Drip Rings and Comfort Grips
Drip Rings and Foam Hand Grips
Drip Rings and Grips
Push-Button 0-60 Degree Ferrule
3 Locking Positions
Push-Button 0-60 Degree Ferrule
Adjustable Standard and Offset Blade Angle
3 Locking Positions
Sunrise
Military Green / Red / Black
Black
Black and Red
Black / Blue / Orange / White / Green / Yellow
Carlisle Paddle Gear Magic Plus Kayak Paddle (Sunrise, 230 cm)
Carlisle Paddle Gear Magic Plus
2-Piece Snap Construction
220cm / 230cm / 240cm / 250cm Length
1.3 / 2.5 Pounds
Wrapped Fiberglass Shaft
Glass Reinforced Polypropylene Asymmetrical Blades
Rubber Drip Rings
Push-Button 0-60 Degree Ferrule
Sunrise
SeaSense 96 in X-TREME II Kayak Paddle-Black (008682)
SeaSense X-TREME II
2-Piece Construction
213cm / 244cm Length
1.9 / 2.3 Pounds
Aluminum Shaft
Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Asymmetrical Blades
Ergonomic Foam Ruam Rubber Grips
3 Locking Positions
Military Green / Red / Black
Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece Snap-Button Recreational Kayak Paddle; (Aluminium Shaft/Black Blade - 230cm)
Bending Branches Whisper Paddle
2-Piece Snap Construction
230cm Length
2.3 Pounds
Aluminum Shaft
Polypropylene Nylon Asymmetrical Blades
Drip Rings and Comfort Grips
Push-Button 0-60 Degree Ferrule
Black
AIRHEAD Kayak Paddle, Deluxe 2 sect, 84", Curved Blade
AIRHEAD Deluxe Paddle
2-Piece Construction
213cm Length
3 Pounds
Aluminum Shaft
ABS Curved Blades
Drip Rings and Foam Hand Grips
Adjustable Standard and Offset Blade Angle
Black and Red
Leader Accessories Marine Aluminum Kayak Paddles for Kayaking Boating, 87" L, Black
Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle
2-Piece Construction
215cm / 220cm / 227.8cm / 215cm / 243 cm Length
2.4 / 2.6 Pounds
Aluminum, Carbon and Fiberglass Shaft
Molded Plastic Asymmetrical Feathered Blades
Drip Rings and Grips
3 Locking Positions
Black / Blue / Orange / White / Green / Yellow

The 10 Best Kayak Paddles Reviewed

1. Carlisle Magic Plus

Carlisle Paddle Gear Magic Plus Kayak Paddle (Sunrise, 230 cm)

Review

The Carlisle Magic Plus kayak paddle is made of fiberglass, which makes the paddle lighter, while remaining durable and providing better performance. A lighter weight paddle will allow you to paddle longer without becoming fatigued, which is precisely what this paddle is made to do. Available in three different sizes and two colors to choose from, you’re able to choose the paddle that best suits your needs.  

The blades on this paddle are made of a glass filled polypropylene, outfitting you with a lightweight and durable paddle able to withstand your kayaking adventures on the ocean, river and more.  The design of the blade is asymmetrical to reduce torque and minimize wrist fatigue, ensuring your comfort while paddling throughout the day. They are also spooned shaped offering an efficient and smooth stroke to assist in propelling you through the water with ease.

PROS

  • Stiff Fiberglass Shaft for Better Performance
  • Durable and Functional Design
  • Paddle Separates for Easy Transport and Storage
  • Spooned Shaped Blades Provide an Efficient and Smooth Stroke
  • Lightweight and Minimize Wrist Fatigue

CONS

  • Heavier than Other Fiberglass Paddle Options
  • Larger Size May Not be Ideal for Small Hands

2. SeaSense X-Treme II

SeaSense 96 in X-TREME II Kayak Paddle-Black (008682)

Review

The SeaSense X-treme II is a budget friendly and affordable, entry level recreational kayak paddle that’s great for beginners and for use on calmer waters. While this construction isn’t designed for use in rough waters, it does provide a host of features that are great for calm water kayaking and for those novice to the sport. The paddle is easy to adjust to your needs and preferences, and it offers a locking mechanism to ensure things stay in place throughout the day. Featuring a lightweight aluminum shaft and fiberglass filled nylon paddle, this product is lightweight,  extremely durable, and reliable. 

