Best kayak paddles

(Image credit: Amazon)

Your paddle is nearly as important as your kayak. It’s your method of propulsion and you’ll be holding it the whole time you’re on the water so getting the right one is vital. 

When it comes to size, several factors influence which length of paddle you need, including your height, the width of your kayak and your paddling style. The material the blades are made from is another consideration. Nylon or plastic blades are heavier but are strong and cheaper, which makes them good for a beginner. Carbon fiber makes for the lightest blades and although the most expensive, could be worth every penny if you are in your boat a lot or are planning a long trip. In the middle of the range, fiberglass is affordable but strong and relatively light. Here are the paddles we’d recommend.

Best overall

(Image credit: Amazon)

Attwood 11768-2 Asymmetrical 2-Piece Heavy-Duty Kayak Paddle

Comfort grips and efficient blades

Thick aluminum and plastic construction make this a durable paddle that’s all the more practical for having a two-piece design for easy storage and transport. Padded grips make it comfortable to hold for extended periods on the water with drip rings to keep them dry. The asymmetrical spoon-blades increase the efficiency of your stroke and reduce blade flutter.

Best value

(Image credit: Amazon)

Pelican Aluminum Kayak Paddles 87-Inch / 220cm

Tough but lightweight two-piece

An aluminum shaft and polypropylene blade make this an ideal paddle for recreational kayakers. The two-piece design means it comes apart with a small button, not only for storage but so you can adjust the set-up for your paddling preference. Drip rings will keep your hands dry and it’s available in three colors – black, green or orange.

Best for emergencies

(Image credit: Amazon)

Telescoping Plastic Boat Paddle

Collapsible paddle for emergencies

You never want to be without a paddle so this telescopic, adjustable number is a great backup to use in an emergency. It can be collapsed down to stow in a kayak storage compartment or safety kit. The aluminum handle extends from 18.75” to 35” and the plastic blade will help you propel any small boat, canoe or kayak.

Best lightweight paddle

(Image credit: Amazon)

ADVANCED ELEMENTS Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle

Four-piece packable paddle

One of the lightest and most portable paddles available, this weighs just 23.6oz and packs down to 60cm in length. You can take it anywhere even while backpacking as it breaks down into four parts. Use it with one middle section for an even lighter carry. If portability is the most important factor, this is the paddle you need.

Bottom line

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

The importance of a good kayak paddle can’t be overstated. It’s a kayaker’s most important tool and central to your experience on the water. So it’s worth getting one that is lightweight and easy to handle but durable enough that you don’t have to worry about collisions with rocks or the river bank. The best kayak paddle for most people is the Attwood 11768-2 Asymmetrical 2-Piece Heavy-Duty Kayak Paddle. It’s rugged but not too heavy, has convenient two-piece construction and comfort grips for prolonged paddling. 

If you want the ultimate in portable paddles, you won’t go wrong with the ADVANCED ELEMENTS Ultralite Pack Kayak Paddle. It cleverly breaks down into four pieces so you can fit it in a backpack and take it anywhere there’s water.

Advnture team

Launched in July 2020, Advnture is the ideal destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Whether you're into epic hikes through the wilderness, camping trips with the family, climbing with your friends, or looking for a trail running personal best, our team of experts will point you in the right direction, with top buying advice and in-depth guides to help you get the most of your time in the backcountry.