6 Best Kayak Paddles for 2019

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The paddle is the most important piece of equipment for kayaking, and having the right one is crucial. What makes for the right paddle? Size. Choosing one that is too big or too small will significantly impact your performance on the water. Thus, it’s very important that you choose a paddle that is fitting for your body, the boat, and the style of kayaking you’ll be doing.

To help you out, we’ve created a guide on how to choose the proper kayak paddle and included our recommendations for the six best kayak paddles.

Top Kayak Paddle Reviews

Carlisle Predator Fiberglass Angler Paddle

Carlisle Predator Fiberglass Angler Paddle

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  • Weight: 2.49 lb
  • Shaft Material: Fiberglass
  • Blade Material: Fiber Reinforced Nylon

The Carlisle Predator Fiberglass Angler Paddle is a great paddle for fishing. With a fiberglass shaft and fiber reinforced nylon blades, this paddle is strong, durable, and lightweight, producing powerful strokes to keep you up to speed with the fish. It features an integrated hook retrieval notch on the blade to help you recover a stuck lure.

Backwater Paddles Assassin Carbon Fiber Hybrid Paddle

Backwater Paddles Assassin Carbon Fiber Hybrid Paddle

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  • Weight: 2.37 lb
  • Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber Hybrid Material
  • Blade Material: ABS Injected Nylon

The Backwater Paddle Assassin paddle is, as the name suggests, an assassin in the water. With its “hook and teeth” blade, this paddle offers the perfect mix of performance, versatility, and strength, offering you the freedom to use it for any style of kayaking.

Feelfree Angler Paddle Camo

Feelfree Angler Paddle Camo

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  • Weight: 2.81 lb
  • Shaft Material: Fiberglass
  • Blade Material: Fiber Reinforced Nylon

The Feelfree Camo Angler Paddle is another great paddle for fishing. It’s made with a fiberglass shaft and fiber reinforced nylon blades, offering the perfect marriage of strength and durability. Weighing 2.81 lb, it is a bit heavy, making it better for light paddling.

Bending Branches Angler Classic Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Angler Classic Kayak Paddle

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  • Weight: 2.12 lb
  • Shaft Material: Fiberglass
  • Blade Material: Fiber Reinforced Nylon

The Bending Branches Angler Classic Kayak Paddle is one of the best options out there. This ultra-light, high-quality fishing paddle essentially does some of the work for you, allowing you to better enjoy your kayaking excursion. The Bending Branches Angler Classic Kayak Paddle features hi-vis tape measure printed on the shaft in both inches and centimeters and a built-in hook-retrieval on the blade so you’ll never have to worry about it floating away in the water.

Werner Shuna Hooked Kayak Paddle Straight Shaft

Werner Shuna Hooked Kayak Paddle Straight Shaft

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  • Weight: 1.72 lb
  • Shaft Material: Carbon/Fiberglass Blend
  • Blade Material: Fiberglass

We absolutely love the Werner Shuna Hooked Kayak Paddle.  Weighing only 1.72 lbs, this paddle is extremely lightweight, yet doesn’t compromise on durability. It features an adjustable Ferrule System, a two-piece design allowing you to break it down and build it up easily, and a slight dihedral blade that allows for easy maneuverability.

The downside of the Werner Shuna Hooked Kayak Paddle is that it’s expensive. However, in this case, you pay for what you get, and with this paddle, you get the best.

Werner Shuna Hooked Adjustable LeverLock Kayak Paddle Straight Shaft

Werner Shuna Hooked Adjustable LeverLock Kayak Paddle Straight ShaftCheck Price

  • Weight: 1.72 lb
  • Shaft Material: Carbon/Fiberglass Blend
  • Blade Material: Fiberglass

The Wener Shuna Hooked Adjustable LeverLock Kayak Paddle is similar to Werner Shuna’s other paddle we just reviewed. It’s extremely lightweight and durable, making it perfect for both high-performance and relaxing trips. It also features an adjustable Ferrule System, a two-piece design allowing you to break it down and build it up easily, and dihedral blades. But what makes this paddle unique is the Hooked: Adjustable LeverLock system that allows for up to 20 cm of adjustment.

Like the Werner Shuna Hooked Kayak Paddle, this paddle is also very expensive. But if you have the extra cash and are looking to buy the best of the best, the Adjustable LeverLock Kayak Paddle is the way to go.