This kayak paddle is an affordable, well constructed, paddle that offers quality features like adjustable drip guards and three locking positions. The support ridge on the shaft provides added strength, and the asymmetrical, two piece construction is easy to transport and to store. Additionally, the ergonomic foam rubber grips provide hand comfort while paddling, and prevents discomfort, blisters and more.

PROS

  • Curved Blade Design Improves Efficiency
  • Three Locking Positions for Feathering
  • Adjustable Drip Guards
  • Two-Piece Design is Easy to Transport and Store
  • Floating Paddle
  • Ergonomic Foam Rubber Grips

CONS

  • Aluminum Shaft is Temperature Sensitive
  • Hand Grips may Slide When Wet
  • Not Designed for Rough Waters

3. Bending Branches

Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece Snap-Button Recreational Kayak Paddle; (Aluminium Shaft/Black Blade - 230cm)

Review

The Bending Branches kayak paddle is an ideal paddle for anglers featuring a notch in the end of the paddle that helps to free fishing lines from snags. Additionally, there is a measuring tool built into the shaft, so you can measure your catch in both standard and metric units. Aside from this convenient feature, this paddle is also designed to withstand rugged environments like rapids or ocean waters, thanks for the polypropylene blade and durable shaft design.

The shaft on this product is made of carbon fiber, which gives it strength and durability. It’s engineered for a smooth pull-through paddling experience, using a functional blade shape and surface area. The blades are nylon with fiberglass reinforcement and are asymmetric, with a slight curve to give you extra power with each stroke. Additionally, the slip-resistant comfort grips and ovalized shaft are designed for ultimate hand comfort throughout the day. This two-piece adjustable construction paddle rests easy in your hands while paddling, and breaks down for convenient carrying and storage while you’re not.

PROS

  • Durable Polypropylene Blade and Carbon Fiber Shaft Construction
  • Available in a Variety of Lengths
  • Integrated Hook System on the Blade
  • Two-Piece Shaft Makes Transport and Storage a Breeze
  • Slip-Resistant Comfort Grips

CONS

  • Rubber Grips may Cause Blisters with Prolonged Use
  • Measurements on the Shaft Fade Over Time

4. AIRHEAD Kayak Paddle

AIRHEAD Kayak Paddle, Deluxe 2 sect, 84', Curved Blade

Review

The Airhead kayak paddle is convenient to transport and stow, as it breaks down into two sections  Blade angles are easily adjusted to fit personal preferences. This paddle is made of a durable aluminum, making it both lightweight and able to withstand rugged kayaking environments. Featuring drip rings and foam hand grips for comfort, and to ensure your paddle will float if dropped into the water, this product provides ultimate convenience on the water.

With a 7-foot long design, this two-piece paddle features curved blades for better performance while paddling. The adjustable blade angle is great for both standard and offset paddling, and the curved surface promotes greater efficiency in the water. Additionally, the lightweight and durable design is great for a variety of adventures, and suited to a variety of marine environments.

PROS

  • Adjustable Blade Angle
  • Two-Piece Paddle Construction for Easy Transport and Storing
  • Lightweight and Durable Aluminum Shaft
  • Includes Drip Rings and Foam Hand Grips
  • Floating Paddle

CONS

  • Some Reports of Difficulty Adjusting the Blades
  • May Not be Lengthy Enough for Taller Paddlers

5. Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle 

Leader Accessories Marine Aluminum Kayak Paddles for Kayaking Boating, 87' L, Black

Review

The Leader Accessories is made of aluminum making it a very durable and lightweight paddle with molded plastic blades. The paddle features three locking positions, engineered curved blades, and a push button connection, allowing you to break down the paddle making it easy to transport and stow. The Leader Accessories is available in five colors to suit your individual preferences, like black, white, yellow, orange, blue, green and green/white. Additionally, this paddle is available in your choice of five sizes to make sure you get the best fit possible for your frame.

Along with a quality and heavy-duty build, this carbon shaft paddle features a ring design which is designed to be water-resistant, preventing water from flowing down the shaft to your hands or into the kayak. Additionally, the molded plastic blades help reduce water resistance while paddling, and helps to pull water with more strength for enhanced propulsion in the water.

