A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: February 20, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Imagine yourself on a day out canoeing – tranquil waters, no motor noise, and a stress-free time. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, you can get closer to that dream by finding the right gear for your canoe trip. All you need is a canoe, a wetsuit, and also all-important canoe paddles.
We compared 30 canoe paddles, which we found on the market and included ten of them in this article. We picked the Bending Branches Special Performance Canoe Paddle to be our favorite. Based on its length, lightweight wood and shaft ship, it provides the ideal grip for the best possible canoeing experience, whether you’re in a group or on a solo adventure. If you want to take a look at something else, we also reviewed nine other popular canoe paddles to help you make the right choice.
Before you make your decision, we’d like to highlight a few features that we considered in our review to make the process even easier for you. First, let’s talk about the length: most canoeists prefer paddles between 52” to 60”, or 48” to 54” in the case of bent-shaft paddles. Remember – the wider your boat, the longer the paddle needs to be. Next, we examined the blade material and overall weight. Lightweight paddles result in better performance and cause less fatigue, although, they do tend to be more expensive. Lastly, the blade choice and shaft type can affect the overall efficiency of a paddle. After scouring different catalog magazines and sports sites, our team has compiled all the information together. Continue reading, and you will find the in-depth reviews and a buying guide that is designed to help you get the best canoe paddle.
Ideal for paddlers of all skill levels, this lightweight paddle allows for an easy and comfortable canoeing experience with its durable multi-wood base. It also provides an unbeatable quality with its Rockgard technology on the blade tips and a protective varnish coat for the entire body, preventing the paddle from excessive wear and tear.
Perhaps the best feature of this paddle is its beautiful design, not just from an aesthetic point of view, but also from a practical one. It’s 11-degree bent shaft, coupled with the tear-drop blade shape, helps paddlers to position the blade accurately and cut through the water with ease. Simply put, you’ll waste less time on muscle work, and spend more time relaxing. Plus, its available in a range of lengths, from 48” to 56”, so you don’t have to worry about hunting for one best suited for your height. Although you could face a potential split in the wood with a little more than regular usage, this paddle provides great value for money, even if you buy one every 2-3 years.
Available as a set of two, these paddles are very popular and have a durable aluminum construction and a T-grip on the handles for precise control, making them one of the most incredible whitewater canoe paddles. Ideal in length for most people, they can even be split in half, using a release button. This feature allows for easier storage and transportation, and it is quite hard to find this feature in most paddles.
Although they are extremely lightweight and easily portable, the Sun Dolphin paddles aren’t without their share of cons. First, some users have reported that the water tends to seep into the lower part and cannot be emptied out easily after a few canoeing sessions, making paddling an arduous task at times. Secondly, the metal handles can turn a bit rusty if you’re paddling in brackish water. However, for the price paid, we believe these mild inconveniences to be completely fair and bearable.
Sport freaks can finally rejoice because the Z&J Sports Hybrid Paddle has entered the charts. Well-balanced with a comfortable paddling feel and accompanied by a wide blade surface area – these are all the features typical of top-notch sports paddles, and the Z&J Hybrid Paddle boasts them all. Its handcrafted, wooden bent shaft is a work of art, and it provides quick, powerful strokes.
Now let’s get to the show-stopping part: it has a carbon fiber blade, reinforced with extra PMI foam. In layman’s terms, you’re paying for an ultra-light carbon tool, which is truly sturdy and reliable. However, you have to be careful with its rough blade edges. Some people used a sandpaper to fix that minor issue. The overall quality of the product is really good, and you will love your canoe trip with this paddle because it will surprise you with the wonderful and clean bites.
Not much of a pro at canoeing? We’ve got you covered with this fantastic solo canoe paddle for deep lakes. The Bending Branches Beavertail Canoe paddle comes with a straight shaft and freestyle palm grip, which is perfect for beginner-level canoeists. It has a longer, narrower blade, which enables users to go forth gently on the deep lakes. Furthermore, like its sister-model (BB Special Performance Canoe), it comes with partial Rockgard blade protection and wood varnish for increased durability.
