While they may not seem to be the most vital piece of equipment, canoe paddles are the powerplant that drives your canoe.
Choosing a high-quality paddle will help you to paddle for extended periods of time while consuming less effort with each movement. The materials, size, and style of the paddle will all influence your performance and enjoyment while out on the water.
It’s essential to get the correct paddle size and width for the best paddling efficiency.
Without the proper direction, this could get a little complicated, so we’ll do our best to provide you with all of the information you need while making your decision. If you need some quick suggestions, we’ve hand-picked five of the best canoe paddles on the market right now.
Also, read on to our handy Buyer’s Guide to find out what to look for when buying a canoe paddle. Let’s dive in!
Table Of Contents
For those who appreciate appearance as much as performance, the Caviness Marine Twin Stripe is an excellent choice. It is among the most exquisite and attractive canoe paddles available right now, with 2 black bands on a lightwood blade.
The stripes also serve a useful purpose as well, as they improve the stiffness quality when rowing. To avoid cracking, the whole paddle is composed of high-quality hardwood and constructed with cross-grain and laminating.
These are qualities that are often seen on luxury canoe paddles, so getting the same kind of quality for a good price is a significant advantage. Furthermore, you get 4 size options to choose from, so there’s a paddle for everyone regardless of size.
Caviness reinforces the blade with their signature wedge inlay with a finish since bumping up against the river bed and boulders is unavoidable when canoeing. When it’s time to store the paddles for the winter, the patterned blade looks great hung on the wall as a decorative piece.
In addition, many paddle fanatics prefer Caviness for their paddles since they are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
It’s important to note that some reviewers found slight flaws in the finish of their paddle, but this can be improved at home with a little sanding and finishing with a clear coat of lacquer or varnish.
- Attractive design – The striped motif looks great on the water or hung up as quirky wall decor.
- Hardwood construction – The materials used to make this paddle allow it to perform well without breaking and cracking.
- Multiple size options – This paddle comes in four sizes, ensuring a perfect fit for everyone and enhancing performance.
- Finish issues – Some customers reported flaws in the clear varnish finish of their blade.
If you’re looking for great performance on a small budget, the Attwood 11764-1 Ergonomic is without a doubt the best canoe paddle for the money. As it’s made of aluminum and has a plastic blade, it’s a light and compact canoe paddle that won’t hurt your wrists and arms over time.
While being lightweight and maneuverable, it’s pretty solid and precise, allowing you to glide smoothly through the waters. It’s a relatively short canoe paddle at just 48 inches in length, making it more suitable for young or shorter paddlers.
However, if the size is right for you, it will be one of the most ergonomic canoe paddles you’ll ever find.
The plastic grip feels really natural in the palm of your hand and the paddle glides through the water so effortlessly that you could easily mistake it for a luxury high-end model. You must make sure that you dry it as quickly as possible after each use.
Allow it to dry indoors or in the sunshine, as storing it in moist conditions can allow the metal to tarnish and rust.
You’ll have no trouble paddling across your favorite lake or quiet river with the straight shaft, molded polypropylene ferrule, plastic blade, and comfortable molded grip.
This canoe paddle is a great choice for beginners looking for a high-quality paddle that won’t break the bank.
- Great performance – The long and sturdy blade performs just as well as expensive, high-end paddles
- Ergonomic grip – The comfortable paddle grip will allow you to canoe for longer without fatigue or pain
- Lightweight design – This paddle is strong but not heavy, thanks to the innovative aluminum shaft
- Non-adjustable – This canoe paddle is one-size and cannot retract.
- Provides a sure, comfortable grip for the most effective and enjoyable paddling
- 5 feet long
- Black blade
- Ergonomic grip
- Poly-protected shaft for a sure grip by lower hand
Bending Branches are known for producing some of the finest paddles available today, and this blade is no different. Its traditional beavertail blade form makes it perfect for deep-water canoeing, long-distance sailing, and everyday use.
The broad and slender blade design enables seamless and effective paddle strokes that do not splatter when entering and leaving the water. Bending Branches rock guard innovation protects the tip of the blade from cracking, breaking, and other damages.
The simple paddle design is pleasing to the eye, and it is built of tough and resilient upper Wisconsin Red Alder and Basswood. It weighs a modest 22 oz, making it ideal for lengthy periods of paddling. The freedom palm grip is contoured to meet the curvature of your hand, making your strokes pleasant and simple to execute.
This thoughtfully designed paddle comes in a multitude of sizes and is great for handling around tight corners.
However, it’s a little thick and may seem awkward to more skilled paddlers. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic piece of canoeing equipment with a sturdy design that is suitable for lakes and rivers, and other large bodies of water.
It will function well, and you will love your solitary paddling experience with the Bending Branches beavertail recreational model. If you’re not satisfied with your new paddle, it comes with a one-year warranty for your peace of mind.
