When it comes to kayaking, the paddle is the most important gear. It lets you navigate the waters efficiently. However, if you’re a beginner, you have to look for specific paddle features that will make your first water trips easier and safer. In this post, I will help you find the best kayak paddle for beginners that doesn’t strain your hand too fast.
Last update on 2021-06-23 at 17:01 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The type of paddle you use for kayaking will significantly impact your speed, comfort, and safety. Beginners will thrive on a low-angle paddle since it’s easier to row, and the extra length makes it more maneuverable on the water.
Aside from getting the right kayak or mastering a paddling technique, you must get a paddle that complements these two things. Narrow, long, and lightweight kayak paddles are beginner favorites. But beyond that, there are more features you need to consider.
To help you out, I scouted the five best options among hundreds of kayak paddles in the market. Each one has specific features that will make your first trips easier. I also discussed a buying guide below to help you choose the right paddle.
1. Werner Camano Fiberglass Kayak Paddle
If you’re wondering where to buy kayak paddles, the long search is now over with the Werner Camano Paddle. This paddle has a fiberglass blade and a carbon blend shaft. It delivers excellent performance for beginners, thanks to its low-angle design.
Moreover, this kayak paddle is 240 cm long with a blade length of 52 cm and a blade width of 16.5 cm. It lets you row with less effort since the blade cuts through the water with minimal resistance.
If you’re a newbie kayaker, this paddle will work well for you. It only requires gentle power as an all-around touring paddle. You can make long trips with less fatigue, making this paddle a worthy investment.
The Werner Camano can measure up to more expensive options in terms of performance. I took this paddle on a lake trip on a 21 mph wind, and it didn’t disappoint. It also performed well even if there are motor boaters around.
With the Werner Camano, you will no longer go back to stock paddles. It works well for casual kayaking, kayak fishing, and even sporting events. It’s very versatile and worth every dollar.
The only snag I noticed is that this paddle tends to oscillate up and down when I’m doing light pulling. Other than that, this paddle is a champ.
- Engineered for beginners
- Premium fiberglass blade
- Available in 220 to 260 cm versions
- Weird movement on light pulls (not a big deal, though)
2. Best Marine Fiberglass Kayak Paddle
Another beginner kayak paddle I recommend is the Best Marine. It’s made of a carbon fiber shaft and a fiberglass blade. It’s 234 cm long but weighs lightly at 33.5 ounces. The shaft is 1 inch in diameter for a good grip without feeling too chunky.
This is a two-piece paddle that comes with two drip rings. It prevents water from running into the shaft and soaking the cockpit of the kayak. It also has a five-foot leash to connect to the kayak so you won’t lose your paddle in case it falls into the water.
Since the Best Marine paddle is narrow, it’s very easy to row. It’s a long-angle touring kayak paddle, so beginners will have an easy time getting used to this gear.
The blade is symmetrical, which cuts the learning curve. It also has a very nice finish that makes the paddle look more expensive than it really is. This is very sturdy against hard pulls, and it has a nice bite once you dip it on the water.
However, you must be careful in adjusting the blade so the button will not break. Other than that, this paddle will be a workhorse on your kayaking trips.
- Very lightweight
- Comes with a leash to connect on the kayak
- Drip rings to prevent water from getting into the kayak
- Be careful of the adjustment button
3. OCEANBROAD Premium Kayaking Paddle
If you’re looking for an adjustable kayak paddle, you must consider the one from OCEANBROAD. It’s a 230 cm paddle that only weighs 33 ounces for less hand strain.
Moreover, this paddle is made of a composite carbon fiber shaft and a fiberglass blade with PP reinforcements. This is a two-piece paddle for easy storage.
The best thing about this paddle is that you can adjust the angle in three different positions. This will let you adjust the configuration of the paddle based on how windy it is.
On each end, the paddle has drip rings that prevent the water from running into the kayak. The package only includes a leash so you can connect your paddle into the kayak. This paddle floats on the water since it has foam inserts, so the leash is just added peace of mind.
One thing that I like about the OCEANBROAD is they offer all their paddles with a replacement or refund guarantee. If you encounter quality issues, you can call the manufacturer to get a new paddle.
If you’re in the market for a good kayak paddle, the OCEANBROAD is a wise buy.
- Foam inserts for flotation
- Refund or replacement guarantee
- Long and easy to operate
- The leash can make use of improvements
4. Pelican Poseidon Kayak Paddle
The Pelican Poseidon Kayak Paddle offers a two-piece construction with an aluminum shaft and fiberglass blade. The blade has polypropylene reinforcements to make it more resistant against strong currents.
Each blade has ovalization, which lets you know where to place your hand. The blade also has an indentation that you can use to retrieve items that fell on the water. There are drip rings, too, to prevent water from flowing into the kayak.
Moreover, this paddle is 226 cm long with a 0-65-degree angle feathering. You can easily adjust its angle through the push-button located on the shaft.
Remember that this kayak paddle is suitable for recreational purposes only. It’s not the best bet if you’re going for a fishing trip due to its low angle design.
