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The 8 Best Kayak Paddles Reviews 2021: Lightweight for Beginner Recreation & White Water Touring

Best Kayak Paddles

Maybe your kayak did not come with a paddle, or maybe it got lost in some paddling adventure. Or maybe the paddle that came with your kayak does not suit you and you want to find something better. You deserve the best!

Whether you’re an angler or like to paddle recreationally, how do you find the best kayak paddle out of all the options out there? Never fear! We have put together a list of paddle reviews of 8 of the best kayak paddles out there. Whether you are a novice or experienced paddler, with our tried and tested paddle reviews we’re sure you can find the best kayak paddle for your needs.

#1 Editor’s Choice

Aqua Bound Tango Fiberglass Bent Shaft 2-Piece
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#2 Editor’s Choice

Aqua Bound Sting Ray Carbon 2-Piece
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Werner Paddles Kalliste
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Wilderness Systems Pungo
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Werner Camano Fiberglass Bent Shaft
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Werner Skagit Fiberglass Touring Sea Kayak Paddle
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Carlisle Magic Plus
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Bending Branches Whisper
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1. Aqua Bound Tango Fiberglass Bent Shaft 2-Piece Kayak Paddle

Aqua Bound Tango Kayak Paddle

Editor’s choice #1: With 360 adjustability, the Aqua Bound Tango is one of the highest performance paddles out there. It is lightweight, rigid, smooth and powerful. It has zero flutter, with a super comfortable ergonomic handle. The Posi-Lok ferrule system allows for unrivaled security and adjustability. This provides a truly amazing kayaking experience.

Advanced Handle Design With Powerful Blade

The Aqua Bound Tango is constructed of 3k plain weave carbon and is wonderfully lightweight.  The paddle shaft is highly rigid, allowing a powerful paddle stroke. The ergonomic bent handle makes for a much more natural hand position, which allows for enhanced comfort and performance. Plus, it features rubber drip rings to keep your hands dry while paddling. The blades of the Aqua Bound Tango are made of lightweight yet strong fiberglass. The asymmetrical, advanced design delivers considerable power. The paddle feels very smooth cutting through the water, and you will experience zero flutter.

Strong, Adjustable Posi-Lok System

The Posi-Lok ferrule that connects the two paddle pieces of this Aqua Bound paddle is simple yet strong. It uses a dual button release system that allows you to adjust it in 15 degree increments all the way around, an unrivaled level of adjustability. On top of that, the locking system has a corrosion-free construction so it won’t deteriorate over time. This is truly a high-performance paddle.

Pros

Cons

2. Aqua Bound Sting Ray Carbon 2-Piece Kayak Paddle

Aqua Bound Sting Ray Paddle

Editor’s choice #2: If you are looking for a paddle almost as good as the Tango with a lower price tag, the Aqua Bound Sting Ray is the way to go. Sturdy and lightweight with the same Posi-Lok system, this is a fantastic paddle that provides you with a smooth and comfortable kayaking experience.

Adjustable Feathering Angles

The Aqua Bound Sting Ray Carbon 2-Piece is a carbon shaft paddle with carbon reinforced nylon blades. Its carbon construction allows it to be both sturdy and lightweight, while offering enough flexibility to withstand powerful strokes. The Aqua Bound Sting Ray features a Posi-Lok that connects the two pieces with a highly secure pivoting joint. This locking mechanism allows you to decide what feathering angle you would like depending on your paddling style. On top of that, this paddle features rubber drip rings to keep your hands dry.

Comfortable Paddling

One of the most comfortable items on our list, the high quality design and construction of the Aqua Bound Sting Ray makes for a great paddling experience. The blades cut smoothly through the water, and its angle is easily controlled. The grip areas of the shaft are oval, with some texture to allow for easier grip. This paddle works a dream as a recreational or touring kayak, for beginners and expert paddlers alike.

Pros

Cons

3. Werner Paddles Kalliste Kayak Paddle

Werner Paddles Kalliste Kayak Paddle

Great For Touring

The Werner Kalliste kayak paddle is constructed of super lightweight carbon fiber. This is a great option for an angler, people into touring or kayak fishing, or if you spend lots of time paddling. Its bent design allows you to paddle for hours without getting strained hands and wrists. This paddle offers a Smart View locking mechanism which allows you to set the feathering angle in 15 degree increments from 0 to 75. The paddle feels like a one-piece when slotted together, with no bits that your gear can snag on. It also comes in varying lengths and two sizes of shaft diameter.

Resistant Blades

The Werner Kalliste kayak paddle has an asymmetric dihedral blade shape with a smooth back that ensures a flutter-free stroke. They also feature Dynel blade edges, which provide extra resistance. This means that when paddling, you will feel a wonderful combination of power and buoyancy. The Kalliste is designed for low angle paddling and is truly a high performance paddle.

