Kayaking is a great recreational sport almost anyone can enjoy. Kayaks are affordable, and access to beautiful lakes and rivers is plentiful. But you can’t go kayaking without a paddle, and it got me thinking about how to choose the best kayak paddle for under $100.
After a quick bit of research, I found a broad range of paddle types and styles available. We have chosen two as the best buys. The Intex at under $30 is an excellent choice for beginners who want to get out on the water without spending on features they don’t need. For more experienced paddlers, the Best Marine is an affordable buy into the world of carbon fiber paddles, priced at well under $100.
- The 10 Best Kayak Paddles Under $100:
- 1. Ocean Broad Kayak Alloy Shaft Paddle 90.5 Inch
- 2. Oceanbroad Kayak Carbon Shaft Paddle 90.5 Inch
- 3. XGEAR Aluminum Kayak Paddles 87-Inch
- 4. Pelican Poseidon Aluminum Paddle 89 Inch
- 5. Pelican Aluminum Kayak Paddles 87-Inch
- 6. SeaSense Kayak Paddle 96 Inch
- 7. Pelican Poseidon Angler Fishing Lightweight Kayak Paddle
- 8. Best Marine Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle 92 Inch
- 9. Perception Hi-Life Convertible SUP/Kayak Paddle
- 10. Intex Boat and Kayak Oars Series
- Buying guide
- Materials Used
- Blade Angle
- Blade Profile
- Asymmetrical or Symmetrical
- Feathered or Matched
- Paddle Length
- Shaft Design
The 10 Best Kayak Paddles Under $100:
1. Ocean Broad Kayak Alloy Shaft Paddle 90.5 Inch
- Split design for easy transport
- Rubber covered shaft
- Only two feathering positions
The Ocean Broad is a mid-priced aluminum and fiberglass paddle, available in a range of colors. With a shaft that splits into two pieces, it is easy to transport and store and offers good strength. The length is fixed at 90.5 inches, but you can set the blades at 0 or 60 degrees feathering. Rubber PE coating on the shaft gives better grip and protects your hands when paddling in hot or cold conditions.
Beginners and intermediate kayakers will find this an affordable and competent paddle.
2. Oceanbroad Kayak Carbon Shaft Paddle 90.5 Inch
- Carbon shaft for strength and lightweight
- Free paddle leash
- Just two feathering angles
This is identical to the previous Ocean Broad paddle, except that it features a carbon fiber shaft instead of aluminum. The advantage of carbon fiber is reduced weight, plus the shaft doesn’t get uncomfortable to hold in hot or cold weather.
As with the cheaper version, you get two feathering positions, a split shaft for easy transport, and a paddle leash to secure the paddle to your kayak.
If you like the advantages of the carbon fiber shaft, this is an affordable option that won’t break the bank.
3. XGEAR Aluminum Kayak Paddles 87-Inch
- Light aluminum shaft
- Adjustable feathering
- Plastic blades
The XGear comes in three lengths of 87, 91, and 96 inches, all for the same price, and offers an aluminum shaft with plastic blades. Priced at entry-level, the XGear paddle offers beginners a cheap way to get out on the water. Three-position feathering is a bonus at this price point and allows beginners to experiment with this setting.
Five color options are available, plus the shaft splits into two pieces for easy transport and storage.
Overall this is a great choice when starting out, and you don’t want to spend too much on paddles.
4. Pelican Poseidon Aluminum Paddle 89 Inch
- Adjustable drip rings to keep your hands dry
- Shaft indexing
- Plastic blades with fiberglass reinforcement
Pelican makes an extensive range of kayak paddles, and their Posieden model is the entry-level aluminum shaft and fiberglass-reinforced plastic blade version. The two-piece aluminum shaft splits in the center for easy storage and allows a feathering position of 65 degrees.
At 89 inches, the Poseidon is firmly in the mid-range, size-wise, and will suit a wide range of people. The shaft features “indexing,” which simply means it changes from round to oval shape, indicating the ideal handhold position.
The Poseidon is another great entry-level paddle that should give years of trouble-free service.
5. Pelican Aluminum Kayak Paddles 87-Inch
- Adjustable drip rings to keep your hands dry
- Shaft indexing
- Plastic blades with fiberglass reinforcement
Another paddle from Pelican, but this time their entry-level set with polypropylene blades fixed to an aluminum shaft. The shaft is on the short side, at 87 inches, so make sure it is suitable for your height and kayak width. The slightly longer Poseidon version may suit you better at 89 inches.
