Aqua Bound’s Updated Ray Series Reviewed

4-minute read + 13-minute video

Paddle TV’s Ken Whiting has been using Aqua Bound kayak paddles for 25 years. Here he shares his thoughts on the updates we’ve made to our best-selling Sting Ray and Manta Ray paddles.

below-water view of kayak paddle blade with kayaker

(Photo courtesy of Headwaters Kayak)

Our Ray Series kayak paddles have been hugely popular worldwide since we introduced them in 2005.

The Sting Ray low-angle paddles and the Manta Ray high-angle paddles both come in three different models: fiberglass, hybrid (fiberglass blades with a carbon shaft) and carbon. Their affordability combined with their durability and performance have made them the best-selling paddles that they are.

Changes in Blade Shape, Size and Colors

While the changes in the Ray series blades have been slight, they’re noticeable.

First, we refined the blade shapes to give a smoother forward stroke with less flutter and a better ability to conduct technical paddle strokes.

Next, we upgraded the blade design so they have a stiffer feel with less flex. The new design also allows for a quieter entry and exit in the water.

The Sting Ray’s new blades are slightly wider, so they offer slightly more surface area. The Manta Ray’s are a full inch wider than Sting Ray for those high-angle strokes. Both received added wall thickness to improve stiffness while maintaining durability.

Our Carbon models will remain black (that’s our only option using carbon material). Our Hybrid models are now available in both White and Sunset Red. Our Fiberglass models are now available in Sunset Red and Electric Green.

Ken Whiting uses a Manta Ray Hybrid paddling a solo canoe

Ken tries out the new Manta Ray in a solo canoe (photo courtesy of Mat Willder)

Changes in the Shaft and Ferrule Systems

The shafts of both Sting Ray and Manta Ray will have slightly-reduced ribbing on the carbon models. We’ve added more length options, with both models available in 200 cm up to 260 cm, in 5-cm increments.

The Ray series have always been available with our snug-fitting snap-button ferrule (the most common in the industry) and our patented Posi-Lok™ ferrule system.

Our Fiberglass models will continue to be available with the snap-button, to help keep its price as affordable as we can.

The Hybrid and Carbon models will now be available with either the Posi-Lok™ ferrule or our new (in 2022) Versa-Lok ferrule system. This is the first telescoping or adjustable-length ferrule we’ve offered at Aqua Bound, and we’re very excited about it.

Versa-Lok is super snug, easy to use and gives you up to 15 cm of adjustable length. Perfect for those who will share their paddle with others or who want to use the same paddle with different boats.

Ken’s Review

After testing the updated Ray series paddles on the water, Ken didn’t notice a big difference in performance compared to the old blade styles and shapes. However, since the price remains the same as the older models, he considers the subtle changes to be a bonus.

He’s most happy with the new Versa-Lok option, even though it adds $20 to the price tag. If you’re someone who can make the best use of an adjustable-length paddle, that’s a negligible cost difference.

Which Model is Right for You?

The Fiberglass models of Sting Ray and Manta Ray are the most affordable of the Ray series. They’re ideal entry-level kayak paddles for those on a budget and those who don’t plan to be on the water for more than an hour or two at a time.

The Hybrid models are great for those who expect to be on the water all day long, or take multi-day trips. The carbon shaft reduces the weight and adds stiffness. You have the option of one of the upgraded ferrule systems as well. Its mid-range price point is affordable for most serious kayakers—in fact, the Sting Ray Hybrid is our best-selling kayak paddle.

If you can up your budget even more, you’ll love the Carbon models with their light weight and high performance. It would cost you almost twice as much to jump from the Ray’s carbon-reinforced nylon to 100% carbon blades. So these are high-value paddles for the money.

Ken Whiting uses Manta Ray Carbon in a whitewater kayak

Ken with Manta Ray Carbon on some whitewater (photo courtesy of Mat Willder)

“The joy of the Ray series is there’s pretty much a paddle for any type of paddler, unless you really want an ultra-performance paddle and are willing to spend the bucks on it,” concludes Ken.

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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