FITNESS

Best Canoe Paddle: Paddle your way to Victory

Crossed canoe paddles
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Choosing the best canoe paddle is not that hard of a choice and it really is about how the paddle feels in your hand. However, having an uncomfortable paddle or one that is too long can cause fatigue much faster and thus hinder your paddling experience.

Canoeing is one of the top outdoor past time experiences and if you are even more adventurous, you might be up for some white river rafting. This requires some more skill and practice, but whether you are white river rafting or simply canoeing, the right paddle can do wonders to help you paddle for longer distances at a time.

We have decided to pick out a few of the most highly rated canoe paddles on the market and show you how they can improve your canoeing experience. It is not always the wisest of choices to pick the cheapest paddle, as the durability might not be that goo, resulting in a broken paddle and having to spend more to replace it.

Dark wooden canoe paddle

Before we look at the top canoe paddles, there are a few aspects that you need to take note of when purchasing your very own canoe paddle to ensure that it is perfect for your needs and size and to allow you to paddle farther distances with minimum fatigue setting in.

Noteworthy Features to look for

It is a common misconception among beginners that any canoe paddle will suffice, but that’s not true, and the cheapest might not be the best if you plan on doing this as a serious pastime. For casual canoeing, a cheaper paddle might seem like a good choice, but it will break much more easily. You’ll then need to purchase a new one when you could have saved a few bucks by purchasing a higher quality product from the outset.

Length

The length of a canoe paddle is really important and it can be hard to paddle with one that isn’t the correct length. This could cause a lot of uncomfortable positions when canoeing, resulting in pain in the back or sides because of the constant leaning to the side.

Weight

If the paddle is too heavy it will defeat the purpose of having a lightweight canoe and fatigue will also set in faster and more heavily. Determining the right weight for your body is really important and this could make a lot of difference when it comes to the final stretch.

Blade material

This really goes hand in hand with the durability of the paddle and if you do not have the right blade material and you get close to rocks, the paddle might easily break.

Canoe paddle blades

Most paddles come in with one of four types of blades: wood, aluminum, plastic and fiberglass. Fiberglass is the most preferred for river rafting and it is generally maintenance-free.

Blade shape

The blade shape will differ from place to place, and will also depend on the where you decide to enjoy your paddling experience. The longer and skinnier paddles are designed for deeper waters and allow you to have more freedom when cruising down the river, while the larger and shorter paddles are better for speed and dodging those rocky areas in the water.

Grip

Mainly there are two different types of gripping features on the canoe paddles and they also offer different purposes. These two gripping features are the palm grip and the T-grip features:

Palm grip

The palm grip is great for flat water and cruising, and allow users to have enough steering control and easy movement without putting too much strain on the hands.

T-grip

This gripping feature is for the more specialized and experienced canoe enthusiasts and it will allow you to get your fingers around the bar to have better steering control. This gripping feature is recommended for river rafting and those rocky canoe experiences.

The shaft

You will also find two different shafts to choose from and each has different purposes, but generally this is not that important. The straight shaft has been designed for keeping the canoe more rigid and pushing away from rocks.

Canoe paddle shaft

This shaft is great for river rafting. The bent shaft, on the other hand, will give you more power with every thrust and also maintain its vertical position throughout the stroke. This is great for cruising on the open water.

If you buy your canoe paddle by following these 6 features, you can be sure that you will get value for your money. You will also be able to make the best choice in regards to your canoeing experience and if you know where you are going to canoe, you can use this buying guide to save a few dollars when looking for the top canoe paddles.

Pick Your Paddle

With that being said, let’s look at the top canoe paddles to make your canoeing experience better:

Expedition Plus Canoe Paddle

Expedition Plus Canoe PaddleWeight: 2lbs

Materials: Wood

Special features: Straight and rigid shaft, straight blade, fiberglass blade wrap, T-grip feature for more control, great for beginners

The Expedition plus canoe paddle is one of the more durable canoe paddles and it has been designed for river rafting, but can also be used for standard canoeing. The shaft is straight and rigid and this will be great for getting through those rocky areas and the T-grip feature will also give you much more control when paddling.

The straight blade has also been coated in fiberglass and even though this is a little more expensive, it does definitely increase the durability of the blade. You will also find that there is no long-term maintenance associated with the fiberglass coated paddles and that you will have much more time to enjoy the canoeing experience.

