An adventure, or a long trip nowadays often comes with kayaking. This activity has even become a weekly sport, or an addictive hobby making many people around the world fall into and take up because of the sense of accomplishment that it brings to players after every finished kayaking route.
And, without an excellent paddle, your kayaking tour can never be completed. Still, how to choose the best kayak paddle for the money, and which are the most worthy models on the market? There are many things needed to be checked out before your purchase but don’t worry, we are here to help you, so let’s get started right away!
Here are the best kayak paddles for the money (Apr 2021 Update):
- Best Overall: SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle
- Best for Kayak Fishing: BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic Kayak Paddle
- Best for River Kayaking: Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly Kayak Paddle
- Best for Multi-Day Trips: AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle
- Best for Lakes: Werner Camano Kayak Paddle
- Best for Beginners: Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle
|6 Best Kayak Paddles for The Money|
|SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle|
Best for Kayak Fishing
|BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic Kayak Paddle|
Best for River Kayaking
|Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly Kayak Paddle|
Best for Multi-Day Trips
|AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle|
Best for Lakes
|Werner Camano Kayak Paddle|
Best for Beginners
|Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle|
Best Overall: SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle
Ergonomic foam hand grip
Foam grip can slip when getting wet
Quite small and short for tall people
SeaSense X- TREME 1 now can be considered as one of the most infamous kayak paddles on the market. It comes up with first-rated overall quality and an affordable price that every kayaker is willing to pay.
This amazing product has a symmetrical blade shape, meaning that both sides of the blade look exactly the other or just have a minor difference. This blade provides you with equal surface area on each side of the shaft line on the powerface, so no matter which side or direction that you hold the paddle, you can transfer the same amount of energy to the blade.
Thanks to that convenience, even amarteur kayakers can use this blade type at ease. Moreover, symmetrical paddles are very powerful. They are often played by high-angle strokes, who are into conquering whitewater more than having a peaceful touring.
The hand grip of this model has foam rubbers, which give you a much more soft, comfortable place to hold. Besides, this product can float on the water. So, if you unexpectedly drop your paddle, don’t worry because you will not lose track of it.
This product from SeaSense will be perfect until it can improve its size variety. It can fit kid and woman size greatly but if you give it to a man, especially a tall, big guy, this looks as a cute toy rather than a powerful paddle to defeat a strong water flow.
|SeaSense X -TREME 1 Kayak Paddle Specifications|
1.8 x 6.8 x 44 inches
Aluminum (shaft); black molded plastic (blades)
2-piece construction; foam rubber grip; floats; adjustable drip guards
SeaSense X -TREME 1 is one of the best kayak paddle for medium-height people.
Best for Kayak Fishing: BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic Kayak Paddle
Feathering adjusted (0 - 60 degrees)
Multiple built-in adjustments and features
Not many color choices
Not lightweight as expected
Let’s come to the second option for today's list, Bending Branches Angler Classic. Are you looking for a kayak paddle with bells and whistles? This might be an excellent ending for your searching.
Bending Branches, maybe we don’t have to talk much about this brand anymore because it’s too popular. It has come up with multiple ideas and unique features to innovate its products that make countless kayakers worldwide become its loyal fans.
What makes it an excellent unit for kayak fishing are a built-in measurement, which is written in both inches and centimeters, and a hook retrieval system. For kayak fishermen, we know that you will love them as they will level up your regular game.
Coming with a combination of a carbon fiber shaft and fiberglass blades, it goes with no doubt that you will have a smooth and exciting paddling experience. 34 oz is not the weight reaching the lightness that we have expected from a carbon fiber shaft, but to be honest, it’s still much lighter and powerful than many other models on the market.
In addition, you should not go for it if you’re into some colorful things because there are only two color versions: green and orange.
|BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic Kayak Paddle Specifications|
46 x 8 x 2 inches
Carbon fiber (shaft); Fiberglass-reinforced (blades)
2-piece; built-in measurement system; hook retrieval system; 3-button snap ferrule
BENDING BRANCHES Angler Classic is a sturdy kayak paddle with multiple features for fishing tours.
Best for River Kayaking: Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly Kayak Paddle
Easy to store
Great, comfortable hand grip
Easy to store
A bit heavy
A bit short
Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly is also one of our most favorite kayak paddles. What makes this model so unique on our list definitely is its bent shaft. Perhaps we don’t need to talk much about the bent shaft as this design is too famous for bringing its users better hand position and less wrists’ fatigue and pain when being used in an extended period.