Pros

Cons

4. Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak Paddle

Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak Paddle

Lightweight And Durable

The Wilderness Systems Pungo kayak paddle features a composite fiberglass blade and a shaft that is 50% carbon / 50% fiberglass. It is both super lightweight and super durable. While the screws may rust if exposed to seawater without rinsing, the blade and shaft hold up well to wear and tear. This paddling performance of the Pungo rivals top-end kayak paddles, without the hefty price tag.

Adjustable Paddle Length

This is a great paddle for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. A lot of this can be attributed to the blade design, which is lightweight and gently curved, allowing the paddler to make smooth and flutter-free strokes. The length of the Wilderness Systems Pungo paddle is adjustable, from 220-240cm (7.2-7.9 feet), using their lever-lock adjustable ferrule system. To extend the paddle, you simply flip a lever at the center. This system is sturdy, but still easy to do quickly. Plus, extending it doesn’t compromise the paddle’s performance.

Pros

Cons

5. Werner Camano Fiberglass Bent Shaft Kayak Paddle

Werner Camano Kayak Paddle

High Performance Blades

The Werner Camano kayak paddle has a shaft of carbon and fiberglass laminate paddle blades. The blades are rigid and responsive with a dihedral design, producing no flutter even under pressure. Their ultra-thin design is not ideal for fast paddling, but makes for a great touring kayak paddle as it produces a smooth and comfortable stroke.

Lightweight Paddle & Good Locking Mechanism

The Werner Camano paddle uses the same Smart View adjustment system as other Werner paddles, allowing you to easily select the correct blade angle for your paddling style. It also feels very secure once the two pieces are locked together. The Werner Camano is highly lightweight, which is an important consideration if you want to be on the water for long periods of time. The ergonomic bent handle also enhances comfort. For the long distance paddler, kayak fisherman or angler, the Camano is a fantastic choice.

Pros

Cons

6. Werner Skagit Fiberglass Touring Sea Kayak Paddle

Werner Skagit Kayak Paddle

Highly Durable

The main difference between the Werner Skagit and the Camano above is that with the Skagit, you trade lightness for durability.  It has a carbon blend shaft but fiberglass reinforced nylon blades, which add swing weight but increase durability. This paddle will last you for countless touring expeditions. Due to its wear and impact-resistant blades, you don’t have to worry about bangs and scrapes. The Skagit is best for relaxed, low angle paddling. Its weight can cause fatigue after some time, but the lightweight shaft counteracts that a little.

Secure Locking Mechanism

Like the Camano, the Skagit makes use of the Smart View adjustment system. Sand or grit can stick up the connection, but it has the advantage of easy selection of your desired feathering angle, of which there are nine options. But the best thing about the locking mechanism is its security – this paddle could be mistaken for a one-piece when locked together.

Pros

Cons

7. Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle

Durable And Comfortable

The Carlisle Magic Plus has a shaft of wrapped fiberglass and fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene blades. The snap button system connecting the two parts of the paddle is simple to use. One thing you’ll love about the Carlisle Magic is its comfortable handle. The handle area is oval, with a textured grip that improves stroke efficiency. Plus, the handle doesn’t get too cold when the weather is chilly.

Powerful Blades

The blades in particular are strong and rigid, and do not flutter even under pressure. At the same time, this paddle is responsive and performs well. The spoon-shaped curve of the Carlisle Magic Plus paddle blade allows a powerful stroke, holding up against waves and rough conditions. There aren’t many blade angle options, but you can choose between left and right hand control.

Pros

Cons

8. Bending Branches Whisper 2-Piece Snap-Button Recreational Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Whisper Kayak Paddle

Durable And Affordable

If you are a newbie or casual paddler looking for an inexpensive kayak paddle, the Bending Branches Whisper is a great choice. Although it has an aluminum shaft, it is well constructed, making it much more durable than other paddles at its price point. Novice paddlers probably won’t be able to discern much difference between this Bending Branches paddle and a high-end paddle.

Good Locking Mechanism

The Bending Branches Whisper kayak paddle has a snap button ferrule system to connect the two pieces. It is easy to do, though it can become stiff over time, so make sure to rinse it regularly. The paddle also offers three blade angle options to choose from. And for the price, the locking system is very secure. A more affordable option than the Bending Branches Angler range for example, this is a paddle that the whole family can enjoy.

Pros

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Buyer’s Guide

What To Consider When Buying A Kayak Paddle

What To Consider When Buying A Kayak Paddle

Whether you are an angler, enjoy touring or generally spend a lot of time on the water, finding the best kayak paddle for you can be a challenge. Here are a few things you should look out for when reading paddle reviews.

Material

Kayak paddles come in different materials that vary in price and quality. It’s up to you to decide how much you are willing to fork out to get something lightweight and strong.

