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Explore Kayak Paddles & More at Public Lands

Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards are exciting — but none of them can reach peak performance without the right paddles. Before you grab just any paddle, determine precisely what you need.

Type

A canoe paddle or stand-up paddleboard paddle will have a blade only on one end. Kayak paddles have blades on each end so that individual kayakers can efficiently paddle on both sides. These paddles are also useful for stand up paddleboarders who like to sit on their boards sometimes.

Material

Aluminum paddles are the least expensive option, but they’re heavy and lack durability. Nonetheless, they’re a practical choice for beginners.

For a classic and beautiful paddle, go for wood. Keep in mind that wooden paddles can snap or splinter if you push them too hard. Users need to sand and varnish this material from time to time.

Fiberglass paddles are lighter and more durable than both aluminum and wood options. They bend a bit, so they don’t turn all your energy into movement. Temperature fluctuations can cause them to shrink or expand.

Paddles made of carbon are the most expensive — and for good reason. They don’t shrink or expand when the temperature changes. Their rigidity efficiently turns your own movements into movement through the water; however, they’re more brittle than fiberglass.

Paddle Length

There are two primary considerations when selecting a paddle length: your height and the width of your watercraft. The wrong size will work less efficiently while forcing you into uncomfortable positions. Taller people need longer paddles. Wide kayaks or canoes demand long paddles too.

If you plan to share your paddle with someone else, you might prefer an adjustable paddle. Adjustable paddles are also helpful for kayakers who use multiple kayak types.