Best Canoe Paddles of 2021
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 2021? 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.
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 2021
- Expedition Plus by Bending Branches
- Ray Special by Fishell Paddles
- BB Special by Bending Branches
- Voyager Canoe Paddle by Sawyer Paddles and Oars
- Arrow Canoe Paddle by Bending Branches
- Modified Ottertail Paddle by Fishell Paddles
- Power Surge PRO Canoe Paddle by Zaveral Racing Equipment
- Java ST Canoe Paddle by Bending Branches
- Viper Paddle by Bending Branches
- Custom Paddles by XY Company
- Dalles des Morts by Sanborn Canoe Co.
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
- Ultimate T-Grip
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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.
- Wood Options: Cherry, Maple, or Ash
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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
- 11° bend
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Voyager Canoe Paddle
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
- Wood canoe paddle
- Fiberglass reinforced blade
- Full rim Dynel ToughEdge
- Ash reinforced molded Palm grip
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Arrow Canoe Paddle
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
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Modified Ottertail Paddle
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.
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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.
- 12° bent
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Java ST Canoe Paddle
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
- Freestyle Palm Grip
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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.
- 11° Double Bent
- Curved Palm Grip
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Dalles des Morts
“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
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