While enjoying a ride out on the water in a kayak can be fun, it can prove to be a real chore if you don’t have the right paddle. It is a necessity to have a paddle that is easy to control and provides you with a structure that can handle your movements in the water with ease. The best kayak paddles for the money should be ones that you can handle quite well.
The problem is that there are so many paddles on the market that you could lose track of what makes them different from one another. This guide includes information on some of the top paddles that you can use today as well as points on what to find when getting a useful paddle ready.
The best part of these paddles is that they are all affordable. The values for these paddles are all varied, but they are choices that should do well for when you are aiming to move along in the water.
Quick Answer: The Best Kayak Paddle
Our top pick for the quick answer section is, Carlisle Magic Plus is the best kayak paddle. Of course, it depends on each person and the different needs and uses. We have selected a list of top ten. After that, we will review some great paddles for Whitewater and for kids and youth as well.
Comparison Of The Best Kayak Paddles
|Kayak Paddle||Length (in inches; measurement based on maximum length for adjustable models)||Special Features||Check Price On Amazon|
|Shoreline Marine Paddle 96”||96||Aluminum shaft||Check Price On Amazon|
|SeaSense X-Treme 1||84||Adjustable drip guards||Check Price On Amazon|
|SeaSense Kayak Paddle||84 or 96||Three locking positions||Check Price On Amazon|
|Carlisle Day Tripper||Available in three sizes from 86 to 95 inches||Offers oval sections for keeping hands secure||Check Price On Amazon|
|Carlisle Magic Plus||Three sizes from 86 to 95 inches||Glass-filled plastic blades||Check Price On Amazon|
|Werner Desperado Whitewater Kayak Paddle||75 to 78 Inches Approximately||Carbon blades, fiberglass 1-piece shaft||Check Price On Amazon|
|Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddle||96||Can be taken apart and used on the sides of the kayak||Check Price On Amazon|
|Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Kayak Paddle||72||Designed with kids in mind||Check Price On Amazon|
|Airhead AHTK-P2||84||Easy to adjust the feathering||Check Price On Amazon|
|Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly||In three sizes from 86 to 95 inches||Reinforced blades will not bend quickly||Check Price On Amazon|
|Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddles and Inflatable Boat Oars||96 (can be split into two 48-inch oars)||Easy to take down and put back together||Check Price On Amazon|
10 Best Kayak Paddles Reviews With Details
Shoreline Marine Paddle 96”
The first of the best kayak paddles for the money to buy is this Shoreline Marine product. This offers a 96-inch length and a three-position system to help you adjust the paddle based on your ability to use it. This lets you adjust the shaft to move it in or out as you see fit. This is ideal for people of various sizes, but it still works best for adults as it might be too long for a child to use even when at its shortest setting.
Drip guards are included to deflect water appropriately after you take the paddle out of the water with each stroke. The blades are made with strong contours that will cut through the water and prevent drag. The water can move evenly over the blades as well, thus keeping them from bogging you down during your ride.
The aluminum shaft keeps the paddle a little less than two pounds in weight. The foam handles keep your hands comfortable while you are using it as well. The aluminum surface also resists corrosion and will last for years to come.
- Easy to move into different positions
- Soft to the touch
- Moves through the water quickly
- Blades might come apart if the water conditions are too rough
SeaSense X-Treme 1
The two-piece construction on this SeaSense paddle ensures the unit is light in weight. This is less than two pounds in weight even with an 84-inch length. The aluminum surface produces a simple design that allows the paddle to float in the water. You can always take it apart for storage purposes when you are not using it.
The drip guards can be adjusted quickly. They can move up onto the blades and then down again depending on how intense the water is.
- Easy to grip onto
- Will not slip out of your hands easily
- Drip guards do not cover water as well as solid cone-shaped guards
- Tough to take apart and put together
SeaSense The Best Recreational Kayak Paddle
Available in 84 and 96-inch lengths, this SeaSense paddle comes in blue and orange colors. The drip guards are made with ring-like bodies that can be adjusted up and down to your comfort.
