Board and Kayak
Get A Fishing License
*Disclaimer: Board and Kayak earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

Four Kayak Paddles Will Make You Wish You Bought Them Earlier

Best Kayak Paddle

Best Kayak Paddle

Updated on 5/21/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott

Kayaking on a beautiful day is nothing better than getting out on the water. Nature offers fresh air, exercise, and the chance to observe the beauty and challenges.

Getting the most out of your kayaking experience is dependent on owning a kayak that is the right fit for you. A kayak paddle is at least as necessary as the kayak itself.

When choosing a paddle, look for one that is relatively lightweight and easy to handle, so you don't fatigue too fast and end up having to stop your outing early.

Quality Paddles - Why You Need Them

To be a serious enthusiast, you'll need the right equipment. Kayaking is more enjoyable and satisfying when you own a quality, well-constructed paddle. When a paddle is lighter, it is easier to maneuver and less tiring to handle.

Kayaking helps you strengthen your back, biceps, and core muscles. You'll experience more back pain and exhaustion sooner with a poor paddle, even in calm waters. The reason is that the cheapest models are more cost-saving than adequate, and the best kayaks should be more expensive.

Pick a paddle that is light, stiff, and comfortable to grip.

An upgraded paddle isn't just for competitive kayakers. If you want to paddle faster, you'll want to consider a paddle different from those favored by most recreational paddlers. You can kayak in various ways depending on your preferences and how you wish to experience it.

If you invest in a well-made paddle lighter, more durable, feels comfortable, and is easier to handle, you'll have a better experience every time you're out on the water. For an enhanced user experience, you want a paddle that has been engineered. A more extended kayaking trip is virtually guaranteed to be more enjoyable.

Everyone needs a different approach.

Kayak paddles are made up of three main parts: a shaft ranging from seven to eight feet.

There are two sides to the blade - the power side and the backside. Power face refers to the side of the paddle that propels you forward by pushing water.

Paddles with shorter shafts are generally recommended for shorter kayakers. Generally, taller people tend to use longer paddles with larger blades, as do more robust, more experienced paddlers who travel faster.

Paddles designed for speed and those designed for recreation can be distinguished by their blade shapes. Leisure use and recreational kayaking call for a blade with a low angle, and High-angle blades are meant for performance and more competitive kayaking.

For more information on the difference between a high angle and low angle blades, watch this helpful 3-minute video.

Be sure to read the specifications.

On lower-end paddles, blades are made of plastic or plastic blends, fiberglass, or carbon on higher-end paddles.

Carbon, fiberglass, or aluminum are the most common materials used for paddle shafts. Compared to aluminum, carbon and fiberglass are lighter and more durable. For budget-conscious consumers, aluminum is often the best option.

Manufacturers typically use two diameters. Ideally, it would help to try both sizes at a local sporting goods store to determine the most comfortable feel for you. From there, you can check here for the best price and recommendations.

When shopping, you should choose the lighter and stiffer paddle within your budget.

Your money will be well spent if you do that. A paddle constructed entirely from carbon or fiberglass would be the best option available. However, if this is beyond your budget, consider a paddle with a stable shaft (like the ones below). This alone can make all the difference.

Lightweight and comfortable shafts are the most critical factors. Considering your height and arm length, the paddle you choose should also be the right length. Choosing the right paddle depends on how it feels to you, how it feels, how it feels to you, and whether it feels too heavy or awkward for you.

Paddles you can buy aftermarket for kayaking.

You can find a quick look at our top four kayak paddles below. Learn more in more detail about how each paddle is unique and why we consider every one of them to be a top buy.

The paddles aren't without drawbacks, but the positives greatly outweigh any perceived negatives in the case below.

Branches Whisper Dream is the best budget paddle.

The Bending Branches Whisper Dream is an excellent choice for those on a budget.

The shaft is made of aluminum, while the blades are nylon. Because it is made of two pieces, you can easily store it when not in use. This aluminum shaft is nice and strong as it is constructed of aluminum. It could be argued that this shaft is one of the best non-carbon ones available.

Despite having an aluminum shaft, the grip is covered with plastic to make it more comfortable, especially in colder weather.

Many recreational kayakers use this paddle as their primary propulsion, but others say it makes a good backup paddle for emergencies.

