Noyo Pacific Kayaking

A Resources for Beginers to Experts

What Should A Paddle Be Made Of ?
Kayaking - Kayaking Equipment

Traditionally, all paddles were made of wood. It is still a good material, and wooden paddles are available in every price range for almost any paddling discipline. The biggest advantage of wood is it's visual appeal, and it's biggest disadvantage is that some regular maintenance is required. As a paddle making material, wood is still hanging in there, and will continue to do so.

Plastics have arrived, and probably the majority of medium to higher quality paddles are now reinforced plastic composites. Fiberglass, Kevlar, and graphite (carbon fiber), saturated with a plastic resin, are used in both shaft and blade construction. Probably the biggest advantage of composite construction is utility -- high strength and low weight. The biggest disadvantage is the lack of beauty, warmth, and "soul" that wood can provide. Obviously, from the number of paddles sold, those who buy composites think the trade-off is worth it.

You will also find paddles made by attaching plastic or fiberglass blades to an aluminum or low grade fiberglass shaft. These are generally lower to mid price range paddles, though some may be of high enough performance and quality to demand a distinctly higher price. The biggest advantages to this construction are low price and high durability. For example, the lower priced versions of these are what the majority of places that rent canoes and kayaks supply with their boats. The disadvantage of this construction is the lack of "liveliness" and feel that wood and composites can give.

If you want a paddle for white water, strength and durability are your main concerns. A composite paddle, or an aluminum / plastic / composite mixture would be a good choice, especially for a beginning white water paddler.

For flat water touring, less strength is required. This means that much lighter, more comfortable paddles will suffice, and are highly recommended. I would tend to avoid the less expensive paddles, except as a spare.

Above all, remember that you want to buy a paddle, not a material. Buy the paddle for you, and the specific use(s) you have in mind. Do not buy just a material -- even if it is new, and "cool", and in, and all that stuff. It could be the wrong material for the use for which you have in mind and not last you long enough to enjoy it properly, even if it does look "cool".