How to Choose the Best Kayak Paddles

A simple way to determine if a paddle is the right size is to hold the paddle horizontally parallel to your body. Place your elbows inward slightly and position them to a 90-degree angle. Your hands should be placed about two-thirds between the center of the shaft and the shoulders of the blades. If you feel comfortable, it fits. If not, it doesn’t.

Physically holding the paddle, however, isn’t the only thing you should take into consideration when making this decision. Other factors you should take into consideration are your torso length, paddle length, paddle weight, blade materials, and shaft material.

Paddle Length

One very important thing to consider when finding the right paddle length is the width of the kayak. The wider the boat is, the longer your paddle should be, and vice versa. The narrower the boat, the shorter the paddle should be.

You also want one that is the correct size for your body. Measuring the length of your torso is a good way to do so. To do accurately measure your torso, sit up straight in a chair and measure the length from chair between your legs to the tip of your nose. As a general rule of thumb, shorter people need shorter paddles, and taller people need taller paddles.

Paddle Weight

While this may sound obvious, but you don’t want a paddle that is too heavy for you to use. If your paddle is too heavy, you’ll have less control over it, leading to less precision of your strokes and ultimately less control over your boat. You’ll also have a physically harder time on the water. While after a few strokes the weight may not seem to make a difference, it will after 100 strokes. Kayak paddles generally weigh between 2 to 3 pounds.

Blade Materials

There are a number of types of paddle blades and the materials of which they’re made from make a difference in the performance of the paddle.

Plastic/Nylon Blades

Blades made from plastic or nylon are the most popular type. These blades are commonly used by recreational kayakers because they are simple, flexible, and generally inexpensive.

The downsides of these blades are that they don’t perform in the water as well as others do. Also, there is a common misconception that plastic/nylon blades are indestructible. They’re not. If left in the sun too long, they can crack and degrade.

Fiberglass Blades

Fiberglass blades offer the perfect combination of performance and durability. Unlike plastic or nylon blades, these may chip a little, but they won’t crack. They’re also lighter than plastic blades. In terms of price, fiberglass blades fall in the middle. They’re a bit more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but their quality and performance make the extra bucks worth it.

Carbon-Fiber Blades

Carbon-fiber blades are on the top of the blade food chain. These ultra-light, stiff blades perform excellently in the water, with each stroke being very efficient and taking you far. Yet as is with most things in life, the better quality the product, the more expensive it is, and carbon-fiber blades are no exception. These high-quality blades will have you paying a high-quality price tag.

Shaft Material

Paddle shafts can be made from a few different materials– most commonly aluminum, carbon, and fiberglass. Plastic, however, is usually not one of them.

Aluminum

Aluminum shafts are the most common shaft material because they’re durable, easy to maintain, and the most affordable. The downside of these shafts is that they can get very hot or very cold, depending on the weather. So, if you go with an aluminum shaft, it may be a good idea to bring gloves with you on the water to protect you from the extreme temperatures.

Carbon and Fiberglass

Shafts made from carbon and fiberglass are very durable, strong, and lightweight. These shafts are generally of higher-quality than aluminum shafts, and as we mentioned with carbon-fiber blades, the price tag reflects that.

Other Important Paddle Features

Drip Rings

Drip rings are the rubber rings that attach to both sides of the paddle. They’re there to prevent water from running down the side of your paddle and onto you. Drip rings aren’t a crucial thing to have on a paddle, but they are nice to have, especially if you’re performing high paddling strokes.

Grips

If you’re one to get blisters easily, paddle grips are a great thing to have. These also aren’t necessary, but if you’re planning on spending long days on the water and are looking to avoid painful blisters and calluses on the palms of your hands, paddle grips are the way to go.

Power Face

The power face is the cup of the blade. It’s named this because the cup is what generates the power in your stroke, thus earning the name of ‘power face.’ The backside of the blade is called the back face. There are a few different types of power faces.

Flat

Flat power faces are flat across the surface of the blade. Some have a rib in the middle to guide the flow of water across the blade, which makes the blade a bit stronger.

Dihedral 

Dihedral blades protrude out rather than in. They have a convex shape, with two power faces meeting in the middle. These are designed to guide the flow of water across the surface of the blade, reducing flutter.

Curved

Curved power faces are shaped similarly to a person’s hand while scooping water or performing a power stroke. These are designed to provide an early catch of the water in the beginning of the stroke.

Spooned

Spooned power faces are, as the name suggests, shaped like a spoon. Similar to curved power faces, these are also designed to provide an early catch of the water in the beginning of the stroke.