For the best kayaking experience you need to have the right paddle, but how do you know which one is the right one for you?
We put together this handy kayak paddle buying guide to help kayakers shop for the best kayak paddles.
In addition to a list of the best kayak paddles on the market we will also go into detail about each of the features that you should consider when shopping for a kayak paddle.
In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 PicksInvalid table id.
Reviews of the 5 Best Kayak Paddles
Comparing and contrasting the features of different kayak paddles is the best way to get an idea of what features are important to you when shopping for a kayak paddle of your own. Our reviews are 100% unbiased and we only include products that are best-selling and tested for quality assurance.
1. AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle
- MADE IN OSCEOLA, WISCONSIN, USA. Like all Aqua-Bound paddles, the Manta Ray 2-piece paddle is...
- 2 PIECE CONSTRUCTION. The Manta Ray breaks into two pieces with a simple snap-button ferrule for...
Our pick for the best overall paddle for kayaks is the AQUA BOUND brand Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle. It is a two-piece design that comes with either a snap button or posi-lock connection. These are really high quality paddles that are built by hand in the United States.
Because it breaks down into two pieces this kayak paddle is ideal for travel. It converts to a more compact size after you seperate the two parts. The blade of the paddle is made out of carbon resin, making them strong and stiff while also being lightweight. Most kayak oars are made of plastic with a thin coating of carbon or vinyl, but these paddles are made of high-quality fiberglass all the way from the handle to the blades.
- Lightweight, durable construction
- Breaks down into two pieces
- Snap-button or posi-lock options available
- Use on any size boat
- Go faster for longer
- The sharp edges of the paddle may not hold up well to banging against rocks on the floor of a lake or river
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2. Leader Accessories Kayak Paddle Aluminum Shaft Fiberglass Shaft PP Blade and Carbon Shaft PC Blade 5 Sizes 7 Colors for Kayaking Boating
- 3 materials Shaft:aluminum shaft & carbon shaft & fiberglass shaft. 2-Pieces construction paddles...
- The paddles consist of aluminum shaft & fiberglass shaft with PP blades, carbon shaft with PC...
This kayak paddle by Leader Accessories is our pick for the runner up best kayak for kids. It is a two piece paddle that breaks down to a more compact size for travel. The paddles are made of a combination of fiberglass, carbon, and aluminum to be both lightweight and durable.
You can adjust the position of the blade and the angle which is a feature that experienced kayakers will love. The kayak has an interesting addition in the form of a ring that prevents water from flowing back up the handle into the kayak. If you want to go fast this is a good paddle for you, just make sure that you select the right size. It also comes in seven different bright colors so you can customize it to your style and even match it with the color of your kayak.
- Lots of color options available
- Two piece construction breaks down for travel
- Push-button connection is easy to use
- Adjust the angle of the blades
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Sturdy blades
- The shaft of the paddle is thicker and heavier than a fiberglass paddle
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3. Best Marine Kayak Paddle. 234cm (92in) Premium Carbon Fiber Paddle with Reinforced Fiberglass Blades.
This kayak paddle from BEST Marine and Outdoors is appropriately named as one of the best paddles for kayaking you can get. It is made out of premium materials meant to stand the test of time and is designed to help your kayak go fast in all water conditions. It is made out of carbon fiber and reinforced with fiberglass on the blades.
For the price this is one of the best paddles you can get for kayaking because other paddles in this price range use materials that are not as high-quality. For experienced kayakers this is a nice choice because the carbon fiber construction is super lightweight and streamlined for the best performance. This is a one piece paddle that comes in only one size, which is a good size for most people.
- Included is a paddle leash in case you drop it
- Made out of lightweight carbon fiber
- Reinforced blades with fiberglass
- Made in the USA
- One piece construction is bulkier than two piece paddles
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4. Pelican Kayak Paddle Accessories | Aluminum Shaft with Fiberglass Reinforced Blades
- Two Sturdy pieces of aluminum construction
- Impact resistant fiberglass reinforced polypropylene feathered blade design for great durability
This kayak paddle from Pelican comes in black, orange, and yellow. The black choice is classic but the orange and yellow paddles are great because they are easy to see in case you drop them into the water. This is a two piece kayak paddle and it uses a push-button connection. You can adjust the angle of the blades for better performance as well.