Three locking positions are included on this kayak paddle to let you adjust its length as needed. These positions are secured with sturdy locks that keep each length in place without you worrying about it collapsing while you are using it.
- Weighs a little less than a pound
- The aluminum shaft provides an even weight all around
- Easy to lock into different lengths to create an even size along with the entire paddle
- Plastic blades may wear out fast
- The drag that is produced can be too intense
Carlisle Day Tripper
This is a two-piece model that is made with a polypropylene blade with a light shaft added to its layout. A push-button feature is used here to adjust the paddle blades to move at different degrees.
You can adjust the positioning of the paddles for your left or right-handed usage needs. You can also use the push button to separate each part from one another, thus making it easier for you to store the paddle when you are not using it.
- Weighs around two pounds
- Easy to adjust the design
- Contours on the paddles allow you to move through the water well
- Although there are three sizes, there isn’t much of a difference between them
Carlisle Magic Plus
This is a very popular paddle thanks to its fiberglass shaft. This adds a light design that keeps the paddle just a shade under two pounds in weight. The blades are made with glass-filled polypropylene material. The glass materials add a slightly rigid surface to keep you from bearing with lots of drag.
The smooth strokes on this come thanks to the shapes of the blades. This adds a more comfortable layout that is not hard to use. More importantly, the curve allows the water to move along well while keeping you from having to favor one half of the paddle when using it.
- Does not produce lots of stress as you paddle
- The distinct curve on the blades creates a fine motion in the water that cuts through evenly
- Not much to get out of drip guards
- Not easy to adjust or take apart as needed
Werner Desperado Carbon the Best Whitewater Kayak Paddle
If you are looking for whitewater or river kayaking, this is going to be your paddle. The asymmetrical blades are made from carbon fiber and nylon. The fiberglass bomber shaft (1-piece) makes it relatively light-weight.
The advanced design and technology permit to paddle with great balance and smoothness.
- Awesome whitewater paddle for the price
- Not heavy
- Available in different sizes (191 to 200 cm)
- The manufacturer offers one year warranty
- Easy to use
- The size of a 1-piece paddle can always be a problem.
Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddle
This 96-inch paddle is another option that can be taken apart with the two halves affixed to the sides of your kayak if desired. This is ideal for a standard rowing motion, but you would have to watch for how the paddle halves are affixed to the sides.
You might have to get some added anchors to the sides just to get those paddle halves supported. You would also have to keep the blades positioned to where they can move through the water and produce a good propelling motion without favoring one side. But when applied right, it adds a special body you are bound to love using. You can also use just one oar for light paddling or for simply turning the kayak around in one direction.
The ribbed blades are light in weight while the aluminum shaft keeps the paddle strong without adding lots of bulk. The drip rings also keep water from splashing around, but they work best after you adjust them accordingly to fit your demands.
- Easy to take apart the paddle and to put it back together
- Grooves on the blades add a nice touch
- It may be a challenge to get the two halves attached to the sides of your kayak
Werner Camano Premium Fiberglass Best Kayak Fishing Paddle
Werner is one of the most reliable kayak paddle makers. They make different types of quality paddles. This beautiful lightweight kayak shaft is made from carbon. The fiberglass blade is simply exceptional in design. These medium blades help to pass more time on the water without being tired.
This paddle suits a beginner to an expert.
- The design is great for fishing
- Available in different colors and sizes
- It performs smooth and efficient strokes with very less swing
- 2 piece design makes it easy to pack and carry.
- Not good for racing at a very high speed.
This next choice is a two-piece paddle with an 84-inch length. It features curved blades while the straight shaft comes with a series of pads for your comfort. Those pads also make it easier for you to keep a grip on your paddle.
It is ideal for newcomers who are not used to how well a paddle can work, but it can still be suitable for kayaking veterans.
