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A Paddle’s Role

Cutting through the water, cold mist entering your lungs, your movements propelling you forward. This scene is a reality for anyone that has ever kayaked on a cool fall morning. Peace isn’t the absence of movement but rather movement’s grace.

A kayak paddle plays a vital role in bringing picturesque scenes like the one above to reality. That’s why it is so strange that despite their simple appearance, they are made up of several parts.

From a carbon fiber shaft to its blade shape. What your paddle is made of is as important as how you use it. The kayak paddles down below have varied builds but are all high-quality offerings.



Best Kayak Paddle

Wilderness Systems Pungo

  • Item Weight: ‎0.01 Pounds
  • Size: 220-240 cm

Best Durable Paddle

Aqua-Bound Sting Ray

  • Item Weight: 0.01 Pounds
  • Size: 240 cm

Best Premium Kayak Paddle

Werner Camano Straight

  • Item Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Size: ‎220 cm

Best Beginner Paddle

Bending Branches Whisper

  • Item Weight: ‎2.05 Pounds
  • Size: ‎230 cm

Best Versatility

Perception Universal

  • Item Weight: 2.1 Pounds
  • Size: 230 cm/ 90.5”

Best Budget Paddle


  • Item Weight: 1.7 Pounds
  • Size: 240 cm

Best Looking

Aqua-Bound Tango

  • Item Weight: ‎1 Pound
  • Size: 230 cm

Best Of The Rest

Manta Ray Carbon

  • Item Weight: ‎3 Pounds
  • Size: ‎210 cm

8 Best Kayak Paddles on the Market

The Wilderness Systems option has an adjustable carbon fiber shaft and fiberglass blades. The Perception Universal brings with it nylon blades that were made to cut through all kinds of water conditions.

There is a lot on offer. It is why I’ve gone through our top choices and highlighted their strengths and weaknesses. A high-performance paddle doesn’t have to follow the same formula as the last. Varied design leads to varied outcomes but attention to detail and care always give you a quality product.

There’s plenty of that down below.

1. Wilderness Systems Pungo

Wilderness Systems Pungo

At the top of the mountain, only the Wilderness Systems Pungo reigns supreme. This paddle incorporates the best features and materials from all of the other paddles on this list. A true amalgamation of genius design and great materials.

Its shaft is made from carbon fiber and fiberglass. Gaining the benefits of both with none of the downsides. Namely, carbon fiber’s low-weight and durable qualities and fiberglass’s high resistance to bending and low density.

The blades are asymmetrical. This improves their striking angle and maneuverability. Making for the best feeling forward strokes on the market. The Wilderness Systems Pungo is the best-feeling paddle by far and it’s not even close.

kayak paddle

Best of all, the shaft has drip rings for helping you maintain a dry and sturdy grip.


  • Shaft Type: Two-piece paddle
  • Blade: Asymmetrical Dihedral
  • Build Material: Carbon and fiberglass blend
  • Best Feature: Smooth forward strokes
  • Grip Feature: Drip rings


  • A pressure molding process was used to make this paddle. Resulting in a well-balanced paddle.
  • Easy to transport and put together thanks to its two-piece design.
  • Reduced torque and smooth slicing through the water thanks to asymmetrical blade design.


  • Not for beginners and so not the most accessible paddle.

Wilderness Systems Pungo

The price of “Wilderness Systems Pungo ” varies, so check the latest price at

2. Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon

Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon

The Sting Ray Carbon was made to rumble. This paddle will last for as long as you can go and then some. It comes with nylon blades that have carbon fiber edges. These carbon fiber edges improve slicing and forward drive.

The entire shaft has an oval slanted shape. This may sound strange but believe me, it comes with its major benefits. Namely, your grip will be much more secure and you won’t have to worry as much about blisters and sores.

best kayak paddle for beginners

The shaft is made from one-hundred percent carbon. An entire carbon shaft is strong enough not to bend in heavy waters and yet lightweight. Lightweight enough to not tire you out after a few strokes.

