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If you’re trying to figure out what makes the best canoe paddles, then read along to find out which features are the best choice for you. The main difference between canoe and kayak paddles is that canoe paddles are generally one-sided while kayak paddles have blades on both ends. In a canoe, you row the boat on one side at a time, unless you have a companion to paddle with you, so you only need one blade.

From there, you can choose between aluminum or wood paddles and different paddle lengths, depending on your preferences. We explain the main features of these top 10 paddles and how to size your canoe paddle so you know exactly what to look for.

For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, check out the Best Kayak Paddles.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Canoe Paddles

  1. Bending Branches BB Special
  2. Bending Branches Arrow
  3. Werner Nantahala Adjustable
  4. Werner Churchill Adjustable
  5. Carlisle Standard
  6. Caviness Marine Twin Stripe
  7. Attwood Wooden
  8. Crooked Creek C11445

 

Comparison Table - Best Canoe Paddle

PictureNameLengthMaterialWeightPriceRating
Bending Branches BB SpecialBending Branches BB Special50, 52, and 54 inWood1lb 6oz$$4.8
Bending Branches ArrowBending Branches Arrow54”, 56”, 58”, and 60”Wood1lb 7oz$$4.2
Werner Nantahala AdjustableWerner Nantahala AdjustableAdjustable from 54-62”Fiberglass1lb 13.8oz$$$4.9
Werner ChurchillWerner Churchill AdjustableAdjustable from 50-58 inCarbon Shaft and Fiberglass Blade20.25 oz$$$$4.9
Carlisle Standard60”Vinyl-Wrapped Aluminum34 oz$4.5
Caviness Marine Twin Stripe3ft 6in, 4ft, 4.5ft, 5ft, 5.5ft, and 6ftWood2 lbs$4.2
Attwood Wooden2.5ft and 4ftWood1lb$4.0
Crooked Creek C114454, 4.5, 5, and 5.5 ftAluminum and ABS plastic1.5lbs$4.7
PictureNameLengthMaterialWeightPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Paddles for Canoeing

Bending Branches BB Special

Specs
  • Length: 50, 52, and 54 in
  • Weight: 1lb 6oz
  • Material: Wood
Features
  • Palm Grip (to minimize hand fatigue)
  • Wide Blade (for more power during every stroke)
  • Bent Shaft (which reduces effort)
  • Protective Finish on The Blade (to prevent dings and scratches)
  • Bi-Colored Wood Design (for aesthetic appeal)
Bending Branches BB Special

BEST FOR: FLATWATER CRUISING

If you’re serious about canoeing, then the little bit extra you spend on a wood paddle from this meticulous brand is worth it. The hardwood paddle is handcrafted for long-term use with carefully-sourced wood and a ding-resistant protectant on the blade. Not only is the paddle trustworthy, but it’s also built for fun with its wide, swift blade that pushes through the water like a champ. The BB Special is a real keeper.

Bending Branches Arrow

Specs
  • Length: 54”, 56”, 58”, and 60”
  • Weight: 1lb 7oz
  • Material: Wood
Features
  • Palm Grip (to minimize hand fatigue)
  • Straight Shaft (so you can use both sides)
  • Protective Finish on The Blade (to prevent dings and scratches)
  • Tri-Colored Wood Design (for aesthetic appeal)
Bending Branches Arrow

BEST FOR: SIMPLE TO TECHNICAL CONDITIONS

This reliable paddle is a world-class instrument of forward movement. The rectangular blade allows you to get some real power behind your stroke. Beginners like the paddle for its straight shaft, which is easy to learn on, while advanced canoers appreciate the quality and timeless construction. You can’t overlook the beautiful combination of red alder, basswood, and maple either, a work of art that doesn’t compromise the paddle’s lightness.

Werner Nantahala Adjustable

Specs
  • Length: Adjustable from 54-62”
  • Weight: 1lb 13.8oz
  • Material: Fiberglass
Features
  • Impact- and Abrasion-Resistant
  • Adjustable Handle (to accommodate different riders)
  • Palm Grip (to reduce hand fatigue)
  • Straight Shaft (so you can use both sides)
Werner Nantahala Adjustable

BEST FOR: STRAIGHT FORWARD MOTION

This top-of-the-line paddle has a winning streak! The paddle offers stable forward paddling so you can gain powerful momentum along straight routes. But you can still make skilled maneuvers with it too. The Nantahala is the perfect combination of lightweight flexibility and durable stiffness for enhanced paddling dexterity.

Werner Churchill Adjustable

Specs
  • Length: Adjustable from 50-58 in
  • Weight: 20.25 oz
  • Material: Carbon Shaft and Fiberglass Blade
Features
  • Impact- and Abrasion-Resistant Blade
  • Technical Blade Shape (for steady, even forward paddling)
  • Handcrafted Palm Grip (reduces hand fatigue)
  • Adjustable Shaft (adjusts to fit for each paddler)
  • Lightweight and Stiff
Werner Churchill

BEST FOR: THOSE WHO APPRECIATE THE BEST OF THE BEST

You’re not looking for a deal, you’re looking for the best canoe paddle out there. The Churchill is your top-of-the-line choice with a technical design and all the best comfort features. Whether you’re going for slow, gentle strokes or high-performance paddling, this paddle gives you the best experience possible. It’s optimized for flexibility, lightness, and strength through the open waters.

