How to Choose a Whitewater Kayak Paddle

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It’s always a good idea to have an extra paddle in case you find yourself in some rough water.

This is doubly important if you tend to fish rivers and need to get through some whitewater to get to your favorite fishing hole.

Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a backup paddle made for just this scenario.

These paddles are made to get you out of these types of tight spots.

Comparison Chart

Werner Desperado Carbon-Reinforced Whitewater Kayak Paddle-Black-200cm
NRS PTK Kayak Paddle 45 Degree, 197cm-Standard, 77102.01.100
Adventure Technology at Titan Whitewater Kayak Paddle, 210cm/One Size, Green

Here is our guide on how to choose the right one plus a short list of whitewater kayak paddle brands I recommend.

Trusted whitewater kayak paddle brands:

Werner Desperado Carbon-Reinforced Whitewater Paddle


NRS PTK Kayak Paddle 45 Degree


Adventure Technology at Titan Whitewater Paddle


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Know The Blade

Whitewater kayak paddles are broken into two different categories: River Running and Play Boating.

What separates them is the shape.

Then there is the blade size that comes into play

Blade Size

The smaller the blade, the easier it is to paddle, but you’ll have to paddle more frequently. It’s almost like using a high gear on a bike when going uphill. You pedal faster, but the actual pedaling is much easier.

Large blades will pull more water so they are going to take a bit more muscle to use.

Which size you choose depends on how strong your core is and maybe even how tall you are.

Shorter paddlers usually go for a small or middle size blade where taller ones usually go for big blades.

Blade Material

The makeup of the blade is just as important as the size.

  • Plastic – This will be the cheapest, but also the lowest quality. If you need a backup paddle and don’t plan to go into anything too gnarly then this material is fine.
  • Fiberglass – Lighter than plastic and far more durable this is a good material to use if you still don’t want to spend too much and only need to occasionally go through some whitewater.
  • Carbon Fiber – This is the top of the line for blade materials and is the most expensive as a result. It is highly durable and very lightweight. Perfect for use when you need to paddle quite a bit.

Whitewater kayak hand paddles

Another option for a good backup for a kayak paddle are these whitewater hand paddles. If you are a playboater then these are not only effective, but fun. It gets you right in the water.

Look for the paddle to be made out of kevlar for some flex and durability. Probably the best ones to buy in my opinion are Synergy Hand Paddles.

Synergy Hand Paddles

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You’ll need to be in a smaller kayak for these to work.

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