Between its durability, comfort-design, and weight. This paddle is a true knockout.


  • Shaft Type: Oval-slanted shaft
  • Blade: Carbon and nylon blade
  • Build Material: 100% carbon shaft
  • Best Feature: Reduced blisters thanks to shaft design
  • Grip Feature: Comfort oval grip


  • The entire shape of this paddle’s shaft was designed to make sure that it would feel comfortable in your hands for prolonged periods of time.
  • The carbon fiber blade is efficient and further strengthened by the nylon in its build.
  • High durability thanks to the nylon that makes up most of the blade’s edge.


  • The ovalized shaft is comfortable, but you’ll have to adjust all of your strokes for it.

Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon

The price of “Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon” varies, so check the latest price at

3. Werner Camano Straight 2-Piece

Werner Camano Straight 2-Piece

Alright, if you are a serious paddler. One that will kayak against the current and in white-water rapids, then you need a paddle that can keep up. May I present to you the Camano Straight? It comes with translucent blades that literally glow in the water.

But the shine isn’t everything. You want to know what the shape of these blades is. Well, let me tell you. The Camano Straight has asymmetrical blades. This blade design is perfect for striking at the water from a shallow angle. The less you have to dig in, the less resistance you will come up against.

best kayak paddle

This means that you’ll require less energy per stroke. Asymmetrical blades also improve maneuverability and power transmission as a whole. I’m sure that was more than enough to whet your appetite, and if it wasn’t, I should mention that this paddle has a carbon and fiberglass build.


  • Shaft Type: Straight two-piece
  • Blade: Asymmetrical Dihedral
  • Build Material: Carbon and fiberglass blend
  • Best Feature: Translucent blades glow in the water
  • Grip Feature: Drip rings


  • The blade design of this paddle is a true work of art. They look and perform wonderfully.
  • The ferrule design has been improved to make this feel like one continuous paddle.
  • Strong power face that reduces drag when going against the current.


  • Premium quality comes with a premium price tag.

Werner Camano Straight 2-Piece

The price of “Werner Camano Straight 2-Piece ” varies, so check the latest price at

4. Bending Branches Whisper

Bending Branches Whisper

What I loved about the Bending Branches Whisper is that it doesn’t disrespect its user. Far too often, you’ll see beginner gear that has a shifty construction. Not durable and definitely not great for performance.

The Whisper bucks this trend. Doing so by giving you an all-aluminum alloy shaft. A shaft that is tipped with polypropylene blades. These blades are sharp and effective for cutting a path through still water. Fighting against the river’s weight.

Black comfort grips have been placed onto the shaft. Protecting your novice hands from developing severe blisters. From its comfort accommodations to its effective blade design, the Whisper covered all bases for its beginner users.

It even has an adjustable fitting button, should you want to make alterations to its length.

best kayak paddles


  • Shaft Type: Aluminum
  • Blade: Polypropylene blades
  • Build Material: Aluminum shaft
  • Best Feature: Adjustable fitting button
  • Grip Feature: Black grips


  • Has a durable construction that doesn’t wobble or bend unnecessarily.
  • The perfect entry-level paddle that beginners can master all strokes with.
  • Has an aluminum shaft that comes with comfortable black grips.


  • Best used by beginners as expert paddlers will be left unsatisfied by its feel.

Bending Branches Whisper

The price of “Bending Branches Whisper ” varies, so check the latest price at

5. Perception Universal

Perception Universal

There are times when you’ll want to kayak in different places and bodies of water. In fact, even the same river can feel completely different in different weather conditions. The world is dynamic, and you need a paddle that can keep up. Enter the Universal.

The name isn’t just for show. The Perception Universal manages to perform well in different conditions thanks to the nylon blades that it carries with it. Anything with nylon in its build is going to last. Unlikely to get weathered down even after repeated use.

kayak paddles review

The Universal doesn’t just get its name from its performance but also from its compatibility. Both the sit-inside and sit-on-top styles of kayak pair nicely with this paddle.

