Kayak Paddle Types & Best Affordable Kayak Paddles

kayak paddles

Kayaking is a popular recreational water-based activity. Even if you are new to kayaking will probably already be aware of the different types of kayaks available and the wide range of costs of kayaks. But, what about paddles? Are there just as many different variations of paddles and how much do they cost?

Average Kayak Paddle Cost

There is a wide range of different price points when it comes to kayak paddles. This is because there are a lot of options available, as well as different materials used in their construction.

With different materials, come different levels of strength, durability and weight.

Some paddlers require a sturdy paddle so they can move faster while others may prefer to have a lighter paddle because they it’s more comfortable on long journeys.

Kayak paddles can range in price from $40 to $500. The material of the blade is usually the main factor in the cost of a paddle though the shaft material can also affect price.

The cheapest paddles available have an aluminum shaft and fiberglass blades and costs around $40. High-end carbon paddles, with performance enhancing carbon fiber blades and shaft, can cost up to $500.

Kayak paddle cost table

Here is a short table that summarizes the different prices of kayak paddles and their prices:

Blade Material

Shaft Material


Carbon Fiber



$50 – $150 X $140 – $150

Carbon Fiber

X $300 – $500


Fiberglass $50 – $110 $350 to $400

$100 – $200

The 4 Kayak Design Characteristics And How They Affect Paddle Cost

Usually, when you buy kayaks, you have to buy your paddle, gloves, and other materials separately. This means that when it comes to buying a paddle it can get really confusing due to the vast number of options available.

Here, we are going to discuss the different types of kayak paddles you could choose from and their different price points.

But, first you have to understand why there are different variations when it comes to kayak paddles so you can understand the differences in cost.

There are different factors that you have to consider when picking your kayak paddle, and these factors effect cost. They are:

  • Kayak paddle length.
  • Kayak paddle shaft design and material.
  • Kayak blade shape.
  • Kayak paddle blade material.

1. Paddle Length

The length of paddle you need can be seen from the simple guide below.

Length of paddle typically depends on your height and the width of your boat.

Here is a quick view guide for you to follow:

  Under 23” 23” – 28” 28” – 32” Over 32”
under 5’ tall 210 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
5’ – 5’6 tall 215 cm 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm
5’6 – 6′ tall 220 cm 220 cm 230 cm 250 cm
over 6’ tall 220 cm 230 cm 240 cm 250 cm

The above table is easy to use. Simply locate your height in the left column and move along that line until you reach the number underneath your boat width size. The number given is the ideal length your paddle should be. For example, if you are 5′ 9″ tall and have a boat width of 28″ your ideal paddle length is 230 cm.

Ideal paddle length example
Ideal paddle length for a 5’9″ paddler in a 28″ wide boat

These are rough estimates and you should probably check the website of the brand of paddle you plan to use because there will be variations.

Why is choosing the correct paddle length important?

Choosing the correct length of paddle is important because paddle length greatly affects you ability to control your boat.

When you get a kayak paddle that is shorter than recommended your hands will repeatedly hit the sides of your kayak and it will be difficult to reach the water with your blade.

Each stroke will be weak and your boat will move slowly and require more effort to move.

If however, you use a paddle which is longer than recommended then it will be difficult to keep the blade sufficiently close to the kayak to generate a good stroke.

The added length means that the strokes you make with it are further away from your kayak which will likely cause you to move in a zigzag motion rather than in a straight line.

Again this will mean greater effort to reach your destination and much less control over your boat.

A longer paddle will also be heavier than it needs to be. It will also cause more strain on your body due to compensation for the added weight and length. This strain could well increase your chances of getting injured.

It is important to keep the above points in mind before buying a paddle because you might end up paying more than you need to for your paddle. And ultimately, you will have wasted money buying the wrong kayak paddle for you and have to spend more money to get the correct one.

2. The 2 different kayak paddle shafts

There are two common types of shaft design:

  1. Straight kayak paddle shaft.
  2. Bent kayak paddle shaft.

Straight paddle

A straight paddle is designed exactly how you would expect it to be; it is just one long shaft with the paddle blades attached at each end.