Carlisle Standard

Specs
  • Length: 60”
  • Weight: 34 oz
  • Material: Vinyl-Wrapped Aluminum
Features
  • UV Protected (to resist fading)
  • T-Grip (keeps your hand from slipping off)
  • High-Impact Material (withstands hardcore use)

BEST FOR: THOSE WHO WANT TO STICK TO BUDGET-FRIENDLY BASICS

The Standard is true to its name as the quintessential canoe paddle. You can always fall back on this dependable classic. The paddle has a T-grip and vinyl-clad shaft to keep it from slipping through, freezing, or burning your fingers in changing conditions. For the price, you can grab an extra as a spare or one for a companion.

Caviness Marine Twin Stripe

Specs
  • Length: 3ft 6in, 4ft, 4.5ft, 5ft, 5.5ft, and 6ft
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Material: Wood
Features
  • Palm Grip (to minimize hand fatigue)
  • Protective Lamination on the Blade (to resist dings and scratches)
  • Bi-Colored Wood Design (for aesthetic appeal)
  • Caviness Signature Wedge Insert (for added strength)

BEST FOR: RIVER CANOEING AND FISHING

The Marine Twin Stripe paddle is a decent wood model for the price. Caviness uses their signature wedge insert with a finish to reinforce the blade because pushing up against the river bottom and rocks is inevitable. When it’s time to hang the paddles up for the season, the striped blade looks cool mounted on the wall. In fact, many enthusiasts seek out Caviness for their paddles because of both their practical use and their decorative quality.

Attwood Wooden

Specs
  • Length: 2.5ft and 4ft
  • Weight: 1lb
  • Material: Wood
Features
  • Ergonomic Top Grip
  • Durable Finish (for long-lasting use)
  • Center Stripe (for aesthetic appeal)

BEST FOR: RECREATIONAL PADDLING

If you’re looking for an inexpensive paddle for trips to the lake or summer camp, this is an easy choice. It has an old-school simplicity and functionality to it that appeals to canoe purists. The paddle comes in a large and small size, and the small paddle is perfectly child-sized for little paddlers.

Crooked Creek C11445

Specs
  • Length: 4, 4.5, 5, and 5.5 ft
  • Weight: 1.5lbs
  • Material: Aluminum and ABS plastic
Features
  • Lightweight (to prevent arm fatigue)
  • Rubberized Sleeve on the Shaft (for a better grip)
  • Hybrid Grip (conforms to your hand for comfort)
  • Floats on Water
  • High-Impact Blade (extra durability for rocks and debris)

BEST FOR: RESTRICTED BUDGETS

This understated little paddle is the unsung hero of budget paddles. It has excellent ratings and feedback to match its price. The durable plastic blade stands up to rocky underwater conditions while the rubber gripper and hybrid handle keep your hands happy during your travels. Because it’s made out of long-lasting materials, you never have to worry about warping or refinishing the paddle. Usually the saying “you get what you pay for” rings true, but this paddle defies that reasoning by giving you exceptional value for the low cost.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A CANOE PADDLE

SIZING

The length of your canoe paddle is one of the most important features to consider. You need a paddle that’s proportionate to your height and the shape of your canoe so you can reach the water at the most effective angle. You may need a shorter shaft for a narrow boat or a longer shaft for a wider boat.

Use this detailed explanation of paddle sizing here to help you calculate the right paddle size for you, or you may choose to get an adjustable paddle to accommodate yourself and fellow paddlers.

 

MATERIAL

Canoe paddles generally come with fiberglass, aluminum, or wood shafts and various blade materials. The materials affect how well your paddle stands up against rocks and river bottoms, how hot or cold the shaft feels in your hands, the heaviness of the paddle, and how much upkeep the paddle requires. Weigh your options against what’s most important to you.

 

WEIGHT

The weight of your paddle makes all the difference between fatigue and prolonged stamina. Without extra conditioning, a heavy paddle is going to wear your arms out faster than a lighter handle. Manufacturers tend to design canoe paddles to be lightweight and easy to handle, but there’s still quite a difference between a 1lb handle and a 2lb handle. If you intend to travel long distances or have limited upper body strength, choose a lightweight model.

 

HANDLE TYPE

When you’re paddling for a long time, it’s important to consider the type of handle your canoe paddle has. If you have hand issues like arthritis, carpal tunnel, or poor grip, you want a handle that minimizes fatigue. Most canoe handles are either palm grip or T-grip. Palm grips have a more comfortable, ergonomic shape whereas T-grips offer added leverage in choppier conditions. Learn more about canoe handle types here.

 

FLOATABLE

Many canoe handles are designed to float in case you lose your grip. They’re easier to locate and retrieve than handles that sink to the bottom. If you’re worried about losing your paddle out on the water, you may want to choose a paddle that floats.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

SHAFT

The long handle portion of the paddle is referred to as the shaft, just like the shaft of a golf club. Paddle shafts are either straight or slightly bent. Straight shafts give you more versatility to learn on because they can be used back, forth, and upside down. Bent shafts, on the other hand, offer a more effective paddling angle.

BLADE

The blade is the lower fin-like portion of the paddle that actually pushes against the water. The ideal blade is durable enough to push against rocks and shorelines and wide enough to maximize every stroke.

T-GRIP

The top of a T-grip handle forms a capital T shape. A T-grip allows you to hold the paddle tighter, giving your more leverage in choppy water conditions. With your fingers wrapped around the handle, you’re less likely to lose your grip than if your palm rests over the top of the handle.

PALM GRIP

A palm grip is shaped with a curve that you can rest your hand over. This type of grip is more ergonomically-friendly for longer, recreation-style paddling. Your hands won’t fall asleep or get fatigued as easily with a palm grip.

ABS PLASTIC

ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a common, inexpensive type of plastic. Though inexpensive, this plastic is very durable and lightweight, so it’s well-suited for a canoe paddle.

READ MORE

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