Pick me the best paddle

Ok, started kayaking last summer, loved it. Bought an entry level sundolphin as were on a fresh water lake at the family cottage.
Now, I’ve upgraded to a CD Kestrel 120, and looking to spend $300 “ish” on a great paddle. I’ll also be paddling down a slow moving, class 1 river this summer too, shallow in parts. Looking for durability and stiffness.

Kayak: 25” wide, 12’ long
Me: 6’1”, 210lbs

I’m thinking a 230 cm, but make/model of paddle?
What’s your two cents!

Aquabound makes good, durable paddles that won’t break the bank in different composition and weights.

I’d suggest a Werner but your individual taste prevents me from recommending a particular paddle.

Your boat upgrade may radically change the way you paddle, the profile of the deck may allow you to run your paddle in closer proximity to your hips, possible effecting whether you are a high or low angle paddler. Having said that, a $300ish paddle can get you a pretty good paddle.
In my opinion I would start the season out with your same paddle and take note of your strokes and what you do with the paddle. It may be a good idea to stop by a reputable paddle shop and let them watch you paddle your new boat, this may be the best advice you can ever get; as you gain experience you will probably fine tune your paddle collection.
A quality paddle purchase is rarely a waste of money, they can be traded, sold or kept. I personally have 7 different paddles in my collection, all used for different boats and conditions.

I know I sound like a broken record on paddles, but here goes anyway. For the money, the best you can do is a Carlisle Expedition. Yes, you can spend a lot more money, but the Expedition is just a superb paddle for a great price. All the better if you find it on sale.

Be aware that there is also the Expedition fishing paddle if you’re into ugly. You wouldn’t have to worry about anyone trying to steel it from you.

It really pays to shop around on the Internet. Prices will vary a lot, but you should be able to find one for less than $150. Amazon is showing one for $99, but I think it is a shorty. Nope, actually after checking again, it turns out to be a longy (240). In my opinion, the Carlisle Expedition is almost comparable to a Werner Shuna.

On the other hand, if you aren’t looking for a bargain price, my favorite paddle is the Werner Camano. Even they can be found on sale from time to time for about $200.

You mentioned paddling in shallow water. You might want to carry a beater paddle with you for that kind of service.

I wouldn’t spend $300 for a paddle on a 12 foot boat,

I did for a 14’ boat and then upgraded to a 16.

@trvlrerik, great advice! Thanks.
@andy, why isn’t it worth it on a 12’?

@Photecs said:

@andy, why isn’t it worth it on a 12’?

What is the CD Kestrel a $800 recreational 12ft boat,? Normally you wouldn’t spend 38% ( a $300 paddle) of your boat’s value on a paddle. Most folks with similar boats use a $100 +/- paddle off the rack so to speak.

A better question is: Why do you feel you need a $300 paddle? What are you trying to resolve or improve? What are you using now?

Weight. But I went from a glass shaft/nylon blades to a CF.
But you weren’t asking me.

No matter what you’re in a lighter paddle is better.

I’m interested in why the OP wants a new paddle, not the reason everyone else does or doesn’t agree.

@Photecs said:
@trvlrerik, great advice! Thanks.
@andy, why isn’t it worth it on a 12’?

Others have chimed in and have given you obvious advice. I have an 18’ kayak and a 19’ surf ski that dance

on the water and I use CF wing paddles that I paid more than $300 for.

Last year, got a cheap deal on a sundolphin, 30” ref kayak for under $300 that came with a 218cm aluminum paddle.
Using on a lake, but this year wanting to go out for more than 2 hrs, and run a calm river close to my home, I opted for the current designs Kestrel 120. A $1000 kayak I got on sale, and now I’m looking to leave the aluminum paddle with the cheapo sundolphin, and move into something lighter weight.
At this point, want strength and lightweight, looking for good options.
I’m not opposed to a $100 paddle, don’t get me wrong, but having been to a couple stores, it sure is noce holding a paddle in your hands that’s 28 oz, not 32oz

A paddle regardless of cost is a very personal choice. Its like buying shoes. Get one you like.

PS …. I paddled some time in my $250 kayak with a $245 paddle.

A paddle should be what you enjoy and not what people think is a good match for the boat.
The paddle will stay with you no mater what boat you have. You do the paddling not the boat.
I have a Werner CF bent shaft Kalliste that I used on all my boats including a 120 Kestrel.

This is a one of many kayak shops, I follow on Facebook. Dan does a great job, with his product videos. In this video, he covers a variety of paddles, from cheap to high end. Well worth a look.


Well, even a $100 paddle will be a big step forward from the aluminum one that came with the pool toy.

But I sincerely doubt you’ll see much advantage going higher end versus mid range. My best suggestion is to purchase one that’s lighter and more suited to the paddling you want to do. Hold off on getting close to the best until your interests evolve more, as you may well buy another boat sooner than you expect to.

When you finally do get that $300+ paddle, demote your other one to spare and/or beater duty (shallow, rocky creek… Cringe)

Great advice everyone. I appreciate the input.