The paddle has been designed for beginners to get into the sport and to enjoy canoeing at an affordable price, but because of the durability of this paddle, it will also be a great addition to more advanced paddlers as well and you will be able to use this paddle for a longer time. The paddle is also quite light and this will help to keep fatigue from setting in and you will be more inclined to paddle for longer distances at a time.

Overall, we do recommend this to intermediate and beginners to help get into the sport and to understand canoeing with a durable and affordable paddle. The paddle will not bend, nor will it break when mistakes are made and therefore, it will be great for beginners.

Check the price on Amazon

Carlisle Standard Polyethylene Clad Aluminum Canoe Paddle with T-Grip

Carlisle Standard Polyethylene Aluminum PaddleWeight: 34 ounces

Materials: Aluminum and polypropylene

Special features: Vinyl clad tempered aluminum construction, available in multiple lengths, straight shaft and rigid blade, T-grip features

The Carlisle Standard Polyethylene clad aluminum canoe paddle had been designed for the casual canoe rider and thus is really affordable, but will still give you the experience of the most advanced paddles when you look at the T-grip feature. This feature has been incorporated to make it much easier for you to paddle and to maneuver around. This will even be the case if you are not used to paddling.

The aluminum base and polypropylene blade will be great for deeper water and cruising even though the blade is straight. We do not recommend entering rocky areas with this paddle as it might break off in rafting situations, but it will hold up for casual canoe riders.

The canoe paddle is also available in multiple sizes to fit the needs of all canoe enthusiasts and thus you can find it in any size ranging from 51 to 65 inches. This will ensure that everyone in the family can have the perfect paddle at a really affordable price.

There might be some maintenance like painting to be done over time to ensure that the base does not get any rust, but generally, this will be a cheap buy that will be great for a weekend breakaway to the river. We do not recommend this paddle for white river rafting or extremely strong currents.

Check the price on Amazon

Carlisle Outfitter Poly Clad Aluminum Canoe Paddle T-Grip

Carlisle Outfitter Poly Clad PaddleWeight: 38 ounces

Materials: aluminum and polypropylene

Special features: Reinforced polypropylene blade, very light weight, advanced T-grip for more control, polypropylene covered gripping feature to make it slip resistant

The Carslisle Outfitter aluminum canoe paddle is one of the only aluminum constructed paddles that will be great for rafting. The reason for this is because it features a reinforced polypropylene blade that will help resist any rocks and definitely improve the overall durability of the paddle.

The paddle also features a polypropylene covered gripping feature over the durable aluminum frame to give a warmer and slip resistant feel when paddling. This will allow you to use the paddle for more than just cruising and you might even use the paddle to try your luck at some white river rafting.

Furthermore, to add to the use for white river rafting, you will also see that the blade is straight and the shaft is extra durable, but it might need a few coats of paint every few years to ensure that the rust does not set in.

The paddle is only available in the 60 and 66-inch sizes and thus it has been created for longer people who like the tricky and rockier rivers. The only downside to the paddle is the one yellow and red color that it comes in, but this could be rectified with a few coats of your own paint.

Check the price on Amazon

Aquabound Shred 4-Piece Breakdown Paddle

Aquabound Shred 4Piece Breakdown PaddleWeight: 38.5 ounces

Materials: Fiberglass

Special features: Ovalized reinforced fiberglass paddle and shaft, slightly bent blade for more power, great for white water paddling, T-grip gripping features

The Aquabound Shred 4-piece breakdown paddle is great when it comes to portability and the fact that it can be broken up into 4 smaller pieces that will make it much easier to store and to transport. The paddle has been constructed from a durable thermoplastic material and finished with fiberglass to ensure that you do not have to do any long-term maintenance and to increase the durability in the white waters.

The paddle is slightly bent with a larger-than-normal oval-shaped blade. This can be great for cruising, but it will also offer you much more power when it comes to those tougher currents and to push away from the rocky areas. The larger blade will allow you to have more comfortable strokes without having fatigue set in that easily and you will be able to enjoy a longer canoeing experience.

The paddle has been designed with a T-grip gripping feature which has also been coated with fiberglass to keep the rust away and allow you much more control over every stroke. We definitely recommend this paddle for more advanced use, but it is cheap enough that even beginners will be able to afford it and this will help you master the perfect strokes in a shorter period of time.