Consumers rate the Whisper Dream paddle as durable, providing a positive experience for recreational paddlers. It is designed for leisure use, not fast riding.

One of the most noticeable things about these paddles was their tight shafts for a 2-piece paddle. Moreover, the post is protected from freezing in cold weather and getting sand stuck in it by a plastic ferrule.

The Bending Branches Angler Classic is the angling paddle of choice.

Taking a look at this "made in USA" paddle would be a good idea.

The lightweight yet solid and capable paddle is constructed with a fiberglass shaft and reinforced blades. However, the angler-friendly features make this paddle even better for some.

The Angler Classic is equipped with both a retrieval system (reportedly effective) and a built-in measuring tape to measure fish as you reel them in.

It also features a built-in tape measure, so you can determine instantly whether the fish you catch are legal and worth keeping or if you should toss them back to avoid hefty fines.

With the built-in hook retrieval system, you can attach a line to the paddle's notch and slide it down to release a snag. This feature has been reported to work exceptionally well by users that have helped recover abandoned lures and other pieces of tackle from trees and rocks.

For the price, it's a well-designed, well-made paddle made in the USA. The paddle is lightweight and flexible at the same time. In crowded or narrow waterways, it can provide more than adequate mobility.

The best value paddle is the Werner Skagit FG.

It is one of the best-known brands of kayak paddles, so most experienced kayakers are familiar with the Werner name.

A Werner kayak paddle is like the Lexus car of kayak paddles: a well-known brand that is slightly more expensive than the others, but for a good reason - the brand is synonymous with quality, and you're guaranteed to get what you pay for.

While it's not the cheapest paddle available, it does deliver serious value that's hard to beat - unless you're prepared to spend quite a bit more money.

Weighing just 34.5 ounces, the Werner Skagit FG 2PC Shaft Paddle is perfectly balanced and easy to handle. Its most unique feature is the solid coupler that allows for adjustments while still providing a stable shaft that doesn't move once connected.

I'm talking about the adjustments you can make to this paddle that set it apart from its competitors, which allows you to change the blade angle to suit your paddling style. There aren't many paddles with this feature in the lower price ranges, but it's ordinary in kayak paddles with higher price tags.

This model of Werner features a solid construction you would expect from a well-made product. Paddling with it is a breeze thanks to its lightweight, stiff, and durable carbon blend shaft and fiberglass blade. 

With this paddle, you won't have to buy the expensive paddles built for competitive kayakers rather than for recreational kayakers.

Paddle for beginners: Carlisle Magic Mystic Kayak Paddle

Featuring a lightweight aluminum shaft and fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades, the Carlisle Magic Mystic is highly durable. It also features asymmetrical blades and pushes button ferrules for total control over your paddle.

Although it won't perform as well as an all-fiberglass paddle or carbon fiber paddle, it offers paddlers a reasonable way to get some basic performance features while they hang the sport.

For more accessible storage, the paddle can be separated into two parts, making it highly rigid when connected. The paddle fits perfectly together without any movement. Since other brands do not join together as precisely as others, this is a significant concern for serious paddlers.

This tool allows efficient strokes without tiring the body too quickly with a slightly curved blade shape and adjustable ferrules. On the forward stroke, it minimizes wrist flexion, which will be beneficial to your joints in the long run.

Even after considerable use, users comment on this paddle's durability. Aluminum shafts are responsible for this. While it won't be as lightweight as a carbon shaft, you can bet on it to last long.

Carlisle Magic Mystic paddle: what's not to love?

A user reported the drip ring on the shaft that is supposed to prevent water from leaking did not seem to fit correctly on the post. It sounds more like a minor inconvenience, and it appears the paddle weighs more than it says. Except for that, the Carlisle Magic Mystic is a great beginner paddle.

It's a quality paddle that helps you feel in control, and it requires less effort to paddle. Although it's lightweight, it's very sturdy and comfortable. With such a low price, this paddle is an excellent purchase - capable of withstanding long days on the water without much wear and tear.


Kayaking paddles can impact your experience and results just as much as any other factor. Paddles for kayaks should be treated as seriously as kayaks themselves, rather than being an afterthought. You will find a perfect paddle among the 4 top choices above.

When choosing a paddle, consider what is most important to you and how you plan to use it. After that, select the paddle that is right for you. We recommend the paddles we recommend.