Aside from your kayak, the only other thing that should be dipping into the water when you are out on lights, rivers, or in the ocean is your paddle – and it’s going to be responsible not only for maneuvering your kayak around, but how fast you go, how quickly you pivot from danger, and how easily you are able to recover from capsizing or other accidents.
Obviously you want to spend a little bit of time really thinking about the kayak paddle you choose, finding the best one possible to help you track straighter, float faster, and save yourself from getting into sticky situations before they become legitimate emergencies.
Thankfully though, you don’t have to spend a mountain of money on a paddle to get a quality piece of equipment.
In fact, there are some really great options out there available for under $100 – without cutting corners, without sacrificing quality, and without compromising the way that you use your kayak on a regular basis.
Below we highlight a couple of things you want to focus on when searching for kayak paddles and then dive into our five favorite options for less than $100 right now.
Let’s dig right in!
What to Look for in a Budget Kayak Paddle
A couple of key features help to differentiate solid budget kayak paddle options from the rest of the pack and you want to be sure that your new sub $100 paddle checks as many of these boxes as possible.
Affordability is obviously something you are going to want to keep your eyes on. There are some kayak paddles that go for a few hundred dollars (and sometimes even more than that), featuring all kinds of space-age materials and engineering – but at a certain point you are really only paying for marketing and advertising and you’re not really seeing big performance benefits.
The sub $100 price point gives you a wide variety of different options to pick and choose from, helps you find light paddles that are solid, stable, and reliable, and will certainly help you to find paddles that will help you track straighter and move faster out on the water.
Sizing is another big piece of the puzzle when it comes time to buy a paddle. The size of the paddle that you choose is going to be determined by a couple of different factors, the two most important of which are the width of your kayak and the height of the person that is going to be paddling. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a paddle for fishing.
If you have a wider kayak and a taller person paddling you’re going to want to look for longer paddles. Narrower kayaks and shorter people paddling can get away with smaller paddles. The formula is simple and straightforward to figure out.
A kayak measuring 23 inches or less wide and a peddler that is 5 foot five or shorter will be able to make the most use of a 210 cm long paddle. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a kayak 34 inches wide or wider and a paddler 6 feet tall or taller will want a 260 cm long paddle – and maybe one even longer than that!
Finally, the materials that your new paddle features will have a huge impact on its overall performance.
The material used in the shaft of the paddle as well as the paddle blade itself are the major areas to focus on. You want something that offers plenty of rigidity (the more rigid the faster and more efficient you’ll be when paddling), something that is as lightweight as possible without sacrificing durability, and obviously something that you can comfortably move through the water to not only pilot your kayak but keep you safe as well.
Aluminum options and fiberglass or composite options are incredibly popular as far shaft materials are concerned, and blades are usually made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or some form of plastic.
It’s not a bad idea to look into the feathering of your paddle that allows you to offset the blades for even better performance, drip rings that are designed to keep you dry while you paddle, and color and aesthetics.
After all, you want to look cool while you are out on the water, right?
Our Favorite Kayak Paddles for Under $100
Intex Kayak Paddle
An almost unbelievably inexpensive kayak paddle that still offers a lot of power and a lot of performance, and a lot of speed even for people brand-new to the kayaking world this is definitely something you are going to want to zero in on if you want a really budget focused option.
For starters, this kayak paddle has been engineered straight from the factory to come apart in five different sections.
Each individual section is ridiculously compact, squares away into an included carrying case (also happens to be waterproof and floats thanks to the paddles inside), and can be assembled together on the spot in about 30 seconds or so – giving you a 7’2” paddle that’s ready to rock ‘n’ roll in no time at all.
Secondly, the lightweight and durable aluminum shaft construction components give this inexpensive kayak paddle a lot of strength and rigidity that other options might not have been able to offer.
While not quite as lightweight as synthetic or composite materials (especially not fiberglass or carbon fiber) this aluminum shaft construction remain strong, relatively lightweight, and has the kind of rigidity you need to power through the water at top speeds.
Out at the blades you have asymmetrical spoon shaping that helps to sort of carve through the water while maintaining your balance at the same time. This is going to allow you to cut through even choppy water (like you might experience on big lakes or in gentle surf) without much trouble but still gives you the opportunity to sort of power stroke at the same time if you need a boost of speed.
A lot of folks that have used this particular paddle really appreciate the way that it helps a kayak track. Obviously the shape and configuration of your kayak is going to play a huge part in tracking, too, but you aren’t going to feel like your paddle is fighting against you when you’re trying to maneuver it across the water.
Each of the asymmetrical blades can be repositioned with a variety of different feathering configurations. Three different angle options are available so that you’ll be able to find something you like best, and most encourage you to experiment a little bit with all that this has to offer just to guarantee you hit a sweet spot that really works well for you.
Combine that all with an almost unbelievably inexpensive price point in this kayak paddle really becomes almost too good to be true.
SeaSense X1 Kayak Paddle
A two-piece paddle that collapses into a portable enough form factor for easy transportation to and from the water, you’ll be able to quickly snap this kayak paddle together when you are ready to hit rivers or ponds and lakes in about five seconds or so.
The shaft materials made out of lightweight but durable aluminum materials that remain very lightweight while adding a bit of extra rigidity that composites just don’t offer. All of this gives the paddle a bit more spring and a bit more propelling power, helping you to power up and fly across the water when you are in a hurry but also giving you plenty of stopping power and turning control when you need to fight your own momentum.
