Do Kayak Paddles Float? The Scoop on Your Navigation Companion’s Buoyancy

attwood 11768-2 Asymmetrical Heavy-Duty Kayak Paddle…

  • Thick aluminum and rugged…
  • Two-piece breakdown design is…
  • Drip rings for added comfort;…
  • Asymmetrical spoon-blades…
  • Attwood products are both…

How well do kayak paddles float with these materials? Generally, all right, but there’s more risk of sinking than there is with high-end paddles. Plus, fatigue can build pretty quickly with aluminum paddles.

While wooden paddles aren’t very common these days, they still exist. These solid wood designs are heavier than modern paddles. And sometimes, they sink.

You may be wondering, do kayak paddles float a whole lot better with a different design? The answer is yes.

Modern composite paddles consist of specially selected materials that provide both easier paddling and better buoyancy. Common examples are fiberglass and carbon fiber shafts with sturdy plastic blades.

While fiberglass paddles aren’t too much lighter than aluminum ones, carbon fiber kayak paddles are significantly lighter. However, the price rises with these materials. High-end carbon fiber paddles cost more than fiberglass ones, which in turn cost more than aluminum paddles.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Different brands and models have different structures of these fibrous materials. Also, some gain additional buoyancy from flotation foam built into the paddle.

So, these paddles float better. What’s more, that additional buoyancy helps push the blades out of the water, which means it takes less force to swing the paddle into the next stroke.


Another element that affects the answer to “do kayak paddles float?” is the shape. And we’re not talking about the shape of the shaft. While it affects the ergonomics and some are better for fishers and fishing kayaks, and others are better for racers, it doesn’t play a role in making the paddle float.

However, the size and shape of the blades do. Certainly, more surface area means better buoyancy.

Basic paddles sometimes have symmetrical blades, much like canoe paddles. While this design may float better, it isn’t optimal for kayaking performance.

Asymmetrical blades with tops that reach further than the bottoms will cut through the water surface better and give you a more even push that makes better use of the whole blade. Since you sink the blade at an angle, you’d get an uneven distribution of resistance with a symmetrical blade.

As a result of slimming and skewing the blades to make everything lighter for maximum performance, some of the high-end paddles lose a bit of buoyancy. They may eventually sink in some cases. But generally, you’ll have plenty of time to retrieve the paddle before that happens.


A paddle can have a matched or feathered configuration. A matched paddle has both blades aligned the same way, making the paddle symmetrical. Feathered paddles have the blades rotated differently, which improves the stroke.

The blade will cut out of the water and through the air with more ease, while you also maximize the distribution of resistance in the water for an efficient stroke.

Most paddles let you rotate the blades to match or feather them. However, there are also fixed paddles.

Adjustable paddles often offer a few fixed angles to choose from. However, some let you rotate the blades seamlessly as you please. Do kayak paddles float better with one configuration than the other? Well, yes.

Once again, the surface area makes a difference. The more you feather your blades, the easier the paddles sink.If the blades are parallel, the full surface area of both blades will rest on the surface. If one is more perpendicular to the surface, it may go under a bit.

Are you still struggling with these concepts of kayak paddle design? This video will help you.

What’s the Point of a Paddle Leash?

Do kayak paddles float? Yes. But do kayak paddles float like a kayak? No.

If you drop your paddle while you’re moving, the kayak paddle stays in the water. It won’t follow you. Depending on the current and other conditions, it may even float away quickly. Even if the current is on your side, paddles don’t flow as fast as kayaks, so it’s unlikely to catch up.

Until you’re drifting away downstream without a paddle, it’s hard to realize just how tricky the situation is. It’s not like you can paddle over to fetch the paddle because that would require you to have it already. It’s quite the catch 22 situation.

If the current isn’t too bad, you can exit the kayak and swim over to your paddle and then back. But what if I told you there’s an easier way that lets you stay dry?

A paddle leash lets you secure the paddle do your kayak. If you find yourself wondering, “do kayak paddles float?” you can instead conclude that it doesn’t matter when you have your paddle on a leash.

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