Available in different lengths, and ideal for maneuvering through tight turns, this beautifully crafted paddle will be your recreation partner. Unfortunately, it’s a bit thick and could feel clunky to a more experienced paddler. Still, this is a great tool with strong construction for both lakes and rivers. It will perform well, and you will enjoy your solo paddling.
Are you looking for the canoe paddle that will not cause fatigue to your muscles? Well, with this CISIBOOK paddle, your search is officially over! Let’s get started with its premium look and feel. It is made from black carbon fiber with a clear glossy finish, and it is lighter than a wooden paddle of the same size. The best part about it is that there’s no chance of water seeping inside the blade body, owing to its one-piece construction. Meaning that there’s no joint between the blade and the shaft.
Next, let’s talk about its parts. The shaft is curved, double-bent and T-shaped. It provides an exceptional grip. The blade is round-bottomed and dihedral, allowing for easier cuts with a large surface area offering greater pushes through the water. The price tag is justified by the high quality of the product. Therefore, you’re getting a very reliable tool for your canoe trips.
Another candidate on our list is the Z&J Sports Tahiti type Paddle, a solid amalgamation of sturdiness, light weight and durability. Its blade is made out of carbon fiber, aiding in ease of use, and its bent oval shaft with a T-shaped handle ensures less hassle and more comfort.
Perhaps the best part about this paddle is the wide range of options it provides its users, from different blade sizes to paddle lengths. Just a word of advice from us – be more mindful when making a purchase. Some users reported the issue with the space between the black tape and joint of the blade that allowed the water to enter inside. Although this can be fixed by shaking the paddle out, upside down, we recommend checking the product carefully. On the other hand, many users love this paddle and note that it is very convenient.
Sleek and lightweight, this paddle is one of the best aluminum canoe paddles out there. The reason is simple – it’s well-constructed, has a super chic look, and is sturdy, yet light. We also loved its low price tag. So, if you don’t want to invest much but still want a stylish canoeing piece of equipment, this paddle could be your best friend.
Considering the low price, you’d be surprised by how well this works for a long time to come, all thanks to its durable design. Plus, the aluminum shaft enables you to literally glide your canoe through the water effortlessly, by directing the full force of your strength into each stroke. So, despite its fixed size (which could be a cause for hesitance among taller people), this paddle works quite well for most people.
This paddle is sturdy, it’s lightweight, and it does the job. What more could we ask for? With it’s high-impact blade and T-grip handle, this Carlisle paddle is an outstanding option for your long trips. The handle is made of molded synthetics that provide excellent UV protection. It also means that it’s long-lasting, which can be especially great if you’re looking for a reliable piece of equipment. Additionally, it always gives you a good feeling, since the handle is neither hot nor cold to the touch.
A potential drawback could be is that the blades might bend over time because of the vinyl casing. The paddle might also feel slightly heavier since its shaft is composed of aluminum. However, this feature is not bothersome for the most part. In fact, the excellent paddle quality and stroke power more than make up for these minor inconveniences, making this a good choice for amateur paddlers and pros, alike.
The Carlisle Scout Canoe Paddle is a magnificent wooden canoe paddle for multiple reasons. For starters, it’s made of durable basswood, which is laminated and allows for shock absorption due to the slight flexibility of its body. Moreover, it has a urethane tip guard at the end of the blade, which protects the paddle from sharp and rugged obstacles, such as rocks.
Although it’s not as durable as other wooden paddles (since basswood is a soft wood-type), the paddle comes with a one-year warranty, which is something not offered by many of the other brands on the market. Plus, the comfort is guaranteed, especially on longer outings, owing to its one-of-a-kind hand-contoured grip. Overall, the paddle is nice and smooth, it is very comfortable to grip, and it gives you enough control.
Since it is designed for expert paddlers, its bent shaft has an optimal angle, providing comfort and powerful strokes, simultaneously. Furthermore, its resin encased hardwood material ensures extra protection, making it less prone to breakage. With so much to offer, the CavPro definitely deserves to be on our list. You won’t get tired pretty quickly with this paddle, and still will have the situation under control. It will last you a long time, and you are not likely to regret this purchase.
