The Best Kayak Paddles on the Market – Reviewed for 2017

Image of a Aqua-Bound kayak paddle

Your paddle is just as important as your kayak. If you choose the wrong one it will make everything harder than it has to be.

However, paddles are much cheaper than kayaks so you don’t have to spend a fortune for a solid kayak paddle, which opens your options up a bit!

Different paddles are suited for different styles of kayaking, and knowing how you want to approach the sport is key.

The perfect kayak paddle is not the same for everyone, but don’t worry. With this artilce we aim to show you what to look for.

Image of the Werner Paddles Kalliste

Werner Paddles Kalliste

The paddle of paddles! Here we have our nr #1 choice for the best kayak paddle!

Knowing what to pick^

Picking the paddle mainly comes down to one decision.

Do you want to be able to paddle far or fast?

Speed comes from wider blades on the paddle. These are often curved to scoop up more water with each stroke. This lets you gain speed faster, at the cost of having to work harder.

A narrow blade will not add as much power to each stroke. But it will let you paddle for a longer time without as much effort.
Image of a few doors

Paddle length^

When looking for a paddle, start with paddle length. Length is dependent on your personal height, the kayak’s width, and which style of paddling you use.

High-angle paddlers need a bit shorter paddles. High-angle paddling is a style of paddling that offers speed as each stroke takes more power.

Low-angle paddlers will want a paddle that is a bit longer. This style is used more for touring as it’s a more relaxed style that takes less toll on your body and requires less effort.

Below we have included a table to help you choose the correct paddle length.

Edit
Paddler Height Kayak Width Recommended Paddle Length
Under 5’5″ Under 23″ 210-220 cm
24″ to 28″ 220-230 cm
29″ + 230-250 cm
5’5″ -5’11” Under 23″ 220 cm
24″ to 28″ 230 cm
29″ + 230-250 cm
6′ + Under 23″ 220-230 cm
24″ to 28″ 230-240 cm
29″ + 240-260 cm

The Best Kayak Paddles – Our Picks^

Below we have listed our favorite paddles. The list consists of all kinds of paddles in all price classes.

SeaSense X-Treme II^

The SeaSense X-Treme II is a 2-piece aluminum paddle. Even though it’s made from aluminum, the paddle is quite light. This is probably due to the shaft being very narrow. The shaft is straight and equipped with foam rubber grips, which is needed to get a good grip.

It’s an asymmetrical blade with a dihedral cross-section. Being a 2-piece paddle, it is adjustable between feathered and nonfeathered, so you can go for what you prefer.

#1 when on a budget

SeaSense X-Treme II

Image of the SeaSense X-Treme II

A super cheap paddle that’s perfect as a spare paddle or for beginners!

Being a cheap paddle makes it great as a spare paddle. That being said, it isn’t a top performer compared to the more high-end choices. It’s is not too heavy but the shaft is very narrow which makes it flex sometimes when you paddle, that’s not something you want.

Still, for the price you pay, you can’t expect it to be the best paddle on the market. I would recommend you to use it for short trips and for recreational paddling. If you want to go day touring you should only bring this paddle with you as a spare paddle.

If your new to kayaking and want to get into the sport for a cheap price, pairing this paddle with one of the cheaper options from our aritlce about the best sit-on-top kayaks will give you the perfect start.


Bending Branches Whisper II^

Paddles can cost a lot of money, and while their performance often matches their price tag, there are some really good ones for a cheap price. To pick out a good, cheap paddle for this article, I set a maximum price of $100 and tried out a few I’d heard some good things about.

The Bending Branches Whisper II was one that fit this bill. It’s a cheap well-rounded paddle that offers loads of performance despite its low price. It’s an aluminum paddle so it has some weight to it. However, this paddle has fiberglass blades. The combination of these two materials is probably what keeps the price low while still offering some quality.

#1 paddle for beginners

Bending Branches Whisper II

Image of the Bending Branches Whisper II

Probably the best paddle for beginners on the list due to it’s price and performace!

The width of the blade makes it really versatile. Think of it as a hybrid-design paddle, making it viable for most paddling styles. You can also switch between nonfeathered and feathered with the ferrule system.

For beginners, this paddle is a blessing. When you start out you don’t want to spend too much money because you’re uncertain.

A paddle that is both cheap and good is something I’ve found to be really hard to come by. Even if you’re not a beginner I’d still recommend you to buy this as it’s the perfect backup paddle.

Recreational paddlers will also enjoy the versatility of the paddle. When I paddle, I usually go for a camping trip or a hard workout session, these two uses require a completely different paddle to be optimal. That’s why I have more than one paddle.

A recreational paddler, however, will still want to play around and try different stuff. At the same time, it’s not feasible to spend money on stacking up a storage full of paddles. That’s where this cheap all-around paddle shines.


Werner Skagit FG 2 PC^

The best paddle for the money is quite a statement to make, but this paddle really deserves to be called just that.

This paddle offers everything you need for a long and effortless trip. Its smooth and comfortable shaft is made out of fiberglass making it really sturdy and durable. It also has a ferrule system so you can adjust for your preference.

A top low-angle paddle

Werner Skagit FG 2 PC

Image of the Werner Skagit FG 2 PC

An awesome low-angle paddle for a great price! Best for the money!