The blades have curves on them to keep a good design where they can move through the water well. You can also adjust the feathering to your liking by working to curve each of the two blades. This can work well for left or right-handed users and should not be complicated to get a hold on.
- Simple designs for use
- Breaks off well for storage needs
- Soft pads on the handle add a nice touch
- Drip rings do not work as well as larger guards
Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly| Best Beginners Kayak Paddle
This option is less than two pounds in weight and has a polypropylene blade surface. It uses an aluminum shaft with a slight tempered surface added to it. This adds a good layout for handling the motion that you go through and should not be too hard to work with.
This is available in a light blue or orange-yellow color. The alignment positioning can be changed on this paddle to better suit your hands and to keep a firm grip moving. This should be strong enough for most users, but this model can work exceptionally well for newcomers to the field of kayaking.
- The bent shaft allows for a bit of flexing in the wrist for it to work
- Blades are reinforced to keep them from bending while in the water
- The shaft can feel rough at times
- It can be easy for the feathering to become improperly aligned depending on the water
Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddles and Inflatable Boat Oars
The last of the paddles for the money is this set that comes with two different layouts. You can start by using this set as a single 96-inch paddle. You could also take it apart to have two 48-inch oars for lighter paddling needs. But whatever you choose, you will get this to work with a lightweight aluminum shaft that will not bog you down while using it.
The blades have ribbed surfaces to move through the water and to give you a more consistent sense of control. A retainer ring is also added to keep the oars in place while you use the one-piece layout on this. The ring offers a sturdy connection to lock everything up together so the oars will not come apart.
- Simple assembly and takedown
- Weight is balanced evenly between both halves
- Blades will stay intact while in the water and will not crack easily
- Rings are far off from the blades
- Shaft doesn’t have much of a surface to it
Best Kayak Paddles For Youth And Kids
Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle
Available in black and yellow colors, this Lifetime paddle is made with youth needs in mind. It is 72 inches in length, thus making it suitable for a quality setup.
It only weighs about 1.7 pounds thanks to the sturdy aluminum shaft. You can also use the push-button feature to adjust the feather positions on the paddle to 60 or 90 degrees. The blades also have convenient curves to create a better design.
- Comes with a comfortable grip
- Weight is balanced evenly
- Plastic blades can crack easily
Carlisle Kids Saber Kayak Paddle
It’s a great kayak for kids as it creates good power without punishing the muscles. It is lightweight and 75 inches in length. This comfortable touring kayak paddle has a suitable and warm grip for the children. This paddle is for the kids of 8 to 13 years old.
- Comfortable with its grip, weight, and length
- The smaller polyethylene blades produce sufficient power without harming the muscles
- Available in different colors
- The size may not fit some kids.
Hardcore Water Sports Kids Kayak Paddle
This kayak paddle is for the 4 to 10 years old kids. It’s a very lightweight (1’3 lbs.) paddle with ribbed blades. For those who want to learn to paddle, this is the perfect paddle for them.
The youth and adults can use this paddle for tubing also.
- Lightweight and small in size (60 inches assembled)
- Easy to adjust and open
- The size may not fit all the kids.
Seaflo Kids PVC Shaft Kayak Paddle
There are not too many options for the kid’s kayak paddles. Seaflo makes this PVC shaft kayak paddle for the kids. The 50 inches long paddle is only 0’9 Lbs. The blades are curved and efficient in action.
- Good for very small kids
- Easy to pack and transport
- The design makes it work well
- This paddle is only for small kids
Advanced Elements Pack Kayak Paddle
This 4-part super light kayak paddle offers great portability. This is only 1’6 Lbs. You can manipulate the size and weight according to your needs. The younger people can use it perfectly.
- Only one middle part can be added to the 2 blades for a smaller size
- Easy to pack and very much portable
- The blades are fixed.
Types of Kayak Paddles
1. Wing Paddles
These paddle blades have a mixed shape. They are like spoons but longer in size like airfoil shape. The wing paddles are good for generating speed in a straightway. They work great in lakes, rivers or on flat waters.
