I’ve used a number of brands and styles of paddles for open water kayaking. More important than weigh is a design that fits your paddling style: proper length, straight/bent shaft, round/oval, small/large diameter, stiff/flex (I personally dislike flex, while others feel that its easier on muscles. Flex seems to be a waste of energy, but must admit, that notion is probably hyperbole), large power blade vs. longer touring style blade with smaller square inch surface.
Don’t invest big money in a paddle until you use an entry level paddle for a while. I own several Aqua Bound Sting Rays and Manta Rays for guest paddlers. Both are very nice paddles, but my personal preference is Warner paddles. Differences are often so subtle, you have to use one for several months, then switch back and forth to notice the difference. That’s how I found out. I often trade my favorite paddle to a guest paddler. They get to try out a high end paddle, and I become reacquainted with the low end paddle. The difference is striking to me, but the novice paddler rarely notices anything but the light weight. In the end, they almost always prefers the low end paddle. The only exception was my sister who usually partnered with me on trips. I’d get a new paddle and switch off with her for at least an hour. Within several trips, she wanted to keep the better paddle.
Light weight is a real delight that you truely only appreciate on a long trip. A few ounces is nothing to sway your choice, but I found that the lighter paddle also incorporated better blade design. The superior blade design is often incorporated in both power face blades and touring blades of a brand’s high end paddle group. Some paddlers like foam core blades, while others don’t; similarly, some have a preference for reinforced plastic blades or fiberglass, for durability, over the lightness of carbon. The main advantage to paddling with a group is that you can trade off paddles, which is the best way to test a paddle’s features. The owner can point out charachteristics and where the paddle excels. Don’t be offended because someone doesn’t agree that your paddle is the greatest. I paddle occasionally with my Nephew who initially used an aluminum shaft paddle. He tried my Werner several times. Then he told me about the great paddle he bought, a Manta Ray. Yeah, nice paddle, I used one for a while, three paddle upgrades ago. We traded paddles several times, but we both prefer our own favorite paddle. Manta Ray is a good paddle.
Discussing paddles with far more experience kayaker, a few of them use my paddle to stake tomatoes plant and pole beans, preferring a paddle with more surface area, while I’m looking for less. It’s personal and depends on how your muscle group works, your paddling cadence and the water you paddle.
If anyone missed the earlier posts on “Convinced Me to Buy a Better Paddle” or Aqua Bound vs. Werner" or the Greenland Paddles and Carbon Paddles, you’ll find a load of solid information and some of the best discussion on the forum.