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Kayak Paddle Buyers Guide

After the kayak, the paddle has a significant impact on its performance. How quickly and smoothly you can ride the kayak depends on the paddle you are using. Kayak paddles are available in a plethora of types and are made using different materials that impact its lifespan.

To get the best performance while kayaking, you should go for a paddle that lets you ride faster and easier. We understand that buying a kayak paddle isn’t a cakewalk, especially when you are buying it for the first time.

When buying a paddle, you should check a multitude of things, such as the length, width, and weight of the paddle to have good control over it. Here in this buyer's guide, we have highlighted some of the essential things that you should check before buying a kayak paddle.

Read on to find out the essential components of a kayak paddle, and how to buy the best one.

Advantages of buying a kayak paddle with this buyer’s guide

Some of you might be thinking about why I should read a buyer's guide before buying a kayak paddle! Well, there are many reasons to go through this buyer's guide. We will help you buy the paddle that has the right combination of height, weight, and thickness.

Here are some advantages of buying a kayak paddle with this buyer’s guide.

Ensured durability

We have highlighted most of the common materials used to manufacture kayak paddles. When you buy a kayak paddle with the help of this buyer's guide, you can rest assured about the durability.

The right size

The guide will help you buy a kayak paddle that is of the right size to give you enough thrust required to move the kayak and take it to a good speed. The size of the paddle is something you cannot overlook as it impacts the transportation as well.

Ideal weight

It is critical to check the weight of the kayak paddle before you buy it. It can be hard to handle a heavy paddle. The guide will help you buy a kayak paddle of the ideal weight.

Easy to use

The ease of using a paddle blade depends on the shaft design and blade design. With this guide, you will come across the important things that will help you select the ideal shaft and blade design.

Factors to look for when buying a kayak paddle

Here is a list of important factors you should check before buying a kayak paddle. We have classified the factors so that you can quickly go through the list to note down what needs to be checked before you click the buy now button.

Why do you need a kayak paddle?

Yes, of course, you need a kayak paddle for kayaking! But the question is what type of kayaking you want to do with the paddle i.e., low-angle or high-angle paddling. The type of kayak paddle will impact your performance while paddling, so it is essential to make the right choice.

Low-angle paddling

If you want to spend a lot of time on water relaxing on the kayak, then go for paddles that are longer so that you can stroke horizontally. If you have a recreational or touring kayak, then you should go for longer paddles that are good for low-angle paddling.

High-angle paddling

Kayak paddles designed for high-angle paddling are good for fast and aggressive paddling. The paddle will help you ride the kayak quickly to achieve good speeds. These paddles have a design suitable for vertical stroking. If you have a whitewater kayak or you need a paddle for kayak reaching, you should go for smaller paddles.

Types of kayak paddle

There are different types of kayak paddles available in the market, depending on why you need it and where you want to use it. You should buy a kayak paddle depending on your skill level and budget.

Here are the common types of kayak paddles:

Recreational kayak paddles

The paddles designed for recreational use are inexpensive, and you will find a lot of options under your budget. The paddles are heavy, as they are usually made using plastic or aluminum. The design of the paddle isn't that great, so you cannot use them for long trips. Hand fatigue is also common with recreational paddles, but they are good for beginners.

Performance kayak paddles

With performance kayak paddles, you will surely see an immense boost in your performance. The paddles have an excellent design, and you will get efficient strokes. You can achieve good speeds with the paddles, and they have a comfortable shaft design. Also, there is less hand fatigue, and you can paddle the kayak for longer.

Touring kayak paddles

Touring kayak paddles are longer and comfortable to hold. The paddles are ergonomic, lightweight, and durable for paddling in rivers and sea. You will find a plethora of blade shapes when searching for a touring kayak paddle.

Whitewater kayak paddles

Kayak paddles designed for whitewater paddling are excellent to paddle in whitewater. The paddles have an excellent design, and the blade can bear impact caused while paddling. You can fight the strong currents with these paddles to cut through them and to get good speeds. The shafts of these paddles are thicker, and the blades are wider to help you out in those intense conditions.


The choice of material will affect the longevity of the paddle. Kayak paddle manufacturers use different materials to manufacture blade, shaft, and other components of the paddle. Here are the common materials used to manufacture the components of a kayak paddle.

Plastic paddle

Plastic kayak paddles are incredibly popular because of their price and weight. If you are a beginner, then you should go for paddles made using plastic. The material is moderately durable, and the paddles don’t require much maintenance when compared to different materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass.

Plastic paddles have excellent flexibility, and the thicker edges make them good for recreational paddling. Also, you can use a plastic paddle as a spare one in case you lose one paddle while paddling on the kayak.