2. Greenland Paddles
Greenland paddle was invented by the people of Greenland. These paddles are normally made of wood. A piece of wood is given shape to have two long and narrow blades.
The blades are usually 2/3 inches wide. But, it is proven that they work efficiently. They are easy to control as we can hold at any point in the shaft. They work well for forwarding strokes and sweep strokes.
The Greenland paddles can be a bit heavier.
3. Euro Paddles
The blades of euro paddles are different. It has a shaft and the blades could be different from each other.
These blades could be flat or bent. There are many variations among the euro paddle blades. Some are spoon-shaped and some are not.
Euro paddles can generate very high speed and at the same time offers great control. They work great for whitewater kayaking and on the rough waters. The difference between Greenland paddles and euro paddles are not so big. But, I love euro paddles.
4. Aleut Paddle
Aleut paddles are one-piece long and narrow paddles too. The front and the back of these paddles are not the same.
To give more strength to the paddle the front side is ridged. This particular side sometimes has a long groove. The back of these paddles is normally made straight. These paddles are good for long-distance tours. They handle choppy waters as well.
You can use this guide to get a clear idea of what to expect out of kayak paddles so you can find something that fits in perfectly with your needs while on the water. This includes knowing how to tell what size your kayak paddle should be before you get out on the water.
You need a paddle that comes with several features:
- It needs to be easy for you to hold onto without bothering your hands or putting you at risk of losing control.
- It should also be light in weight.
- The paddle has to be sturdy enough to last for your entire trip.
- You should not struggle with trying to paddle your kayak.
- The length should fit your body well enough. Anything that can be adjusted helps too.
You must look at how well you can get a kayak paddle to work for you. Several points should be used when you are trying to find the top kayak paddle for the money.
Analyze the Length and If You Can Adjust It
The length of the kayak is vital for you to consider. You need a kayak that you can handle to get into the water and to produce the best possible strokes. You will need to choose a kayak based on your size and the width of your kayak. Refer to the FAQ section in this guide for additional information on how to choose the right length for you.
Also, some kayak paddles let you adjust their lengths. You can use a series of poles or fasteners in some models to move the shaft inward or outward. You would have to review the maximum and minimum lengths of your paddle to see how well it can work for you. Also, some paddles come with locking features that secure the paddle in a certain position.
The locks on a paddle should be secure and will not cause you to lose control of it. This should give you extra help with keeping it active and functional.
What Is the Blade Made Of?
The blades on your kayak paddle have to be made with an appropriate surface. The materials on a kayak blade have to be solid and stiff enough to keep you from bearing with lots of drag, but they should also be light in weight. But remember that while some options might be cheaper than others, you could be sacrificing quality depending on what you get.
There are four types of blades you can find:
Plastic blades are cheaper to get thanks to how easy it is to get the materials needed to make them. A plastic blade will feature a light-weight and is flexible enough to handle different water conditions. However, a flexible blade might add an extra bit of pressure or drag on your stroke, thus keeping it from being useful. Also, plastic materials can crack at times. They can also wear out quickly if they are exposed to the sun’s rays.
Nylon has many of the same features as plastic, but nylon might not be at risk of cracking that much or warping while in the sun. But nylon can still be flexible enough to produce too much drag in the water.
Fiberglass is popular for being sturdy and lighter in weight than plastic and nylon. Fiberglass is rigid and tough and will not crack apart. A blade might chip after a while though.
- Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber is considered to be the best possible material to use for your needs. Carbon fiber is popular for being light in weight and for being much more durable than most other models. It is also very stiff. But be advised that carbon fiber is very expensive.
What Is the Shaft Made Of?
You will more than likely find aluminum in your shaft. Aluminum is popular for being an affordable and recyclable metal. It stays strong and will not bend or break apart easily. However, you would have to watch for how you store the paddle as it can get very hot or cold depending on the weather conditions you keep it in.
