The kayak paddle is the most important part of a kayak, its robustness and function make the rest of the kayak move. Using the incorrect paddle or incorrect stroke can leave you tired and burnt out without the ability to keep going. Also an inefficient paddle or bad quality can leave you stranded in the middle of the sea!
Top Kayak Paddles of 2018 – Top 5 Best Kayak Paddles
There are various brands of kayaking paddles. The most recommended kayaking brands of 2018 so far are as follows;
Carlisle Magic plus
Aan asymmetrical slightly spooned paddle with a fiberglass shaft that provides for the best kayaking experience emanating from the smooth strokes that are a dream for any kayaker out there. Its lightweight and colorfulness are an added advantage.
Secondly, the SeaSense provides for a relatively lightweight paddle with adjustable drip guards. It is affordable and can be used almost in all waters like oceans and wide rivers. For most fishermen, SeaSense X-1 is the preferred choice.
Thirdly, the Werner brand provides with the Werner Skagit that is an extremely lightweight and well-balanced paddle and is known for its performance in wildest of waters. For a thrilling adrenaline-filled experience, this is your best choice.
Shoreline Marine Propel
Another stand out is the Shoreline Marine Propel which will enable any paddler to achieve faster speeds with less effort. The aluminum shaft guarantees you durability and performance. It has firm grips as well for maximum comfort on the water. This will provide you with an excellent paddle for your adventure.
Aqua-Bound Manta Ray
Aquabound brands are not far behind in providing kayakers with top-notch paddles that are highest in performance and at the same time the lightest in weight. They can take you kayaking in wild white waters whether seated or standing up. Their blades are adjustable to enable you to adjust to your desired effect. It is yet another perfect choice for kayakers across the globe.
Parts of the paddle
A paddle is a short pole with a broad flat part called a blade usually at one end or both ends used to move, steer or propel a small boat, canoe or kayak. A kayaking paddle has three parts. The shaft is the main stick that a paddler holds on to while paddling. This is the part that connects the two blades. The shaft holds the drip rings which prevent water from running across it when paddling. Part two is the blades. Placed on either end of the shaft, they are usually flat, wide and are slightly spoon-shaped. The blades are what push water back to push the kayak forward during paddling. Thirdly, the point of connection between the shaft and the blades is called the throat with the adjustable point called the joint.
A kayaking paddle’s length is determined by two main factors namely: the width of the kayak and the height of the paddler. Simply put, the wider your kayak is, the longer your paddle should be. This will ensure that as you paddle, your paddle reaches both sides of the kayak comfortably without straining. A wide kayak paddled by a short paddle would be ridiculously clumsy. This further makes it easier, less tiring and more adventurous for the paddler. Secondly, the taller the paddler, the longer the paddle needs to be. A tall paddler would find it very strenuous and uncomfortable using a short paddle.
The best way to put it would be; for paddlers below 5’5, the recommended length of the shaft is 200-230 centimeters. If you are 5’6-6’, the recommended length of the shaft is from 210 centimeters to 250 centimeters. For the paddlers above 6’, the recommended shaft length for your paddle is between 220 and 250 centimeters.
Similarly, if your kayak width is between 23” and 28’’, the recommended shaft length is between 210 centimeters and 230 centimeters. If your kayak width is between 28’’ and 32’’, then your recommended paddle shaft length is 220 centimeters and 240 centimeters. For the kayaks that are above 32’’, the recommended paddle shaft length is between 320 centimeters and 250 centimeters. Go for what will work for you, that is the bottom line.
Low angle versus high angle paddle stroke
A Kayaking paddle is designed for two types of angle strokes namely: high angle stroke and low angle stroke. The low angle paddle stroke has the paddler tilting the shaft of the paddle just slightly with their top hand below shoulder level. The low angle paddle stroke is ideal for relaxed and comfortable kayaking in flat water.
In the high angle paddle stroke, the paddler has the shaft of the paddle in a complete tilt unveiling a wider blade as compared to the one in the low angle paddle stroke. The recommended blade here is shorter and wider. The paddler’s top hand is much higher above the shoulder level, and the blade of the paddle is closer to the boat than in the low stroke. This paddle stroke is used when the paddler is sprinting or doing high-speed kayaking in sports competitions. It is usually more tiring because of the aggressive strokes and requires the paddler to be more precise and accurate than the low angle stroke.