A straight paddle is the more traditional type and the most common you will see kayakers use.

Bent paddle

Bent shaft paddles have kinked portions to provide more comfort to the paddler when in use.

This will allow you to make more powerful strokes than you could using a straight shaft.

Bent and straight paddles
Bent and straight paddle shafts

There is no difference between straight and bent paddle cost.

Again the difference in design will not directly affect the cost of the paddle but making a wrong choice will cost you in the long run when you need to replace your incorrect paddle type with the correct type.

It is also important to take note of the material used for the shaft because this will also affect the price points of the different kayak paddles.

One that is bent and is made from carbon fiber (which will automatically have a carbon fiber blade) will be significantly more expensive than an aluminum paddle that has a straight shaft design.

You can also choose from getting a two-piece paddle or a four-piece one.

The main difference between the two and four versions is in portability. A four-piece paddle will be more convenient to store as it breaks down into smaller pieces.

How adding modern blade “feathering” can affect the shaft deign

Feathering is when the blades of a paddle are at different angles. This is done by adjusting the ferrule of the paddle. The ferrule is where you connect the two portions of your paddle found in the middle of the shaft.

There are usually two different types of ferrule you can get.

You can get a snap-button ferrule but with this type the feathering options are limited to 0 degrees and 60 degrees.

The other type is a one that multiple companies are offering via a wider range of feathering options.

The type of ferrule on a paddle adds to the cost of the paddle. This is because when you want to upgrade it will require you to make an additional purchase at additional cost to you.

Paddle feathering is usually preferential. You should consider making this modification as it helps you especially when the weather is windy. If you feather your paddle at an angle, the blade that is up in the air is flat against the wind which lessens the wind resistance dramatically.

Some paddlers find feathering beneficial for their wrists when paddling over long distances on on long trips out on the water.

It may be a good idea for you to try switching between the two until you find your preference.

Standard ferrules come with kayak paddles when you buy one but if you want to change it, it will cost you at around $40 for an aluminum ferrule and $60 for carbon fiber one.

3. The 2 types of kayak paddle blades

There are 2 main types of paddle blades:

  1. Dihedral blades.
  2. Asymmetrical blades.

Most paddles you will see today have asymmetrical dihedral blades, and will only differ in the width of the blade.

i) Dihedral kayak paddle blades

Dihedral blades are designed to allow the water to flow smoothly around the blade.

Without this dihedral design, the paddle would flutter resulting in a difficulty tracking straight.

ii) Asymmetrical kayak paddle blades

Asymmetrical blades are shaped in a way that makes one side slightly narrower than the other side thus giving it a slight angle.

This angle makes the blade more uniform when paddling through the water.

It is more beneficial for you to get a narrower blade for longer trips because of the lighter weight.

Wider blades are designed to be able to make powerful strokes resulting in faster acceleration.

How these design differences affects paddle cost

These design differences affect the cost of the kayak paddle less directly than indirectly.

An asymmetrical blade will cost the same as an equal quality dihedral blade.

If you do not buy a paddle with the right blade design for your specific paddling needs then you might have to make an additional purchase later.

4. The 3 kayak paddle blade materials

Blade material is the biggest factor that comes into play in the cost of a paddle.

The types of material typically used for the blade are either fiberglass, plastic, or carbon-fiber. Each material has a different price-point.

Some people opt to get a paddle with lightweight blades because it reduces the chance that they will feel fatigue, while others prefer a sturdier heavier blade for faster motion in the water and better durability.

Although the shaft material can affect the cost of a paddle the purchase price usually varies more due to the materials used in the blade.

The blade material affects the price of kayak paddles because the blades take the most punishment on the water and are responsible for the water displacement that pushes the kayak forward. A high-end kayak can perform well below par if it is being propelled by a cheap poor quality paddle!

Let us take a look at the different materials used for the blade and how they affect paddle costs.

Fiberglass kayak paddle blades

Fiberglass blades are usually the cheapest that you can acquire. Fiberglass is cheap to produce but lightweight and flexible. Most recreational paddlers prefer to buy paddles with this type of blade because they are light, easy to use and cheap.