You can also find some carbon or fiberglass shafts. These are much stronger and lighter in weight, but they also cost more to get. These are not as commonplace as aluminum materials either.
There are also some plastic shaft paddles, but those are not as common anymore due to concerns about plastic materials breaking apart and keeping a paddle from lasting long.
How Is the Shaft Laid Out?
Most shafts are made with straight bodies, but some of the best kayak paddles for the money come with slight bends to help anyone keep one’s hands on the paddle. Others might have pads that add a bit of extra comfort plus guide the user towards keeping one’s hands on a certain part of the shaft.
Any ring guards or knobs among other locking or support items should be pushed far apart from one another. This ensures that you don’t try to handle the paddle with your arms too far apart from one another.
Sometimes a shaft might include a connecting spot in the middle, particularly for when you have something that might be easy to take apart. The spot should have a locking feature that keeps both parts from coming apart prematurely.
Look At How the Blade Appears
The way how your blade is laid out on your paddle is important to explore. A blade should come with an asymmetrical look. This means that the blade is narrow on one side and wide on the other. This creates a better angle when the blade goes underwater. It also keeps the surface area of the blade consistent as you use it.
You may also notice a slight rib in the middle part of a blade. This lets the water move evenly over both halves of the blade. This should help to keep the pressure being imposed on this as even as possible. Be advised that it might be tough to maintain a full balance over your paddle depending on how well the water moves over those two handles.
You can always find a narrow or wide blade when finding something of value. A narrow blade is lighter in weight and is better suited for when you are going on a longer boating trip. Meanwhile, a wider blade is best for when you need to pull through with more power and accelerate fast.
Review the Feathering
The feathering on the paddle is designed to where the two halves of the paddle can be positioned at different angles separate from one another. You can adjust the feathering on some paddles to offer different angles between the two. This includes a layout where the left blade might be 60 or 90 degrees off from the right or vice versa. When there is a 0-degree feathering, the blades are parallel to one another.
Some models let you use a button or a knob to adjust the feather on the paddle. This is ideal for left or right-handed kayakers who favor half of the paddle. Feathering can also be used for windy conditions. The wind resistance you would come across will be minimal when the feathering angle is higher. Be sure to see how well you can adjust the feathering on your paddle when you get it.
Look At The Drip Guards
The drip guards featured on the blades are vital to your protection in the water. Drip guards are added near the bottom parts of the blades to hold water during the upstroke. The water will drop back down during the down-stroke. This keeps you from bearing with lots of water splashing back onto your body while you are using the paddle.
A guard needs to come with a solid body. It should also move outward from the blade to collect more water. This may work better than a traditional drip ring. A ring might still weigh less and could be easier to adjust.
Holding Correctly a Kayak Paddle
For holding a kayak paddle properly, we should try to be relaxed and comfortable. But, we should follow some basic guidelines to avoid inefficiency and injuries.
- The distance between the two hands will be a bit more than your shoulder width. You can put your hands parallel to the ground. Bend your elbow 90 degrees and hold it there. This might be a good distance between the hands to hold a paddle.
- The paddle should remain at a comfortable distance from your chest
- The longer parts of the blades will remain on the upper side
- The knuckle of your right grip will be 180 degrees to the upper blade side
- Fix the left hand according to your comfort and you can move it to adjust when paddling.
Setting Up a kayak paddle
It depends on how high you grip your paddle with the top hand and the natural twist of your body when performing a stroke. If we have a 2 piece kayak paddle, then we can set up the paddle in the following way:
- Hold the paddle and pretend a forward stroke at the left side
- Make the left blade square at the left side, so that it will face the maximum resistance from the water
- Maintain the position, open the adjuster of the paddle
- Make the upper blade straight aligned with the shaft (180 or 0 degrees)
- Secure the adjuster at that point
This is how we set our paddles for maximum efficiency when we are on the water. The angle between the blades will be 0 to 90 degrees. In most cases, the angle is 40 to 70 degrees. If you use more sweep strokes, the angle will reduce.