Before I go, I should mention that its entire shaft is made from aluminum. Corrosion-resistant.


  • Shaft Type: Two-piece
  • Blade: Nylon
  • Build Material: Aluminum shaft
  • Best Feature: Performs with various kayak designs
  • Grip Feature: Injection molded ferrule


  • This paddle is specially designed to perform well with sit-inside and sit-on-top kayaks.
  • The nylon blades were made to last, and they don’t get weathered down after prolonged use.
  • The two-planed blade makes for smooth and stable strokes.


  • Comes in only one size.

Perception Universal

The price of “Perception Universal ” varies, so check the latest price at

6. BKC KP224


Budget options are the gateway drug of any hobby or sport. Suffice it to say that you want them to be high-quality so that more newcomers will stay attached to the sport. Well, fortunately for those that want to see kayaking grow in popularity, the KP224 is a great paddle.

The two-piece quick-assembly shaft is tipped off by feathered blades. These blades pull more of the water with it thanks to said feathering angles. Meaning that each stroke gets maximum power transmission without you needing to throw all of your strength into it.

The stand-out feature of this budget lover is its non-slip grips. Every single paddle on the market should have this feature, and yet so few do. Get the KP224, every dollar will feel well spent.


  • Shaft Type: Two-piece shaft
  • Blade: Feathered paddle blades
  • Build Material: Aluminum alloy shaft
  • Best Feature: Slender and contoured blades
  • Grip Feature: Anti-slip grip


  • This is a solid paddle that is available for a very discounted price.
  • The paddle locks in three different positions. Can suit paddlers of all sizes.
  • The shaft has two large anti-slip grips for securing your hold. All paddles should have this feature.


  • I can’t find anything wrong with this paddle, not at this price point.


The price of “BKC KP224 ” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Aqua-Bound Tango

We all want to look good. Sure, we can spend countless hours perfecting our strokes, or we could just get the Aqua-Bound Tango. With fiberglass blades this radiant, you get both the form and function to stand out.

Its peacock coloring is only further enhanced by the T-700 carbon fiber shaft. The shaft resonates well with the bright colors. Of course, it is also comfortable and extremely durable. This was to be expected thanks to its compression-molded build.

lightweight kayak paddle

My favorite feature of this paddle was the angle of its blades. Best used for low-angled paddling, the perfect fit for a leisurely ride. You can also change the angle of the blades using the shaft’s two-button release.

What style!


  • Shaft Type: T-700 carbon fiber shaft
  • Blade: Fiberglass blades
  • Build Material: Carbon fiber paddle
  • Best Feature: Compression-molded build
  • Grip Feature: Carbon Posi-Lok ferrule


  • By far, the most beautiful-looking paddle on the list. Incredible teal blades that are held together by a T-700 carbon fiber shaft.
  • The shaft has a two-button release that lets you adjust in fifteen-degree feathered angles.
  • The blade length is designed for low-angle paddling.


  • Yet another paddle that did not have any design flaws.

Aqua-Bound Tango

The price of “Aqua-Bound Tango ” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Manta Ray Carbon

Manta Ray Carbon

The Manta Ray Carbon is the most misleading paddle on this list. As I ran down its specifications, I began to draw a picture. A picture of a flimsy feeling paddle that couldn’t pull through a satisfying stroke no matter how well of a paddler I was.

Instead, once I finally got some time with it, I was stunned by the stiff and secure feel of it. The blades are where this feeling is most concentrated. Nylon blades that have been reinforced by abX carbon fiber. Now that is what I call quality.

As we have seen with several entries before it, the shaft is ovalized. Comfortable for long paddling journeys.

kayak paddles reviews

Long journeys are certainly a possibility with a paddle so light and yet so strong. A great pick-up for anyone.


