2-Piece vs 4-Piece Kayak Paddle – Which To Choose?

2-Piece vs 4-Piece Kayak Paddle – Which To Choose?

Are you in the market for a new kayak paddle?

Whether you’re looking for a paddle for your first kayak or you are looking to replace your old paddle, there are many styles of paddles available.

While many people opt for a one-piece paddle, two-piece and four-piece paddles are available as well. These paddles are collapsible and can allow you to save space, but which one is better?

This article will break down the different types of paddles and the pros and cons of both two-piece and four-piece paddles. At the end of this article, you will have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of both paddle types, and you’ll be able to decide which one is better suited for your needs.

The short version: Two-piece paddles are lighter and more durable than four-piece paddles. However, while four-piece paddles have more points of failure, they also require less space during transport.

For more pros and cons of two-piece and four-piece paddles, continue reading!

Should You Get a One-Piece Paddle?

 

Image Source : Shutterstock

First, though, let’s talk a bit about one-piece kayak paddles and why you may or may not want them.

One-piece paddles are common, but they have their disadvantages. They’re good if you have enough storage space – perhaps a vehicle roof rack that supports a paddle or a kayak that has holders for your paddle during storage.

Image Source : Shutterstock

It’s relatively easy to paddle a kayak with a one-piece paddle, as they tend to be the most lightweight of all the kayak types.

That is mainly because they don’t require extra parts – the ferrule system – to attach the different pieces of the paddle together. One-piece paddles are also pretty durable. Since there is just one piece, you don’t have to worry about losing any parts.

You also don’t have to worry about the attachment system breaking and being unable to paddle. If that happens, whether before your trip or during it, it will definitely be an inconvenience and could ruin your entire trip.

Image Source : Shutterstock

If the paddle shaft is made of durable material, you don’t have to worry about it breaking during a kayaking trip.

If you have a small car or otherwise have limited storage space, however, paddles that can be broken into different pieces might be more convenient.

Two-Piece Kayak Paddles: Pros and Cons

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Let’s discuss the pros and cons of getting a kayak paddle that you can break into two parts.

Why Get a Two-Piece Paddle? Pros

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Two-piece paddles can be broken into two parts to make transport easier. You may be able to fit the parts in your trunk, for example, or even in a big bag.

Many people, especially those who use whitewater kayaks, tend to opt for two-piece kayak paddles, as it makes transport easier.

If you have an inflatable kayak, it makes sense to have a two-piece kayak paddle, because you probably don’t have a lot of space for transportation – which is why you opted for an inflatable kayak in the first place.

Despite what many people think, inflatable kayaks are incredibly durable and tough and are safe – especially if you choose one with multiple air chambers in case of chamber failure.

Two-piece kayak paddles are also incredibly durable. While they are not as durable as one-piece paddles, because there is the potential of breakage in the attachment area, they are definitely more durable than four-piece paddles.

The ferrule system does add some weight to the paddle, but the weight of the paddle also depends on the material the paddle itself is made of.

Some ferrule systems feature a telescope kind of system instead of a standard snap-in system. This telescoping style allows you to adjust the length of the kayak paddle.

You can adjust it based on factors such as your arm length, the person using the paddle, the height of your kayak, and more.

In addition, some ferrule systems allow you to adjust the angle of the paddle, which makes for easier paddling, as you can adjust the angle depending on the wind conditions.

This adjustability and customization is a big advantage of two-piece paddles compared to one-piece paddles, but it’s important to look into the type of ferrule system the paddle you are buying has.

Sometimes, a company will sell different paddles with different ferrule systems, so make sure to buy one that you like.

One more advantage of two-piece kayak paddles is that you can sometimes detach the two parts and turn a single paddle into two paddles. If you have a friend with you who doesn’t have a paddle, this can come in handy.

However, the resulting two paddles will be more canoe style – a single blade – rather than a double-bladed paddle like most kayak paddles.

Disadvantages of a Two-Piece Paddle

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The added weight of the ferrule system is one disadvantage of two-piece paddles. This extra weight will require more effort during paddling, which can wear you out quicker.

If you are struggling to use a two-piece paddle, these strength and conditioning exercises designed for kayakers may help.

You can do them at the gym or at home, and they will increase your endurance, strength, and mobility so that you don’t get tired out as quickly while kayaking on the water.

If the ferrule system is made out of metal parts, it could get rusty when exposed to saltwater.

If you are planning on kayaking in the ocean, I would recommend looking for a ferrule system that doesn’t have metal parts, so that the ferrule system doesn’t get corroded and damaged. Depending on the ferrule system, the paddle might also have a bit of movement in it.