Feathering is available, using the center split shaft to give an angle of 65 degrees, and drip rings are provided on the blades. This base model is available in three colors, black, green, and orange.
6. SeaSense Kayak Paddle 96 Inch
- Aluminum shaft
- Adjustable drip rings
- Plastic blades
The SeaSense is another paddle mixing an aluminum shaft with plastic blades, offering a cheap entry-level product. You can split the shaft at the center to break down the paddle for storage and set the feathering angle into three preset positions.
Available in two lengths of 84 and 96 inches, the shorter shaft is most suitable for kids and teenagers. Adjustable drip guards are installed to keep your hands as dry as possible, with foam grips for added comfort.
Available in several colors, the SeaSense also has the advantage of floating, should you let go of it.
7. Pelican Poseidon Angler Fishing Lightweight Kayak Paddle
- Built specifically for fishermen
- Indexed shaft
- Reinforced plastic blades
Another popular paddle from Pelican is the Poseidon Angler Fishing model. Designed with the angler in mind, one of the blades features a hook retrieval system, and there is a tape measure along the shaft to measure your latest championship catch!
At 98 inches, this is one of the longest paddles on review, but cost-cutting has been made with the blades, fiberglass-reinforced plastic. That said, they do offer useful features, such as 65-degree feathering and adjustable drip rings.
Overall, the Poseidon Angler Fishing paddle is a good buy if you need the additional features for fishing.
8. Best Marine Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle 92 Inch
- Carbon fiber shaft
- Fiberglass blades
- Blades cannot be feathered
At under $100, the Best Marine Kayak Paddle offers exceptional value, considering it is supplied with a solid carbon fiber shaft. Yes, the blades are plain old fiberglass, but the carbon shaft’s weight saving is significant at this price point.
You miss out on the ability to feather the blades, but that really isn’t an issue for recreational use. At 92 inches, the paddle is suitable for many people, and it splits in the center for easy transport and storage. Add to this two drip rings and a five-foot leash, and the Best Marine is good value.
9. Perception Hi-Life Convertible SUP/Kayak Paddle
- Adjustable length
- Converts to a single blade paddle
- Plastic blades
For great flexibility, then consider the Perception Hi-Life Convertible kayak paddle. Designed for sit-on kayaks that can also be used as stand up paddleboards, the Perception can convert from a double kayak blade to a canoe style single blade. The shaft splits in the center, allowing the addition of the supplied handle for single blade use.
Additionally, in double blade kayak setup, you can adjust the length from 84 to 90 inches.
The downside is that the blades are only plastic, while the shaft is aluminum. For a similar price, the carbon fiber shaft Best Marine paddle is available.
10. Intex Boat and Kayak Oars Series
- Three feathering positions
- Foam comfort grips
- Plastic blades
Intex is a well-known name in affordable inflatable kayaks, so it’s no surprise they also offer affordable paddles. These are the cheapest in the review but still provide some useful features.
The shaft is made from lightweight aluminum and splits into five pieces for easy carrying and storage. Plastic blades complete the 86 inch paddle, with drip rings to keep your hands dry.
With the low price, the Intex kayak paddle would make an excellent choice for a beginner that wants some features without spending too much.
There are many features to consider when choosing a kayak paddle. Our buyer’s guide will help you decide what makes a sensible buy for you and help you get the right paddle without spending a fortune on features you don’t need.
Kayak paddle blades are usually made from three materials; plastic, fiberglass, or carbon fiber.
This is the usual choice for very low-end paddles because they are cheap. They benefit from being flexible so that they can withstand knocks and bangs without cracking. The disadvantages are that the flexibility limits their power in the water, plus plastic doesn’t fare well in strong sunlight. The strength and cheapness make them great for beginners and recreational use.
Kayak paddles made from fiberglass are the mainstay for the vast majority of paddlers. They offer improved strength with less flexibility than plastic paddles, with the added benefit of lower weight.
For the professional kayaker or someone who spends a lot of time on the water, carbon fiber paddles’ performance and lightweight will make sense. The downside is the price. Compared to standard fiberglass paddles, carbon fiber versions can easily be several times more expensive.
As with the paddle, the shaft can be made from a range of materials, but generally, either wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber.
Wood is the classic material for making kayak paddle shafts, but there are very few available today. Although wood offers an excellent flexible, shock-absorbing shaft, it requires a lot more maintenance than the other types of material used. If you are looking for performance, then wood shafts are not for you due to the flex they offer.
Aluminum shafts are the most common by far, thanks to their strength, durability, and low cost. They are ideal for any standard of paddler and require very little maintenance.