  • Shaft Type: Ovalized shaft
  • Blade: abX Carbon Reinforced Nylon
  • Build Material: 100% Carbon
  • Best Feature: Stiff-feeling blades
  • Grip Feature: Ovalized


  • Stiff-feeling blades enter and exit the water silently. Fit for a true assassin.
  • Has a very lightweight carbon shaft that is perfect for endurance paddling.
  • A very low-weight paddle that is surprisingly stiff and consistent.


  • Would have benefited from a non-slip grip.

Manta Ray Carbon

The price of “Manta Ray Carbon” varies, so check the latest price at

Looking for the Best Kayak Paddles? Consider This

Let me guess. You’ve been inundated with part names and categories. Can’t tell an aluminum shaft from a paddle blade? That’s okay because this section is here to turn you into a pro. Before you can buy one of the lovely kayak paddles listed above, you’ll need to work through the information down below.

While all of our choices may be quality paddles, the best one for you is the kayak paddle that is tailor-made for your needs. Everything from the paddle’s length to the paddle’s weight will be discussed.

All details come together to affect the paddle’s performance. That’s why we covered everything we could think of.

Performance Paddle

Grading a paddle’s performance is a multi-step process. How your paddle’s blade slices into the water and takes a handful with it. The amount of force that a paddle brings along with it through the water.

The shaft material and how it feels in your hands after prolonged periods of time. A category that is severely underrated. Most people don’t kayak for a small amount of time, even then, small in this instance is relative. Callouses and cuts are a very real and painful possibility.

All of these factors come into play when judging a paddle’s performance. So who among our selections made it to the top?

In my opinion, the Wilderness Systems Pungo and the Perception Universal had the best performance. Their build quality and consistent performances were above most of the other entrants.

Consistency is key. Being able to deliver the same performance over and over again, regardless of the circumstances, is worth its weight in gold.

Adjustment Capabilities

The main thing that can be adjusted about your paddle is its length. I’ll be going over the effect and importance of a paddle’s length in regard to your comfort and paddling style later. For now, what you should be focusing on is how you change your paddle length.

paddles for kayak

Some paddles let you pull apart your paddle shaft and then reattach the pieces that’ll lead to your desired length. Other paddles have you insert one piece into the other, up to the point that you need it to. Then you use a locking mechanism to hold the two pieces in place.

There are even paddles that let you switch the blade shape that comes with it. While I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you are a novice, experienced paddlers will definitely want this as an option.

As you read later on, a paddle’s blade angle and shape affect everything about your performance.

Build Quality

Build quality is always directly tied to durability, but there is more to it than just that. Build quality also affects feel. Take two paddles, one that is cheap and without a major brand attached to it, and a premium paddle like the Camano Straight.

There is a serious difference in how both feel when in your hands. The Camano Straight has a carbon and fiberglass shaft that you never get tired of holding. While a cheap and low-quality paddle will feel too flimsy to make an impact.

A high-performance paddle is usually lightweight, but this doesn’t mean that it won’t feel solid. It’s a confidence issue and an important one. A paddle’s bend also comes into play.

Low-quality paddles do not feel impactful, and they don’t slice through the water. Rather, they get dragged along.

If your kayak paddle is a carbon fiber paddle or has a fiberglass shaft, then you are in good hands. With fiberglass-reinforced blades, you’ll be in heaven. These are the two main materials to look out for: carbon fiber and fiberglass.

Paddle Weight and Effect

When it comes to a kayak paddle, weight is the silent killer. This is because the difference in weight from one touring kayak paddle to the next is negligible… on paper. That last part is the key.

On paper, a few decimal points will not make a difference, but after some intense kayaking adventures, you’ll feel every ounce.

For a low weighing paddle that won’t kill your arms in the first half of your run, go with either the Werner Camano Straight or the Aqua-Bound Sting Ray. Both of these paddles have not only the weight but the extra features to keep you going.

As you grow more tired, your form beings to drop. Suddenly, those rows are not as efficient as before. Now you are traveling less per rotation and growing even more tired in the process. It’s a vicious cycle that feeds itself.

You’ll want to avoid it as much as you can. The less your paddle weighs, the better for you.