The price range for a paddle with a fiberglass blade can be as low as $50 or as high as $200.

Usually the cheaper ones at Walmart have a fixed length while the higher-end paddles start from around $70 and have length options for you to choose from.

Plastic kayak paddle blades

Paddles with plastic blades are in the middle of the price range. A plastic blade is more lightweight compared to blades made from fiberglass, but they are still durable and most are of excellent quality.

The rigidity of plastic also offers efficient, strong strokes in the water.

Paddles with plastic blades will typically cost you around $100.

Carbon-fiber kayak paddle blades

Carbon-fiber blades are, by far, the lightest among the three blade types but with this design characteristic comes added cost. Carbon-fiber blades can really push the price of a paddle up and if the paddle also has a carbon-fiber shaft you can expect to pay well over the average cost of a paddle to get one.

However, if you’re looking to make the most efficient strokes possible, with the least amount of effort put into every stroke, then a carbon-fiber blade is for you.

Paddles with a carbon-fiber blade usually start at around $100 and top quality ones can cost as much as $500.

As you can see, carbon-fiber blades are much more expensive compared to blades that are made from fiberglass or plastic.

The Best Affordable Kayak Paddles

Below are the best affordable kayak paddles in 4 categories. You will notice that there are only 2 paddles listed. This is because each paddle is so good is belongs in 2 categories!

The best affordable kayak paddles categories:

  1. The best kayak paddle under 200 bucks.
  2. The cheapest carbon fiber kayak paddle.
  3. The best kayak paddle under 100 bucks.
  4. The best best kayak paddle under 50 bucks.

The best kayak paddle under 200 bucks is also the cheapest carbon fiber kayak paddle

The cheapest carbon fiber kayak paddle that is worth the money and gives vale for money is the THURSO SURF Carbon Hybrid SUP Paddle

This value for money kayak paddle features:

  • 3 Piece adjustable carbon fiber shaft.
  • 71”-87” length.
  • Carbon hybrid SUP teardrop profile paddle.
  • Extremely lightweight.

This carbon fiber kayak paddle is just a fraction over 100 bucks.

The best kayak paddle under 100 bucks actually costs less than 50 bucks!

By far the best kayak paddle under $100 is the HIKULA Kayak Paddle.

It features:

  • 4 Piece aluminum shaft.
  • 90.5″ length.
  • Fiberglass reinforced PP blade.
  • Lightweight design.

In fact not only is the the best kayak paddle under 100 bucks but it is the best kayak under 50 bucks!

You heard that right. This awesome kayak paddle sells for less than $50.

Where to buy the best cheap kayak paddles

You can typically buy kayak paddles at any local sporting goods store. If you are in the US or in Canada, you can pick one up at a Walmart.

Other than local stores, you can easily find various web sites that sell all types of paddles. One of which is, of course, Amazon.

There are also kayaking sites that specialize in selling products for specifically for kayaks and these will likely have the widest range of paddles to choose from.

When deciding what paddle to choose, it is important for you to determine what design type you prefer and that suits your paddling technique.

If you are a beginner it would be wise for you to buy a paddle that is relatively cheap until you gain enough experience to determine which type of paddle suits your paddling style best.

Summary: Kayak Paddle Types & Best Affordable Kayak Paddles

Kayak paddle types come in different designs and different materials at different costs.

The main contributor to the purchase price of a paddle, and what affects the cost of a paddle the most, is the material used for the blades.

Just as the construction material is the reason why some kayaks are expensive it is also the reason why some kayak paddles are expensive.

Paddles with fiberglass blades are usually the cheapest, the lowest price being $50 and the highest around $200.

Paddles with plastic blades costs around $100.

Paddles with carbon fiber blades are both the lightest type of paddle and the most expensive. These paddles usually costs from $100 to around $500 for the high end ones (that will also have a carbon-fiber blade).

Indirect costs of paddle purchases can come from buying the wrong paddle.

With a wide variation is blade design, shaft design and lengths available it is easy for a beginner to make the wrong purchase design and have to make another paddle purchase later as a result.

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