This is a one size fits all paddle that is not too long or too short for most people. The shaft includes indexing for your hands so that you know where the best place to grip is for the best performance. Unlike the fiberglass or carbon fiber kayak paddles, this kayak paddle is made out of aluminum which is a lightweight and inexpensive material for paddles that is very durable at the same time.
- Lightweight yet durable construction
- Three colors available
- Yellow and orange colors are bright and easy to see
- Adjust the angle of blades for better performance
- Designed to help you hold the paddle properly
- Keeps water from running in the kayak
- The indentation for your hands looks like the shaft is dented
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5. Overmont Kayak Paddle Heavy Duty Aluminum Alloy Lightweight Boating Oar for Inflatable Kayaks with Paddle Leash
- Two Piece Heavy-duty Construction for Easy Storage
- Feather-shaped Blades and Double Serrated Teeth Edge Design
Our choice for the best overall budget pick is this kayak paddle from Overmont. Aluminum paddles are the best choice if you want an inexpensive paddle because aluminum is inexpensive and lightweight without sacrificing any of the durability. It comes in black, orange, and red and the design is two-pieced for easy storage and travel.
The paddle is made out of hollow aluminum which will cause the paddle to float if it ever gets dropped in the water. With the paddle leash that comes included with your purchase you can forget about worrying about losing your paddle and even let it float next to you when you’re not moving so that you don’t have to keep carrying the paddle.
- Super lightweight construction
- Two-piece design for a more compact size
- Paddle leash included
- Feather shaped blade with serrated teeth
- Can bend 90 degrees without breaking
- Has a ring to prevent water flow back
- There is no padding on the aluminum shaft for your hands which can be uncomfortable for some people especially if it retains too much heat or cold in the metal
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Buying the best kayak paddle will help you go faster and for longer while kayaking. The speed and performance of the kayak largely depends on your rowing abilities, and the paddle will affect that.
If the paddle is wrong it could be more difficult to propel the kayak. Here is a list of the features that we recommend that you consider before you purchase a kayak paddle that can help you get the most out of your purchase.
Reading our complete buying guide before choosing a paddle for your kayak can help save you the hassle of returning a product that wasn’t exactly what you needed. Here are the most important features to consider when shopping for a high-quality paddle kayaking:
Features to Consider When Buying a Kayak Paddle
All of the features of the kayak paddle will have an effect on the price, even the color, which is why we are going to start with explaining the prices for kayak paddles and then move on to the other important features to consider.
Kayak paddles come in various price ranges. The least expensive paddles are made out of aluminum. Aluminum is a perfectly fine choice for kayak paddles because it is durable and lightweight, but there are some downsides. A hollow aluminum paddle shaft could be dented under extreme pressure. They also will become hot or cold according to the heat outside, which is why a grip or padding of some sort on the handle will go a very long way.
More expensive kayak paddles use a combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber to construct the shaft and the blade of the kayak. Fiberglass and carbon fiber blades may break or chip if they bang up against the floor of a rocky river or lake, which is why some blades have rubber on them as well. Carbon fiber and fiberglass are both super lightweight while being very strong and durable.
The price of the paddle could depend somewhat on what brand manufactures it as well as on the type of materials that are used in the construction. How the materials are sourced could mean a more expensive product, and if more materials have to be used for a larger paddle then it also makes sense for that paddle to be more expensive. You may even pay a premium for a kayak paddle in a certain color if it is sought after.
The size of the blades and the length of the shaft are important. Larger blades can push more water which may help you to propel along further at one time but shorter blades will cut through the water faster which may increase speed with each stroke. The shape of the blades is more important than the size.
The size of the kayak paddle shaft is the most important thing to consider about the size when you’re shopping for the best paddle for yourself. If you are shorter you will need a shorter paddle and if you are taller a larger paddle is required. This is because from your seated position on or in the kayak the same paddle will reach multiple lengths depending on the height of the kayaker.
The performance of the kayak paddle is very directly related to it being the right length in relation to the kayaker. If you want to be able to go fast for a long period of time without tiring out your arms then you need to make sure that you get the right length paddle.
If the paddle is too short the kayaker will have to lean down into the water to achieve the surface tension necessary for movement which will be tiring on the arms and can increase the risk of the kayak turning over on accident. On the other hand a paddle that is too long will be very hard to handle for the kayaker and will take up unnecessary room/materials to construct.