Kayak Paddle Maintenance
After using a kayak paddle, open the parts and wash each part with clean fresh water nicely. We should keep the parts separately in a dry and clean place inside our house or in a store. For the next day of kayaking exercise or tour, you will have to fix the parts again.
Related Safety Tips
When paddling, we should never touch the side of a kayak hull with the paddle. If we make the mistake, we must not apply any force to take the paddle out of there.
Be calm, take your time to smoothly bring the paddle out of the place. If we get nervous and try to pull it out, we may face an accident. The kayak may have unusual movements or even could be capsized.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell what size is right for you when getting a kayak paddle ready?
There are several steps you can use when figuring out the appropriate size for your kayak paddle:
- Review the size of your kayak.
You should use a longer paddle if you have a wider model. A longer paddle ensures that the kayak will be easier to turn.
- Check on your torso size.
You need a longer kayak if you have a greater torso size. Youth paddles are for those with torso sizes from 22 to 24 inches. These paddles are typically shorter than 200 cm in length. Meanwhile, the longest kayak paddles are for people with longer torso sizes.
- Consider your fitness level.
It might be easier for you to use a longer paddle if you are healthier and capable of using it well enough.
In short, you should look for a longer paddle if you are larger or if your kayak is big, and also if you are physically fit enough to handle it. A good idea is to try and test a kayak paddle out before you buy it or to use a simulated material to figure out how well you can get one of these to work for your requirements.
What should you do if you fall in between two specific sizes?
Your best bet is to use a shorter size if you fall between two particular sizes when getting a paddle. Using the smaller size is better when you are trying to keep something easy to hold and use.
How can you tell if the paddle you are using is an appropriate one in size?
You can tell that a paddle is of a proper size if you hold your paddle outward in a horizontal layout while bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle. See how far your hands are from the middle part of the shaft and your shoulder blade.
Your hands should be around two-thirds between those two parts. At this point, you should have the right paddle.
Do you need a two or four-piece kayak paddle?
You can choose to get either a two or four-piece paddle. A two-piece paddle lets you split the paddle in half while a four-piece one lets you divide the shaft in half while taking the blades apart as well. Each of these paddles will perform in the same fashion, but a four-piece model would suit you best if you don’t have enough space to store a paddle in. This is especially if you are backpacking and you cannot get a two-piece paddle to fit into a storage spot.
Can you add anything to the end of your blade?
Most blades are too sturdy and solid to where you could attach something onto your blade. However, some people like to clamp small hooks onto the ends of their blades for when they need to retrieve bait or other items from inside the water.
This is useful for fishing trips. But this is an optional point that would require a clamp that is separate from the hook or other item being attached. The unit would have to be secured carefully to ensure that it will stay intact and active for as long as possible.
Can I use a kayak paddle for a canoe?
Canoe and kayak paddles are different. The answer is, yes, we can use a kayak paddle for canoeing. But, the paddle must be longer as the canoe is wider than a kayak. The kayak paddle has 2 blades on two ends and a canoe has one blade on one side.
A Final Note
You have to know what you are getting yourself into when you find the best kayak paddles for the money. The best paddles do not have to cost far too much money for your use. They can be effective when you’re looking to head out to the water thanks to their quality materials. These can be made with sturdy metals or plastics and come with features that let you adjust many points around each paddle. The functionality of a kayak paddle is impressive as it can do more for you than just propel you down the water. It can also simplify how well you can move without lots of drag added to it.
But as you look for quality paddles, you will have to look at how they are designed and that you have ones that can be adjusted to your liking. Make sure you also look at how well you can handle your paddle and that it is comfortable enough to use in most situations. You will enjoy getting out on the water more when you have a strong paddle that can get you out on the water and ready to enjoy everything that the outdoors has to offer.