The 2-piece construction makes it easy for you to break the long unit into 2 pieces and store in your closet. The whole package is now sold at a very economical price, under $100.
Its length is 220 cm, which is suitable for most boats less than 24-inch wide at seat. However, if considering a wider boat or tall people (over 6”), this size will not fit the bill.
An aluminum shaft combined with fiberglass blades seems to be a very common material mixture in the low-price paddle class because of their sturdiness and reasonable production cost. Still, this combination is not perfect, or else all brands will change into it, and that con is that it’s pretty heavy, but with its price, this small issue can be totally forgiven.
|Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly Kayak Paddle Specifications|
20 x 15 x 15 inches
Aluminum (shaft); fiberglass (blades)
2-piece; bent shaft; drip rings
Carlisle Magic Mystic Poly is a cost-effective option for a tight budget.
Best for Multi-Day Trips: AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle
Excellent locking system
Blade angles adjusted
Not powerful enough
Aqua Bound Manta Ray, the model that has recently made the name for the Aqua Bound manufacturer, of course, cannot be ignored on our list. In terms of weight and top-notch material, rare products stay a chance of winning over it.
Both the shaft and blades are made from carbon, which brings you the 1.84 lbs weight that will not let you down. Frankly, 2 lbs paddles are light but this one can be considered as the ultra-light. This will give an effortless paddling time and your wrists, and arms will not have to suffer from fatigue.
Another thing we like is the dihedral blade shape, helping you to have smooth paddling time. Generally, those features are perfectly designed for a long, multi-day kayak trip when you have to always use your wrists and arms, making them work at maximum capacity.
However, since it is too lightweight, it might not be powerful enough. In addition, the blade cannot be disassembled, so take it into consideration if that is a crucial feature to you.
|AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle Specifications|
53 x 14 x 6 inches
Carbon (shaft); abX Carbon-reinforced Nylon (blades)
2-piece; drip rings
AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon is an excellent ultra-lightweight kayak paddle.
Best for Lakes: Werner Camano Kayak Paddle
Many color options
Smoothly go through water
Precise blade angle adjustment
Let’s look into another ideal option for your upcoming kayak paddle. Werner is the manufacturer famous for producing premium products. So, if you want to enter into the high-end world of kayak paddles, a Werner Camano is an optimal starting point.
Speaking of an eye-catching paddle, it has a colorful, vibrant color chart that can capture the toughest customer’s attraction. It has up to 10 different colors, from bright to dark tones. This diversity will mix and match with your kayak’s color, making you outstanding than ever.
The blades are dihedral and low-angle style, meaning that it is suitable for a slow-pace kayaking on a calm lake or river. The dihedral design also allows it to reduce vibrant and flutter when you paddling and direct the water flow more easily.
Your heart will definitely be stolen by this kayak paddle, but we’re afraid that your card might say no. With the price range around 300 dollars, it’s sad but it’s true that it’s not a lovely price for all kayakers. So, if you’re on a tighter budget, or if you are a newbie, perhaps you should take a look at other recommendations on our list.
|Werner Camano Kayak Paddle Specifications|
53 x 9 x 3 inches
Carbon blend (shaft); Fiberglass (blades)
2-piece; low-angle; cam-locking angle
Werner Camano is a high-end kayak paddle.
Best for Beginners: Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle
Blade angle adjusted
Heavy-duty drip rings
The grip is not really oval-shaped
A bit heavy for a long trip
A lot of kayak paddle will cost you an arm and a leg to own, but there are still some exceptions that can exceed your expectations, and one of them is this Escape E from Cannon Paddles. If you are looking for a starting kayak paddle, go no further than this!
Being a combination between the aluminum shaft and fiberglass-reinforced blades, it provides you with a durable and powerful performance. There are three blade offset angle settings, which are 60-degree right or left hand, and Unfeathered. We have carefully explained how an unfeathered and feathered blade will work in the buyers’ guide part, so don’t miss out on it.
We also like the drip rings. It’s thick and solid so it won’t slip and will keep our hands dry during paddling.
You will get an oval-shape shaft, which will give you a better hand position and reduce slipperiness, and that is what the brand tells you, right? However, don’t expect too much at this feature because it’s not really ovalized as it’s advertised. Instead, it just looks like a regular basic round aluminum tube one.
