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Kayak Paddles

Top Picks

How we choose: The best kayak paddles highlighted here were selected based on 31 reviews of 24 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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If you've used a kayak paddle that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Werner Cyprus

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Light, stiff, and just a little picky... you just might paddle further and faster than you ever thought possible.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Quiet entry and exit
  • Extremely well made
  • Best two-piece design ever conceived

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Possible learning curve
  • Chips easily compared to other materials

  These are a few of my favorite things... Werner started out in the family garage making paddles and kayaks for their own personal use. Now located in Washington State, they are committed to handcrafting the very best paddles available. Their stated mission is to obtain the Ultimate Paddle Performance through attention to detail and by building to a higher standard. Visit their website to learn more about their products and their very interesting story. Me? I'm no pro, instructor, or racer.

Read more: Werner Cyprus reviews (3)

Aqua Bound Whiskey Fiberglass

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The super lightweight paddle for flatwater paddling enthusiasts—with exceptional quality, look, and feel. For some people it’ll be psychologically difficult to take this paddle to hardcore adventures, because the blade material is fragile, and the gorgeous look will be lost quickly. It’s definitely not for whitewater use, where the blades will degrade inevitably. With a massive 40% discount for the “cosmetic second” label, this paddle offered incredible price-to-weight value to me.

Reasons to Buy

  • Super lightweight yet very rigid
  • High-end workmanship and materials
  • No wobbling, thanks to individually fitted joints on the factory
  • "Warm" ovalized carbon shaft
  • Very portable
  • Posi-Lok ferrule enables multiple feather angles
  • Sometimes offered with 40% discount—it makes incredible price-to-weight value

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not suitable for whitewater!
  • Quite fragile blade material—the paddle loses its gorgeous look quickly
  • You’ll need avoiding the rock hitting at all costs
  • The blade size is on the smaller side

Background and First Look By the moment of writing this, I've been an avid packrafter for two seasons, and after the end of my first season I decided to improve my gear—namely the paddles. Initially I was able to grab the Aqua Bound Manta Ray Hybrid paddle at an extremely attractive price, and while I was largely satisfied with my purchase, my heart was still longing for a more special one. Luckily for me, at the end of 2021 Aqua Bound offered several top-of-the-line paddles at 40% discount due to cosmetic imperfections.

Read more: Aqua Bound Whiskey Fiberglass review (1)

Gearlab Outdoors Kalleq

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

An ancient design with a modern flare, this Greenland style paddle combines Inuit experience and traditions with modern materials and manufacturing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Silent
  • Versatile
  • Gorgeous
  • Lightweight

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Learning Curve
  • Difficult to find a demo

What is a Greenland Style Paddle So far as we know, what we call the Greenland style paddle today was originally developed and used by the Inuit, Aleut, and Yup'ik, peoples between 2000 and 5000 years ago. Among the many myths about these paddles is that the skinny blade, called a pautik by its creators, was a compromise due to living in an environment with little wood to be found. The reality is that demanding sea conditions and a need to cover large distances for food and survival, led them to the invention of the kayak and along with it the best propulsion system possible to thrust it; even under what could often be adverse conditions.

Read more: Gearlab Outdoors Kalleq review (1)

Werner Skagit FG IM

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Love this paddle! Lightweight, durable, with easy adjustment for feathering (or not). Great for low-angle paddlers. I've used this on lakes and the choppy ocean, and always been pleased with the performance!

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • 2-piece design for portability
  • Asymmetric blades

Reasons to Avoid

  • None that I'm aware of! I love my Skagit paddle!

Since I got this paddle 3 months ago, I've been using it at least three times a week and am always happy with it.  It was affordable, and is proving to be quite durable! The fiberglass-reinforced nylon blades make it way lighter than a plastic paddle, and I've felt consistently that my (low-angle) strokes have been smooth and efficient. This is an excellent paddle for recreational kayakers, and I've been recommending it as an affordable upgrade to all my friends!  The paddle breaks down into two pieces, which makes it easier to transport in my car or attached to a backpack.  The button that holds the pieces together doesn't stick out like on a lot of lesser paddles, so it feels like a solid one-piece once it's assembled.

Read more: Werner Skagit FG IM reviews (3)

Werner Shuna

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

I borrowed my wife’s Shuna and found it a blessed relief after the Coryvreckan. It flowed, perfect balance, exactly right in every way, might have been custom made for me. More than light enough. Not that expensive really. You might think one paddle is much like another, but I assure you this is not so - ideally your technique is good, but even then each paddler is different, with different requirements. I liked it so much I ordered a one-piece version in citrus fade. I doubt I’ll ever use anything else.

Reasons to Buy

  • Light. Reasonably stiff, but still forgiving. Extremely efficient. Perfect for distance.
  • Quite exceptional, actually.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Nothing.

Used this a lot in Pembrokeshire, North Wales. We own a Perception 2-man sit on top (heresy, I know - I can hear you spit and mutter ‘tourists!’). We both found the Shuna perfect for both of us - ‘one instinctively knows when something is right’. I had been experimenting with an Oracle (hated it, dead in the hand, hard work to use) and the Werner Corryvreckan (just too big a paddle for distance). The Shuna was a relief. Not only covering distance but also manoeuvring into caves and between stacks we noticed immediately how much more nimble we had become, not just through practice - blade size and shape was a major advance for both of us - but the efficiency, the responsiveness far superior.

