Canoes are so quiet because they aren’t propelled by a motor. Rather, you use paddles to push yourself through the water. While it may seem like just an accessory, a paddle is essential gear and equipment for guiding your canoe. Whether you want to cruise shallow waters or head out into the deep depths, your paddle can get you there.

Canoe paddles are designed to be durable, lightweight, and efficient. They are meant to make steering your canoe easier and are a reliable way to paddle yourself around the water. But determine which is the best canoe paddle can be hard because there are a lot of different styles and options to choose from.

To make finding the best canoe paddle easier, we made a guide that highlights some of the important features that you should consider. We breakdown exactly what makes a quality paddle and offers a list of the ten best paddles for you to choose from, so you can get back out to adventuring in your canoe.

How To Choose A Canoe Paddle – Buying Guide


It doesn’t matter if you’re on a lake or river; any time you use your canoe in the water you will need a paddle. Paddles are the vital accessory for any canoe because it is the power for your canoe to move forward and your arms are the motors in fact, canoe paddles are the best way to maneuver your canoe if you want to stay silent and enjoy the sounds of nature.

But finding a quality design can be hard, you have to consider a variety of different features and all of these combined can determine whether you are satisfied with your paddle, and affect how easy it is for you to turn and push your canoe forward.

Our buying guide is designed to outline these features and help you decide what makes a quality paddle. With our tips, the buying process will be easy, so you can find a paddle design that you love.


Sometimes canoe paddles are made entirely out of one material and sometimes they are a mixture with the shaft, handle, and blade each made of a durable material. You will have to decide what material or materials that you want your paddle to be made of because it doesn’t have to always match the canoe materials that your vessel is made out of.

Different materials will each have their own level of durability, weight, and price that may affect your decision. The most common materials used are wood, plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.

Wood: this is one of the most attractive materials for a paddle, but it is also the heaviest. Most wood paddle designs, whether it is hard of soft, will be covered in a varnish or laminate to give it long-lasting durability. This also makes for a heavy paddle. If you are planning to go long distances, your arms may quickly tire, so consider your trip plans before investing in this material.

Plastic: this is a durable material that is lightweight and one of the most popular choices. Plus, it is affordable. Most plastic canoe paddles are great for beginners who are learning how to maneuver their canoe.

Aluminum: another favorable material that is lightweight like plastic, is aluminum. While it is rare to find an entirely aluminum paddle, the shaft may be made of the durable metal and the blade or handle made of plastic. The combination of plastic and aluminum makes for a sturdy paddle that is affordable too.

Fiberglass: fiberglass is a very durable material that is often used to reinforce other, already strong, materials. You will usually see fiberglass in the handle or blade of a canoe paddle, and rarely would an entire design be made from this material.

Carbon fiber: a carbon paddle is the most lightweight and would be great as a racing paddle. It is extremely durable too, but also the most expensive out of all the canoe paddle materials.

Related Post: Canoe Material


The shaft of your paddle is where you will be putting most of your force into. It is a central and important part however, now all shafts are the same design. There are straight shaft paddles and bent shaft paddles, which each serve their own purpose.

If you are wanting to take on rougher water, like a few small rapids, a straight shaft paddle for rivers is best because it is easier to maneuver. A bent shaft paddle would be for flatwater cruising because it allows for maximum stroke efficiency with the unique design.


A paddle will have a fin to help it maneuver your canoe. The fin can be fanned or straight and like the shaft, which design you want will depend on which type of adventure you’re looking to go on. A straight fin is great for quiet days cruising lakes and if you want to catch speed, the longer and skinner the fin, the better. Short fat fins are the best for fast moving water where you need a greater surface area of contact to maneuver you canoe. But, if you are cruising the banks, you need a shallow fin, so your canoe doesn’t get stuck.


You should determine the length of your canoe paddle based on the length and width of your canoe. For example, a short paddle would be best for solo canoes. When seated in your canoe and with the handle on the floor of your canoe, you should be able to reach the paddle without a problem. This will ensure you don’t have a paddle that is too large for your canoe, which would make it harder to maneuver.

