Best Canoe Paddles of 2023

If you've paddled, owned, or rented a canoe, you've experienced the importance of having a good, properly-fitted canoe paddle. If you haven't developed that appreciation, you must've spent more time capsized or portaging than paddling!

So how do you evaluate your options and make a decision in 2022? Fortunately, your fellow canoeists have been paddling along and sharing their experiences through reviews. By leveraging the reviews and experience that's been shared by thousands of your fellow paddlers, they've helped narrow those dozens upon dozens of options down to the best of the best.

When a 17-year-old paddleboarder was swept out to sea, his survival depended on his cell phone and the voice on the other end of the line.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Canoe Paddle

A canoe paddle is more than just a decorative piece of art. There are tons of things to consider when buying a canoe paddle. Especially if you plan on doing any canoe tripping, you'll want to consider factors like paddle weight, blade/shaft material, length, and comfort. A few other considerations:

  • Bent shaft vs. straight shaft? Straight shaft canoe paddles are the classic and versatile, but if you're not familiar with bent shaft canoe paddles and their ergonomic benefits, it'd be worth trying them both.
  • Single blade vs. double blade? No, it's not an oxymoron. Sometimes a solo canoeist who wants maximum stroking efficiency or minimal wrist strain will opt for a double blade like the Impression Solo. For this list, we will stick with traditional single blade canoes, but know that the double blade is out there.
  • Read these canoe paddle reviews - you'll get a sense for all of the above factors and more. You'll probably even learn a thing or two that you hadn't even thought to consider!
  • Try it before you buy it. Research is key, but nothing beats getting on water with a paddle. Especially for canoe tripping, you want to know how that paddle is going to feel after a good, long day of use. Talk to friends, borrow a paddle, or contact your local retailer for a demo.

The best canoe paddle for you is going to be different than the next canoeist. And that's okay. You have to factor in everything from your experience, planned water types, durations, budget, and preferences. So use this list as a starting point. Get some ideas, read some reviews, look through the entire Canoe Paddle Gear Guide, maybe browse the message boards, talk to your local paddlesports retailer or paddling groups, and get out and try it before you buy it! And, of course, when you're done, be sure to help the next paddler in their search by submitting a review!

Best Canoe Paddles of 2023

Expedition Plus

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

Expeditionary paddlers who need endurance, power, and control in their canoe paddle will love the Expedition Plus’ power T-grip and its Rockgard® edge protection that extends all the way from the blade tip to 6 inches up the shaft. This paddle’s 4 oz. fiberglass blade wrap further protects the red alder, basswood, and roasted basswood blade for maximum durability. Made of closed grain, light weight, durable hardwoods, the Expedition Plus is both attractive and versatile for paddlers who take their time on the water more seriously.

  • Material Description: Blade: Red Alder, Basswood and Roasted Basswood, 18 Laminate Basswood Shaft

Additional Attributes

  • Ultimate T-Grip

Expedition Plus Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
(8 Consumer Reviews)

This paddle changed my…

This paddle changed my paddling experience. It’s lightweight but durable construction and incredible responsiveness let’s me go further distance, with less effort. It’s a dre… read full review

This paddle is unbelievably…

This paddle is unbelievably responsive, and beautiful to boot. I can paddle longer and with less fatigue. It is so comfortable to use, very responsive, and makes my trips all… read full review

I have had two of these…

I have had two of these paddles for a few years now and this model is my go to for running rivers that are deep and not overly rocky. It’s very comfortable, has just the righ… read full review

Ray Special

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

This is the one that started it all. This was Ray Kettlewell's first innovative design which changed how we thought about paddles. The Ray Special is a well-balanced all-purpose paddle designed for lake paddling and ideal for canoe tripping as a whole. The Ray Special is more than just a beautiful paddle. It combines a well-proportioned blade with an appealing ratio between the blade and shaft lengths. Specials pair a shaft and blade of equal length. This results in a paddle with a longer than normal blade that is mechanically superior to other paddles. The long narrow blade which is 5" at its maximum width is designed to reach deep into the water providing greater leverage and force. This design results in the paddler taking fewer strokes to equal the distance covered by a shorter blade paddle. The paddle pulls the canoe through the water rather than pulling water past the canoe. The Ray Special is a great paddle for canoe tripping, lake paddling as well as paddling solo. The long blade provides a solo canoeist with greater reach and responsiveness. Although not for whitewater the Ray Special is great for all other paddling needs.