This is made from aluminum and fiberglass, though this is a durable combination, it is not so lightweight. The 39 oz weight cannot make it be listed as a heavy product but in our opinion, it’s not suggested for a long kayaking trip.
|Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle Specifications|
45 x 7 x 0.9 inches
Aluminum (shaft); Fiberglass-reinforced (blades)
2-piece; 3 blade offset angle settings; drip rings
Cannon Paddles Escape E is a user-friendly kayak paddle.
How To Choose The Best Kayak Paddle for The Money?
Equipping yourself with a decent paddle is an essential step to prepare for a kayak touring as you surely don’t want to be up the creek with a broken paddle in the middle of the water, do you? You might end up with an expensive model or a cheaper one, but the idea here is you can get the most bang for your bucks.
These are a few handy tips, let’s check and find out which factors that you truly need in your kayak paddle!
There are three things that you should check and make sure before choosing a proper paddle length, which are the boat width, your height, and your paddling styles/ techniques.
They might sound confused and complicated, but in fact, it’s pretty straightforward to check those parts. You just need to remember that a wider kayak needs a longer paddle and taller users require longer paddles, especially with a narrow boat.
For the detailed indications about the boat width, the height and their corresponding paddle length, we advise you to check the paddle’s website that you intend to buy because each brand might have some slight differences in its size chart.
One tip here is if your height falls between the two sizes, you’d better choose the shorter, but if your torso length is shorter than your lower body part, you should choose the longer one for more extended reach.
Lastly, your paddle length depends on your paddling styles. You are the low or high-angle style stroke? First, you must understand what is the difference between these two definitions. Well, what distinguishes the low-angle stroke from the high-angle one is their upper hands’ height when paddling: the low-angle will keep their hands always under their shoulders while the high-angle is the opposite. So, if you’re the low-angle type, you will need a longer paddle, and if you are another, a shorter model will fit the bill.
Blade and Shaft Material
Plastic/ Nylon: It is cheap, lightweight but will be out of shape after only several usages. To be honest, it’s pretty rare to see a paddle shaft made from plastic nowadays since many better alternatives were used to replace. However, if any, it must be made from a very high-quality kind of plastic that is able to compete with other materials. In the case of plastic/ nylon blades, they are flexible, but that’s the trade-off for your stroke’s efficiency.
Aluminum: It can be seen that aluminum paddles are dominating the low price range market as aluminum is inexpensive, solid and substantial. Still, it is quite heavy and easy to get hot under the sun or get cold on cold days. For advice, it’s not recommended for a long tour, but if you’re beginners and you don’t want to spend much on a paddle, or you just look for a spare one, this is a not-bad choice.
Fiberglass: This is the most popular option for the more experienced. Fiberglass paddles are strong and light, so they will give you excellent performance. Fiberglass is more expensive than aluminum, but we think that it still can fit most of you guys’ budgets.
Carbon Fiber: This is the best material that you can find in a kayak paddle. It is super light and incredibly strong, but that comes at the price when it is much more expensive than fiberglass. Carbon fiber paddles are high-end products and people often seek them once kayaking has become something indispensable of their life.
Wood: Wood is not the garden variety of material that you can easily come across in a paddle, but if you find it, we think that it’s really worth the value. For blade only, it is lightweight, cheaper than the carbon fiber but can have the same durability, however, if your idea is to own a whole paddle made from wood, you will have to pay dearly. Moreover, as it’s wood, it’s not eco-friendly.
Blade Type/ Blade Shape
For those who are new to kayak paddle, this is an up-the-creek part to decide. We know your situation because there are tons of blade shapes. Even when you search on the Internet, there are different results going with the unfamiliar shapes’ names such as beavertail, otter-tail, square-tipped, and so on that you know nothing about them as well as their benefits, making it just harder to choose from.
Simply put, there are just two basic, major groups of paddle blade shapes that you can divide every model or design into, which are short, fat blades and long, skinny blades. Their tops can be either rounded or squared, but they can’t be short and skinny or fat and long at once. And, of course, there are a wide range of differences between them.
Short, fat blades: These blades are recommended for high-angle style strokes and usually preferred by athletic paddlers because they can transfer more energy and power to the blade immediately.