However, some canoe paddles are collapsible, this means that the paddle will expand and collapse to different sizes for easier transportation and storage. If you use a collapsible paddle, be certain that it extends to the proper length you need.


Every paddle needs a handle. The handle of your canoe paddle is how you will maneuver your paddle and steer your canoe in the right direction. It is the element of your paddle that will determine how well you are able to use it. But not all handles are the same because there are different grip designs.


There are two types of handles for canoe paddles; the T-grip and the palm grip. The T-grip allows for a solid grasp with your whole hand, including the fingers. You can wrap your fingers all the way around and have full control of your paddle.

A palm grip is great for comfort and control on flat water. The grip should rest naturally in the palm of your hand and give you good control. If you are going on long canoe trips, this type of grip would be best.


A lightweight paddle is the best choice because it will give you more endurance to use your canoe for longer. A wood paddle is heavy and if you’re trying to spend all day on the lake, you will likely grow tired of having to use such a heavy canoe paddle. Unless you’re training with a wood paddle from the start, it’s best to choose a lightweight material.

Plastic and aluminum both make lightweight canoe paddles that are affordable. You may find a hybrid paddle that has a plastic blade and grip, but an aluminum shaft, which would be very durable. A carbon paddle would be the lightest design out of them all. This would be great for racing canoe paddles but is expensive. If you aren’t wanting to make a huge investment, but still save on weight, choose plastic or aluminum.



Q: What is the difference between a kayak and canoe paddle?


Kayaks and canoes are not the same, though they do look similar, and their paddles are not the same. Kayak paddles will have a blade on both ends of the shaft, which means that one person uses both in an alternating fashion to move their kayak forward.

A canoe paddle has a single blade that has a handle or grip on the opposite end of the shaft. Instead of being able to alternate strokes quickly on both sides of the canoe, you must transfer the entire paddle from one side to the other. If you are recreational canoeing with a friend, this means one of you will paddle one side of the canoe and the other person the opposite side.

Kayak paddles are more efficient, but they also require a lot more skill to learn how to use because steering with the double blades is difficult. Whereas using a canoe is quick to learn and is easy and fun for even the whole family to enjoy.

Related Post: Kayak VS Canoe

Q: How to clean a canoe paddle?


All the materials we’ve reviewed for canoe paddles are sturdy enough to be washed. After all, you use your paddle constantly in the water, so a little washing shouldn’t ever cause damage to your paddle. In fact, you should keep your paddle clean and free from dirt or debris to ensure you are getting the best performance.

To clean your paddle, you can gently rinse it off with water and use a soft sponge to scrub away any stuck-on dirt. You should be careful to use detergent because a chemical may strip away any protective layer your paddle has. Especially with wood paddles, you’ll want to take extra care you don’t ruin the varnish.

If you’re worried about damaging your paddle, the best information for the care and cleaning of your design would be to check with the brand or manufacturer. There should be care instructions provided, which will tell you exactly how to care for your paddle based on the material. Keep in mind that wood and carbon canoe paddles have a higher maintenance level than plastic and aluminum.

Q: Can I get a wooden paddle if I have an aluminum canoe?


Yes. Your paddle material doesn’t have to match the material of your canoe. You can get any type of paddle you like, as long as it meets the requirements of your trip. Remember that there are different shafts, grips, fins, and lengths for different bodies of water. A paddle for rivers is not the same as for lakes.

If you choose a wooden paddle but have an aluminum canoe, just remember that wood is a heavier material. So, it may not work great for family canoes where kids want to learn how to paddle. A lightweight paddle would be best for canoeing with a toddler or young kids.

Related Post: Kayaking With A Toddler

Globo Surf Overview

Canoeing is a popular sport that has a lot of health benefits, but you can’t get anywhere without the best canoe oar. In fact, the best paddles for canoes will be the reliable partner you need to safely canoe on any body of water because they are durable, strong, and lightweight. With the best paddle for canoes, you will be ready for the action, wherever your canoe takes you.

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Do you own one of the canoe paddles that made it onto our list? Let us know how it has worked for all your canoeing adventures in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!