rec. paddles

I have a pair of rec. kayaks that my wife and I use to cruise ponds and some smaller salt water rivers here on Cape Cod and on vaca in NH etc. I am looking to get a couple of decent paddles, but don’t want to pay more than I did for the boats. I am using a couple of “seasense” paddles that came with the kayaks. They seem to be a little weak in the propulsion area, but are pretty light. Anyone have a suggestion for an affordable decent paddle? There are so many out there that look good, but I have no idea which ones are good and which ones are really not worth the money. Thanks in advance.

Aquabound, great company, stands
behind their paddles, Cannon, Werner, Bending Branches, and Carlisle are just a few brands. Then you have to decide what’s important, price or weight. Fiberglass is good, but a bit heavy. I’ve a fiberglass Aquabound for my solo canoe. It was free, the right length, so the weight wasn’t an issue. Frankly, the weight doesn’t bother me, even 0nlong paddles.

I use a carbon shaft ABS plastic Aquabound Manta Ray…like it a lot…with my kayak. Had a crack in the shaft and Aquabound replaced the paddle, only cost me shipping it to them. Carbon fiber shaft and blades is where it starts getting expensive.

Lots of variables

– Last Updated: Sep-27-07 5:36 PM EST –

You mentioned a low budget...what's your cap?
Are you willing to buy used? There are classifieds here and many clubs have them as well. Might be able to pick something up used in a higher end than new.

Aside from used, you should figure out what the paddles are for. Meaning, slow rivers and calm lakes or are you going to be in rocky places where the paddle might get knocked around a bit? This could mean the difference between plastic, fiberglass and carbon. How many hours do you paddle, how far do you go? If you do extensive paddling, you may find paying for a lighter weight is worth it to you. You should also take a look at your current paddles' blade shapes as well as shaft lengths and widths. What do you like and dislike about them? You and your wife may wind up with two different preference lists.

As far as inexpensive paddles, they are definitely out there. Bending Branches, Canon, AquaBound, etc all make lower end paddles that are under $100 and some as low as the $40-$50 range. Do you have a local outfitter you have started to deal with? They would be the first stop and beyond that you could see if any local outfitters will let you try different paddles. Several of the rental shops in my area have more than one rental paddle style. Some of them ask that you rent a boat too, some don't.

I really like my old Bending Branches Whisper ($60) but my dad prefers his AquaBound. I've upgraded, but the Whisper is a great spare and loaner paddle. I know it's a "dreaded" big-box store, but I was at Gander Mountain with my husband the other day and they had a surprisingly decent range of entry-level paddles. Other folks here will have far more knowledge and advice. These are just some ideas to get you started.Good luck- Toddy

Consideration for your wife
Aquabound has paddles that are fairly light and can be gotten with a smaller diameter shaft and have been sold by EMS. They aren’t dirt cheap, sale price is still over $100, but they leave us small-handed folks a lot happier at day’s end.

You Can DIY Good Paddles…
…for very little money with a little work.

Here’s a link to the some plans and instructions for the paddles we build and use - spruce shafts, ply blades, held tongether with epoxy. They are fairly light (mine’s 950 grams), very tough, bug-simple to make, and have done everything we’ve asked of them.

My first paddle is now seven years old, and apart from some cosmetic damage, is as solid as the day it was built. I very, very seldom use any other paddle.

Any questions, feel free to drop me a line.



My take … surprised this has not been
mentioned. IMO, paddles and pfds are most important, more so than the boat. I would rather spend twice as much to have a good paddle. The paddle is in your hands and used to propell the boat the entire time you are on the water.

Some designs are more efficient than others. Lighter paddles require less expenditure of energy which could be important on a long outing or in heavy winds – think less fatigue. That said, there are a lot of really good paddles that are reasonably priced. You don’t have to get the super high tech, ultra light, $400+ paddle, but you probably will be a lot better off than if you went for the sub $100 paddle. Again, IMO, list price of very good paddles start at about $125-$150 and go up. Generally, less $ than that and the paddles really aren’t in the same league. End of year sales, demos, closeouts, seconds and used paddles could yield a great bargain, but you need to know what you are looking for (i.e. brand and model), otherwise you’ll be taking your chances. I am familiar with several of the brands already mentioned and most of these manufacturers produce good paddles in the $125 and up range (list price). It is a competitive industry, so similar models are priced accordingly. If you can, check out the paddles from a local speciality paddling shop. You’re likely to get better advice than at a big box store and may get a really good deal. Do you have an idea of what length paddle(s) you need?


A few good places to start researching.