We definitely recommend this paddle for white river rafting and the more complex area of canoeing, but it can be used for cruising as well and it will definitely be a lifelong investment.

Check the price on Amazon

Z&J SPORT IDBF Approved Carbon Fiber Dragon Boat Paddle With T Handle

Z&J SPORT IDBF Approved PaddleWeight: 15 ounces

Materials: Carbon fiber

Special features:  Durable and lightweight carbon fiber design, handmade, slightly bent blade type for more power, no paint and long-term maintenance required on the paddle

Featuring a new and advanced carbon fiber design, the Z&J sport IDB approved carbon fiber paddle has been crafted for white river paddling and for canoeing competitions. The paddle is extremely light and around 15 ounces, you will barely feel the paddle. The oval-shaped blade and slightly bent shaft will allow you to get more distance with the minimum exertion of power, thus minimizing the chance of fatigue setting in.

Carbon fiber is not commonly used in paddles because it is expensive, but with this paddle, the price is definitely worth it and you will immediately feel a difference in those rocky river areas. The carbon fiber design also ensures that you have no long-term commitment to maintenance and aside from a good wash every now and again, the paddle should be fine.

The paddle also features a T-grip design and this is great for giving you, even more, control over the paddle and you will be able to navigate your way through rocky areas and white river in no time. The paddle is also great for the younger and smaller paddlers and you can find any size ranging from 44 to 52 inches. Longer individuals can also order a custom made paddle for their size, but it will be more expensive.

Check the price on Amazon

KIALOA Monona Fiberglass Adjustable Canoe Paddle

KIALOA Monona Fiberglass Adjustable PaddleWeight: 21 ounces

Materials: Fiberglass

Special features: Slightly bent shaft, palm gripping feature, made in the USA, impact resistant reinforce fiberglass blade, stiff shaft for pushing away from rocky areas

The Kialoa Monona fiberglass adjustable canoe paddle is one of the most versatile canoe paddles on the list and it defines the statement that one size fits all. The length of the paddle can be adjusted for different individuals and everyone in the family will be able to comfortably use this paddle.

The blade has been designed slightly bigger than your average canoe paddle blade and when you add the fact that the shaft has been slightly bent, you will be able to do longer strokes to get more distance and minimize the power exertion.

Furthermore, the paddle features a palm grip feature and even though this is not the best gripping feature for river rafting, it will be great for cruising on flat and still water. Should you accidentally encounter a few rocky areas, the durability of the fiberglass construction will come into play and you could easily steer clear of these rocky areas. The fiberglass blade has also been reinforced to increase the durability and also make the paddle impact resistant.

Finally, the stiff shaft will be great for pushing away from rocks and ensuring that you have maximum length in the water. This will be great for casual canoe paddlers and we also highly recommend this paddle for beginners.

Check the price on Amazon

Final Thought

We would like to thank you for reading this article and we hope that you now understand the difference between various canoe paddles and how these different features can be of benefit to you. We would just like to mention once again that the cheapest canoe paddle might not be the most effective canoe paddle for your needs and that you will need to choose the right paddle for casual paddling and river rating.

Canoe paddle cutting through water

We would like to encourage you to tell us about you canoeing experience with these paddles and to tell us if you think that we might have missed any other high-quality paddles that you like.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Greg Abbot

    My brother picked up canoeing awhile back and has started going up and down the Pacific Coast when he has the time. He wants me to go with him when I travel out, but suggested I look into getting the right paddle for myself. The Kialoa Monona seemed the best suited for what I will be doing. Would that be a reasonable thought? Is the price point reasonable enough that it would be worth getting for only a few uses a year?

  • Daniel Carraway

    If you’re serious on this outdoor activity, I say, invest on good equipment and gear. You’ve chosen a good paddle with the Kialoa Monona since the material is fiberglass – which is very durable and lightweight. Even if you store it half a year before using it again, you’ll be assured that it won’t chip,break or wear away.

  • Liz Edwards

    I am having trouble choosing between Aquabound and Z&J Sport. My son enjoys canoeing so much and I would like to surprise him with a great paddle. I have read so many good reviews for both, but a lot of people say that the Z&J brand is best for newbies and Aquabound is more expensive, is it really worth the price?

  • Daniel Carraway

    We do think it is worth the price, however, you need to pick something that will work best for him. As long as you think it works with your son’s abilities, then go for it!

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