A Guide to Choosing Your Kayak Paddle
Materials and how they affect performance and price:Lightweight materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber improve performance by reducing fatigue but also add to a paddle’s price. Additionally, both materials tend to be more rigid which reduces flutter and translates into better energy transfer.
Here’s some material considerations:
- Plastic/Glass-filled Nylon Blades: Budget friendly material that is also the most durable. Glass-filled Nylon blades are the heaviest compared to fiberglass or carbon-fiber.
- Aluminum Shaft: Very durable and typically weighs more than other shaft materials. Aluminum can tend to build up corrosion in salty or brackish water and should be rinsed with fresh water after each use. Aluminum can heat up fast in warm weather and be cold to touch in cold weather. Best if price-point is a concern.
- Fiberglass Blades and Shaft: A durable, rigid, and fairly maintenance-free material that typically weighs more than carbon-fiber but is lighter than Glass-filled Nylon/Aluminum combinations. Fiberglass is a good mid-price option and does not really corrode in salt water nor does it get too hot or cold in varying temperatures.
- Carbon-Fiber Blades and Shaft: Very durable, extremely rigid, and the lightest in weight. This material will also not corrode in salt water and maintains a comfortable feel in-hand when temperatures reach extremes. The old adage “you get what you pay for” really applies here as you are getting the best weight and rigidity for your money with carbon-fiber.
Shaft choice:Aside from the material concerns mentioned earlier, the option to “Feather” a paddle is an important one to consider. Matched, or unfeathered, paddle blades are even along the central axis of the paddle while feathered blades are not. Instead, feathered blades are offset at an angle to each other which improves a paddle’s effectiveness by reducing wind resistance. Nearly all our paddles are featherable so you can use the paddle either “Matched”, “Left-hand Feathered”, or “Right-hand Feathered”.