PROS

  • Adjustable and Three Lock Positions
  • Durable Two-Piece Aluminum Construction
  • Lightweight and Durable Design
  • Floating Paddle
  • Available in an Assortment of Colors and Sizes

CONS

  • May be Short for Taller Paddlers
  • Heavier in Weight than Other Options
  • Thicker Shaft isn’t Ideal for Everyone

6. SeaSense X -Treme 1

SeaSense X -TREME 1 KAYAK PADDLE BLACK 84IN (008680)

Review

The SeaSense X-Treme 1 paddle makes it easier to maneuver your kayak due to the unique symmetrical shape. It features a durable aluminum shaft, with blades constructed with molded plastic, making them strong and durable. This design also aids your paddling strength, to enhance your ability to move through the water. 

The symmetrical blade design is constructed to help create high angle strokes, making aggressive paddling much easier for propelling yourself forward in the water. While the aluminum construction of the paddle is ideal for durability reliability on your kayaking adventures, this feature will make the design heavier, which may cause fatigue on longer trips. To help offset any hand discomfort, especially on these longer excursions, this paddle has convenient foam grips for added comfort.

PROS

  • Lightweight and Durable Design
  • Two-Piece Constructions is Convenient to Transport and Stow
  • Three Feathering Positions
  • Comfort Foam Grips
  • Ideal for High Angle Strokes
  • Symmetrical Blade Design for Enhanced Propulsion

CONS

  • Hand Grips may Slide on the Shaft when Wet

7. Attwood 11768-2 Asymmetrical

attwood 11768-2 Asymmetrical 2-Piece Heavy-Duty Kayak Paddle with Comfort Grips 7-Feet

Review

The Attwood 11768-2 Asymmetrical kayak paddles are specially designed featuring irregular spoon paddles, which are constructed to increase stroke efficiency, as well as lower noise and blade flutter. Designed for enhancing your paddling while kayaking, this paddle is made to help you propel in the water and minimize water resistance. The paddle is constructed using heavy-duty aluminum for the shaft, and hard plastic for the blades. Additionally, the shaft is a two-piece design making it ideal for convenience while transporting and storing.  

Along with a convenient and durable design, this paddle also features drip rings which prevent water from sliding onto your grip while paddling. This added bonus is great for keeping a secure grip to your paddle, and to help to keep hands dry when you need it.

PROS

  • Two-Piece Construction is Convenient to Transport and Stow
  • Asymmetrical Spoon-Blade Design
  • Durable Aluminum Shaft and Plastic Blade
  • Comfort Drip Rings
  • Designed to Increase Stroke Efficiency

CONS

  • Construction is Heavier in Weight which isn’t Ideal for Longer Trips
  • Design may be Short for Taller Paddlers
  • Paddle Handle Could have More Comfort and Grip

8. Carlisle Day Tripper

Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Kayak Paddle - 2 Piece

Review

The Carlisle Day Tripper is an asymmetrical design with polypropylene blades that create a smooth and efficient stroke through the water. Constructed using a lightweight anodized tempered aluminum shaft, feathered blades and a two piece construction, this paddle allows you to break it down for easy transportation and storage. Additionally, the oval design of the shaft is great for quick hand placement and a firm grip. 

The breakdown of this paddle is simple using the push-button takedown to feather the blades at 60 degrees or inline for right or left hand comfort. This paddle comes in a minimal and appealing silver and black design, and it measures 220 cm long but is also available in 230 and 240 cm sizes.

PROS

  • Durable and Lightweight Design
  • Two-Piece Construction is Convenient to Transport and Stow
  • Asymmetrical Design for Stroke Efficiency
  • Available in You Choice of Three Sizes
  • Push-Button Takedown to Feather Blades
  • Convenient Drip Rings

CONS

  • Lacks Hand Grips
  • Non-Floating Design
  • Drip Catchers may Slide when Wet

9. Werner Camano Premium 

Werner Camano Fiberglass 2-Piece Paddle - Straight Shaft Red, 220cm

Review

The Werner Camano kayak paddle has a lightweight shaft with a quality blade design making for smooth and efficient strokes through the water. The blades are constructed of laminated fiberglass for high performance, and the shaft is made of a durable and light in weight carbon blend material. The adjustment system for blade angles on this paddle is easy to use, and it feels secure while you transport your vessel through the water. The paddle is very durable and heavy-duty to ensure it’s ideal for those looking for a high performance paddle that creates extra power and strength. 