Shape of Blades
The shape of the blades will have an effect on how well the paddle performs. For different kinds of water, such as slow moving or fast moving, different kinds of blades may be preferable. While the most common type of kayak paddle blade is a feather shape that is slightly curved with flat edges, there are also some kayak paddles which are outfitted with a serrated edge that “cuts” through the water for better water tension and speed performance.
If you drop your only paddle while out at sea or on a wide lake it could be a safety hazard. When it comes to a kayak paddle the grip of the shaft is very important. Metal shafts can be slippery if they do not have any sort of texture or grooves. They also may be slippery, causing you to drop the kayak paddle and risk losing it in the water. A rope is usually included to tether the paddle to the kayak in case you do drop it, but not always.
For the grip on the handle of the kayak paddle shaft there is usually a textured pattern ingrained in the surface, or there is a rubber grip added on. Another type of grip that we have seen integrated on kayak paddles is a dented part on the pole for your hands to sit. The grip can also indicate where is the best place for you to hold the paddle for performance.
The material and size of the kayak paddle will affect the weight. For kids and petite people a lightweight paddle may be required in order to carry it to and from each kayaking trip. Heavier paddles are less desirable in almost every circumstance.
Because heavy paddles are not sought after, most companies put a lot of effort into constructing paddles that are lightweight without sacrificing any of the durability or performance. Materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber are popular because they are super strong and lightweight at the same time. Less expensive than carbon fiber paddles are aluminum paddles which are made to be hollow so they are not heavy.
On some paddles you can adjust the length of the shaft. This is great for if you are not sure what size you need. Adjustable height on the shaft of the paddle also allows multiple people to use the same paddle with equal comfort and effectiveness.
The blades of the paddles are often adjustable as well. Usually there are between three and five angles that you can adjust the paddle to which will help you maneuver in different settings. A fixed kayak paddle may be less expensive than one that is adjustable because extra materials will be used to engineer an adjustable kayak paddle.
Not all kayak paddles are built the same in materials or in design. The right kayak paddle for you will depend on what you are using it and what experience level you are at kayaking. Here are a few things that you can consider about the design of the kayak paddle in terms of how it is made and what it looks like.
- One or Two-Piece
The two main types of kayak paddles are one piece and two piece paddles. One piece paddles are, as the name implies, made out of one solid piece of metal or fiberglass and do not break down to a more compact size. The two-piece kayak paddles are able to be broken in half so that it is half the size for carrying and storage.
- Baffle Ring
A baffle ring on the kayak is a ring around the blade usually, and it prevents water from splashing back into the kayak. Water splashback in the kayak is not just annoying, it can also make it harder for the kayak to move properly and could even increase the chances of the kayak flipping. Water will also spray in your eyes and could get your electronics wet if the kayak has a phone holder. A baffle ring reduces the water splashback so that those things do not happen.
When shopping for a paddle for your kayak you can choose what color you want in some cases. Most kayak paddles are black or silver, but they can also come in a rainbow of bright colors that will match your personal style, match the color of your kayak, and stand out from the crowd.
If the kayak paddle isn’t tied to the kayak somehow and you drop it into the water, a dark color will be harder to see. Most paddles float, but if it does sink to the bottom of the lake or river, you can more easily retrieve a brightly colored paddle because you can see it through the water.
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about kayak paddles.
Are two piece or one piece kayak paddles better?
For most people the two piece kayak paddles are preferable because they allow you to break down the paddle to a more compact size for storage and carrying. Two piece kayak paddles may use different types of connections and some people may struggle with putting it together, in which case a one piece kayak paddle is better.
What length of kayak paddle do I need?
The length of kayak paddle for you depends on several factors but is mostly based on your height. Shorter people need a shorter paddle and taller people need a longer one. Which height is ideal for you depends on your personal preferences as well as how you hold the kayak paddle while rowing.
When kayaking a lot of your speed and steering depends on how you row. To go faster and for longer we have recommended to you the best kayak paddles on the market. We think the best paddle for kayaks overall is the AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle because it is made out of the best materials and has a two piece construction to break down to a smaller size for travel and storage.
The Overmont Kayak Paddle Heavy Duty Aluminum Alloy Lightweight Boating Oar for Inflatable Kayaks with Paddle Leash is our pick for the best budget kayak paddle because it is made out of less expensive materials without sacrificing the performance that you expect from a high-quality kayak paddle.