- Lightweight – This canoe paddle weighs only 22oz, making it one of the most lightweight options on this list.
- Good blade protection – Rockguard technology prevents the tip from getting damaged, prolonging the lifespan of your paddle.
- Made in the USA – All Bending Branches products are made in the States using only high-quality materials and attractive hardwood.
- It’s a little thick – The wider design may feel clunky to more experienced canoeists.
This is an excellent choice for a low-cost paddle for visits to the lakes or summer vacations. It boasts an old-school charm and practicality that canoe aficionados will appreciate. The paddle is available in two sizes: big and small, with the little paddle being ideal for small paddlers.
This paddle, at a low cost, will allow you to get a terrific workout when canoeing, particularly if you’re wearing a heavy life vest. You can select a shaft size of 2.5 ft. or 4 ft. based on your preference.
If you have smaller hands, you can count on the convenience of use of this wooden paddle. This can be a terrific deal for people searching for an attractive hardwood paddle without paying a lot of money.
Despite its hardwood structure, the paddle manages to offer a solid and comfortable grip, allowing you to enjoy every moment of your canoeing adventure. You will get a nice feeling while paddling with this equipment.
The grip is T-shaped, which makes navigating much easier despite the weather. Thanks to the lightweight design, you can paddle effortlessly without exhausting your arms and hands.
- Premium construction – This canoe paddle is made using quality hardwood and is finished with lacquer for added durability.
- Ergonomic grip – The comfortable paddle grip allows you to canoe for extended periods of time without strain or injury.
- Lightweight design – This paddle is light to carry making it easy to transport and store when not in use.
- It’s short – This paddle isn’t suitable for people with long arms or particularly large hands.
The Crooked Creek paddle is among the most durable alternatives due to its multi-ply laminated structure and weatherproof polyurethane coating. Moreover, the blade is reinforced with epoxy resin for additional durability.
The weight is also remarkably light for a wooden paddle, weighing in at a modest 1.5 lbs. The sleek shaft, along with the hardwood palm grip, provides a sturdy but hold for both of your hands.
As previously mentioned, the whole paddle is treated with PU, which provides superior protection to the hardwood whether used in fresh or salty water. It comes in four sizes, along with a 6-foot model for tall canoers.
This canoe paddle has the conventional A-Palm grip, which gives it a wonderful feel in your palm. It has a flat blade for quick paddling. The blade is lightweight and produced using multiple processes for improved performance.
The Crooked Creek Wood Paddle has an epoxy rock guard top and a polyurethane coating and has been created with the kind of meticulousness c that is normally reserved for more expensive canoe paddles. Customers have repeatedly commended the stylish and long-lasting finish of this paddle.
- Multiple size options – This canoe paddle comes in length options ranging from 3.5 – 6 feet, so there’s something for everyone.
- Great construction – This paddle is made using multi-ply laminated hardwood and finished with a clear polyurethane varnish.
- Comfortable grip – The comfortable A-palm paddle grip will allow you to canoe for longer without stress or injury.
- They’re heavy – This paddle is a little heavier than the other canoe paddles on this list.
Best Canoe Paddle Buyer’s Guide
With so many different paddle materials, designs, and sizes available, selecting the best canoe paddle for your preferences can be difficult. I’ll go over the most crucial aspects to consider while selecting a paddle.
When selecting a canoe paddle, the blade design should be taken into account. Bigger blades provide more velocity and power, but they need more exertion to paddle effectively. Shorter paddles will “bite” into the waters more efficiently.
Paddling a bigger blade will exhaust you quicker than paddling a thinner one. Bigger blades are therefore suited for whitewater and canoeing in heavy currents. Shorter blades need less energy per stroke but offer less force and speed.
These paddles are ideal for calmer streams and ponds where you won’t have to contend with strong currents or winds.
Beavertail paddle blades are long and slender, making them ideal for everyday use or canoe trips.
These traditional blades are slender and curved, resembling a beaver’s tail. The length of the blade aids in deep water rowing and sweeping movements.
Ottertail blades resemble beavertail blades but are thinner and more curved at the tip. They’re ideal for solitary canoeing, traveling, and exploring deep water. Beavertail and Ottertail blades both provide for rapid and effective movement.
Their curved tips allow them to enter and leave the lake without splashing, making them excellent for paddling in quieter conditions and getting near to animals without frightening them. As a result, they are great for canoe angling.
Teardrop-shaped paddles are used in conjunction with bent-shaft paddles. Such blades help you to paddle more efficiently in shallower depths while also providing a quicker, more effective stroke.
Most marathon runners favor these paddles, which are often composed of high-end materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass.
Large square-tipped blades are made for optimum power and acceleration in whitewater and high flow.
They are inefficient in the water and can cause straining if you paddle with them for an extended amount of time. The square tip may splash when it enters and leaves the water, rendering it less useful for canoeing in flat water.
