You may already know this, but the materials your paddle is made from can make a huge difference to your overall paddling performance and comfort on the water. Some kayaks already come equipped with an included kayak paddle, but more often than not, these paddles are made from inexpensive materials which can stunt your paddling abilities.
Carbon fiber paddles are the best of the bunch (which we’ll get more into later) and can be used by paddlers of all abilities to improve their technique during recreational, touring, or racing paddles.
If you’re on the hunt for the ultimate paddle upgrade, keep on reading. We’ve got eight of the best kayak paddles made from carbon fiber that is guaranteed to set you apart from the rest.
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Before we get into how to choose the perfect paddle for you, we thought it was important to highlight the incredible benefits that a carbon fiber paddle would give you. You see, carbon fiber paddles are at the top of their class, and you can really tell the difference when switching from a standard aluminum paddle to one made of carbon fiber.
The biggest benefit to a carbon fiber paddle is that they’re extremely lightweight. And although this may not seem like a big deal, it makes the biggest difference when paddling, especially over long distances.
Heavier paddles, like ones made from aluminum, can tire you out far quicker than a carbon fiber paddle. Think of it as walking with weights. Walking a mile with 20 lbs weights is going to be far more difficult than walking that same mile with 10 lbs weights.
And sure, aluminum paddles are on average 3 lbs to 4 lbs and carbon fiber paddles 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs, but this extra couple of pounds really makes a difference over long distances. When paddling, all the power comes from your arms, so ideally, you want to keep the weight down as much as possible to prevent fatigue in the long run.
Along with them not causing fatigue, carbon fiber paddles also help to improve your paddling performance. Their lightweight design means you can easily propel yourself through the water at faster speeds than if you were paddling with a regular kayak paddle.
For recreational paddlers, this benefit might not make a huge difference, but for touring or racing paddlers, speed is everything.
Although carbon fiber is lightweight, it is also sturdy and durable, meaning you won’t have to replace your paddle anytime soon. Bumping into objects in the water is inevitable, whether that be knocking your paddle on underwater rocks or debris floating near the surface.
With a carbon fiber paddle, however, you won’t need to worry about it breaking. These paddles can take a beating and are some of the toughest out there.
When buying a paddle there are a few things you need to take into consideration. We’ve gone into more detail over How to Choose a Kayak Paddle, but here is a brief summary to give you a rough idea.
When choosing a paddle length, you need to combine two factors: your height and the width of your kayak. Taller paddlers or those with a wider boat will need longer paddles. Shorter paddlers or those with a narrower boat will need shorter paddles. It’s that simple.
Paddle shafts come in a bent or straight design. The bent paddles have kinks in the center section of the shaft, which aim to give the paddler more comfort so they can put more power into each stroke.
As well as the shaft design, you also need to decide on a two-piece or four-piece paddle. This decision will come down to how you’re going to transport it.
If you only take your paddle to local waterways, then a two-piece paddle would be fine. But, if you have an inflatable kayak and enjoy taking it to remote waterways or even overseas, then a four-piece paddle would work better in your favor.
Paddles come in a range of variations, and just because you’re looking at a paddle with a carbon fiber shaft, it doesn’t mean the entire paddle is carbon fiber.
Many companies mix and match their blade and shaft materials. So, for example, you could have a full carbon fiber paddle which means both the blade and shaft are made from carbon fiber, or you could have a carbon fiber shaft with a fiberglass blade.
Obviously, the full carbon fiber paddle is the best of the bunch, but if you aren’t ready to splurge the amount of money they cost (because, yes, their high quality also makes them the most expensive paddle), then settle for a carbon fiber shaft with a fiberglass blade will still make a tremendous difference to your strokes.
The final thing you should take into consideration is the shape of the blade. Kayak paddle blades come in a few variations and they all have their own unique properties for different types of paddling.
If you want to jump on the carbon fiber bandwagon, but you don’t want to splurge hundreds of dollars, then the Ocean Board Carbon Shaft Kayak Paddle could be a good option for you. The 230 cm paddle has a carbon fiber shaft paired with fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blade helps keep its price tag to a minimum.Check Latest Price
If you’re really looking to splurge, then look no further than the Werner Kalliste Carbon Kayak Paddle. This two-piece paddle has an adjustable ferrule system that allows you to alter the blade feathering angle, and it also features a slightly bent shaft to improve comfort and power in each and every stroke.Check Latest Price
The Werner Kalliste Carbon Kayak Paddle made it onto our top premium pick, and of course, a premium paddle comes with a high price tag. In fact, the Werner Kalliste Carbon Paddle is more than twice the amount of some other carbon fiber paddles we mention today, so it definitely is a splurge and a decision you shouldn’t take lightly.
