Beginners Guide to Choosing the Best Kayak Paddle


Are you looking for a new paddle?

Choosing the right kayak paddle can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help. We know how important it is that your kayak paddle works well with your body and fits in your budget. That’s why we created this guide to help you choose the best one for you to get started! Whether you’re just starting out or have been paddling before, we aim to take the guesswork out of buying a new kayak paddle. Let us show you what makes each type special and which ones are perfect for different types of paddlers.

How to choose a kayak paddle

Choosing a kayak paddle depends mainly on your needs and desires and the type of paddling you often do. Plus, let’s be honest – the price!

Many different features make it challenging to decide what is best for you. If you look at this guide, we will review each feature and how they help you while you are paddling.

Different Types Of Kayak Paddles

There are several different types of kayak paddles, but not all of them work for certain body types. Many features depend on which kind of paddling you often do, so let’s start at the top! Luckily, there are also a variety of features that can be changed to accommodate your needs.

Blade shape

It is important to have a blade shape that is ergonomic for your body type. The two main blade shapes are straight blades and curved blades. Curved blades give you more power when paddling but give less control in the water. Straight blades are easier to use in tight spaces but can feel difficult when you’re trying to go slow.

Blade Surface Area

The surface area of the blade impacts your paddling style in several ways. A longer or wider blade will typically create a smoother stroke. At the same time, a smaller surface area will be faster and more responsive. It’s important to figure out which style works best for you before buying a new kayak paddle!

You also need to consider a larger blade size will require more muscle power.

Blade Angle

The angle refers to the angle of the blade in the water. The most common kayak paddling styles are low angle, which is used for calm waters, and high angle, which is helpful for more powerful paddling.

Blade size

Size refers to the width of the blade in inches. A wider blade will be better for more powerful paddling, and a narrower blade will be better for quicker strokes.

Bent vs. Straight Shafts

A bent shaft kayak paddle will have a more ergonomic design when paddling for long periods. This is because you can hold the paddle in a more comfortable position when the shaft is bent at an angle. Straight shafts are better when you are in tight spaces because it is easier to maneuver.

One-piece vs. Two-piece Paddle

A one-piece kayak paddle is usually more expensive but has the advantage of being lightweight and easy to store. One-piece paddles also have a wider blade surface area which creates a smoother stroke. A two-piece paddle is cheaper and shorter, and each part will be placed in a separate bag for easy storage.

Should I buy a paddle with an adjustable shaft?

While it might not seem like much at first, an adjustable shaft can help you find the perfect ergonomic position for your body type. This is because it allows the kayak paddle to bend at various angles so that you can hold it comfortably instead of being stretched out or slouching forward. This feature is typically only found on bent shaft kayak paddles.

Paddle length

Paddle length is significant because the longer the paddle, the slower your strokes will be. The standard size for a kayak paddle is 220cm, but you may want to purchase shorter ones if you are not planning on being in open water.

Once you get into regular kayaking, and especially if you paddle on different bodies of water, you may want more than one type of kayak paddle.

The table below is a handy guide to choosing a paddle length that might work for you. Wider kayaks typically need longer paddles.

Paddler HeightKayak Width
 Under 23″ (60cm)23″ to 28″ (60-70cm)28″ to 32″ (70-80cm)Over 32″ (80cm)
Under 5′ tall (1.5m)210cm220cm230cm240cm
5′ to 5’6″ tall (1.5-1.67m)215cm220cm230cm240cm
5’6″ to 6′ tall (1.67-1.82m)220cm220cm230cm250cm
Over 6′ tall (1.82m)220cm230cm240cm250cm
Use this table to get an idea of the paddle length that might suit you. Remember that it’s only a guide and you might feel more comfortable with something longer or shorter.


The primary materials that kayak paddles are made of are plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. These three materials vary significantly in their weight and durability. Plastic paddles are lightweight and less expensive, but they will not last as long as heavier fiberglass or carbon fiber paddles. Fiberglass is the most durable type of kayak paddle and is highly affordable considering its weight. Carbon paddles come at a higher cost but also weigh much less and will last the longest.

How can I tell which kayak paddle is best for me?

Many factors go into choosing the right kayak paddle, depending on your needs. To simplify things, here are some basic questions to consider before making a purchase:

Do you need stability or more speed?

Do you care about low-angle paddling or high-angle paddling?

What is your budget?

Do you prefer a bent or straight shaft?

What materials do you care about?

Can you store it easily with other equipment onboard?

Which blades achieve your desired surface area and angle of the blade in the water?