The overall length of this paddle is 220-260 cm, with a blade length of 52 cm and width of 16.5 cm. It weighs just under 28 ounces, and the low-angle mid-sized blade design provides great performance for paddlers who want gentle power while touring. Additionally, the lower swing weight of this paddle will help keep you on the water longer by reducing hand fatigue and discomfort, allowing you to make the most of your adventure no matter your kayaking skill level.

PROS

  • Lightweight and Ideal for Long Distance Touring
  • Features a Secure Locking Mechanism
  • Secure Adjustment System for Paddle Blades
  • Low-Angle Mid-Sized Blade for Ultimate Performance
  • Laminated Fiberglass Blade and Carbon Fiber Blend Shaft
  • Convenient Drip Rings

CONS

  • Fiberglass Blade Requires Additional Care
  • More Cost Intensive
  • Lacks Comfort Grips

10. Aqua Bound Sting Ray 

AQUA BOUND Sting Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle, Black CR Blade/Posi-Lok Carbon Shaft, 220 cm

Review

The Aqua Bound Sting Ray kayak paddle has a carbon fiber shaft and a strong and durable carbon reinforced nylon resin blade. This is an extremely lightweight paddle, ideal for longer kayaking trips and performance paddling. The paddle features two piece construction, which is great for breakdown, transport and storing. Additionally, it includes drip pads, and comes in your choice of five different lengths to choose from. You also have your choice between two colors to suit your aesthetic preference. 

This kayaking paddle is hand-built in Wisconsin by a company of paddling enthusiasts to ensure it’s up to par for your adventure. For maximum comfort on the water, the paddle shaft design is ovalized to provide comfort throughout the day and to reduce discomfort and hand fatigue. Additionally, the drip rings help to prevent water from making it down the shaft and onto hands or into your kayak.

PROS

  • Lightweight and Durable Design
  • Comfortable Ovalized Shaft Reduces Hand Fatigue
  • Durable and Reinforced Blades
  • 4-Piece Collapsible Design
  • Drip Rings Included
  • Hand-Built by Paddling Enthusiasts

CONS

  • Lacks Hand Grips
  • More Cost Intensive
  • A bit Heavier in Design than Other Options

Choosing the Best Paddle for Kayaking: Buyer’s Guide

Determining which kayak paddle will best suit you will take a little more effort than simply walking into a store and picking a paddle. There are several factors that should be considered, so the following is provided as a guide to begin your search: 

Choosing a Type of Kayak Paddle

There are four general types of kayak paddles that vary in design and construction for the intended use:

  • Recreational Kayak Paddles: These paddles tend to be on the heavier side, durable and are typically less expensive. Due to the increased weight they are usually used on shorter trips and are commonly used by anglers.
  • Touring Kayak Paddles: Usually a very lightweight, ergonomic designed paddle that is durable. As the name implies, they are usually used for touring, or long trips on a lake, river, or for kayaking on the ocean. There are a variety of options and styles to choose from to meet your personal tastes and needs.
  • Performance Kayak Paddles: Usually ultra light and very durable, with advanced features built for those individuals needing a high performance (speed and power) paddle.  
  • Whitewater Kayak Paddles: This paddle is designed and constructed with a focus on durability. Due to the conditions they are used in they are able to withstand unseen underwater hazards such as boulders or rocks. Additionally, they are made to provide efficient maneuvering to manage strong currents and tight areas.

Paddle Length

A primary consideration when choosing a paddle is the length. Two factors impacting the length of paddle you will need are the width of your kayak and your height. Kayak and paddle manufacturers have developed sizing charts you can access online to make choosing the right paddle length easier.  

Some additional factors to consider include the following: 

  • The wider the kayak, the longer the paddle you’ll need; 
  • Longer paddles require more effort; 
  • Shorter paddles allow a quicker stroke; 
  • Shorter paddles are usually generally lighter;
  • Kayaks under 9 feet long you can use a shorter paddle;
  • And kayaks longer than 12 feet you should choose a longer paddle.

