You might find it hard to believe, but choosing your kayak paddle is more important than choosing the kayak itself. You can live with the wrong kayak, but a wrong paddle will drastically impact the quality of your kayaking experience. You’ll be swinging it plenty of times a day, which means you must be comfortable with it.
How much do kayak paddles weigh? Generally, kayak paddles’ weight ranges from 1.5 to 4 pounds. A paddle is considered lightweight until it exceeds 2 pounds, or 36 ounces. Materials of construction and dimensions have the largest impact on paddle weight. Longer paddles with larger blades will be heavier. The lightest kayak paddles are made from carbon fiber.
You don’t want to go home with achy arms; that’s why we’ll have a little chat today about kayak paddles’ weight and the factors that affect it.
Kayak Paddles Weight in a Nutshell
While you may think a 4-pound paddle can still be considered lightweight, half a day of kayaking with it ought to convince you otherwise. You won’t feel anything at the start of the day. However, after a few hours, the pain will be evident.
It’s pure physics. You’ll have to trust me on this, as I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
The paddle’s weight majorly depends on the shaft’s material. So, let’s see how much each material weighs.
Aluminum paddles are a budget-friendly choice when it comes to kayaking. Despite that, they’re not that sought-after because they’re among the heaviest paddles on the market. An aluminum paddle will weigh around 2–2.5 pounds. A lot of users prefer to get lighter paddles, but they may at some point come into ownership of aluminum paddles when buying a budget-friendly boat or kayak. You’ll many times find
Along with aluminum, plastic is also considered a heavy material for paddles. While there are a variety of different types of plastics, few of them are well-suited for a kayak paddle. Plastic paddles weigh more than 2 pounds on average. If you buy one, you’ll have to replace it with a lighter paddle at some point.
Fiberglass is heavier than aluminum. So, it’s only suitable for experts and people with muscly arms. A fiberglass-shaft paddle will weigh around 2.5–4 pounds. That being said, the heavyweight makes these paddles suitable for challenging conditions and hardcore practice.
Wooden shafts are generally lighter than hard plastic, aluminum, and fiberglass ones. The overall paddle weight depends on multiple factors, but the shaft makes the most of the weight. Wooden paddles will weigh around 1.5–2 pounds. They’re also relatively affordable, which is a valuable bonus.
Carbon fiber paddles may be among the most expensive ones on the market. However, they’re worth every penny you’ll pay. Carbon fiber is an extremely light material; the paddles will weigh a maximum of 2 pounds, and you’ll often find that these paddles . It’s also a highly durable material that’ll last as long as you have it.
Other Factors That Affect a Kayak Paddle’s Weight
The shaft material isn’t the only factor that contributes to the paddle’s weight. There are also the blade’s size and material. Let’s see the impact of each of them.
The paddle isn’t only made of the shaft; there are also two blades on both ends. Their material is a huge contributor to the overall weight. You won’t get too confused when choosing because there are only three common materials: nylon, carbon fiber, and fiberglass.
Most paddles have nylon blades. Manufacturers tend to choose it because of its low cost and flexibility, but it’s actually a heavy material. On top of that, the flexibility accounts for less efficiency on water strokes.
As for fiberglass, it’s lighter than plastic, and it’s highly efficient, thanks to its rigid build. Meanwhile, carbon fiber is the lightest of them all. If the paddle you chose has carbon fiber blades, this means the majority of its weight will be in the shaft. This weight distribution means the paddle will be easier to balance, which naturally makes your experience more enjoyable.
Buyers usually don’t give much thought to the blade size when buying a kayak paddle. They mostly go for the biggest one, following the common belief that it’ll be able to generate more power. Although that’s right, it comes at a cost.
Big blades are heavy; they significantly add to the paddle’s weight, not to mention that they create more resistance in challenging water conditions. In other words, they’re harder to use than others.
On the other hand, skinny blades will be extremely lightweight, which allows you to get an aluminum shaft. The overall cost will then be affordable, and the weight will be moderate because of the light blades.
Is the Weight the Only Thing You Should Be Considering?
Weight and balance are close friends, but people only seem to care about weight. Meanwhile, they often overlook the balance, although it determines how your paddling experience will be. Paddles with poor balance will tire you out after a short time.
But how can we assess the balance of a kayak paddle?
It depends on the swing weight, which translates to how much effort you need to lift the paddle out of the water and swing it. It’s not a matter of measurements; it’s more about how heavy you feel the paddle is with the motion and the amount of force you need to exert.
To test the balance of your paddle, you should grab it single-handedly at the shaft’s hilt—just above the blade. If the paddle remains horizontal, then it’s a well-balanced one. It’s also okay if it slightly tilts towards the blade. On the other hand, if the paddle dives down at one side, it’ll be challenging to use.
As for the swing weight, you can test it by holding the paddle at the shaft’s center while using one hand. Then, extend your arm to hold it away from your body. Next, rotate your wrist. If you feel comfortable doing so, then the swing weight is alright. If you feel it’s too heavy for your arm, opt for a lighter option.
Kayaking is one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities. You don’t want anything to reduce your satisfaction with the experience. Therefore, you should do some research before settling for a paddle.
Now that you know all about the paddle’s weight, the rest should be easy. Weight is the most vital feature, anyway, and it is almost always directly determined by the size and material.
Whichever paddle you choose to go with, we hope you have a fun experience on the water!