In other words, there might be some space between the two pieces for the paddle shaft to move around a bit, which can be frustrating and annoying to some people while kayaking. However, some ferrule systems are incredibly tight and have no movement, just like a regular shaft that is just one piece.

Finally, a disadvantage of two-piece kayak paddles is that they have a point of failure in the middle. Most decent two-piece kayak paddles will not break down, even after months or years of consistent usage, but if you get a low-quality kayak paddle with a weak ferrule system, it could potentially break down mid-trip.

Four-Piece Paddles Pros and Cons

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A four-piece paddle can be broken down into four pieces and reassembled as needed. In addition to a breakpoint in the middle of the shaft, you can also detach the two paddles at the end from the shaft.

Why Get a Four-Piece Paddle? Pros

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The main advantage of getting a four-piece paddle is the ease of transport. Since you can break it down into four pieces, you can easily fit it into your trunk or even a large backpack or duffle bag.

In addition, a lot of people use four-piece paddles when traveling by plane. You can easily fit a four-piece paddle into your luggage, but fitting a two-piece paddle in will be a lot more difficult.

Forget about carrying a one-piece paddle on a flight – it’s possible, but you might need to request special permission from the airline and pay an extra fee for carrying sports equipment.

That depends on the airline’s policies, so you would have to contact your airline for more information.

Meanwhile, a four-piece paddle eliminates all the hassle. Just break it down and put it together once you reach your destination. Like two-piece paddles, you can turn a four-piece paddle into two separate paddles in a pinch.

Disadvantages of Four-Piece Kayak Paddles

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Four-piece kayak paddles, though, have a host of problems that you should know about before deciding to buy one.

The first is that they tend to be heavier than two-piece kayak paddles, as they have two extra ferrule systems that add weight to the paddle.

With four detachable parts, there are three ferrule systems, compared to just one with a two-piece paddle.

The extra weight can make it more difficult to paddle, especially if you are a smaller person.

More detachable parts also means more points of failure. Instead of a single point of failure, like with a one-piece kayak, you have three points of failure.

This drastically increases the chances of a breakdown while kayaking. Imagine showing up to your kayak launch spot, all excited about your trip, and you can’t attach the paddle to the shaft.

It also means you have more parts to lose. If you end up losing one of the paddle ends, you would have to replace it.

Of course, you can lose parts of a two-piece paddle as well, but it’s a lot harder to lose a bigger shaft with a paddle blade attached than just the paddle blade itself, which is easier to misplace or fall out of your bag.

There is also more work involved in putting together and taking apart a four-piece kayak paddle.

Every time you get to your kayaking spot, you will have to put together more parts, which will take more time.

This disadvantage has to be weighed against the convenience of easier transport, as it depends on your circumstances and what is more important to you.

Which Kayak Paddle Type Is Best for You?

I recommend four-piece paddles as backups, as that is what they are best for.

You can easily carry a backup paddle in your bag or just leave it in the trunk of your car, so you can easily access it if any of your other paddles get lost, stolen, or break down.

They aren’t too expensive – I will go over some options soon. Having a backup paddle is important for any avid kayaker.

If you have enough storage space in your kayak, you can even store the backup paddle in your kayak itself, so you never get stuck on the water. You can also strap it down to the back storage space if your kayak has one.

Two-piece paddles are preferable for all other situations. They will take longer to wear out, and they don’t involve as much work putting together and taking apart every time you want to go kayaking.

However, if you have an inflatable or folding kayak and very limited transport space, you might consider getting a four-piece paddle as your primary paddle so you can easily transport the paddle as well.