The only downside to this paddle is its slight bulkiness on the blade part, making it a bit heavier than it needs to be. But if you’re an expert level paddler, this paddle is a good investment, and a breeze to work with. Plus, it’s affordable, durable, and provides all-day comfort – not a bad bargain, if we may add.
What we liked:
Ideal for pros
Provides all-day comfort
What could be better:
May feel heavy, especially to beginners
Things to Consider
Modern-day canoeing isn’t just a sports-restricted phenomenon, but something that people do as a recreational activity with their friends or family. However, choosing the right paddle is very important because it’s your paddle that allows you to maneuver, whether you’re on whitewater, or on flat, still water surface. This buying guide will not only cover the key aspects of paddling with a canoe but also help you choose one that’s right for you!
Things to consider before buying the best canoe paddle
The best canoeing paddle will allow you to cut through the water efficiently, with a minimal muscle strain. However, canoe paddles come under a plethora of styles, lengths and sizes. Therefore, finding one that suits your needs could be a rather daunting task, especially if you’re a beginner. Generally, a canoe paddle should be durable, lightweight and simple to use for maneuvres, but that’s not all. To make the buying process easier for you, we have compiled a list of features that a high-quality canoe paddle must have. Let’s dive deeper and learn more about canoe paddles!
It may seem like you need some kind of calculations to determine the ideal length of your paddle, but believe us, it’s ridiculously straightforward: the bigger your canoe is, the longer your paddle should to be. Of course, your height also plays a part in finding the perfect length for you. For example, taller people require longer paddles and vice versa.
To find out the right length, measure the distance between your chin and the floor while sitting at the height of your canoe seat.
The design and construction of your blade determine its efficiency to push you forward. Narrower, longer blades, such as the BB Beavertail Recreational Canoe Paddle has, are ideal for flat water surfaces, such as lakes, whereas shorter, wider ones, just like the ZJ Sport Hybrid has, are better for rivers and oceans where a more technical approach is required.
As a rule of thumb, a larger surface area will serve you better in rough waters, where strenuous paddling is involved.
Another important factor to consider is the blade shape. Round tipped blades are less susceptible to damage than those with sharp corners, and help you make a clean entry and exit through the water.
Lastly, the blade material needs to be taken into consideration. Plastic and nylon blades are cheaper and flexible as compared to fiberglass or carbon fiber blades. However, they’re not as efficient as the latter.
The shaft is an essential component of your paddle since the brunt of your force lies there. A straight shaft, like the one of the Attwood Aluminum Paddle, is better suited to rough water since it’s easier to maneuver. A bent shaft, on the other hand, is best utilized in flat-water due to its design, allowing for maximum stroke efficiency. For that purpose, the Caviness CavPro Paddle has a 14-degree bend.
When buying a paddle, you should also consider the shaft material. Aluminum shafts are quite common, since they’re cheap and durable, whereas carbon and fiber-glass shafts are lightweight and sturdy, resulting in higher efficiency.
An important factor is the shaft diameter. A round shaft tends to rotate more in your hand and causes your paddle to flutter in the water, whereas an oval one provides better grip and comfort.
Let’s get down to the basics of a paddle’s grip – it should be smooth, comfortable and fit your hand like a glove. There are two types of grips, the T-shaped grip, and the palm grip. The former, as suggested by its name, has a T-shape at the top of the shaft, for instance, the Sun Dolphin Canoe Paddles has it, and is used by mostly whitewater canoers, owing to a firmer grip and easier navigation without having to look at the blade.
The palm-grips best serve paddlers who traverse through a wider range of water bodies, allowing an easy switch between a firm grip in rougher conditions, and a looser grip in relaxed conditions, such as the Carlisle Scout Canoe Paddle handle. Irrespective of whichever handle you choose, always test it out first to see what suits your hand better.
Your paddle will have a fin to enable you to maneuver the canoe, and much like the shaft, the design of the fin also depends on the type of canoeing you choose. For instance, a straight fin, such as that of the Sun Dolphin Canoe Paddles, is great for casual lake cruising. Feathered fins, on the other hand, are short and fat, therefore, being optimal for speedy or sports-related paddling. A great example for this sort of activity is the Bending Branches Special Performance Canoe Paddle, which enables you to go easily through tight turns in rivers and streams.