Blades

Plastic paddle blades are affordable, but won’t last the longest or perform the best. Fiberglass paddle blades are a good choice because they are both lightweight and durable. On the top end, carbon fiber blades are more expensive but are highly lightweight and the most efficient. There are several different blade designs, but in general, you want something with an asymmetrical shape.

Shaft

Paddles with an aluminum shaft are usually the most affordable, and they’re pretty durable too. However, they are on the heavy side. Fiberglass paddle shafts are lightweight and strong without breaking the bank. Carbon fiber shaft paddles are the lightest and stiffest, but also the most expensive. Traditional shafts have a round shape and are straight. However, recently, paddles with an oval shape and bent design have become more popular. These enhance comfort and ease strain on the wrists.

Weight

In general, you want to aim for a lightweight paddle because these are more efficient and easier on the wrists. However, you don’t want something that is simply flimsy, so look out for ones that are rigid and strong too.

Durability

If you want a really durable paddle, you are looking at carbon fiber or at least fiberglass. However, if you are a casual, recreational paddler, durability might not be so important. On the flipside, if you are going to be touring or whitewater kayaking, you should probably take durability seriously.

What’s The Right Length Paddle For Me?

Kayak paddles range in length from about 6-8.2 feet (180-250cm). In general, taller paddlers will need a longer paddle, and shorter paddlers should go for something shorter. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.

What’s The Right Length Paddle For Me

Torso Length

The longer your torso, the longer paddle you will need. Check this table to see what length you should go for, all else being equal.

Torso Length

Paddle Size

Torso length is a more accurate measure than height for how long your paddle should be.

Kayak Width And Paddling Angle

Your kayak width can affect the length you should choose. Some recreational kayaks are extra wide, in which case you will need a longer paddle. In addition, it depends whether you are a low angle or a high angle paddler – high angle paddlers don’t need such a long paddle as they tilt it more vertically in relation to the water surface.

Adjustable Paddles

Some paddles these days have adjustable lengths. This is great, because not only can you try out different lengths, but people of different heights can share the same paddle. However, it can give the paddle too much flex.

Kayak Paddle Extensions – What You Need To Know

Perhaps the paddle you have is too short, and you’d rather modify it than buy a whole new paddle. In that case extensions can be used to increase its length.

One thing to note is that extensions are designed to fit between shaft pieces, so you may not be able to add an extension if you have a single piece paddle.

Buying A Paddle Extension

There are some paddle extensions on the market that you can simply slot in between your shaft pieces. These come in different lengths, and some are designed for particular paddles, while others are more generic. However, extensions are not always easy to come by. In addition, they can diminish the quality of your paddle, for example by adding unwanted flex.

Making Your Own Paddle Extension

Another option is to make your own extension, if you have a paddle on hand that you don’t mind sacrificing. This allows you to cut the ‘extension’ to whatever length you want, then slot it in between your two pieces. You may also need to drill holes in the piece you’ve cut so that it can slot in. Making your own paddle extension requires some DIY skill, and buying one is not always easy or ideal.

We recommend considering the paddle length you’ll need carefully before deciding what to buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best paddle for kayaking is the Aqua Bound Tango kayak paddle. It offers the best combination of lightness, rigidity, performance and comfort. Plus, its Posi-Lok ferrule system is highly secure and allows for infinite adjustability. You will have a wonderful paddling experience no matter where you go.

You should get a paddle that is the right size for your torso length. Check our handy table that lays out what length paddle you should get, ranging from a 22” (56cm) to a 38” (96cm) torso. Note that if your kayak is extra wide, you will probably need a longer paddle, and you should take paddling style into account too.

Yes, all kayak paddles float to a certain extent. That said the lower-quality ones may begin to sink a little after some time. However, you are more likely to lose your paddle through it floating away from you than through it sinking. This is why you should always be aware of your paddle when you’re not actively paddling, and you might consider getting a paddle leash.

The best kayak paddle for a beginner is the Aqua Bound Sting Ray kayak paddle. It is more affordable than the Tango, but is highly lightweight with a smooth stroke and a comfortable handle. Expert paddlers will like this paddle too – it’s versatile and performs well. Do not be intimidated by the various feathering angles – just try them out and see what feels best.

The best material for kayak paddles is probably carbon fiber. Carbon offers the best combination of lightness and power. However, fiberglass paddles are also very good and are more budget-friendly. Some of the best kayak paddles have carbon shafts and blades of fiberglass, or are made from a carbon blend.

Conclusion

To conclude, the all around best kayak paddle we reviewed was the Aqua Bound Tango. It is consistently good in pretty much every way, from its smooth, powerful stroke to its ergonomic, lightweight shaft. But there are so many fantastic kayak paddles on this list, so we are certain you can find the best kayak paddle to suit your needs. Whichever one you choose, have fun paddling!

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