Type of Blades

Materials

The materials a kayak paddle is made from will impact the weight and balance of the paddle, both important considerations. The following are the primary materials paddle blades are constructed from:

  • Fiberglass: Lightweight, very durable, and a variety of styles and colors. Often used by recreational and touring kayakers.
  • Carbon Fiber: Typically are more expensive and the choice of kayakers looking for a high-performance paddle.
  • Nylon/Aluminum/Plastic: Extremely durable, require little overall maintenance, and are generally the least expensive option. Typically the choice of recreational or individuals new to kayaking.

Design

The paddle blades are designed with a variety of shapes and widths. The choice you make will be dependent on your type of kayaking adventures and intended uses. The following are some considerations:

  • Wider blades are approximately 6 to 8 inches in width and designed for speed and power. There is increased strain on your shoulders, back and wrists.
  • Narrow blades are approximately 5 inches or less, offer less power and designed for touring and longer trips where endurance and fatigue are factors.
  • Asymmetrical and dihedral blades are constructed for efficiency, power and reduced side-to-side twisting.
  • Scooped blades are used for professional and experienced kayakers who have a need for more maneuverability, power and speed.  
  • Feathered or Unfeathered

    The blades come in either an unfeathered or feathered design.  Unfeathered blades are positioned in a parallel line with each other. Feathered blades are at offset angles to each other.  

    Feathered blades are designed with the intention of reducing fatigue. As you stroke with one blade in the water, the opposite blade is angled to reduce wind resistance as it cuts through the air.  

    One-Piece or Two-Piece Paddle

    Paddle designs typically come in either a single or two-piece design. Paddles that can be broken down into a smaller configuration makes it easier to transport and store. You will want to consider the quality of design and construction however, as any extra joint makes the potential for breaking or a less stable paddle more likely. You will need to consider these factors when making your decision.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I determine what length of paddle I need?

    The factors you will need to consider are your height, the width of your kayak, whether your kayak is a sit-in or sit-on-top design, and your intended uses. Kayak and paddle manufacturers have developed sizing charts, you can access online, to make choosing the right paddle length easier. 

    A quick assessment of the best length or paddle for you is to simply hold the paddle vertically, with one paddle blade on the ground. Holding the paddle, raise one arm to reach the top of the paddle. If your fingers can cup over the blade, you have a paddle that will likely be a good fit for you. Again, refer to the sizing charts available from the manufactures before making a final decision.

    Can a Kayak Paddle be Extended?

    If you have a two-piece or four-piece paddle then the answer is yes. There are a variety of products available that will allow you to extend the length of your paddle. This will require adding an extension piece to the middle portion of your paddle.

    If your paddle is a solid one-piece shaft that does not come apart the task of extending the paddle is much more difficult and probably not advisable.  

    What maintenance is required for a kayak paddle?

    To ensure the longevity and performance level of your paddle some regular maintenance is wise. The first thing to incorporate into your practice is to not use or at the very least be cautious using your paddle blade to push off the shore.  Blade construction varies with some that will easily crack or break. You do not want to find yourself a long way from your exit point with a broken or cracked paddle.  

    After each outing, you should rinse your paddle off with clean, fresh water. Wipe it clean and store in a dry, shaded area to extend the life of your paddle and the quality of its performance.  You may also want to consider spraying any connections on the paddle shaft with a silicone lubricant. 

    Final Thoughts

    It’s an amazing and exhilarating experience to be out on the water in your kayak enjoying all that nature has to offer. However, your kayak outing can quickly become a labor intense and exhausting experience if you have the wrong, low-quality or a damaged paddle. Use this buyer’s guide and paddle recommendations to help you choose the best paddle for your next adventure, and help get you one step closer to hitting the water!

    Are you looking for more kayaking guides and gear reviews? We’re here to help! Check out the following related articles in the Seaside Planet blog to meet all your paddling needs:

    Additionally, if this guide has helped get you one step closer to your next kayaking adventure, we would love to hear about it! Share it with us in the comment section below.

    10 Best Kayak Paddles in 2020: Buyers Guide

    Leave a Comment

    235 Shares
    Share
    Tweet
    Pin235