Why Use Your Own Kayak Paddle Even if You Rent Kayaks

5-minute read

Some avid kayakers are happy to rent kayaks instead of buying one themselves. If that’s you, it’s still a great idea to buy and use your own kayak paddle. Here’s why…

recreational kayakers using a bending branches kayak fishing paddle on the river

There are several reasons why you may not want to buy your own kayak, even if you love kayaking:

  • You don’t want to invest the money, or your budget doesn’t allow that kind of one-time purchase
  • You don’t have the space to store a rigid kayak
  • You don’t have the space to properly dry an inflatable kayak after each use
  • You don’t have a vehicle or rack to transport a kayak
  • You don’t want the hassle of storing or transporting your own kayak

These are all valid reasons! Especially if you live in an area with at least one outfitter or rental company within easy distance.

But we still think you’ll be happiest with your own kayak paddle instead of using the rental paddles you commonly get with rental kayaks.

Your Paddle Is Your Motor

When most people buy their first kayak, their biggest mistake is looking at a kayak paddle as an afterthought. “Oh yeah, I need a paddle. Which is the cheapest? That one looks good.”

Most people don’t think of their paddle as their motor, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s your paddle that gives you the connection to the water. It’s the paddle that gives you the momentum to move. It’s your paddle you grip in your hands throughout your kayak trip.

Some rental companies and outfitters give some thought to their paddles and offer high-quality ones. Others simply purchase the cheapest models available, buy them in bulk and don’t think any more about it.

When you bring your own paddle into every rental situation, you can be confident your “motor” is up to your expectations.

two people in a tandem kayak on a mountain river

(photo courtesy of Forged from the Wild)

It’s Always the Right Size

Another tidbit most new kayakers don’t know is that the size (length) of your kayak paddle matters. Your height and the width of the kayak both play a role in determining the correct length of the paddle that will be most comfortable for you and give you the best performance.

When you buy your own paddle, you know you have one that’s sized properly for you. Most rental places use recreational kayaks that are wide and stable. You can use our Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide to find the length that’ll be a great fit for you, and that will work with the majority of rental boats.

To be extra sure about fit across a variety of kayaks, consider a paddle with our Versa-Lok™ ferrule system. It’s length-adjustable. It gives you up to 15 cm of length extension that easily adapts to kayaks of different widths.

Go as Lightweight as You Choose

Because so many rental companies go with the most budget-friendly paddles, they’re heavy and clunky to use. They most often have aluminum shafts, which get cold on your hands if the weather turns chilly.

You’ll be amazed at the difference between one of those budget paddles compared to a lightweight kayak paddle with well-designed blades.

When you buy your own kayak paddle, you can go as light as your budget allows—which is what we always recommend. The lighter your paddle, the higher the quality of the materials. You’ll invest more upfront but experience more pleasure kayaking.

The lightest paddles on the market are made of carbon fiber. The more carbon in the paddle, the lighter it is. We offer a wide assortment of quality, feather-light paddles for different budgets. Any of them will last for years of recreational kayaking. In fact, probably the rest of your life if you take care of it.

man kayaks in a blackwater swamp

(photo courtesy of H2GO Paddle)

More Feathering Options

Kayaking into a stiff headwind can be tough! But when you use a paddle with feathering options, you can make it easier on yourself.

“Feathering” your kayak blades means you adjust the angle of the blades using the ferrule system—the mechanism that joins the two halves of the paddle together. Most budget kayak paddles have a snap-button ferrule that allows you to “feather” the angle to 60º.

The paddles we make with our Posi-LokTM and Versa-LokTM ferrule systems have unlimited feathering angles so you can always have precise control over the angle of your blades. You can be sure the blade out of the water isn’t catching wind every time you lift it.

Travel Frequently? Buy a 4-Piece Kayak Paddle

Maybe you’re like us and love to kayak in different places around your state, region, country or even the world. In those cases, it’s usually much easier to rent a kayak rather than bring your own.

But you don’t have to leave your favorite paddle behind, even when you travel by plane.

All our mid-level and performance paddles are available in a 4-piece model, which makes packing a breeze. It’ll fit inside your checked bag, backpack or large carry-on. And it’ll fit easily inside your trunk for road trips.

a man kayaks with his dog

(photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Kayak)

Shoulder or Wrist Issues? Buy a Bent Shaft Paddle

If you deal with shoulder or wrist issues, we especially recommend you buy your own paddle. You can go as light as you choose and even opt for a bent shaft model for more ergonomic movement.

Our Tango and Whiskey performance kayak paddles come in a bent shaft version that’s easier on your joints and offers effortless kayaking all day long. That way you can rent anywhere and know you’ll experience less post-paddle pain.

Paddleboard? Same!

Are you a paddleboarder? The same advice goes for you!

Rental paddles are usually clunky and heavy. Don’t wear yourself out with cheap rental paddles when you can enjoy your experience much more with your own quality, lightweight SUP paddle.

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There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy all the benefits of a well-designed, lightweight kayak paddle even if you choose to rent kayaks instead of buying one. Invest in your own, and you’ll not regret it.

(We suggest you buy your own PFD or life jacket too…but that’s a conversation for another day.)

What paddling questions can our friendly Customer Service team help you with? Contact us here: 715-755-3405 or [email protected]

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