Fiberglass shafts share the same benefits as aluminum, being both strong and lightweight. One advantage over aluminum is that fiberglass will feel hot or cold to the touch, which can be a problem in extreme conditions with aluminum.
Finally, carbon fiber shafts offer the ultimate in strength and lightweight. If you are serious about speed in the water, maybe in competitions, then a carbon fiber shaft with carbon fiber blades is the setup for you.
The angle of the paddle blades refers to its entry angle into the water. Low angle blades tend to long and narrow, while high angle blades tend to be shorter and broader. The main difference from a paddling point of view is that low angle paddles are more suited to beginners and are designed for short horizontal strokes. High angle paddles give much more surface contact with the water, allowing faster speeds, but this makes them more suitable for experienced kayakers.
Two basic profiles are used; flat or dihedral. As the name suggests, flat blades don’t have ridges or cutouts, etc. but may have a slight curve. Dihedral blades, on the other hand, will have a central ridge. The idea of the ridge is to direct water to the edge of the blade and reduce flutter.
Asymmetrical or Symmetrical
Symmetrical blades have the same shape on either side of the shaft and are ideal for beginners, as it does not matter how you hold the paddle. Asymmetrical blades give different shapes on either side of the shaft, and the idea is to offer more “grab” in the water and give more power. For this reason, asymmetrical blades are more suited to the experienced kayaker.
Feathered or Matched
This refers to the blades’ position at each end of the shaft in relation to each other. If you look down the length of the shaft and the paddle edges are in line; they are matched. Feathered blades are set at different angles on the shaft. The angle can be fixed or variable, with high-end paddles offering infinite adjustment, while less expensive versions may provide settings for 30, 45, or 90 degrees.
The advantage of feathered blades is the reduced wind resistance of the out of water paddle as it moves through the air. This will probably make little difference for recreational kayakers, but it can reduce fatigue and improve performance in competitions.
The length of your paddle shaft is probably the most subjective and talked about part of kayak paddles. It’s something that comes with experience and practice on the water. The shaft length you choose as a beginner will probably not be suitable as you gain experience.
The best starting point we can suggest is that you use the guides provided by paddle manufacturers. They consider factors such as your height, width of the kayak, your torso length, and even your style of paddling.
It can be very confusing as a beginner, so the best advice is to start with an inexpensive paddle using the guides.
Straight or bent
The majority of paddle shafts are straight, but curved shafts are available. A curved shaft’s main advantage is that it allows your wrists a more natural position on the shaft. This makes little difference for most people, but if you do suffer from wrist pain, then consider a curved shaft.
One-piece or split?
Traditionally, shafts were one piece for strength, but two-piece shafts became popular for their space-saving value. With modern design practices, shafts that offer length and feathering adjustment are now common on the market. Just bear in mind that any split in the shaft is a potential weak point. It is a balance between adjustable convenience and strength that will depend on your needs.
The weight of the paddle and shaft is going to affect your endurance out on the water. In simple terms, buy the lightest and strongest paddle setup you can afford.
We have briefly touched on durability in other sections on paddle and shaft materials. Most paddles will give years of excellent service, but some need more maintenance than others. Wood will need regular treating to protect it, while carbon fiber and fiberglass paddles can be damaged if dropped. Leaving plastic paddles in direct sunlight for extended periods can cause them to turn brittle.
What is the best paddle material?
That depends on what you want to do. For the majority, fiberglass paddles are perfect. If you are entering competitions, and need power and lightweight, then carbon fiber offers some advantages at a price.
I’m a recreational kayaker; what is the best paddle for me?
If power and speed are not the first objectives, then the extra cost of carbon fiber is probably not worth it. A lightweight aluminum shaft and paddles will probably be all you need. That said, if you can afford it, the reduction in weight of a carbon fiber paddle may be a benefit for you.
Can damaged paddles be repaired?
It depends on the material and the damage. Fiberglass is relatively easy to repair, but carbon fiber is a specialist material that requires specialist equipment and training. The replacement cost of the paddle compared to fixing it is also a factor to consider.
When choosing a kayak paddle, there are a lot of variables to consider. In reality, for the majority of recreational paddlers, the choice will make only a little difference. Go for the lightest paddle you can afford, and for low maintenance, choose aluminum or fiberglass.
If power and performance are your main objective, then carbon fiber is the way to go, but be prepared to spend much more.
With such a wide choice, the best kayak paddle for under $100 will depend on your needs, and even in this brief review, you can see that there are some great paddles out there.
This article was last updated on August 30, 2021 .
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