If you’re old and having a hard time rowing, the Pelican Poseidon will be a good choice for you. It also works for tall people that are around 6 feet in height. You can even choose from different colors: black, yellow, and orange.
Also, if you find any quality issues with the paddle, Pelican is willing to send a replacement.
- Aluminum shaft
- Blade indentation to retrieve things
- Blade indexing (ovalization)
- Beware of damages
5. Winnerwell Unsinkable Kayak Paddle
If you’re on a budget, I recommend the Winnerwell Unsinkable Kayak Paddle. It has a fiberglass blade with nylon reinforcements so that the paddle will endure the strongest strokes. Meanwhile, the shaft is made of fiberglass with drip rings on each end.
This two-piece paddle has high-visibility with its brightly colored blades. It also has a feather angle of 0-60 degrees and length variations of 86 to 98 inches.
The Winnerwell paddle is a tad heavier than the other paddles I reviewed here. It weighs 43.68 ounces, which is still manageable for beginners. In my opinion, it’s still light and easy to get used to even if you’re new to kayaking.
Overall, this paddle can take the beating of regular use and even harsh waters. It also floats pretty well, but I suggest using a paddle leash just to be sure.
Based on my experience, this paddle is much better than expensive options in the market. It performs well on the water, and I can even use it on mangroves or open waters without a problem.
The biggest bonus here is the paddles look really aesthetic.
- Durable enough for strong waters
- Floats on water
- Aesthetic paddle
- A little heavier than other lightweight paddles
How to Buy Kayak Paddles
When choosing a paddle, you must consider the following aspects:
The first thing you should check is the length of the paddle. It should be suitable for your kayak size and height. Since you’ll be sitting on a kayak, you should measure your torso height from between your legs and nose tip while seated on a chair.
Here’s a quick reference for the sizing:
Torso length x kayak paddle length
22-24 inches x 180-200 cm
26-28 inches x 190-220 cm
30 inches x 210-230 cm
32 inches x 220-240 cm
34 inches x 230 to 250 cm
36 inches x 240-250 cm
38 inches x 250 cm
Low angle vs. high angle
Next, you have to check the paddling style. Paddle kayaks can either have a low or high angle. Low angle paddles have a more horizontal position that’s easier to stroke. This is ideal for beginners and those who have hand problems. However, low angle paddles are only suitable for calm waters and recreational purposes.
On the other hand, a high paddle is made for white waters and strong currents. It has a more prominent blade angle that cuts through quick-flowing water. It’s challenging to use, and beginners should steer clear of this paddling style.
The material will play a big role in the durability of the paddle. The following are the most common paddle materials and their level of durability:
Fiberglass. Many mid-priced paddles use fiberglass as a blade material. It’s reasonably durable and semi-lightweight. It’s suitable for beginners who are only up for tours and recreational trips.
Carbon fiber. This material is found on expensive kayak paddles. It’s lightweight but can take the beating of the strongest currents. This is the ideal material for experienced kayakers going on long trips.
Nylon. Nylon blades are not as durable as the two previous materials. It can chip off easily that’s why it’s only used as reinforcements on most kayak paddles.
Carbon fiber. A carbon fiber shaft is very tough and durable. It doesn’t rust or bent easily while remaining lightweight.
Aluminum. Aluminum paddle shafts are lightweight, but it can bend over time.
Fiberglass. Although it’s typically used on blades, fiberglass also makes an excellent material for the shaft.
Feathering refers to the angle degree that offsets each blade to one another. Kayak paddles with feathering adjustments allow you to tweak the paddle to suit windy conditions.
With proper feathering, the blade that’s exposed in the air can cut through wind properly. This reduces the impact of wind on your speed and comfort.
One-piece vs. two-piece
Lastly, you must decide whether you want a one-piece or two-piece paddle. Beginners will thrive on two-piece options as it lets them customize the paddle’s length to suit their rowing style. Besides, two-piece paddles are easier to store, and it comes with feathering adjustments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What will happen if my kayak paddle is too long?
A: A paddle that’s too long for your height will cause excessive hand and shoulder strain. You will have more labored paddling, and your hands will develop blisters. This is why you should always get the right paddle size.
Q: Do kayak paddles float?
A: Some kayak paddles float while others don’t. It depends on the design and if there are foam inserts. Kayak paddles that don’t float usually come with a leash, so the paddle won’t get lost if it happens to fall into the water.
Q: How long should a paddle leash be?
A: A paddle leash should be five feet long on average. When fully stretched, the leash would be 6 feet long. Shorter people can make use of leashes that are around four feet long but not less than that.
Q: How do I stop water from running through the kayak paddle shaft?
A: Most kayak paddles have drip rings that prevent water from dripping and entering the kayak. These drip rings are made of rubber and pre-installed on most kayak paddles.
With the best kayak paddle for beginners, you will experience less hand strain while touring on the waters. Remember that as a beginner, the length, paddling style, material, and design matters a lot. It will ensure that you can navigate safely and without the hassle.