Home Kayaks Kayaking Basics: How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

Kayaking Basics: How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

How to Choose a Kayak Paddle

When you're first getting into kayaking, one of the first things you need a crash course in is how to choose a kayak paddle. 

Choose the wrong one, and you could end up not enjoying your adventure​, and that's the last thing you want!

Today we'll show you what to look for in a paddle, as well as, show you some great choice in paddles to get you started!​

Choosing the right size

When selecting a kayak paddle, the correct size depends on the width of the kayak, the paddler’s height and body stature, and paddling style. In simple terms, the wider the kayak, the longer the paddle needed to paddle and navigate the boat comfortably. Body stature, or height, plays into paddle selection as well.

Torso length is the biggest determining factor when it comes to height versus paddle length. The longer the torso of the paddler, the longer the paddle needs to be. For example, a paddler with a 22-inch torso might use an 180-centimeter paddle, while a paddler with a 36-inch torso needs a 240-250-centimeter paddle.

The final consideration to take when selecting a paddle is paddling style. Low-angle paddling is efficient on longer trips, offers a more relaxed style of paddling, and uses a longer paddle with thin, horizontal blades. High-angle paddling is more aggressive and can be done with a short or long paddle.

Different materials of paddles

When selecting a kayak paddle, it is important to be aware of the nuances between the various types of materials kayak paddles are available in. Many kayakers know that the lighter weight of the paddle, the easier the paddling, however, light weight is not always best.

The best paddles are going to a mixture of strength and lightweight. Fiberglass paddles are perhaps the most popular kind of paddles. They are used for both touring and recreational kayaking trips. Fiberglass paddles are extremely durable and lightweight.

Paddles can also come in a mixture of nylon, plastic, and aluminum materials. These types of paddles are very affordable and durable. They are perfect for kayak beginners or use as a spare paddle and require minimum upkeep. The main downsides to this type of paddle are that aluminum can feel lightweight in cool weather and they are relatively heavy compared to other types of paddles.

Straight shaft vs. bent shaft paddles

The majority of kayak paddles feature a simple, straight shaft. Straight shaft kayak paddles are traditionally used for flat water kayaking when there is not much force needed to glide through the water.

Bent-shaft paddles feature a bent section in the middle that allows the paddler to position their hands at a more comfortable angle while stroking through the water.

Straight shaft paddles are often the root of wrist injury while paddling. Many kayakers say that bent-shaft paddles eliminate the risk of injury because they minimize discomfort and fatigue from paddling.

Bent-shaft paddles are also particularly suitable for paddlers that may suffer from back, joint, or shoulder injuries due to their ergonomic design. However, due to their more sophisticated design, bent-shaft paddles are both heavier and more expensive than a traditional, straight shaft paddle.

If a paddler does not have a history of injury, either a straight shaft paddle or a bent-shaft paddle can work, given that the paddler keeps a comfortable loose grip on the paddle and learns proper stroke techniques.

Still Don't Know How to Choose a Kayak Paddle? Here are some of the Best:

The Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle is made of plastic and corrosion resistant aluminum, has molded blades for efficient paddling and durability, and features comfort grip handles. The Shoreline Marine paddle is great for any length of trip and is designed to propel the paddler from one place to another quickly.

This particular paddle is 96-inches long and disassembles into two pieces to make transportation a breeze. The Shoreline Marine paddle also features a three position system that allows the paddler to adjust the paddle for their right length for maximum comfort. The blades are 18-inches long and 7-inches wide, making this paddle great for all lengths of kayaks.

The PROS of this paddle are:

The paddle is very light-weight, weighing in around 1 pound.

Because of the light-weight aluminum, this paddle propels easily, eliminating the possibility of sore arms or paddler’s fatigue.

The length gives this paddle more paddling power and more reach.

The plastic and aluminum this paddle is made of make for a very durable paddle that can stand up to all weather conditions.

The low price point makes this kayak paddle very affordable for both beginner kayakers and seasoned veterans alike.