Paddle size can refer to a variety of factors, the most significant of which is shaft length. This relates just to the length of the shaft, not the full paddle, along with the blade.
While sitting in a canoe, the shaft length ought to be nearly equivalent to the difference between your shoulder and the water. This can be examined in a variety of ways:
Kneel down with your rear about 6″ off the floor when using a paddle. Turn the paddle upside down and place the grip on the floor. The shaft side should be nearly parallel to your face.
Kneel with your bottom 6″ from the floor if you don’t have a paddle. The length between your head and the floor should be measured. This is the best shaft length for you.
When purchasing a paddle, add the blade length (usually 20″) to the shaft length mentioned above.
This is the optimum overall paddle size for you. Paddles are often provided in three-inch increments, so round to the nearest size. If you want to paddle alone or if your canoe is on the larger side, put an additional 2″ or so on top.
Whenever it comes to paddle components, nothing beats the appearance and structure of a traditional wood paddle.
Not only is hardwood lightweight and aesthetically beautiful, but it also feels good in your palm. In contrast to the false sensation of plastic or aluminum, wood has an intrinsic warmth that makes you relax.
Paddles made of wood are either solid or layered. To achieve a lightweight and lasting composite, modern paddles frequently use a blend of woods, fusing both hardwood and softer wood together.
Lighter wood is typically utilized for the center, while a stronger, more robust wood is used across the perimeter.
Although wood paddles are somewhat light, with higher-end versions weighing less than one pound, they will never be as light as carbon fiber. Wood also necessitates maintenance on a regular basis, such as reglazing and sanding/refinishing.
Fiberglass and carbon fiber are two materials used in hybrid paddles. Outside of canoe competition and stand-up paddleboarding, fiberglass is rather uncommon. Carbon fiber paddles are ultra-lightweight, long-lasting, and essentially maintenance-free.
Since these paddles provide excellent performance, they are somewhat expensive. Plastic and aluminum paddles are the lowest priced materials, but they perform the worst generally.
The blade and handle are normally constructed of plastic, while the shaft is made of aluminum. These paddles are long-lasting, low-maintenance, and inexpensive. While I would not recommend using plastic or aluminum as your primary paddle, they do perform well as a backup paddle.
Another important factor to consider when selecting a paddle is its weight. The more lightweight your paddle, on average, the better. This is particularly true for lengthy hikes or boat camping.
A lightweight paddle will help you to paddle for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued. Hardwood canoe paddles weigh between 20 and 24 oz, while lighter options are available.
Plastic and metal paddles are substantially heavier, averaging 30 oz or more on average. The lightest paddles are made of fiberglass and carbon fiber and can weigh as little as just one pound.
While it may not appear to be significant, a paddle’s grip serves as the point of contact between your palm and the pivot generated by your paddle.
A firm, the ergonomic grip will allow you to paddle for extended periods of time without pain or soreness in your hands. Hand grips and T-grips are the two most common grip styles seen on canoe paddles.
Palm grips are flexible grips that are fan-shaped and designed to fit the contour of your hand. They’re comfy, feel strong in your palm, and are ideal for longer, more leisurely paddles.
T-shaped grips provide the most control of your paddle. With a T-grip, it is easier to conduct steering and stabilizing actions.
You get exactly what you pay for when it relates to canoe paddles. You can use an inexpensive plastic or aluminum paddle, but your canoeing efficiency will decrease as a result.
A well-crafted wood paddle is more than just a reliable and efficient source of propulsion. Most are extremely beautiful — and would look fantastic hung on your wall. A decent paddle will entice you to come out and paddle more frequently!
A composite paddle is a great option if you’re a seasoned paddler or seeking ultimate top performance. While they are not inexpensive, they are ultra-light and sturdy and will last for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Size Should My Canoe Paddle be?
The size of your canoe paddle is determined by your height and the size of your boat. If your paddle is too small or too lengthy, it may create discomfort and reduce your efficiency.
Sit at the level of your canoe seat and calculate the length from your head and the floor to calculate the proper paddle size.
You’ll be able to discover the height of the paddle that works best for you, and you won’t have muscular tiredness after a few hours of paddling.
Can I Use A Kayak Paddle When Canoeing?
Using a kayak paddle when using a canoe is not a good idea, and you should only use canoe paddles. The fundamental reason seems to be that kayak paddles are smaller than canoe paddles.
Kayak paddles usually feature blades on both sides and are intended to be gripped horizontally with your hands because both ends are utilized to propel the kayak through the waters.
You’ll become tired soon if you try to use a kayak paddle on your canoe because you’ll have to switch sides all the time.
What Should A Canoe Paddle Be Made From?
Due to their lightweight structure, the greatest canoe paddles are buoyant and straightforward to use.
Paddles for canoes are typically made of wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. Some paddles are constructed of plastic as well. If you’re on a small budget, go with a paddle made from wood, aluminum, or a combination of the two.
Last update on 2024-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API