Additional Attributes

  • Wood Options: Cherry, Maple, or Ash

Ray Special Reviews

5 out of 5 stars
(19 Consumer Reviews)

This is my first time…

This is my first time ordering from fishell as I have being using an old ray Kay for many years. I ordered the ray special in Walnut and it is absolutely stunning. I cannot w… read full review

If I were to rate this…

If I were to rate this paddle on a scale of 1-10.....a 20 wouldn't do it justice. Starting at the beginning, when speaking with Greg Fishell, not only was he informative, h… read full review

I'm a kayaker myself but I…

I'm a kayaker myself but I got into the canoe game because it was a nice way to do paddle camping with my son, where we can take the dog and kitchen sink. It's been great for… read full review

BB Special

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

The BB Special has a bent shaft for a more efficient paddle stroke on flat water, letting you go further with less muscle fatigue. This paddle has a seven-laminate blade that is handcrafted of basswood, maple and red alder, and is made entirely in Osceola, Wisconsin. For added durability, the BB Special blade also has Bending Branches’ Rockgard® edge protection.Some of the most experienced paddlers find that the BB Special bent shaft wood canoe paddle has flat water cruising performance at an unbeatable price.

  • Material Description: Blade: Red Alder, Basswood and Maple, 18 Laminate Basswood Shaft

Additional Attributes

  • 11° bend

BB Special Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
(10 Consumer Reviews)

I have owned and used my…

I have owned and used my Bending Branches BB bent shaft paddle for at least 15 years. I have paddled the Boundary Waters with it as well as several rivers and lakes in the so… read full review

I own 2 BB Special. They are…

I own 2 BB Special. They are great paddles. One split from bottom of blade going up... these are 17 months old... I sent e-mail to Bending Branches to see if it could be repa… read full review

I like my BB paddle. I take…

I like my BB paddle. I take it with me whenever I plan on paddling even if I am going to use someone else's canoe. I used it for a week on the Boundary Waters. It is comf… read full review

Voyager Canoe Paddle

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

The Sawyer Voyager Canoe Paddle is a pleasure to behold, and if you get your hands on one, you'll feel the water as never before. Simply the finest paddling blade crafted of laminated Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir wood. The blade is reinforced with fiberglass and trimmed in Dynel ToughEdge, an impact and abrasion protection usually reserved for extreme whitewater blades. A prime companion for all your wilderness adventures. Available lengths: 50" 52" 54" 56" 58" or 60"

  • Material Description: Laminated Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir shaft and blade

Additional Attributes

  • Wood canoe paddle
  • Fiberglass reinforced blade
  • Full rim Dynel ToughEdge
  • Ash reinforced molded Palm grip

Voyager Canoe Paddle Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
(3 Consumer Reviews)

I agree with everything…

I agree with everything MRULE stated [2006-08-02 review]... and he said quite a bit. This paddle is not only beautiful (mine hangs in my living room) but it is beautifully fu… read full review

I bought this because I…

I bought this because I needed a 60" straight shaft paddle for when I paddle my canoe alone. I have found that I can stand up and paddle and it is quite enjoyable.

The Sawyer Cedar Voyager is…

The Sawyer Cedar Voyager is a laminated, straight shaft, beavertail canoe paddle for flatwater use. It features fiberglass reinforced blade faces, composite tip and edge prot… read full review

Arrow Canoe Paddle

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

The Arrow recreational canoe paddle is at home on rivers or lakes, and it delivers great performance for a reasonable price. The Arrow is hand-crafted of a blend of beautiful hardwoods – basswood, red alder, and maple - in Osceola, Wisconsin. Its seven-laminate blade provides strength and durability, and the blade tip is edged with Bending Branches’ Rockgard® protection.

  • Material Description: Blade: Basswood, Red Alder and Maple, 18 Laminate Basswood Shaft

Arrow Canoe Paddle Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
(7 Consumer Reviews)

My first Arrow paddle goes…

My first Arrow paddle goes back about 10 years. It was purchased because Gander Mountain had a big sale,, off season,,, beautiful wooden paddle and dirt cheap,, 30 bucks? I … read full review

Great affordable paddle.…

Great affordable paddle. Light and quiet in the water. Quiet for underwater recovery stroke. The rock guard is sufficient. The palm grip is comfortable.

I think I own 5 Arrow…

I think I own 5 Arrow paddles now. You always must take multiples when you go into the woods, wilderness, 'off piste'. And this past spring Bending Branches made a new p… read full review

Modified Ottertail Paddle

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

The Modified Ottertail is a variant of an Ottertail with its broader shoulders at the top of the blade. This puts the widest part of the blade near the paddler’s lowest hand and offers better control and greater power. The Modified Ottertail is Ideal for those paddlers who like the Ottertail but are looking for a little more surface area to pull with. The Modified Ottertail is also well suited for solo paddling as well as tandem and makes a great tripping paddle for all day paddling.

Modified Ottertail Paddle Reviews

5 out of 5 stars
(4 Consumer Reviews)

I picked up a Fishell…

I picked up a Fishell Ottertail at Canoecopia 2023. Compared it some other vendors there and liked the workmanship of the Fishell better. Looking forward to using it this sum… read full review

I own two Fishell paddles -…

I own two Fishell paddles - the modified ottertail and the Ray Special. Both cherry. Prior to owning my Fishells, I paddled with a beaver tail made by another well know Canad… read full review

They did an incredible job…

They did an incredible job with the two paddles we ordered. Not only do they look incredible, the feel great and came with a beautiful rack as well. Fishell accommodated our … read full review

Power Surge PRO Canoe Paddle

Designed by Bob Zaveral, Serge Corbin and Gold Medalist Greg Barton, this paddle is curved through the entire paddle blade, and slightly concave on the bottom power face for a quick catch. You'll experience better power and control, and maximum efficiency.