I like that the blades are super narrow and with a dihedral design. These two combined makes for effortless and smooth low-angle paddling.

If you’re somewhat trying to stick to a budget, try and find a place for this paddle inside of that budget. For multi-day paddling and camping, this one is absolutely perfect.

It passes the $100 price range, which is the range I sat for the budget paddles. But the price you pay for this paddle is still relatively cheap compared to others, and the paddle is well and beyond worth that price.

While being of minor importance, the look of this paddle is amazing. I love how the Werner paddles look, especially the ones with the nice yellow asymmetrical blades.

To conclude the review of this specific paddle I’d like to say, even though it’s quite clear from the above, that I really recommend this paddle if you’re into touring. Plain and simple, this is one of the best paddles around.


Aquabound Manta Ray^

The Aqua-Bound Manta Ray is a 2-piece carbon fiber paddle with a straight shaft. The carbon shaft makes the paddle very light, sturdy and comfortable to use.

#1 high-angle paddle

Aquabound Manta Ray

Image of the Aquabound Manta Ray

One of the top high-angle paddles that we have come across! Fits perfectly into our list.

The carbon fiber blade’s design is asymmetrical and has a dihedral cross-section. The paddle features Aqua-Bounds Posi-Lok which gives the ability to change the feathering. The large blades make the paddle optimal for high-angle paddling.

A high-angle paddle like this one is also great for fishing as they are able to move a kayak with more weight.

I think this is an awesome paddle, probably one of the best high-angle kayak paddles available. The wide blade allows for powerful effective strokes, which means momentum is gained really easily. Wide blades also offer great control so that helps a lot with the steering.

If you can afford it, make the purchase even if you’re more of a recreational paddler — the lightweight and efficiency makes for a really fun experience.


Werner Paddles Kalliste^

The Werner Kalliste is a super light carbon fiber paddle. It has a bent shaft which is very stiff and won’t flex at all when you paddle. This makes the paddle very comfortable to use.

It has a very narrow and asymmetrical blade with a dihedral cross-section. All these features, as well as the light weight, makes this paddle perfect for multi-day touring. The effort needed with each stroke is minimal.

#1 paddle on the market

Werner Paddles Kalliste

Image of the Werner Paddles Kalliste

The paddle of paddles! Here we have our nr #1 choice for the best kayak paddle!

Like the Werner Skagit FG, it has an adjustable ferrule system so you can adjust the feathering. It is also a 2-piece paddle so it’s easy to store and bring with you.

This is an expensive paddle, but that is the only bad thing about it. It’s overall performace puts it at the top of our list of the best kayak paddles.

Being such a great paddle makes it well worth the money, but remember that it’s a touring paddle. Because of this, I highly recommend this paddle paired with one of the touring kayaks from our article about the best touring kayaks on the market.

The light weight makes it so you can paddle for long sessions without the paddle weighing you down. If you are serious about multi-day adventures and tours with your kayak, this is one of the best kayak paddles for you!


Evaluating the paddles^

So how did we pick our top paddles? I tried to review a variety of different paddles which I feel are the best, with all categories represented.

Let’s go through the features that I took into account and how I evaluated the paddles.

Blade Design^

Which blade design to go for will be very dependent on style and preference. Still, it’s one of the most important things to consider when buying your paddle.

For this article, I tried out paddles with different kinds of blades to provide some options for everyone, while still sticking to my guns and choosing the ones I myself feel are the best paddles in these categories.

Testing out the blades is easy. It’s simply a matter of paddling for a while and getting a feel for how they perform. You’ll quickly notice the quality of the blade compared to other blades you’ve tried. If not, you may need to try out a couple before getting into it.

Paddle Weight^

Light paddles are better than heavy paddles, there’s no question about that.

You can compare it with doing a workout with weights in the gym. If you use lighter weights, you’ll be able to do more reps. The same goes for the number of strokes you’ll manage to put out with a lighter paddle.
Image of apples being weighed

Durability^

You don’t want your paddle to break, good luck getting back to shore if it happens!

The durability of the paddle mainly comes down to the material. Some materials are more durable than others, this is usually compensated with having thicker shafts for the ones that are less durable.

Comfort^

You’re holding on to your paddle the whole while time you’re kayaking, so having a paddle that’s comfortable important!

The width of the shaft will vary from paddle to paddle, and finding the ideal option is dependent on the size of your hands as well as your preferred grip.

When in doubt, try a few grips and see what’s best for you.

Price^

With kayak paddles, you pay for what you get. A paddle is very much dependent on the material to provide all the positive features needed.

The more expensive materials are lighter and more durable, so there’s no shortcut to acquiring the best paddle. To get it, you’ll have to pay for it.

Something that can be cheap though is your spare paddle. Having a spare paddle is almost a must, even the most durable, high-end paddles can break. So when picking a spare paddle you can go for something cheaper, since you’ll probably only use it in worst case scenarios.

Conclusion^

Image of a kayaker in a river
Hopefully one of the paddles from our list makes it home to you.

If none of them fits your preference make sure to keep the factors that we mention in mind when you pick your own paddle!

Happy Kayaking!

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