However, the stroke of plastic paddles isn't that great, so you cannot achieve good speeds.

Aluminum paddles

Kayak paddles made using aluminum are extremely durable. The material resists corrosion, and you can rest assured that it will last longer. The edges of the blade are thin, so you will get decent efficiency from the strokes.

Aside from excellent durability and quality, there are a few downsides of aluminum paddles, such as the shaft can get cold in freezing temperature, and the paddle is heavy as compared to plastic.

The buoyancy of aluminum paddles isn't that great, and the paddle will drown if it falls in the water.

Carbon fiber paddles

If you have a good budget and you need high-quality kayak paddles that last longer, go for paddles made using carbon fiber. The material is not as heavy as aluminum, but the paddles are pricey. If you need kayak paddles for a long trip, it would be great to choose paddles made using carbon fiber. Furthermore, the material doesn’t get too cold like aluminum, so you can hold it with ease, even in freezing temperatures.

Wooden paddles

Wooden paddles aren’t very common these days, as kayakers find other aforementioned materials better. The reason why wooden paddles aren’t that popular these days is because of the upkeep and maintenance they need.

Also, they are heavy and are available in a one-piece option only.

Shaft design

The shaft is the straight rod attached to the blades. You will hold the shaft in hands while paddling, so the design should be ergonomic and comfortable to hold. Below we have explained the common shaft designs you will find while buying a kayak paddle.

The shape of the shaft

Kayak paddles are available in two types of shaft shapes i.e., straight and bent. The shape of the shaft will impact the comfort and ease of holding the paddle.

Straight shafts

If you are a beginner and need a paddle for a short trip, you should go for straight shafts. These paddles are the basic options available in the market and are good for short trips only.

Bent shafts

If you want to paddle for longer to enjoy the serenity of the lake, then you should go for paddles with bent shafts. The kinks on the shaft will let you hold it with ease and for more time so you won’t get tired while paddling.

Two or four-piece

When buying a kayak paddle, you will find multiple two or four-piece options. The paddle breaks down into multiple pieces so that you can carry it without any hassles. If you want to travel a lot with the paddle, then go with a four-piece option so that it doesn't occupy a lot of space.

On the other hand, if you have ample space for storing a kayak paddle, then you can go with a two-piece option as well.

The diameter of the shaft

The diameter of the shaft is something most paddlers forget to check, thinking that it isn’t important at all. But in reality, the diameter of the shaft will impact your performance and experience for sure. Usually, paddle shafts have less diameter so that they are good to hold, and you can have a better grip over it.

But there are some paddles available in the market that have more diameter. If you have small hands, you cannot hold a paddle with a thick shaft.

Note: To determine the ideal diameter of the paddle shaft, you should consider holding it in your hand. Your index finger should touch the thumb so that you get a decent grip over the paddle, and it won't slip when paddling.

The shape of the blade

So, you have got the right type of shaft, and the paddle is good to hold? But what about the shape of the blade? The shape of the blade will affect the performance of the paddle. You should choose the shape of the blade depending on where you want to paddle.

Wing-shaped blade

You can easily spot a paddle with a wing-shaped blade because of its shape. The blade has a shallow scoop on its one face that lets you paddle with improved efficiency. If you want to get immense power from your strokes, go for wing-shaped kayak paddles.

Wing-shaped paddles are ideal for racers because of the efficiency that you get from it. These paddles aren’t great for recreational paddlers. Depending on why you need a kayak paddle, you can go for a wing-shaped blade.

Low-angle blade

Blades attached to the low-angle kayak paddles give you a comfortable hold over the shaft. If you have a touring kayak and want to spend a lot of time paddling on the water, then you should go for kayak paddles with low-angle blades.

However, achieving good speeds isn't possible with these paddles, so keep that in mind when buying it.

High-angle blades

Kayak paddles with high-angle blades are ideal if you want to achieve good speeds. The paddles are designed in a way that the blades give a horizontal stroke so that you get a powerful stroke. If you want to paddle in whitewater or you need a paddle for racing purposes, then you should go with paddles that have high-angle blades.

Dihedral blades

The reason why these blades are known as dihedral is due to the two faces of the blade that you can use to get a powerful stroke. Furthermore, these blades are excellent when it comes to reducing the vibrations caused during paddling.

You will have ultimate control over the paddle while the blades will have a good catch in the water. Kayak paddles with dihedral blades are a bit pricey as compared to the other types of paddles.

Length of the paddle

The length of the paddle depends on multiple factors, such as where you want to paddle, the height of the kayak, and the stroke style. If you are tall, then you should go for a longer paddle that gives you immense power to cut through the water to paddle the kayak. Usually, the length of the kayak paddle is somewhere around 80 to 100 inches, but there are some small and large paddles available as well.

