You may well have thought that buying a kayak paddle would be one of the easiest parts of getting into the sport. Whist they may not be at all overly expensive, that doesn’t mean to say that the choice isn’t difficult!
On the market today, there are a vast number of different kayak paddles all made by different manufacturers. All come in different sizes, configurations and of course, at a different price.
Different types of kayak paddles are optimised for different types of kayaking. In order to help you make the best choice possible, we’ve included a guide to the carrying types of kayaking paddle that are out there. In addition to this, we have reviewed what we think are the best kayak paddles on the market today.
What Are The Different Types of Kayak Paddle?
To accommodate different types of kayaking, different paddles exist. Let’s take a look at the four main categories.
Recreational paddles are similar in characteristics to recreational kayaks themselves. Not in that they are anything like a boat whatsoever, but more that they aren’t particularly lightweight, are cost-effective, and reasonable good at doing the job. For a lot of paddlers, recreational paddles and recreational kayaks are just fine. Recreational paddles are not the best on the market for taking longer trips due to their weight and poorer performance, than say, a touring paddle. For most though, they are quite sufficient.
Performance kayak paddles are, funnily enough, built for the ultimate performance in every aspect. They are extremely lightweight, whilst offering unrivalled durability and overall performance. The downside though, is of course that they are considerably more expensive than say, a recreational paddle. Performance paddles are without doubt, the best choice for those kayakers that are looking for the ultimate paddle that’s going to deliver speed as easily as possible.
The touring paddle is the ultimate paddle for, as you may have guessed, touring a longer distance of water on a trip. In order to make paddling for such a length of time as comfortable and as easy as it can possibly be, the touring kayak paddle is light in weight, as well as having excellent aerodynamics in order to make sure that the paddle can cut through the air as effortlessly and as quickly as possible.
Whitewater kayaking is, without doubt, the most demanding type of kayaking on both the paddler and the equipment that they have. Due to the very nature of white-water kayaking, it’s inevitable at points that the boat and paddle are going to collide with rocks and other hard objects from time to time. In order to deal with this harder use, they have to be durable.
Of course, white water is also faster-moving, as well as being considerably more difficult to manoeuvre around in. To make this movement as effective as possible, whitewater paddles are designed to be sturdy and durable. Often, so that turning can be as effective as possible, white-water paddles have large blades that can move a lot of water at a time.
How Does The Length Of Paddle Affect Usability?
Choosing a kayak paddle that is of the correct length for you can be quite a difficult process, if you haven’t done so before. When selecting the best kayak paddle for you, you should be sure to consider two points in particular, these being the length of your upper body, as well as the width of your boat.
The reason that the width of the kayak is so important in influencing the length of the kayak, is to ensure that your hands don’t end up colliding with the boat when paddling along. Even if your upper body length is not all that large, you should be sure to account for how wide your boat is when selecting the correct length of paddle. When considering the correct length of paddle, it’s also important to remember that the length you require will differ, depending on whether or not you have a sit on top kayak or a sit-inside kayak. With a sit on top kayak, you are positioned further above the water and therefore would require a longer paddle in order to get a good stroke into the water.
Instead of providing you with a whole load of numbers, a good rule of thumb is to place one side of the paddle that you’re looking at on the ground. Reach up to the top of the other side. As long as you can just reach over the blade that’s pointing to the sky, then the paddle length should work for you. That said, this is only good for a rough estimation and should be by no means the only factor.
What Are Kayak Paddles Typically Made From?
Kayak paddles are available constructed from a range of material types. Depending on the intended category for the paddle to fall into, it will be constructed using a different process, as well as different materials.
In addition to the type of kayaking that the paddle is designed for, the one that you choose will be of course influenced by what you like, as well as how much cash you’re willing to part with in order to buy it.
The materials of kayak blades range from cheap materials such as plastic to far more expensive options such as fiberglass and carbon fiber.
The shaft materials, similarly, rage in material construction. Kayak paddle shafts range from plastic, wood, to again fiberglass and carbon fiber – each more costly respectively.
The Best Kayak Paddles
Carlisle Magic Kayak Paddle – Touring Kayak Paddle
The Carlisle Magic is a popular touring paddle. To make long-distance paddling as easy as it can be on your body, the Carlisle Magic boasts a lightweight construction, being constructed from a lightweight fiberglass shaft as well as lightweight blades.
Even though the polypropylene blades may be light in weight, they are by no means lacking in durability. Should the blades collide with a rock or the bottom of the water, they shouldn’t suffer any damage. The Carlisle Magic is a paddle that you can rely on for a good amount of time.
In terms of aesthetics, the Carlisle Magic isn’t at all disappointing. The paddle comes in both blue and orange variants with gold writing – it’s a very striking design indeed.
