When it comes to choosing the right kayak paddle, you need to know two measurements – your height and the width of your kayak. As both measurements go up, meaning as kayaks get wider or the boater gets taller, a longer paddle is needed.
Carbon, fiberglass and plastic are the most common materials used for making the blade of a paddle. Plastic blades are more cost-effective and a great option for those who are new to the sport, but they can crack and become worn down if left in the sun too long. Fiberglass blades are more lightweight than plastic and offer added durability. For serious kayakers who spend a lot of their free time on the water, investing in an ultra-lightweight and stiff carbon paddle may be worth the extra bucks.
You should choose the size of the kayak paddle based on the type of boating you’ll be doing. For instance, a smaller blade is easier to control and best for kayakers who like long distancing boating, while a larger blade provides more power and speed and is better for short trips.
Finally, paddle shafts are also often offered in carbon, fiberglass, and plastic and are available in various price points based on durability and weight. Bent shafts provide an alternative to straight shafts and reduce pressure on wrists and joints. Buying a paddle that comes in one, two, or four pieces depends can also be helpful if you plan on hiking to your boating spot and need a paddle that can fold or want an option that is easy to store in the off-season.
Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or new to the water, there’s a paddle (and a price point) that will work for you. Check out our top picks below for the best kayak paddles available online.
1. Werner Camano Straight 2-Piece Paddle
Werner makes some of the best kayak paddles available and the Camano tops our list for its versatility. Customers can easily find their preferred paddling angle thanks to the Adjustable Ferrule System that allows users to adjust the feathering of the paddles by 15° increments between zero and 60°. An asymmetrical fiberglass blade reduces torque when pulling the paddle through the water and decreases strain on the kayaker. The midsize design of the blade means that it’s appropriate for kayakers of all heights and abilities and is conducive to a low angle stroke for a relaxing day on the water. A straight carbon and fiberglass blend shaft separates into two pieces for easy storage and customers can choose between three shaft lengths for the size that best fits their frame and kayak.
2. SeaSense Kayak Paddle
BEST BUDGET BUY
If you are looking for a paddle that won’t break the bank and is a cost-effective option for camps or rental businesses, we like the SeaSense Kayak Paddle. An anodized aluminum shaft and fiberglass nylon filled blade create a light and durable paddle for beginners. Ergonomic foam grips provide a comfortable handle on the firm shaft. The paddle has three locking positions for various lengths and it floats, making it a great option for people who are new to kayaking. The SeaSense is available in an 84” length for smaller users and 96” for taller kayakers.
3. Werner Kalliste Paddle – Carbon Bent-Shaft
For kayakers who are serious about spending all their free time on the water, we recommend going a step up in the Werner brand and opting for the Kalliste Paddle. The carbon shaft has a bent formation that reduces stress on the wrists and makes it comfortable for kayakers to glide through the water for hours on end. The carbon material used for the shaft is unmatched in its lightweight finish, weighing only 26 ounces. The midsize blades are made from carbon and foam, creating a buoyancy for an easy stroke while still large enough to enable users to power through the water for speedy trips. Like the Camano, the Kalliste has an Adjustable Ferrule System and includes a low-profile button release for the two-piece shaft that makes it feel like one continuous paddle.
4. Bending Branches Angler Pro Plus Fishing Paddle
BEST FOR FISHING
If you like to combine exercising and fishing, we have the paddle for you. Kayak fishing has been growing in popularity and requires its own unique features when searching for a paddle. The Bending Branches Angler Pro Plus Fishing Paddle has all of the attributes that kayakers would want in a touring paddle, including a durable and lightweight carbon shaft that won’t cause fatigue and an oversized fiberglass blade that is conducive to power stroking for times when kayakers need to move quickly in and out of tight spots and navigate choppy water. Additionally, the Angler has a fish-friendly patterned design on the blade that will attract fish and a built-in measuring tape on the shaft for sizing up the day’s catch.
5. Aquabound Sting Ray Hybrid Posi-Lock Kayak Paddle
BEST FOR SMALLER USERS
Oversized paddles can be cumbersome for smaller kayakers and create fatigue after only a few minutes on the water. That’s why we recommend the Aquabound Sting Ray Hybrid Posi-Lock Kayak Paddle, which gives users the options of a 220 cm or 230 cm model. Weighing only 30.5 ounces, the Aquabound features a light and strong carbon fiber shaft that allows for more efficient strokes for smaller users. Aquabound has improved the strength and weight of their blades, with the Sting Ray using fiberglass-reinforced nylon blades that are 22% lighter than previous models. The adjustable ferrule system allows for infinite feather adjustment to ensure that kayakers get the most comfortable and natural fit for their stroke.
6. Oceanbroad Kayak Paddle
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
For kayakers who are just getting started but still want a quality paddle that can grow with them, we like the Oceanbroad Kayak Paddle. Constructed with an aluminum alloy shaft and fiberglass reinforced PP blade, the Oceanbroad provides a stiff and durable paddle. Measuring 230 cm in length, the Oceanbroad is a midsized paddle that is detachable into two pieces for added convenience. We also like that the Oceanbroad comes with a bungee paddle leash to help secure the paddle to the kayaker. Both blades feature a drip ring to keep water from moving down the shaft to the kayakers’ hands, which is good news for kayakers who don’t want to end their day on the water with new blisters.
7. Werner Tybee Hooked 2-Piece Paddle
Whether your kayak doubles as a fishing boat or is used for all-day touring trips, we like the Tybee Hooked 2-Piece Paddle from Werner. The combination of a fiberglass blade and carbon shaft creates a lightweight paddle that kayakers can maneuver for hours at a time while exploring new waters or waiting for the big catch. An oversized shaft provides a more comfortable grip for extended paddling sessions and the adjustable angle and length means that the Tybee is a great choice for kayakers of any height. Like the Bending Branches, the Tybee includes details specifically for anglers, including a tape measure indented directly onto the shaft to help kayakers measure their catch.
8. Advanced Elements Orbit 4-Piece Adjustable Kayak Paddle
If your kayaking sessions often include a hike to the water’s edge, we recommend the Advanced Elements Orbit 4-Piece Adjustable Kayak Paddle. The lightweight fiberglass shaft breaks down into four pieces for a compact 25.5” storage option. Designed for touring, the Advanced Elements paddle as an adjustable length between 225 and 235 cm and includes a glass-filled nylon blade with a fully feathered angle.