With the increment in the length, the weight of the paddle also increases. If you are not sure about the length of the paddle, then go for kayak paddles with adjustable length. You can adjust the length to make the paddle smaller and larger, depending on your requirements.

These kayak paddles are versatile but need timely upkeep so that the adjusting mechanism keeps working properly.

Width of the kayak

When choosing a kayak paddle, keep the width of the kayak in mind. The width of the kayak will impact your decision, and you should make sure that the blade is long enough to submerge into the water properly.

If you own a racing kayak, then it would be around 19-22 inches wide. On the other hand, recreational kayaks are around 26-30 inches wide. Depending on the width of the kayak, you should select the size of the paddle.

For a wider kayak, you need a longer paddle so that the blade submerges completely into the water, and you get efficient strokes when paddling.


You will feel the resistance caused due to winds when paddling the kayak. Most kayak paddle manufacturers are providing paddles with feathers that help cut down the wind resistance to improve the efficiency of the paddle.

These blades allow offsetting so you can decide if you need resistance against the winds or not. Kayak paddles with feathering are expensive and are great for racers and folks that love to paddle the kayak regularly.


You should go for a kayak paddle that offers excellent grip over it so that you can hold it with ease even if it gets wet. When searching for a kayak paddle, you will find that the paddles have a rubber or plastic-like grp all over the shaft. The grip protects the paddle from water while rewarding you with a good grip.


Some paddles can be around 6-7 feet long, so that portability can be an issue. Kayak paddles are available in the following options:

  • One-piece
  • Two-piece
  • Four-piece

One-piece paddles

If you need a small paddle and portability isn't an issue for you, then you should go for one-piece kayak paddles. These paddles are highly durable, and there is no need to remove the blades and fix them again before paddling.


Two-piece paddles are good since the paddle is easy to transport. You can break down the shaft into two parts so it will be easy to carry it inside your car.

Four-piece paddles

Four-piece paddles are excellent if you don’t have enough space to transport a kayak paddle. You can break down the blades and the shaft to transport the paddle with ease.


Make sure to check the warranty when buying a kayak paddle. Some paddles are expensive, so it would be great if it comes with a warranty against any damages caused during paddling or the material wears out in some time.


The price of the kayak paddle depends on multiple factors, such as its shape, size, material, and brand. Before you start searching for the best kayak paddle, it would be good if you make your budget.

Decide how much you want to spend, and then start searching for a kayak paddle to buy it under your budget.

Accessories to buy with a kayak paddle

Here are some accessories that you should consider buying with the kayak paddle.

  • Dry bag

With a dry bag, you can keep your stuff safe from water. The dry bag has enough space to accommodate your wallet, smartphone, and some other items.

  • Kayak lights

Buy a kayak light that makes it easier to navigate the route in the dark. If you love touring on a kayak, then it is essential to buy a kayak light.

  • A string

Attaching a string with the paddle will let you pull it out of water in case if it falls off the kayak.

  • Paddle grips

If you need a better grip over the paddle, then make sure to buy paddle grips separately. Check the material of the grip to ensure that it is soft and comfortable.

  • Paddle holder

With a paddle holder, you can mount the paddle with ease, and it won't fall off the kayak. Go for a paddle holder that is compatible with the kayak paddle you have.

FAQs: Best Kayak Paddles

Q: Can I use a touring paddle for a kayak race?

A: No, you cannot use a touring paddle for a kayak race because the paddle isn’t designed for this task. Touring paddles are longer, whereas kayak paddles for racing are compact in size. Also, the blades are different.

Q: How long does a kayak paddle last?

A: Kayak paddles have a considerable lifespan, and they don't wear out easily. It is essential to keep the paddle in good shape so that it remains free from any defects or damages. If you have a two or four-piece paddle, keep checking the lockable mechanism that holds the different pieces together.

Q: How heavy are kayak paddles?

A: The weight of the kayak paddle depends on multiple factors, such as the material, size, and type. Most of the paddles are lightweight nowadays as they are made using plastic, carbon fiber, and fiberglass.


It is crucial to have a kayak paddle that improves your performance and is efficient so that you don’t have to apply a lot of force to glide the kayak on the water. With this guide, you can buy the best kayak paddle that is lightweight, durable, and rewards you with efficient strokes so that you can paddle on the water with ease.

Before clicking the buy now button consider reading some customer reviews to ensure that the paddle you are going to buy is good.

Lastly, check the accessories and FAQ section mentioned in this guide to get more information about kayak paddles. / - © Copyright 2020