The CONS of this paddle are:

Some kayakers say the aluminum this paddle is composed of is too thin, resulting in the paddle being flimsy.

The paddle may become loose where the two pieces connect, causing the paddle to become waterlogged.

Some paddlers believe this paddle is too long to steer with properly.

The SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle is made up of lightweight aluminum. The X-1 paddle features a straight shaft with contoured plastic blades that allow for better control and stability. The unique shape of the paddle blades provide the paddler with more power and increased maneuverability.

The SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle also helps you cruise along with speed. The paddle 84-inches long, extremely lightweight and comes equipped with padded grips, reinforced with foam rubber.

The X-1 paddle also comes with drip guards to keep the paddler dry and prevent water from entering the kayak. Much like the Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle, the SeaSense X-1 paddle features three position adjustments to adjust the paddle to your perfect length.

The X-1 paddle also disassembles into two pieces for easy transportation and storage. The SeaSense kayak paddle is an excellent choice for paddlers of any skill level.

The PROS of this paddle are:

The blades are very efficiently designed. The contour shape provides a smooth ride on any water.

The foam grips are comfortable for even long kayak trips.

The paddle is lightweight and easy to use, eliminating the chance for sore arms and paddler’s fatigue.

The low price point is friendly for any budget.

The CONS of this paddle are:

Some kayakers feel the paddle is too boxy because of its unique shape, causing it to be difficult to use.

The kayak paddle can be difficult to disassemble.

The cupped shape of the blades can retain water, causing water to splash over the drip guards and get into the kayak.


The Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle is composed of fiberglass-filled polypropylene blades. The Magic Plus paddle is both durable and lightweight. Many paddlers love this paddle for the bright colors it is available in, causing it to be easily spotted in the water.

The blades are slightly spoon shaped and asymmetrical, making for a very smooth ride. The shaft is made of pure fiberglass that provides a sturdy, yet flexible hold to reduce stress on the kayaker’s joints.

Due to the blades being filled with fiberglass, the Magic Plus paddle offers an unbeatable mixture of being lightweight and extremely durable. This paddle comes in two colors: sunrise and cloud, and three different lengths: 220 centimeters, 230 centimeters, or 240 cm.

This paddle is well-suited for a quick paddle around a backyard pond or a several day kayak trip in the ocean.

The PROS of this paddle are:

The angles of this paddle are adjustable to suit an individual’s unique paddling style.

The comfortable hand grips minimize paddler’s fatigues and hand cramping.

The length of the paddle and unique shape of the blades allow for excellent balance while paddling.

Due to the adjustable nature of this paddle, the Magic Plus paddle is well suited for all widths of kayaks.

The CONS of this paddle are:

The water-blocking rings are occasionally flimsy and allow water to leak right through, causing the kayak to take on water.


The SeaSense X-Treme II Mix Kayak paddle features feathered blade design for more efficient stroke than most other types of kayak paddles. This kayak paddle features a three locking position adjustable scale so that the paddle can be customized for each paddler. The blades of this paddle are molded plastic, while the bar is aluminum. The paddles featured adjustable drip guards to prevent water from entering the kayak, while the aluminum bar features foam rubber grips for comfort and a support ridge for added strength. This paddle is also comprised of two detachable pieces that come apart for easy storage and transport. The SeaSense X-Treme II Mix paddle comes in two popular sizes: 84-inch and 96-inch.

The PROS of this paddle are:

The length of this paddle allows for the blades to be fully submerged in the water with each stroke, making each stroke efficient transportation from point A to point B.

The lightweight feel of this paddle allows paddling with it to feel very natural and stable.

The bright colors allow the kayak paddle to be easily spotted in the water should the paddle begin to float away or get lost.

The price point of this kayak paddle is affordable for all budget.

The CONS of this paddle are:

The foam grips on the aluminum bar of the paddle are only adjustable when wet.

Some kayakers have said that this kayak paddle does not hold up in waters with heavy current, therefore making it only suited for stream and pond paddling.

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