Economical canoe paddle

I’m shopping for a couple of economical canoe paddles, mainly for flatwater river paddling. Please chime in with your picks and pans. TIA.

“Economical” -
Wally World where else? The price is as low as you can get.

I’ll take my high buck ZRE anyday though!



I do not know what your budget is
but Mowhawk makes a low end paddle with injection-moulded blades and T-grip on an aluminum shaft that is amazingly good. Given a choice, Iwould go with a Mowhawk over a Carlisle.

Of course, I am a bit of a paddle snob, and prefer laminated wood and lively composits.


Mohawk makes a good cheap paddle. Very servicable and it won’t kill ya if you lose one or two.

I keep one in my boat as a spare… but I almost always paddle with my Mitchel.


Well rounded
Some of the cheap wood paddles are cut out of boards and are only partially rounded. The flat sides and noticeable edges on these cheapies are good at making blisters on your hands, if you use for extended periods. If you are thinking of buying wood paddles, spend the money to get a paddle with fully contoured grip, shaft, and throat. My $.02.

I’m with Jim & Tommy.
I’ve got four of the Mohawks, well, technically three, but my doubleblade clicks apart and with click-on t-grips, voila, four! And for their total cost to me I might be able to afford one of those Bending Branches Expedition or Mitcell light-core elbowed paddles that I covet, with perhaps 10 to 20 bucks in change. But those last two said beauties that I desire would not likely see the many boney-bottom shallow runs I’ve journeyed along with the Mohawks, nor passed from my hands as loaners on several ocassions. And I certainly couldn’t snap them together when my 80-pound canoe with too heavy me and the firewood-pile-to-cover-the-sea were attempting to push forward in 30-knotters across a shallow tidal flat.

If about $45 a paddle is too expensive, which I believe is close to what the Mohawks run now, then perhaps a journey to Walmart, as Jack suggests, is in order. But the metal and plastic model of paddles I’ve seen there, perhaps Carlsles (some had green instead of black plastic blades) looked and felt like a tinsel straw with a Tupperware lid-spill accident waitin’ to occur. And the wood at the Wonderland of Walton? Sheez, the Feather has fallen far from the Brand, and the Totem has toppled, for although those names may have been on the blade I believe what I was seein’ were the prison shop cast-offs of incarcerated beavers receiving electro-shock therapy!

I’d also mention that for about $25 in wood and glue you could make an exceptionally nice paddle, as many of the skilled p-netters hereabouts have shown us how to do, but unfortunately I was moved on to the laundry detail after about my 25th high voltage treatment.


Those cheap ones with the flat faces on the shafts are probably from Caviness. They are worthless. However, Caviness has an 800 series with oval shafts and pretty comfortable grips. They are still very inexpensive(less that $30 I think) and I would recommend them for your purposes. Unfortunately they are not as commonly stocked as the real cheap ones. Call around to marine supply or sporting goods stores in your area.

Mohawks Rock
I think the Mohawk canoe paddles are still under 20 bucks. I’ve had a couple for 20 plus years and they keep on going. I had a Carlisle for a time which was OK, but not as good. I gave it away with a canoe I sold. They cost about the same.

Bending branches Arrrow and BB special are about the least expensive laminated wood paddles I know of. They are 10 bucks one side or the other of 40 bucks. Camp and Grey owl make some reasonably low priced wood laminated paddles also. I had one Bending Branches Traveler which was not really as good as a Mohawk.

Mohawk pricing

near the bottom of the page.

If you aren’t near them in Fla. figure on shipping too. I’ve seen them in REI and other places for not much more than the mail order pricing.


cheap paddles
I’ve had Carlisle aluminum / plastic paddles for years. They’re tough and readily available in a couple of sizes for around $15.00 each. They also make some with the ‘Old Town’ brand stamped on.

Like others, I love my good bent shafts, but these are good back-ups or for use by the rookies we take on trips sometimes.

Jim from central WI

small bucks, big difference
The price on a cheapo aluminum shaft plastic blade paddle is typically $17-24. The price on a decent entry level wood paddle from Bending Branches or Voyageur is $35-40. The difference between them is night and day - one will be well balanced and shaped by someone who put some thought into the shape of the blade, the shaft and the handle. The other will have horrific swing weight issues and have been designed with an eye toward cheap reproduction and ‘fool proof’ assembly by unskilled workers.

Why would anyone buy the first when they can have the second for the price of two movie tickets.

There’s no paddle worth owning for $20. Spend $40, and you’ll buy something worth having.