Best Kayak Paddles for Money – Reviews
Many kayak manufacturers these days offer packages that include free paddles, specially with kayaks with $1000 or more range. While this makes it seem like a bargain, in some ways it’s been a marketing disaster. That’s because many manufacturers just include junk paddles as part of the purchase.
Then they find out that their kayaks are getting negative reviews because of the inferior paddles! So what you need to really make full use of your kayak is the right paddle.
Table of Contents
- 5 Best Kayak Paddles - Comparisons
- Best Kayak Paddles for Money - Top Picks
- How to Buy Kayak Paddle
- Final Verdict
5 Best Kayak Paddles - Comparisons
Best Kayak Paddles for Money - Top Picks
To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best kayak paddles you should look at. We have published these kayak paddle reviews after hours of testing, analysis and comparison.
Most people who kayak are adults, and for the most part they like longer paddles. This Shoreline Kayak Paddle is certainly long enough, and it’s great for recreational kayakers who want an affordable yet comfortable option.
Many who buy this Shoreline are those who have bought beginner kayaks that come with inadequate free paddles.
Shoreline Kayak Paddle is an entry-level paddle, it’s miles ahead of the junk you get as freebies. It’s very long as you can see, so it’s great when you’re just relaxing while you make low angle strokes into the water.
It’s also a 2-piece paddle, so it’s easier to bring with you and store away. This is a lightweight paddle, as the shaft is made of corrosion-resistant aluminum and the blade is hard plastic.
So your arms won’t get tired too easily on long trips. Yet despite its light weight it’s also very sturdy. The blade has that strange shape that’s common these days, but it’s contoured that way for efficiency.
You have 3 available positions so you can customize the paddle to match your style. For your added comfort the grip on the shaft is covered with foam. Also, it even comes with drip guards so you don’t end up getting too wet.
- Its length is great for relaxed paddling and for wider kayaks.
- It’s light weight.
- The blades are very efficient.
- You have different positions to fit your paddling style.
- It’s very comfortable to use.
- Its 2-piece design makes storage and portability non-issues.
- The customer support is amazing.
- It offers great value for money.
- You don’t want to use the blade to push off, as it might snap off.
- It’s not really meant for heavy duty use, as the blade isn’t as secure on the shaft as the premium models.
- The first thing you need to buy for this is a leash, because it won’t float.
Again we have an alumina shaft to go with plastic blades. It’s actually available in either 84 (perfect for kids) or 96 inches.
SeaSense X-Treme II Mix Kayak Paddle is very comfortable to use, as it come with foam grips and it’s very lightweight.
The adjustable drip guards also work well, so you don’t have too much water landing on your head as you stroke. It also offers 3 different positions, so you can have straight or feathered blades.
This is quite durable, as it features a support ridge for enhanced strength. It’s a 2-piece design for easier storage and portability, but the joint feels sturdy when you’re using it.
Now everyone knows that a strap or a leash is the first accessory you buy for a paddle, but beginners may forget. This paddle is made with beginners in mind, because it actually floats! It’s also easy to find since SeaSense likes to use bright colors for this model.
- You have 2 size options, although for many the 96-inch version is better.
- It offers a very nice feel in your hands when you paddle.
- The foam grips won’t cause you any abrasions.
- With 3 possible positions, you can tweak it to fit your style.
- It floats.
- It’s a 2-piece paddle, so it should be easier to bring along and store.
- The 96-inch version may interfere with your fishing lines.
- It takes a while to adjust the drip guards so they work best for you.
- You shouldn’t use the blade to push off the bank of the river.
The Day Tripper has 3 available sizes, ranging from 220 cm (about 86.6 inches) to 240 cm (94.5 inches).
Whichever size you get, the shaft is made from tempered aluminum that’s very lightweight. That’s great for long trips, as you won’t tire out too easily. Also, it floats on the water.
The shaft here is actually a rather special design that’s not so common for entry-level paddle price points. It’s a straight shaft with a round shape, but the handgrip section is oval-shaped for a better grip.
The blades can be set at a straight line, but it has a button you can push so the blades can be feathered (set at different angles) by 60 degrees. The blade itself is made from tough polypropylene, so occasionally you can use it to push off from the river bank.
This is a 2-piece paddle, and that makes it easier to bring along with you. You can just store it in your car trunk on the way to the lake. The connection of the handles is actually firm.
Its splash guards on the blade are also very effective. It won’t completely leave you dry, of course, but the amount of water you get dropped on your head and lap while stroking will be about 5% of what you normally get from the freebie paddles you receive as part of your kayak purchase.
- It’s very light so it’s great for long trips on the water.
- The shaft and the blades are very durable, and you can even use it to push off.
- The handles offer a nice grip.
- Setting the blades at an angle is very easy.
- The splash guards are quite effective.
- While you should always have a leash for your paddle, this one floats if you drop it in the water.
- People who need a 96-inch paddle may think that it’s too short.
- You may want to put in some foam on the handle for a more comfy grip.
Some people, like those who use a high angle for paddling, prefer a shorter paddle. This is one terrific option for that, especially for those on a budget.
AIRHEAD AHTK-P2 uses lightweight aluminum for the shaft, and it is lightweight enough that it can be used by children.
That’s good to know since many who buy shorter paddles do intend to get them for their kids. It’s also great for beginners who tend to drop their paddles into the water, because this will float until you get them back.