Paddle Length Importance

best budget kayak paddle

How does a paddle’s length affect your performance? Endurance and power efficiency. Let me give you an example of a kayak paddle that is too long. If your kayak paddle is too long, then you will need to apply a lot more force to get your vessel moving.

That’s not all. To even maintain a stable course or keep yourself going straight, you’ll also need to expend more energy. Having a paddle shaft that is too long is an absolute disaster, but what about kayak paddles that are too short?

If your kayak paddle isn’t long enough for your kayak, then it’ll perform even worse. A short paddle will barely make it as far into the water as you need it to be. Not to mention that you won’t be able to perform certain strokes.

Neither option is ideal. A paddle that lets you adjust its length is optimal and the key to having the right size on you at all times.

Your Paddle’s Edge

A paddle’s edge, better known as the blade, is what cuts into the water and moves it out of the way. Creating a path for yourself and your kayak. Paddle blades are as varied as the shaft when it comes to the materials that they can be made out of.

However, a paddle blade can also come in different shapes and sizes. Whatever paddle blade shape you choose should be entirely dependent on your skill level. Stay away from wing blades. This blade type is for going fast, and unless you are an expert paddler, you won’t get much out of it at all.

Greenland kayak paddle blades are best suited for beginner paddlers. Keep in mind that you can change the blade of your paddle, should your paddle allow it. If it does, then you can use the same paddle throughout your entire progression arc. Moving up through the different blade types.

This is a great benefit for those that don’t wish to go through the process of getting used to a new paddle.


What Is the Best Paddle for Kayaking?

The best paddle for kayaking has to be the Systems Pungo, the Perception Universal, and the Werner Camino. Both paddles have a great overall design. They are best suited for paddlers who paddle in a low-angle style.

They minimize wind resistance and have a low-angle stroke that can easily be maintained for long stretches of time.

What Length Should My Kayak Paddle Be?

This entire answer is going to depend on the kayak that you are using. It’ll be different for everyone. You’ll know that you are using the right kayak paddle length because both blades will be at a distance from your kayak. Not too close but far enough that they won’t bump into your ride.

The grip you should be able to accomplish is a shoulders-width-apart grab. If you want a hard number, then try out a paddle that is around 220 to 230 centimeters long. A general size range that’ll go well with most kayaks.

What Type of Blade Should My Kayak Paddle Have?

Are you trying to go as fast as possible and have the experience to reach top speeds? Then go with a wing paddle blade. Want something that is better suited for an easy ride? A leisurely walk? Then a low-angled blade is best for you.

As for the blade material. Carbon fiber blades are lightweight and strong. They retain their shape well and expertly cut through the current. Carbon-reinforced nylon blades are durable and will not get worn down the more you use them.

These are some starter suggestions, but be sure to look into this topic. You’ve got many options.

My Final Thoughts

Paddling adventures should be all about what you see and where you go. You shouldn’t have to worry about your paddle stroke quality or whether your paddle’s durable aluminum shaft will hold up.

Try not to get too obsessed with a paddle’s build quality and material specifics. For any casuals that would rather not bother with looking for the lightest paddle or one with rubber drip rings, an affordable paddle like the BKC KP224 will be more than enough.

The goal is to get out there and get moving. Any of the choices we listed above will be more than ready for the job. Remember, the best paddle is the one that you forget about as you kayak.

Categories: Kayaking

Adrian Salazar

My name is Adrian Salazar and I have been wrapped up in the world of water and other extreme sports since the first time I went kayaking. When I’m not working hard trying to deliver the best writing that I can, I am usually out on a lake or hiking up a mountain. My world is completely dominated by writing and the mix of adrenaline and peace of mind that can be achieved while engaging in new sports. I will use my knowledge, experience, and mistakes, to inform you about the best ways that you can become a part of the world of extreme sports. You can count on me to give you my informed and unbiased opinion about any sporting equipment you may need. I know from personal experience that extreme sports are something that you need to head into completely and accurately informed. Let my experience guide you.


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