A lightweight paddle is hands down the best paddle for canoeing, since you can go on paddling for hours, without giving in to fatigue. The weight of your paddle primarily depends on the material it’s composed of. Wooden paddles may provide a traditional and authentic feel. However, they tend to be heavier and difficult to control for beginners. Plastic and aluminum paddles are more lightweight. Those materials can even be mixed together for different parts of the paddle, such as the case with the Sun Dolphin Paddles, which have plastic blades and aluminum shafts. Carbon paddles, on the other hand, are the lightest and most efficient ones. For example, the ZJ Sport Tahiti Canoe Paddle weighs only 15.9 oz.
Now, it’s time for the final and most note-worthy factor – the price. Most canoe paddle prices start from $90 and go up to $190 unless you’re making a second-hand purchase, which could cut down the price.
The design and the materials mainly determine the price of a paddle. Aluminum paddles are the most budget-friendly, thanks to their lightweight constructions. For example, consider the Sun Dolphin Canoe Paddles that comes as a set of two, making it the bang for the buck.
Next, carbon fiber and fiberglass are the most expensive types. This is because they’re ultra-light, provide high-quality performance, and require manufacturing expertise to shape the carbon. This results in more stroke power and less muscle fatigue, increasing the overall efficiency. You might want to get the CISIBOOK Bend Shaft Carbon Fiber Outrigger Canoe Paddle for those reasons.
You can find some surprisingly cheap second-hand bargains on various sites, going as low as $19. However, be warned – these products might come with a few scratches here and there or worn-out blades. So, if you’re okay with these minor problems, getting a used paddle isn’t a bad idea, especially if you need it only once or twice a year.
The size of your canoe paddle depends on your height, as well as the size of your canoe. If your paddle is too short or too long, it could cause a great deal of discomfort and compromise your efficiency. To determine the correct paddle size, sit at the height of your canoe sit and measure the distance between your chin and the floor. That way you will be able to find the length of the paddle that fits you, and you won’t have issues the muscle fatigue after a few minutes of paddling.
it’s not the best idea to use a kayak paddle for a canoe, and you should stick strictly to canoe paddles. The primary reason for this is that kayak paddles are shorter. Kayak paddles have blades on both ends and are meant to be held horizontally with your hands since both sides are used to push the kayak in the water.
A canoe, on the other hand, should be pushed using a J-stroke, which isn’t possible with a kayak paddle. If you try using a kayak paddle on your canoe, you’ll tire out quickly by having to switch sides constantly. Furthermore, your canoe won’t keep going straight. This will result in further inefficiency and will slow your canoe down since you’ll keep straightening your path out.
The best canoe paddles are buoyant and easy to use, thanks to their lightweight construction. Canoe paddles are usually made out of wood, aluminum, fiberglass or carbon fiber. Some paddles are also made of plastic. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s best to opt for a paddle made of wood or aluminum, or a combination of both. However, if you can splurge out a few bucks more, carbon fiber is the best choice, since it’s the lightest and boosts the efficiency of your paddle’s strokes. Carbon paddles are easy to use for both professionals and beginners.
To further help you with your decision-making process, we’ve picked out the three best canoe paddles from our review for you.
Our favorite one was the Editor’s choice, the Bending Branches Special Performance Canoe Paddle. We love this one because of its 11-degree bent shaft, its tri-layered wooden construction, and its laminated Rockgard tip, meaning that there’s no compromise on efficiency or durability.
Next, we have the Sun Dolphin Canoe Paddles, which are light on your pocket and light in your hands, thanks to the plastic and aluminum construction and easy path-cutting ability.
Lastly, we have our sports winner, the ZJ Sport Hybrid Carbon Paddle. It’s light, comfortable paddle with a carbon blade that and provides balanced and powerful strokes.
With this information, we’re sure that you’re in a much better position to pick out the best canoe paddle for yourself. Happy canoeing!