Long, skinny blades: On the opposite side, these models are for the low-angle. They are meant for a much more horizontal paddle stroke, thus great for recreational kayakers and long-distance touring that focuses on stamina and stability than powerful strength.
1 piece: A single-piece paddle will offer you the lightest weight as well as the strongest shaft, but it takes up more space to store or to bring around with, and it is often broken down in the middle because there are no supportive joints and all your force or pressure will be put on that midpoint when paddling.
2 pieces vs 4 pieces: The 4-piece is the most compact design when you can divide it into four parts, pack it into your backpack, and bring it to everywhere you want. However, the 2-piece is more lightweight and stronger. Many kayakers are more in love with the 2-piece construction as they can save time assembling or disuniting the whole tool, but after all, the winner is mostly based on your purposes and preferences!
Feathered vs Matched
Feathered blades are when the two blade faces are set at the opposite angle, or you can understand that they are not aligned with each other, while matched blades are vice versa. The unique design of the feathered blade helps you to reduce wind resistance when the blade is out of the water but it also requires the flexibility of your wrists.
Luckily, there is no competition between feathered and matched blades that once again cause you a headache to make a decision. Most products now allow you to easily adjust the angle degrees to some extent, meaning that you can change a matched blade to a feathered one at ease. However, getting to know which angle will benefit you most is your own learning journey!
Straight vs Bent/ Crankshaft
Bent shafts have a “cranked” section that allows users to extend their reach forward, better wrist position alignment, and reduce fatigue when paddling in a long period, but they tend to be heavier and harder to control. Besides, there are ways to have those benefits in a straight shaft but they will take a quite long time to master.
In general, bent shafts are for those who used to have wrist injuries, and straight shafts are for newbies because, you know, keeping everything simple is the best way to learn something new, right?
Which Brands Make The Best Kayak Paddle for The Money?
All of the brands that we have mentioned above have their own product strengths and it’s hard or unfair to compare them and clearly define which ones can make the best kayak paddle for the money. However, if just viewing their variety in designs and features, we would highly recommend these three manufacturers:
What happens when you use too long of a paddle for kayaking?
When you use unsuitable paddle length, no matter if it’s too short or too long, you will end up exhausting yourself because of having to use more muscle’s strength than necessary to control the boat following your wanted flow.
How long of a kayak paddle should I get?
Kayak paddles’ length are ranging from 200cm to 260cm, and there is no fixed, appropriate paddle size that can fit everyone. That’s why we have made a detailed buying guide about this matter. If you still have not caught the point, please turn back to the upper part for details.
How do you determine the right size kayak paddle?
You can choose your kayak paddle based on your torso length, the kayak design, and your stroke angle preference. Besides, there are other two methods for you to consult and try when you somehow cannot measure or identify those factors above.
The first one is the On-water method. You know, it’s really hard to just look at some paddle models and have to decide which is the right one. So, it’s time for trial-and-error things. Just choose a beautiful day, pick a random paddle and start to row a kayak. If you have followed the proper techniques but still encounter some difficulties, it means that paddle size is not for you. Keep changing and listening to advice from the more experienced, and you will find your ideal one.
The next one is called Quick-pick method. There are two ways to conduct this. First, elbows bend, use your hands to grab, hold the paddle balanced and keep its shaft’s center right above your top of the head. If it’s your size, your hand should be at ⅔ of the way from the shaft’s center to the blade. Second, raise the paddle vertically, fully extend your arm to reach, and if your fingers can totally grasp around the top edge of the blade, then, it’s your size.
Are cheap kayak paddles any good?
Cheap kayak paddles might not defeat expensive ones when it comes to advanced features and constructed materials, but there are many models that can still get the job on the basis done greatly, and we have introduced you to some of them in the review section.
Do kayaks tip easily?
Kayak is pretty safe to use, especially if the water is relatively calm. However, we cannot ignore the situation when the water flow is strong or you try too hard to paddle, concentrate too much power and force on one side and lead to flipping over.
Finding your best kayak paddle for the money is not easy like taking candy from a baby, but it is not impossible! The core here is that you can identify your purpose, your kind of paddling and your level of experience. So, with our guidance, we believe that you will definitely discover your own dream paddle in a jiffy!
Moreover, a good paddle is not the only concern to enjoy a kayak trip but also your paddling techniques. Therefore, don’t forget to learn and sharpen your skills day by day. Good luck and have fun!