Tom's Paddle Reviews
Tom helps you choose the best gear available on-line for your sit-on-top adventures. In 10 years as co-manager of Honolulu's busy, year-round kayak shop where many developments in the sport were made, and another 10 here at TopKayaker.net, Tom has modified, repaired and outfitted just about every sit-on-top on the market, used and new. If you don't find your questions answered here email him: Tom @ TopKayaker.net
Reviews of a few popular brands of kayak paddles:
RELATED ARTICLE: "How To Choose A Kayak Paddle"
High end - Werner Paddles: I have been paddling with Werner Paddles for years. I have had experience with quite a few different paddle brands and models and have found the Werner brand to be the best there is. There is nothing quite so satisfying as the feel of a Werner in your hands while paddling. They are very light, swing with a nice heft and are exceptionally durable for fiberglass and carbon fiber.
Werner makes quality touring, recreational white water and kids paddles, in high and low angle models, straight and bent shaft in 2 different diameters. If you are looking for maximum endurance and energy saving than a carbon fiber paddle is for you. It is much lighter but costs more of course. A lighter paddle will save energy and allow you to go farther with less fatigue. Werner makes more economical fiberglass paddles too. I paddle with their standard fiberglass models. I have had my Werner paddles now for more than a decade. The Werner web site has an interactive sizing guide that is helpful in selecting a paddle.
Werner Sprite Kids' Paddle: If children are part of your crew you may consider getting them their own paddles, designed and built with them in mind. These are a low stroke angle paddle because kids are lower to the water. Try not to get them too short. Small kids have trouble reaching the water with short paddles, and as they grow they will seem to "fit" their paddle more like an adult does.
NOTE: Always consider price versus performance. If
you are planning frequent, long distance or remote trips you should
try to get the best possible paddle, this will often mean spending
a bit more. Look for lightweight and durability. If you are planning
short trips close to home, that do not occur very often, a lower
quality paddle will do. You certainly will enjoy a higher quality
paddle but if you want to save a few bucks this is an option.
If you loan you equipment to others, an inexpensive "loaner"
paddle can be helpful. If it is lost or broken, it will not ruin
your friendships, and save wear and tear on your quality paddle.
Not expensive but indestructable and great for vacation home use - Mohawk Kayak Paddle: The Mohawk is not all that bad a paddle considering the price. I have used and rented these paddles and have found them to be almost indestructible. These "war clubs" are strong and heavy, but might be just the thing for a summer home kayak fleet that is used infrequently by a variety of people.
Werner Camano Paddle is a very popular blade shape; particularly good for distance, wind, and a relaxed style that lends itself to endurance. This paddle is meant to be used at a lower stoke angle. I have a Camano and a Werner San Juan (discontinued) that I frequently use. The San Juan has a larger surface area to provide a bit more power, and requires a bit more strength. I take both of these paddles on touring trips, keep one as a spare (on rear deck) and select the Camano for windy days and the San Juan for power.
Mid priced, great alternative - Aqua-Bound Paddles: While working at a kayak education program my students used Aquabound paddles. I found these paddles to be very durable and still have the performance characteristics of the high-end paddles. Aqua-Bound makes high and low stoke angle paddles. For an economical paddle without loosing performance Aqua-Bound is a great choice.
Mid priced, great alternative - Carlisle Paddles: Considered a low-end choice in the past, Carlisle has made significant improvements on their kayak paddles recently. Enough so that I feel they are worth considering in the line up with other brands. I found the Magic to be a very good recreational paddle suitable for day touring, and good enough for those who paddle long distance and expeditions on occasion. It is an excellent middle of the road selection for a new paddler who is looking for quality at a decent price. The Magic is a good choice for family kayak fleets, tandem kayaks and as spares. Carlisle's Magic Plus features a fiberglass shaft (lighter weight) with fiberglass reinforced plastic blades (impact resistant).
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