Additional Attributes

  • 12° bent

Power Surge PRO Canoe Paddle Reviews

5 out of 5 stars
(2 Consumer Reviews)

I have used the Power Surge…

I have used the Power Surge Pro paddle on my ARES OC-1 and racing solo canoe for 6 months and am pleased with the paddle in both services. Entry and exit are nearly silent, a… read full review

I have used ZRE paddles for…

I have used ZRE paddles for my racing SUP for years, and recently for my high performance canoe and OC-1 outrigger. The PRO is about 7 oz. and has very clean entry when plant… read full review

Java ST Canoe Paddle

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

The Java premium canoe paddle is hand-crafted in Osceola, Wisconsin. It has a strong solid basswood shaft and an eye-popping “pinstriped” blade of basswood and dark, roasted basswood that you have to see to believe. The blade has a 2 oz. fiberglass wrap and full Rockgard® edge protection to safeguard its beauty and performance. The Java’s shaft is made of solid, ovalized Basswood, so it's durable but not excessive in weight. With its classic palm grip, the Java is easy to hold, comfortable, and warm.

  • Material Description: Roasted Basswood Blade and Solid Basswood Shaft

Additional Attributes

  • Freestyle Palm Grip

Java ST Canoe Paddle Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
(4 Consumer Reviews)

In 2018, i was embarking in…

In 2018, i was embarking in the most amazing and challenging expedition of my life. Crossing America by canoe from the Pacific ocean to the Atlantic ocean during 191 days and… read full review

I bought this paddle just…

I bought this paddle just because I liked its looked. I have since decided it is suits for my needs very well. I usually use a bent shaft, but I find this works much better i… read full review

Comfortable grip and oval…

Comfortable grip and oval shaft. Lightweight and stiff. The rock guard protection covers the edge of the entire blade and the finish on the paddle is tough. The pattern on th… read full review

Viper Paddle

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

The Viper is ergonomically designed with a double bend shaft to help keep both wrists aligned when paddling. This reduces fatigue and is a great benefit for wilderness tripping. This paddle is hand-crafted in Osceola, Wisconsin of durable, lightweight basswoods. The Viper’s durable blade has a 4 oz. fiberglass wrap and full Rockgard® protection for added peace of mind. This paddle is both stunning to look at and a treat to paddle on long trips.

  • Material Description: Basswood and Roasted Basswood Blade, 18 Laminate Basswood Shaft.

Additional Attributes

  • 11° Double Bent
  • Curved Palm Grip

Viper Paddle Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
(4 Consumer Reviews)

I have owned Bending Branches…

I have owned Bending Branches Arrow paddles since purchasing my Old Town Penobscot. This year I switched to a double-bend paddle and bought the Bending Branches Viper. The fo… read full review

So far so first two…

So far so first two paddles, the Arrow, have been great. After last year's water play (both whitewater in my IK and canoe on the lake) my elbow felt like a pro tenn… read full review

I've always wanted one of…

I've always wanted one of these to go with my Kruger boat. The paddle is beautiful, its curves elicit many a stare and compliment. Oh the feel of it in ones hands...the light… read full review

Custom Paddles

The Custom Paddles is a paddle brought to you by XY Company. Read Custom Paddles reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other paddle recommendations below or explore all paddles to find the perfect one for you!

Custom Paddles Reviews

5 out of 5 stars
(14 Consumer Reviews)

The XY Meany paddle is the…

The XY Meany paddle is the easies and well balanced paddle around. My son and I both bought a paddle for a resent trip in the BWCA and will never switch to another. Once an… read full review

I purchased my first XY…

I purchased my first XY Company Meany Original bent shaft paddle ten years ago. It's been a trustworthy best-friend ever since, and is always by my side in my canoe. Withou… read full review

I grew up listening to Don…

I grew up listening to Don and his brother Joe swap stories with my father, stories that included the making of paddles. I saw the evolution of the bent shaft, from an early… read full review

Dalles des Morts

Length (in)
Weight (oz)

“Dalles des Morts” means ‘death rapids’ in French. It was the name given to a particularly gruesome stretch of rapids, along the Columbia River, traversed by the voyageurs. Many a harrowing tale lie in its’ churning waters involving, among other things, adventure, heroism, cannibalism, cowardice, death and survival.

  • Material Description: Wood: Walnut, Aspen and Western Red Cedar

Dalles des Morts Reviews

(0 Consumer Reviews)

No one has submitted a review yet for the Dalles des Morts. Please help out the community and share your experience!

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