The blades themselves are a pretty standard shape common across the budget focused kayak paddle world, made out of high quality plastics that aren’t going to fall apart and aren’t going to degrade over time.
There’s a lot of extra elasticity in these blades that can bounce back with each stroke, but if you’re getting a lot of heavy resistance from the water you are working in you may find your individual strokes to be a little less efficient than you had hoped they might be.
On top of that, the blades themselves are a little bit narrower which means this paddle is intended for recreational kayaks as opposed to those purely before speed or performance along. That’s something you’ll certainly want to consider before you pull the trigger on this kind of price point.
A neat little feature is the fact that these paddles will float all on their own if they get away from you. That should make recovery pretty simple and straightforward. It’s nice to know they aren’t going to sink to the bottom should you lose control for split second.
The backbone of this kayak paddle is a super high quality aluminum alloy shaft that measures in at 1.1 mm of thickness, providing the kind of rigidity and stability you need when choosing a paddle for open water and for gentler rivers.
Definitely a kayak paddle intended for those that are more focused on recreational and leisure style trips out on the water, you’ll still be able to squeeze quite a bit of speed out of this paddle every time you dip into the water thanks to the fiberglass reinforced blades at both ends.
Both of these blades are uniquely designed to cut through the water with a number of different kayak paddle strokes, helping you to find the right stroke for speed, the right stroke to add stability, and the right stroke to stop yourself on a dime (for the most part) and pivot in one direction or another.
Available in the incredibly popular 230 cm length – not too short, not too long, but oftentimes “just right” – this inexpensive paddle certainly feels a bit like a Goldilocks option when you get a chance to try it for yourself
Three different feathering angles allow you to decide how you want this paddle to be configured, giving you the freedom to find different locking positions that work best with the strokes you are comfortable with. Included drip rings work to keep your body nice and dry even when you are paddling hard and a free paddle leash guarantees that this is going to stay connected to you no matter what.
Overmont Aluminum Kayak Paddle
The coolest thing about these paddles has to be the fiberglass reinforced blades at either end, feather shape blades that are designed to efficiently move through water far more effectively than or traditional shaped options – complete with really neat double serrated edge designs that cut through water pretty quickly.
On top of that, the hollow aluminum shaft tube configuration is plenty strong enough to keep you zipping over the water without a lot of flex and without a lot of negative feedback.
The last thing you want to do when you’re expecting to spend a lot of time out on the water is choose a paddle that bounces around a lot, that deflects from choppy water, or that’s going to wear you out faster than other paddles might.
None of that is going to be a problem with this particular configuration.
The color scheme is pretty cool (the bright orange blades really stand out and double as a safety feature) and the inclusion of a free premium leash strap make sure that this paddle is always going to stay attached to you or your kayak no matter what.
The hollowed out aluminum tube design of the shaft guarantees that this is going to float out on the water as well. Plenty of people have lost really expensive paddles just because they lost control for a moment or two, but that’s never going to be a problem when you are running this paddle set up.
MSC Kayak Paddle
This particular paddle set up is available in a couple of different sizes and a couple of different configurations, but all of them don’t even come close to breaking the $100 price point – and all of them are well worth owning depend the size of your kayak and the height of your paddler.
To start things off, this two-piece paddle set up is built up the backup a lightweight aluminum shaft system that’s hollowed out but still retains the kind of strength and rigidity you need to get reliable feedback from your paddle when you are working it in the water.
At either end our proprietary design paddles intended to carve through the water, helping you to move faster, to track straighter, and to maneuver your kayak a lot more efficiently as well. A lot of paddles out there are designed to help your kayak go best are across the water few of them (especially for less than $100) offer you the kind of control that these paddles provide at the same time.
Three feathering positions help you to reconfigure and readjust the critical aspects of this paddle to get it exactly the way you want it. You’ll be able to custom tailor the feedback and the stroke action you’re using to move your kayak quickly, finding that sweet spot that give you the best benefits of speed and tracking at the same time.
An asymmetrical curve on the blades ensures that you are going to be able to enjoy more efficient paddle strokes as well. This means less wear and tear on your body, more fun out on the water rather than more work, and inability to reach top speeds faster than you would have been able to – allowing you to sort of “coast” so that you can rest and recharge before more paddling as well.
What is the best kayak paddle under $100?
At the end of the day, finding the best kayak paddle for less than $100 is never quite as simple or as straightforward as most folks would like to think – particularly because there are so many great options to choose from (including the five we highlighted above).
But after doing considerable research and due diligence we can confidently say that the best option of the bunch has to be the Overmont Kayak Paddle.
To begin with, this paddle is made out of top-quality construction materials from top to bottom. The aluminum used in the shaft is rock solid and highly and the paddle blades themselves that are fiberglass reinforced are lightweight, strong, and uniquely designed to move through the water more efficiently than maybe anything else out there.
Mix in the three configurable feathering positions, the two-piece construction that makes this super portable, and the inclusion of a transportation pouch and a paddle leash that can connect to you or your kayak and choosing the Overmont Kayak Paddle becomes a bit of a no-brainer.
Of course, you really can’t go wrong with any of the five options that we have focused on above. All of them are great kayak paddle at the sub $100 price point, all of them are going to give you real value for your money, and all of them are going to help you enjoy your time out on the water a lot more for a lot less than you might have thought you have to spend before.