Although the price tag of this paddle is hefty, there are a few good reasons why Werner has priced it the way it is. The first is how incredibly light it is. In total, the Kalliste Carbon Kayak Paddle weighs only 23 oz which is a similar weight of two small soup cans. As I’m sure, you can imagine, paddling with this tiny amount of weight over long distances would be a breeze.
A common misconception of light paddles, however, is that they’d be flimsy, and they wouldn’t be able to deliver power through each stroke. This couldn’t be any more far from the truth.
The Kalliste Paddle cranks the power of your strokes up a notch allowing you to paddle vast distances and lengths that once wouldn’t have been possible with a heavier type of paddle.
Werner took the time and designed their Kalliste Paddle in a way to limit fatigue in the paddler. They constructed it with midsized blades, which not only evenly displace the water while paddling but also reduces overall drag, especially on your return stroke.
Depending on the retailer who you purchase the Kalliste, you’ll have the option of a bent or straight paddle shaft in a standard or a wide diameter. Being able to customize the shaft to your needs is what potentially makes the Kalliste the best kayak paddle for you and your particular paddling type.
Along with a shaft design choice, the Kalliste also has an adjustable ferrule system that allows you to change the feathering angles of your blades. The adjustments of 0° - 75° right or left in 15° increments help to reduce wind resistance while paddling.
Next up is the Wilderness Systems Pungo Carbon Fiber Paddle, which is definitely still on the more expensive end of the price scale.
Wilderness Systems designed their Pungo paddle to deliver powerful strokes that also give you optimum control over your kayak. The base length of the paddle comes in at 220 cm, but you can also adjust the length to add an additional 20 cm. This feature is great for taller paddlers or for those with wider boats.
Along with the length being adjustable, so is the positioning of the blades. Similar to the Kalliste mentioned above, the Pungo has an adjustable ferrule system making it easy to feather the blades to suit your specific paddling type. The adjustable length and blade direction are what make this paddle an excellent option for paddlers of all sizes and abilities.
A feature we particularly love is that the Pungo is covered with a no-slip grip to prevent it from slipping out of your hands during your paddle. There is nothing worse than going in for your stroke, your hands slipping, and you lose all your power.
The Bending Branches Angler Ace Kayak Paddle is made from a carbon fiber shaft material and paired with carbon-reinforced nylon blades. Its primary use is for anglers, but that's not to say recreational paddlers can’t use it also.
What makes it so perfectly designed for anglers is the built-in hook retrieval system and a shaft tape measure. Of course, these things don’t change the overall performance of the paddle; but they’re just handy for kayak anglers when reeling in their catch.
Like most carbon fiber paddles, the Bending Branches Angler Ace Paddle is extremely lightweight at only 30 oz. It, too, has a ferrule system that not only adjusts the direction of the blades but also extends the paddle length by 15 cm.
Aqua-Bound have two paddles to make our list today, and the first is the Manta Ray. The Manta Ray, along with the Eagle Ray that we’ll mention shortly, are both in the mid-range price category and are great paddle options for paddlers who don’t want to break the bank but who also want a durable and high-quality paddle.
The 100% carbon fiber shaft was constructed with seven layers of carbon to produce a strong, stiff, but lightweight paddle. Aqua-Bound paid close attention to the grip area and designed it with a 12% oval grip to improve the paddle's ergonomics. They even ribbed the shaft to prevent it from slipping out of your hands, even when wet.
Not only is the shaft made from carbon fiber, however, but so are the blades on either end. The blades, which can be adjusted with an adjustable ferrule system, are large and have a dihedral design. As we discussed in the first portion of this article, dihedral blades help to increase power while also improving your overall tracking.
Finally, Aqua-Bound also added drip rings close to both blades to prevent any water from dripping down your paddle shaft and into your boat.
As promised, next up with have the Aqua-Bound Eagle Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle. The biggest difference between the Eagle Ray and the Manta Ray is their blade design. The Manta Ray has high angle blades, whereas the Eagle Ray has low angle blades.