Length: 220 – 240cm
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Shaft Material: Fiberglass
Blade Material: Polypropylene reinforced with glass fiber
Werner Camano – 2 Piece Kayak Paddle
The Werner Camano is a high performance kayak paddle that is extremely lightweight, thanks to its carbon fibre construction. It comes in two pieces that are joined together, and is very comfortable to paddle with. If you’d prefer, the Werner Camano is also available in a one piece version.
The Camano features an advanced blade design that makes paddling through the water seem far easier. In addition to feeling easier, this design also allows you to transfer a good amount of power into the water without feeling too much force.
One of the great things about the Werner Camano is that it’s extremely versatile. As well as being a perfect design for touring, the Camano is could be used on other water types too thanks to the extremely strong construction of the blades.
Weight: 1.7 lbs
Shaft Material: Fiberglass
Blade Material: Carbon Fiber
Aquabound Manta Ray – Carbon 2 Piece Kayak Paddle
The Aquabound Manta Ray is an extremely lightweight kayak paddle. Constructed entirely from carbon fiber, the Manta Ray is not only very lightweight, but also boasts a great level of durability. Although carbon fiber is one of the most expensive materials that paddles are made from, it also offers arguably the very best range of characteristics
The Manta Ray is made of two pieces, and is available in sizes between 210cm and 250cm. In addition to the light weight design, the Manta Ray’s shaft is an oval shape, as opposed to the typical circular shape. This can mean that holding and using the paddle could be much easier, due to the greater surface area of the carbon fiber that can be covered by your hand.
The feathering angle can also be adjusted on the Manta Ray. A paddle’s feathering angle, also known as its “offset” refers to the difference in degrees between both of the blades of the paddle. For example, if a paddle has no feathering angle whatsoever, when put on a flat surface it will lay flat. The advantage of an adjusted feathering angle is that once a stroke has been taken, the opposing blade will be in the optimum position (at the correct angle) to enter the water.
Length: 210cm – 250cm
Weight: 1.98 lbs
Shaft Material: Plastic/Fiberglass Reinforcement
Blade Material: Carbon Composite
Bending Branches Angler Classic – Best Kayak Paddle For Fishing
When you’re out fishing on the water, the last thing you want to have to deal with in addition to rods and tackle is a big paddle that’s overly heavy and as a result, uncomfortable to use.
If you take a look at the blades of the Branches Angler, you’ll see that there is a small curved incision. This is extremely helpful, and is designed for grabbing a hold of your fishing line and moving it – great if your line becomes trapped in something that you don’t want it to.
The Angler Classic also has another very much angling-orientated feature – the paddle features a scale on which fish can be measured. It’s great if you want to see the size of your catch, right away after you’ve caught it!
For ease of use and versatility, the Bending Branches Angler Classic is also available insizes between 220cm and 260cm.
Length: 220cm – 280cm
Weight: 2.125 lbs
Shaft Material: Fiberglass
Blade Material: Fiber Reinforced Nylon
SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle – Cheap Kayak Paddle
If you’re looking for a cost-effective kayak paddle, the SeaSense X-1 could be a great option for you. Whilst the SeaSense X-1 is by no means a high-performance kayak paddle nor is it made from top of the range materials like its more expensive rivals, it does the job just fine and is perfect if you’re not looking to break the bank – pardon the pun!
The Shaft of the SeaSense X-1 is constructed from aluminum, making it both lightweight and durable too. Unlike other more expensive kayak paddles, the blades are do not offer a particularly lightweight design, being made of plastic. However, they are still durable and perform the task in hand. The X-1 is also a two piece kayak paddle.
In terms of comfort in the hand, the SeaSense X-1 is great. It’s not too heavy, and also has foam gripping points, meaing that you’re hands aren’t placed onto the bare cold aluminium shaft of the paddle.
Length: 84″ or 96″ (213cm or 244cm)
Weight: 2.3 lbs
Shaft Material: Alluminum
Blade Material: Plastic
Aquabound Sting Ray – Kayak Paddle For Touring
The Aquabound Sting Ray is one of the great kayak paddles that’s available for touring. Being constructed from carbon fiber, the paddle is exceptionally lightweight, weighing in at less than 29 oz. At this tiny weight, it is one of the lightest kayak paddles on the market today.
The obvious main advantage of the exceptionally light weight of this touring kayak paddle is that it’s great for using over long distances, placing minimal strain on the upper body. However, as well as being lightweight, carbon fiber is also very durable.
The Sting Ray is available in sizes ranging from 210cm to 250cm, and comes in a 2 piece construction.
Length: 210cm – 250cm
Weight: 1.8 lbs
Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber
Blade Material: ABX Resin/Carbon Fiber Reinforcements
Hopefully, after reading our guide to the best kayak paddles, you’ll feel more informed on what you should be looking for in a good kayak paddle, and of what the best kayak paddles on the market have to offer! Happy purchasing!