A paddle can determine your performance as a paddler depending on the materials it is made of. Most kayaking paddle blades are made of three common materials namely; plastic, carbon-fiber, and fiberglass. First, plastic is cheap hence budget friendly. If you chose it because of the low price, you would need to sacrifice efficiency because plastics can be heavy and less flexible in the water. It can also break and is exposed to much more wear and tear if left in the sun.
Secondly, a fiberglass paddle is a little more expensive than a plastic one. It is lighter in weight hence you are assured of performance. It is also more durable than the plastic counterpart as it may chip occasionally but can withstand damage as opposed to cracking gradually along the way. Spending a little more here will enable a paddler to enjoy performance and durability.
A carbon-fiber paddle is much more expensive as compared to the plastic and fiberglass paddle. However, it is much lighter, and its performance is top notch. If you can spend much more on a paddle, you can go for the carbon-fiber ones, and you will get more value for your money since this paddle will not disappoint any paddler.
A good paddle shaft can be made of materials like aluminum, carbon, and fiberglass. An aluminum shaft is more affordable but depending on the weather, it can get cold and will need a paddler to wear gloves to be able to handle it. The carbon and fiberglass counterparts will assure the paddler of durability, strength, performance, and weight. Try pairing up a suitable material on the blade to a suitable shaft material, and you will have a fantastic experience kayaking.
A paddle blade can have different designs and shapes as well, and this goes a long way in determining the performance and productivity of a paddle. The most common blade designs are as follows; the asymmetrical blade has one of its sides a little shorter and narrower for a smooth push through the water. Narrow blades specifically ensure the paddler is comfortable on long trips and stretches. They provide fluid flow of water on both halves leading to accurate and straight kayaking. Its symmetrical counterpart has both halves similar in narrowness such that if you folded the blade flap, both sides would be identical.
Secondly, feathered blade designs are set on the shaft at different angles. This implies that they are not aligned with each other. The opposite of this is the un-feathered blade design which has both blades placed at the same angle. Most blades will allow the paddler to adjust the feathering according to your personal needs.
Thirdly, the touring paddle blade design is usually longer and narrower as compared to other paddle blades. The paddler enjoys less resistance through the water with a less physical strain on the arm and shoulder muscle. These are ideal for relaxed slower kayaking adventures.
A winged paddle blade is ideal for experienced kayakers who do sprint and race kayaking. With an excellent water grip, these require a lot of strength and speed. Their shape is spooned and sometimes can be used for other kayaking styles as well.
Having your paddle blades at a feathered angle has proved to work well in high winds. The higher your blade angle is, the less resistance you will encounter while kayaking. The paddler adjusts the blade angle by rotating the paddle shaft to an angle even up to 90 degrees depending on the wind strength in such a way that the blade cuts into the water vertically. Usually, this can be adjusted in 15-degree increments. Feathering has its disadvantages though. For instance, it is a bit strenuous especially at first since it involves a lot of rotation of the wrist area. It could give you a wrist strain while kayaking and will need you to stop, but with practice, feathering becomes a nice thing to try out.
The weight of a paddle directly affects a paddler’s kayaking experience. For instance, you can imagine using a heavy paddle kayaking. Apart from being very hectic and strenuous on the side of the paddler, it will not be an enjoyable experience, and one would end up with a lot of muscle strain and on top of that, a tiring experience out on the water. A good kayaking paddle should be made of a durable, lightweight material to ensure the best performance while providing comfort to the paddler. The price could be higher, but your efficiency will be guaranteed. A well-chosen kayaking paddle will also ensure proper controls while on the water considering sometimes the seas are rough and the winds high.
It is advisable that you go through reviews on the paddles before purchase. Reviews help in opening your eyes to things you could overlook since they are experiences of consumers of the product. They will help you to get information on the good, the bad and the hidden sides of the product. We should endeavor to use them and store them in the best conditions possible to enhance their performance and durability. Treat your paddle well and happy kayaking!