It is important to choose a sea kayak paddle that is the right size for you, which means making a decision not only about the length of the paddle shaft, but also about the size of the paddle faces. It helps to have a budget in mind when searching for the best sea kayak paddle for you, as they can vary significantly in price according to the materials used to construct the paddle as well as the added features of the paddle. Wood, plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber are the most common materials used for paddle construction.
Wood is an attractive and durable material for a sea kayak paddle, but wood paddles tend to be heavier and will require more overall maintenance than other materials. Choose this paddle for a more traditional feel and performance level, and keep in mind you will need to take good care of the wood sea kayak paddle. If you are looking for something lightweight and affordable, plastic is a good choice. These tend to be the least expensive types of paddles, though they are not always the strongest choice. Plastic can break and it may bend excessively, which is good for your joints but not so great for overall performance.
Fiberglass and carbon fiber sea kayak paddle models tend to flex far less than other materials. This will allow you to propel the boat forward more quickly, though the lack of flex in the shaft may lead to joint soreness. These paddles also tend to be the most expensive options, so be prepared to pay more. It is not uncommon to find carbon fiber and fiberglass paddles with bent shafts; these wavy shafts are designed to ease the strain on joints such as the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, though some kayakers debate the effectiveness of these expensive paddles.
The paddle blades can vary in size. Wider blades are useful for long kayak trips, and when combined with a shorter shaft, the wide blades are also good for more aggressive kayakers. Beginners and smaller people should choose a sea kayak paddle with a shorter shaft and shorter blades, since these tend to be easier to maneuver. The blades themselves are often scooped or curved; this helps the paddle move through the water more smoothly. Look for a paddle with these types of blades to ensure the best performance and least strain on the joints of the upper body.