Best rec canopaddle for under 50 bucks?

Just got my first canoe earlier this year…Mad River Adventure 16. Yes, I know, it’s an entry-level, plastic canoe, but I would still like to get a decent pair of paddles for it. I’ve taken it out a few times with an Academy Marine Raider 5’ $25 paddle.

Seems to work fine, but I’m inexperienced and I’m guessing I could do better.

Anyway, any recommendations for a good pair of recreational paddles for under $100 for the pair?


I’ve Found Good Deals…

– Last Updated: Jul-26-12 11:08 AM EST –

...for canoe PADDLES on E-bay. Bending Branches, Grey Owl and Sawyer paddles are good paddles to look at. The plastic and aluminum paddles are good back up paddles, but they get heavy! Beaver tail paddles are easy to learn strokes with and are easy on the shoulders. Check these out:

I tried to link to more paddles without success. But go to E-bay and search for canoe paddles and you'll find some deals. Good luck!


– Last Updated: Jul-26-12 11:57 AM EST –

A good paddle under $50 is going to be a used paddle. A good used paddle is a much better paddle than anything brand new and under $50. Nice to hold it in your hands before you buy, so try craigslist.
If you get seriously into canoeing, that marine raider will go in the bottom of your canoe as a spare pretty fast.

Here are two for new
Buying used is probably your best bet if you know what you’re looking for and have some knowledge of paddles. Of course, novices wouldn’t have that knowledge. Catch 22.

Dri-Ki has very inexpensive wooden ash paddles, which are somewhat on the heavy side.

Mohawk has sold aluminum and plastic paddles that have been popular for decades with recreational paddlers.

A pair of Sawyer Specials
would exceed your C note total, but only by twenty bucks. Carlisle makes three paddles that can be had for anywhere from $40 to $80 per pair that would be just fine. Mohawk paddles are decent and cheap as well. Never held one of these, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. The good thing about any of these is that as you grow as a paddler and decide to pay more for a better stick they will make good spares and loaners.

$45 beavertails at Indian Hill Trading

– Last Updated: Jul-26-12 1:36 PM EST –

Post, Greenville, ME two summers ago. Pretty sure they were Dri-Ki's. Yes, they're solid ash and weight is commensurate, but nicely crafted of quality stock. Fine edges, thin blades, oval shafts, well-shaped grips, good finish, a bit of spring, and not clunky at all. I remember thinking they were a good buy at $45 for traditional paddles. They looked virtually identical to a pair of Porter's I bought in the 80's and used happily for many years. Then I got older.

I think That Link I Had…
…were the Dry K paddles. They look pretty decent!


They were Dri-Ki

– Last Updated: Jul-26-12 1:46 PM EST –

I gave the home link for Dri-Ki so the OP could see the other Dri-Ki blade styles than the ones on the ebay page.

One suggestion would be to get a wooden otter tail from a low cost wooden vendor like Dri-Ki for flatwater, and a longer T-grip alumaplastic paddle from Mohawk for rock bashing and moving water. That way the OP could get the experience of different materials, different blade shapes, and different grip styles with two different inexpensive paddles.

Another plug for Dri Ki
I have one of his ottertails and love it. A little heavy, yes, but well balanced and bulletproof. Great paddle. And 10,000x better than the cheap wood paddles I see at Dicks and Bass Pro for the same price or more.

For all-around use, the beavertail would probably be better than the ottertail.

Thanks for the info, I’ve definately got some leads now. Appreciate it.

Oh, on another note, is YouTube a viable place to learn proper paddling technique (J-stroke, etc), or should I try and take a lesson with someone local? I’m in Louisiana and we have “Pack and Paddle” and “The Backpacker” which have monthly canoe/kayak trips on local bayous, lakes.


Instruction, video
Personal instruction from a good instructor is the best and quickest way to learn. This could be a paid instructor or just someone in a local paddling club.

Many of us have learned a lot from books and videos. Bill Mason’s excellent solo canoe video is a classic and still very relevant:

Where inLuzianne?
The Arkansas Canoe Club has a very strong Arklatex chapter. If you’re anywhere near that region you should have no trouble hooking up with someone to help. Also, we have our annual get together coming up in September, and that would be a great opportunity for some informal instruction on flat and moving water.

back to Academy

They sell Caviness Pro Paddles. I had and liked a 54 inch model for my canoe for years. I just recently gave it to my brother. With some maintenence they last a long time.

Size and Use
You mentioned that you are using a 60 in paddle. That’s a pretty long paddle. My recollection is that the Adventure has you sitting relatively low to the water. If you have a shorter torso, a 60 in paddle will be way too long and clumsy for your stroke; and and it will be unnecessarily heavy and unbalanced.

Your profile says you are paddling lakes and slow rivers. I see no good reason for you to be using an alum/plastic paddle. The clunky nature of the plastic blade prevents you from getting much feedback on your strokes and totally gets in the way of any finesse moves in controlling the boat.

Hurray for Glenn
Yes, Glenn’s right on! Those old Bill Mason Candanian NFM films are probably the best free resource out there. Probably better than other videos that cost money. If you can get past the cheesy 70’s music and Bill’s shorty short shorts, the films are beautiful and quite entertaining.

I like the Canoeing TV channel by Andrew Westwood on Youtube as well.

Two inexpensive
and relatively lightweight wood paddles are the Sawyer Special and the Bending Branches Traveler. I have not tried them in the water, but I have swung them back and forth in the store and they felt light and looked like they are well made.

I’ve got the BB Traveler too and it is a nice paddle. But its more expensive than $50.

I know. The Sawyer Special is too (I believe MSRP is $60). I just mentioned them because they are both good and inexpensive, even if they exceed his target price. For $50 or less he’ll have to get something used if he wants decent quality.

Paddle length?
I’m leaning towards a pair of Bending Branches Traveler paddles.

Next question is this…length?

I’m 5’10", 190, average build and my wife is 5’8", 120. What would be a good, middle of the road, paddle length to start with for us? 51",54",57" & 60" would be my options with this particular paddle.

Thanks for all the opinions and help!

Not to be adverse,
but for what you are paddling, you might do better with kayak paddles. Probably, 220s would work fine.

That’s another option for you.

You will be seated somewhat low, so try maybe a 50 or 52

in a canoe paddle.

You can always change things in a year, or so.

Good luck!