Of course, the blade design comes down to your paddling style, and as these paddles are good quality for a somewhat reasonable price, we thought it was best to include both. Apart from their blade angles, the majority of the features in both paddles remain the same.
The Eagle Ray is also a two-piece adjustable paddle with a ferrule system to position the blades at whichever angle you so wish. Its shaft was designed in the exact same way as the Manta Ray, with the same seven layers of carbon fiber paired with an ovalized grip area and a ribbed shaft surface.
Apart from the blade difference, the only other difference between the two is that the Eagle Ray is slightly heavier than the Manta. And by heavier, we mean only 0.7 oz.
The Best Marine Carbon Fiber Paddle is an affordable premium paddle option, and we’re totally here for it.
The reason why it is slightly on the more affordable end of the price scale is that only the shaft is made from carbon. The blades of the paddle are constructed from reinforced fiberglass which may not be as lightweight as carbon, but you have to compromise somewhere.
As well as being relatively lightweight at just 33.5 oz, the Best Marine Carbon Fiber Paddle is also portable as it can be broken down into two separate pieces.
If you want to adjust the fiberglass blades to suit your paddling style, then the adjustable ferrule system makes that possible. Unlike the other paddles we mentioned previously; however, you can only adjust the blades to three different positions.
Drip grips prevent water from dripping down the shaft, and although the Best Marine paddle floats in water, they also included a 5-foot paddle leash to keep it securely attached to your kayak at all times.
The White Wolf Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle has a carbon fiber shaft and two polypropylene and 20% glass fill blades. We understand that spending hundreds of dollars on a paddle may not be reasonable, so we wanted to include some affordable options that are still of excellent quality.
Something we particularly love about the White Wolf Carbon Fiber Paddle is that even with its polypropylene blades, it is still incredibly lightweight at only 28 oz. White Wolf even added an ergonomic grip to their shaft to prevent hand fatigue.
The Ocean Broad Carbon Shaft Kayak Paddle made it onto our best carbon fiber budget kayak paddle, and although only the shaft is carbon fiber, its low price point makes it an excellent option for paddlers on a budget.
In total, even with the polypropylene blades, the paddle only weighs 33 oz which isn’t a huge increase from some of the more premium paddles on our list. You may notice a difference between the two if you’re out paddling all day, but for recreational or shorter paddles, the Ocean Broad Carbon Shaft Kayak should work just fine.
Like all the ones we’ve mentioned before, this high-performance paddle has an adjustable ferrule system to change the angle of the blades to suit your style of paddling. As Ocean Broad wanted their paddle to work for a range of paddlers, they settled on a 230 cm length and made it in two separate pieces to make storage and transport easier.
As well as the paddle itself, Ocean Broad also included a free bungee leash to keep the paddle attached to the kayak at all times and drip rings to prevent water from running into your kayak.
All in all, for a recreational or even a touring kayak paddle that is under $70, the Ocean Broad Carbon Shaft Paddle is a fantastic option.
A carbon fiber paddle would categorize as an extremely high-performance kayak paddle. Carbon fiber is not only incredibly lightweight, but it is also extremely strong, making it an excellent material for kayak paddles.
One of the biggest benefits of carbon fiber shafts and carbon fiber blades is that their lightweight properties make them easy to paddle with over long distances. Heavier paddles, like those made with a fiberglass shaft or with an aluminum shaft, tire paddlers out far quicker than their lightweight carbon fiber paddle cousins.
These carbon fiber paddles are also incredibly durable, meaning they can withstand a beating, and you won’t need to worry about replacing them anytime soon.
Carbon fiber is extremely strong, which is why many companies have used the material to create kayak paddles. Your carbon fiber paddle should be able to take a beating, within reason, of course.
Carbon fiber paddles are the lightest paddles on the market, with some even weighing as little as 23 oz. To give you a brief idea of how much 23 oz actually is, try and imagine holding a small soup can in either hand. Better yet, get some out of your cupboard and test their overall weight.
As I’m sure, you can imagine, paddling over long distances at faster speeds is far easier with a paddle as light as this.
It’s hard to determine the very best carbon fiber paddle as everyone's preferences are different. Some of our favorites however include:
And, if you aren’t ready to splurge on a full carbon fiber paddle just yet, we also have some carbon fiber shaft and mixed blade variations that keep the costs down while also giving you a high-quality paddle:
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