Finding the right kayak is vital for your enjoyment of the sport, but getting the right paddle is a close second. Paddles that are too heavy, too long or simply too uncomfortable will make it tougher for you to propel yourself smoothly, so the right fit is key.
At the same time, some kayak paddles can cost almost as much as the kayak does! Instead of spending an arm and a leg on your paddle — especially if you’re a beginner or casual kayaker — consider these 10 great options for under $50.
1) SeaSense X-Treme II Mix Kayak Paddle
The SeaSense X-Treme II has been around for a long time and has proven to hold up well to moderate use. The newer X-Treme II Mix is a very similar model but comes in two new color combinations: Blue/White and Orange/Yellow.
This two-piece paddle has three locking positions to accommodate the stroke of nearly any user. Its lightweight aluminum construction is easy to handle and incorporates a support ridge for strength. Feathered design lets you paddle longer without getting tired. It is available in 84-inch or 96-inch lengths.
The SeaSense X-Treme II Mix has two features that are usually absent from inexpensive paddles: adjustable drip catchers and foam grips. The grips have just the right amount of padding for most adult hands and can make your paddling much more comfortable.
The SeaSense X-Treme II Mix is a great entry-level or backup paddle because it is so light and easy to take apart for storage.
2) Curved Kayak Paddle
The Curved Kayak Paddle from TRAC-Outdoor Products features solid, two-piece construction. The blades are reinforced fiberglass with a design well-suited to a more shallow angle stroke. Three positions for feathering let users adjust to their specific style.
The Curved Kayak paddle features notched blades that make it easier to grab and pull yourself toward a dock or other location. A dock hook at the end of the blade also helps get you where you need to go.
A raised portion for the handle and rubber grips make the Curved Kayak paddle more comfortable and easy to handle.
The Curved Kayak paddle is available in blue and in 7- or 8-foot lengths.
3) Attwood Asymmetrical Kayak Paddle, 7′ (84-inch)
This durable aluminum paddle features plastic blades that keep the whole paddle light. Multiple angle positions let you customize the paddle to your stroke. The blade paddles use an asymmetrical spoon design that makes paddling more efficient and reduce blade flutter.
Like most of the paddles on this list, the Attwood Asymmetrical paddle incorporates drip rings, which don’t always come standard on inexpensive paddles. The center section is padded with foam for comfort, and the entire paddle comes apart easily in two pieces for storage.
The Attwood Asymmetrical paddle is only available in 7-foot length, so taller or larger kayakers may be happier with a longer paddle.
4) Shoreline Marine Kayak Paddle Rounded, 96-inch
Sturdy but lightweight, Shoreline’s Marine Kayak Paddle has rounded plastic blades and three positions for customizing. As with most of the inexpensive paddles we recommend, this one is made of aluminum so it’s lightweight and easy to handle. You can move lots of water with the Shoreline model without creating a lot of drag.
Foam grips and drip guards help keep you more comfortable as you paddle. The Shoreline Marine paddle is only available in 8-foot length, so make sure you can easily maneuver a longer paddle before you choose this model. It does break down into two parts so you can transport it and store it.
If there’s one thing to note about the Shoreline, it’s that the blades are a bit thin. Regular paddling shouldn’t be a problem, but avoid using them where they could snap, such as pushing off from shore.
5) SeaSense X-1 Kayak Paddle, 84-inch
The SeaSense X-1 is a popular and really versatile kayak paddle that works well in most open water situations. Made of aluminum with molded black plastic blades, it’s so lightweight that it actually will float (though a paddle leash is always recommended). The squared-off blades are a little different from the standard paddle but their design helps with efficiency. Three different positions let you customize the angle of the paddles.
The SeaSense X-1 comes with adjustable drip guards to keep you dry and incorporates two foam grip sections. A limited lifetime warranty protects you from manufacturer defects, so you can purchase and use with confidence.
6) Leader Accessories Marine Aluminum Kayak Paddles, 87-inch
The Leader Accessories Marine paddle utilizes a ribbed, curved paddle blade to move you through the water with ease. You can feather the blade 60 degrees for either right or left hand control. It’s got three locking positions to get the right one for your stroke as well as drip guards and a rubberized handle. You may need more padding on this one depending on your preferences.
For transporting and storing, the Leader Accessories Marine paddle has a push-button connection that lets you easily take it apart.
This paddle comes in a lot of colors — black, white, blue, orange and yellow — so you can pick your favorite. It comes in an 87-inch length, so make sure that will work well for your needs.
7) Naviskin Aluminum Kayak Paddle, 87-inch
Naviskin makes a functional symmetrical paddle that’s great for beginners or as a backup paddle. Made of corrosion-resistant aluminum, it breaks down into two pieces easily. And because it’s so lightweight, it’s easy for most people to handle and keep from splashing.
This Naviskin paddle gets good reviews for durability, so if you’re prone to pushing off the shore or rocks, the thicker plastic blades might be a good choice for you. You’ll have to add your own drip guards to this paddle.
The paddle is available in black, white, orange, yellow and blue. It measures 87 inches — great for average-sized kayakers. Taller individuals may want a longer option.
8) Oceansouth Aluminum Asymmetric Kayak Paddle, 87-inch
With a shiny aluminum split shaft and fiberglass-reinforced plastic blades, this Oceansouth paddle is ideal for the casual kayaker who needs durability in a lightweight (just over 40 ounces) package. The blades are asymmetrical and slightly spooned to move water quickly. Three positions let you adjust as needed.
The rubberized handle on the Oceansouth paddle is placed slightly wider than some others on our list. Drip rings are built in.
Oceansouth’s paddle is available in black, white, blue and yellow.
9) AIRHEAD AHTK-P2 Deluxe Kayak Paddle, 84-inch
The adjustable blade angle for the AIRHEAD AHTK-P2 sets it apart from other options on our list. High-impact, curved plastic blades help you paddle with less twisting and more speed. While we always recommend a paddle leash, this model will float.
One concern about the adjustability of the AIRHEAD AHTK-P2: You can set it at -60 degrees, 0 degrees and +120 degrees. The first is great for left-hand proficient paddlers; the second option is excellent for beginners. However, there is no +60 degree setting, which is often used by more experienced right-handed kayakers. If you’re not sure this will work for you, be sure to test the paddle in person before buying.
The AIRHEAD AHTK-P2 can be taken apart into two sections (look for the AHTK-P3 if you need to be able to break into four sections). Drip rings and foam handles are serviceable and make this paddle more comfortable to use.
This AIRHEAD model is a little on the heavier side at 6 pounds, but its other features make it a good option for the price. It measures 84 inches, so larger kayakers may want to find a longer paddle.
10) Lifetime Kayak Youth Paddle
Looking for a great, inexpensive option to start your children off in the sport? The Lifetime Kayak Youth paddle features a lightweight aluminum shaft and molded plastic blades; it weighs less than 3 pounds and measures 72 inches.
The shaft diameter is also excellent for smaller hands at 3.5 inches. You can adjust the blade angle to best suit your child’s paddling preferences.
The Lifetime paddle does not come with drip guards, so you may want to add some if your child doesn’t like getting his or her hands wet. There’s also no padded grip so the bar can get slick. You may want to make some modifications if your child will be using this more than just occasionally.
The Lifetime paddle comes in black and yellow.
While our 10 best under $50 paddles may not have carbon-fiber construction or the adjustability required by experienced kayakers, they also don’t carry the hefty price tag that some professional paddles have. If you’re looking for a nice, durable paddle for weekend trips or a backup paddle that won’t let you down, these 10 models are the best of the inexpensive options on the market.