Can it be adjusted to fit your height and body build?

Lots of questions, so when starting out, talk to experienced kayakers (2 kayakers, 3 opinions), ask if you can try their paddles. If you have a kayak or outdoor store close by, it can be a fun Winter activity to search through options.

What is the best kayak paddle for beginners?

A beginner kayaker will usually want a lightweight and affordable kayak paddle. Consider low angle paddling (for calm waters) and a straight shaft. A fiberglass paddle is generally preferred because it’s durable and affordable. Still, if you don’t know whether or not you will like kayaking, it might be safest to start with a lower-cost plastic paddle. A one-piece adjustable shaft is preferable for beginners because they can customize the ergonomic position of the paddle until they figure out their ideal fit.

If you are just getting into kayaking, consider purchasing your first few paddles used or on sale to test out which features you like before investing in a more expensive model.

Handle type

There are three main types of handles for kayak paddles: ergonomic, trademarked, and standard. Ergonomic handles are the most commonly found type because they provide more comfort but aren’t always suited to all body types. Trademarked handles are usually designed with a wider grip to prevent wrist fatigue and muscle strains. These handles should be chosen if you intend to paddle for long periods. Standard handles are the cheapest, but it is possible that your wrists will still get tired or strained.

Types of grips for kayak paddles

Racquet grip

You should choose a paddle with a racquet, power, or ergonomic grip. Racquet grips are excellent for kayak racing and big water paddling because they allow you to maximize the amount of surface area on the blade and keep your hands from slipping off. Power grips are commonly found on whitewater paddles and enable you to hold on tightly without feeling pain. Ergonomic grips are the most comfortable and common kayak paddle handle and prevent you from experiencing any muscle or wrist strain.


There is also a T-grip that can be found on either power, ergonomic, or standard handles. The T-grip helps to prevent blisters and pain caused by paddling.

Inline grip

The inline grip style is for kayakers who prioritize speed over everything else. This type of handle will maximize the amount of power you can put into each stroke without sacrificing comfort or paddling efficiency. An alternative to the inline grip is the offset grip, which is easier to hold if you want to kayak while standing up or have suffered from wrist pain in the past.

Offset grip

The offset grip should only be found on bent shaft paddles. This type of grip will allow your wrist to be straight while paddling so that you can push the maximum amount of power into each stroke without experiencing any pain or fatigue.

Weight of paddle material

Don’t underestimate the importance of paddle weight, especially if you’re on the water for an extended period.

Different kayak paddles are constructed from different materials. It’s important to consider the weight of the paddle blade material to ensure you can adequately hold it for long periods without feeling exhausted. Fiberglass blades are light but less durable, plastics are affordable and break easily, and wood is heavy but more durable. You should choose a material that meets your needs or simply purchase a kayak paddle with multiple blade materials for maximum versatility.

Kayak Paddle Prices

The cost of a kayak paddle should not be taken lightly because you want it to last for years to come. If you have a low budget, fiberglass blades are an affordable option that will do the job just fine. If you don’t want to break the bank but still want a durable kayak paddle with wooden blades, look for one with ash or fiberglass inlays. Suppose you are willing to spend above average. In that case, you should choose an all-carbon blade with soft edges and at least three feathering positions to give maximum performance while being light enough not to cause fatigue.

Durability of the paddle blade material

The price range for paddles

There’s a paddle to fit just about every budget, but you may have to compromise unless you have deep pockets. If you’re serious, then save up and buy the best you can get.

Here are a few tips on how to take care of your kayak paddle

When taking care of your kayak paddle, it is important to consider what material it is made out of.

If you are using a fiberglass blade, you will want to make sure that you are not using any harsh cleaners. You don’t want to end up ruining the blade after just one use! This also holds true for wood paddles. You want to avoid any abrasive cleaners when cleaning your paddle blades because they can easily fray edges and make them look worn.

Another thing to keep in mind is that kayak paddles can become damaged when exposed to sunlight for extended periods. Too much sun exposure can make the wood warp and cause damage to your paddle, but it’s easy enough to avoid. You should always store your paddle when not in use after cleaning it because sunlight could still damage your paddle even when it’s in storage.

If you follow these simple guidelines, then your kayak paddle should last you a long time!


We hope this article has helped you find the paddle that is perfect for your needs. If not, let us know! We are always looking to improve our guides, so please let us know if something is missing.

Our aim is to help you make an informed decision about which paddle will be best for you. Whether it’s a recreational kayaking trip with friends or some fishing time on the lake, we want to help you enjoy every minute out there in nature and get back safely at the end of it all.