This is a 2-piece paddle, so with its shorter length it’s very easy to bring along with you in your backpack and in your car trunk. Storage is even less of a problem as well. This comes with 3 different positions for the blades, and it allows you to set the blades at a feathered angle or at a strangle angle, so it can match your style of paddling.
The blades are large and curved, so many will find it very efficient for getting a bit of speed on the water. It also comes with drip rings so you don’t get drenched from the water you inadvertently scoop, and the handgrip already has foam covers on the 2-inch diameter shaft.
- It comes in 2 sections and it’s just 84 inches long. These features make portability and storage easier.
- The short length is also great for children, smaller users, and for high angle power strokes.
- The foam handle grips are very comfy and they prevent blisters.
- The large paddle sections and the curved shape really provide lots of power for each stroke.
- It’s lightweight.
- The water shield works well enough.
- With the curved shape of the paddle, you’ll want to be very careful if you use the paddle to push off from the river bank.
- The foam grip may add too much width for the shaft so that children may not be able to handle it properly.
- The shorter length may not be long enough for adults who want relaxed rides on the water.
Carbon fiber paddles are generally more expensive than aluminum ones, but this Seattle Sports carbon paddle proves that they can still be reasonably priced.
If you want a bit more toughness and greater performance with your paddle, this is an excellent choice.
Aside from the carbon fiber shaft of the paddle, the blade will also probably catch your attention. It’s made of nylon, and for greater durability it’s reinforced with high-strength, impact-resistant glass. Because of the glass, it’s even reflective.
The shape of the blade is actually an exclusive design. It’s not just effective in getting you to move through the water. It also has an integrated “hook” that lets you do all kinds of stuff with the blade aside from pushing off the bank of the river.
The hook allows you to maintain your position on the dock, and retrieve fishing lines and other items overboard. At the ends, you have water guards that act as umbrellas so the water from the blades don’t drench over your head. These drip rings also glow in the dark for greater visibility for nighttime use.
This is available in 2 different sizes. One paddle ranges from 210 to 220 cm (82.7 to 86.6 inches) while the other ranges from 230 to 240 cm (90.6 to 94.5 inches). Each size allows you to select between 2 different lengths.
It’s a 2-section shaft, and the cam-lock allows you to set the designed angle for the blades with the indexed ferrules. There’s also a leash loop built in, so that you can get a leash for the paddle right away.
- This is extra strong yet lightweight too.
- It’s a 2-piece paddle for easier storage and portability.
- It has reflective and glow in the dark properties for greater nighttime visibility and safety.
- The blades are very tough.
- The blades also come with a special hook that helps with various retrieval tasks.
- The length is adjustable, so different users can pick the length they want.
- It’s easy to set the feathered angle.
- As this is an affordable carbon fiber paddle, it’s somewhat heavier than other carbon fiber paddles.
- It is overkill and too short for just relaxed recreational kayak paddling.
How to Buy Kayak Paddle
Here are factors you need to look at when you’re looking for the best kayak paddle for the money for yourself.
Exactly what kind of kayaking are you planning on? That’s probably the most important factor of all. There are paddles for beginners and for simple recreational use, while you also have high performance paddles. There are some for whitewater while others are called touring paddles for rides that last for hours at a time.
This is another factor that proves the fact that a paddle that’s good for one person may not be good for another. There are several rules of thumb when it comes to length. Generally, you want a longer paddle if you’re taller, if you’re more into relaxed paddling, if your kayak is wide, or if you’re on an inflatable kayak that sits high on the water.
Most of the time, shafts are straight. But you may find a few shafts here and there with a bit of a curve. They’re more comfortable to use and less tiring, and they’re great for those with shoulder conditions.
Some are 2-piece shafts, which you can then disassemble so you can store them more easily. There are even 4-piece shafts too, and they take up very little space.
Others may also feature smaller diameter for those with smaller hands, such as women and children. It may be oval or round and the oval pieces are generally more comfortable. Sometimes the shaft is round except for the hand grip areas where they’re oval.
Blade Design and Material
Nowadays the paddle blades are non-symmetrical. It has a special shape called “asymmetrical dihedral” that’s proven to be the most efficient. Whatever you do, you just need to stay away from flat blades.
Then you may want to see if the paddle is feathered. If the 2 blades are in line, then they’re not. With feathered blades, when one blade is in the water the other blade is slicing through the air. That means less work and fatigue for you when you paddle.
For blade material, the most common options for beginners and for infrequent kayakers are nylon, aluminum, and plastic. They’re durable enough and they don’t need much maintenance. They’re very affordable too. However, they’re generally heavier so they’ll tire you out quicker especially for longer trips,
One alternative is fiberglass, which are extremely durable yet lightweight. They can be used for simple recreational trips or for longer touring rides. If you’re a pro, however, you may want to insist on using carbon fiber. It’s even lighter and its performance is superb.
To really find the best kayak paddle for you, you need to try different ones to compare them. You’ll then able to judge for yourself which one is more comfortable to use or offers better performance.
But you should choose among these 5 options we have listed on this kayak paddle reviews first, so you can see what great paddles feel like. But the most important rule of all is to never take kayak paddles for granted. They’re just as important for your enjoyment of the water as your kayak!