Read more: Werner Shuna reviews (2)

Werner Ikelos

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

It's my go-to paddle when I paddle rough water and in surf conditions. The big blade doesn't slip when you crank on it, and it's super-light.

Reasons to Buy

  • Super light
  • Great finish and attention to detail
  • Awesome ferrule

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey

The Ikelos is one of my favorite kayak paddles. The weight might make you think it's a potato chip, but I use it for tough conditions and it has held up great. The ferrule system is the best one in the kayak paddle market, period. It's almost like it becomes a one-piece, the lock is so positive. The only downsides? It's a very big blade, so it'll kill your shoulders if you don't need a big blade. In that case, get a Cyprus, which is the same paddle, just smaller. Other downside is that it's spendy. That said, so are Porsches and you get what you pay for.

Read more: Werner Ikelos reviews (2)

Aqua Bound Sting Ray Carbon

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Excellent ultra light paddle with lots of adjustability. Packs down in two pieces, drip rings included, and very little "flutter" when paddling hard.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight (~20oz)
  • Quality materials
  • Strong carbon fiber shaft
  • Positive locking ferrule
  • Blade design eliminates "flutter"

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey compared to Aluminum paddles
  • No length adjustment

I got this paddle as a present with my kayak for Christmas from my wife. I was used to an aluminum shaft paddle on my last kayak. Immediately I noticed that this thing is light. I thought my aluminum paddle was light. I was wrong! At just over a pound, this paddle is almost non-existent in your hands. It has a positive locking ferrule that has locking positions every 10 degrees up to 60° of offset both ways from 0. The blades themselves have a split angle design, something I've never used before, and seem to cut down the "flutter" that flat blades tend to have when really digging in and paddling hard.

Read more: Aqua Bound Sting Ray Carbon reviews (2)

Aqua Bound Manta Ray Hybrid

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The 4-piece Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Hybrid combines the sub-1 kg (32.4 oz) weight with multi-angle ferrule in a travel-friendly package. This carbon/plastic paddle is a great rational choice for packrafting on flat and moving water. It hits the middle ground between strong whitewater-ready paddles and ultralight high-end models—at an attractive price.

Reasons to Buy

  • Low weight
  • No wobbling, thanks to individually fitted joints on the factory
  • Very lightweight and "warm" ovalized carbon shaft
  • Posi-Lok ferrule enables multiple feather angles
  • Quite durable blade material
  • Excellent price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Various sections differ in length quite wildly
  • The blades aren’t exceptionally strong or stiff due to thin profile
  • Obviously low-cost design and material of the blades

After a 15-km (9 mi) trip below freezing temperature   Introduction to Aqua-Bound ‘Ray’ paddles My paddle belongs to the Aqua-Bound ‘Ray’ series, which is intended for flatwater use. There are 3 models: Sting Ray has the smallest blades in the series, Eagle Ray — for sea kayaking with long and narrow blades, Manta Ray is made for intense high angle paddling, with its shorter and wider blades. The Ray paddles are quite long, ranging from 210 to 250 cm, which hints at their flatwater focusing.  While not intended for whitewater (WW) use, the Manta Ray is the closest of the three to dedicated WW paddles, and it’s especially well suited for heavy boats and packrafts (in 4-piece version, which is reviewed here).

Read more: Aqua Bound Manta Ray Hybrid review (1)

Carlisle Magic

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

I am not a kayaker, but when I purchased a new solo canoe, it was suggested to me, that in addition to my regular canoe paddle, I look into getting a basic kayak paddle, to try with the solo canoe. I saw this Carlisle Magic paddle at LL Bean, and it looked as though it would meet my needs. It has done quite well for me, and I can recommend this paddle as a basic, recreational paddle for a kayak or canoe.

Reasons to Buy

  • Can be feathered or straight
  • Has oval right shaft
  • Bright colors

Reasons to Avoid

  • Drip rings have minimal effect
  • Not the lightest, but fine for my uses

I had never used a kayak paddle before I purchased my solo boat; I have found this basic paddle to be easy to use ( assemble and take apart), is comfortable to grip and use while paddling, and allows me to paddle smoothly across expanses of lakes and ponds. (I tend to use my regular wooden canoe paddle for slow, shallow water explorations). The shaft is aluminum and the blades are polypropylene, with fiberglass reinforcement. It has held up well, being banged against rocky shorelines, thrown in the back of the car, and other normal wear and tear uses.

Read more: Carlisle Magic review (1)

Bending Branches Bounce

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Excellent price, lightweight, and comfortable grip.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Nice pre-wrapped oval shaped grips
  • Excellent value
  • Moves my kayak nicely

Reasons to Avoid

  • None

I received this paddle as a Christmas gift. It was my second paddle, and I LOVED it. The quality, weight, and ease of use made me think this was a very expensive gift. It has a nice, natural grip and is pre-wrapped, so I have not had to add the usual Yak-Grips that I always put on my paddle shaft.  I have a small boat (9.5 foot kayak), and this paddle pushes me quickly through the water, even in a very strong head wind. I have also used it through very mild rapids on the Salt River, and to push off rocks in shallow spots with no problem at all.

Read more: Bending Branches Bounce review (1)

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