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SeaSense XTreme 2 Kayak Paddle, Red-Black, 96” - Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Blades, 2-Piece Construction - Great for Sport, Sea, Whitewater, Recreational & Fishing Kayaking
Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece), Silver/Black, 240cm
Carlisle Paddle Gear Day Tripper Aluminum 2-Piece Kayak Paddle (Black/Silver, 240 cm)
HIKULA Kayak Paddles 4 Pieces Aluminum Shaft and Fiberglass Reinforced PP Blade Floating 90.5 inch Lightweight 2.16 lbs Oar
Ejoyous 2 Piece Kayak Paddle, Adjustable Detachable Aluminum Alloy Paddle Lightweight Ribbed Kayak Paddle Oars for Inflatable Boats Rubber Boat Air Mattresses
Title
SeaSense XTreme 2 Kayak Paddle, Red-Black, 96” - Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Blades, 2-Piece Construction - Great for Sport, Sea, Whitewater, Recreational & Fishing Kayaking
Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece), Silver/Black, 240cm
Carlisle Paddle Gear Day Tripper Aluminum 2-Piece Kayak Paddle (Black/Silver, 240 cm)
HIKULA Kayak Paddles 4 Pieces Aluminum Shaft and Fiberglass Reinforced PP Blade Floating 90.5 inch Lightweight 2.16 lbs Oar
Ejoyous 2 Piece Kayak Paddle, Adjustable Detachable Aluminum Alloy Paddle Lightweight Ribbed Kayak Paddle Oars for Inflatable Boats Rubber Boat Air Mattresses
Star Rating
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Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
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Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Thumbnail
SeaSense XTreme 2 Kayak Paddle, Red-Black, 96” - Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Blades, 2-Piece Construction - Great for Sport, Sea, Whitewater, Recreational & Fishing Kayaking
Title
SeaSense XTreme 2 Kayak Paddle, Red-Black, 96” - Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Blades, 2-Piece Construction - Great for Sport, Sea, Whitewater, Recreational & Fishing Kayaking
Star Rating
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Details
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Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece), Silver/Black, 240cm
Title
Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece), Silver/Black, 240cm
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Amazon Prime
Details
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Carlisle Paddle Gear Day Tripper Aluminum 2-Piece Kayak Paddle (Black/Silver, 240 cm)
Title
Carlisle Paddle Gear Day Tripper Aluminum 2-Piece Kayak Paddle (Black/Silver, 240 cm)
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HIKULA Kayak Paddles 4 Pieces Aluminum Shaft and Fiberglass Reinforced PP Blade Floating 90.5 inch Lightweight 2.16 lbs Oar
Title
HIKULA Kayak Paddles 4 Pieces Aluminum Shaft and Fiberglass Reinforced PP Blade Floating 90.5 inch Lightweight 2.16 lbs Oar
Star Rating
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Amazon Prime
Details
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Ejoyous 2 Piece Kayak Paddle, Adjustable Detachable Aluminum Alloy Paddle Lightweight Ribbed Kayak Paddle Oars for Inflatable Boats Rubber Boat Air Mattresses
Title
Ejoyous 2 Piece Kayak Paddle, Adjustable Detachable Aluminum Alloy Paddle Lightweight Ribbed Kayak Paddle Oars for Inflatable Boats Rubber Boat Air Mattresses
Star Rating
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Details

Best Two-Piece Paddles

Here are the best two-piece paddles you can get on Amazon.

1. SeaSense Xtreme 2 Kayak Paddle

SeaSense XTreme 2 Kayak Paddle, Red-Black, 96” - Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon Blades, 2-Piece Construction - Great for Sport, Sea, Whitewater, Recreational & Fishing Kayaking

Check Price on Amazon
 

The SeaSense Xtreme two-piece kayak paddle is not just for sea kayaking, despite the name of the company, but for kayaking on all types of water.

It features a feathered blade that makes it easier to paddle, while there are three locking positions, so you can adjust your paddle for windy conditions.

The ergonomic foam hand grips help make for a more comfortable kayak paddling experience, and while the paddle is pretty durable and should last you quite a while, it is also pretty lightweight.

At 96 inches long, it weighs 2.27 pounds.

2. Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle

Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle with Black Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer Blades (2-Piece), Silver/Black, 240cm

Check Price on Amazon
 

The Cannon Paddles Escape E Kayak Paddle is an excellent entry-level paddle for beginner kayakers interested in a two-piece kayak paddle.

The blades are reinforced with fiberglass, while the aluminum shaft has ovalized grips to make for a more comfortable paddling experience.

This particular kayak paddle has the advantage of having three blade offset angle settings: Featherless, right-hand control, and left-hand control.

It weighs around 2.4 pounds, which is not that heavy. It is also made in the United States and is very durable and long-lasting.

3. Carlisle Day Tripper Aluminum Kayak Paddle

Carlisle Paddle Gear Day Tripper Aluminum 2-Piece Kayak Paddle (Black/Silver, 240 cm)

Check Price on Amazon
 

This particular paddle features special asymmetric blades made of polypropylene that are designed to increase performance on the water.

The shaft, meanwhile, is aluminum and has ovalized grips to help you grip it more easily. It is available in several lengths, starting from 87 inches, so you can choose the length that is most suitable for you.

Overall, it is an excellent paddle for the price.

Best Four-Piece Kayak Paddles

If you are searching for a four-piece kayak paddle, either as your primary paddle or as a backup, here are the best ones for your money.

1. HIKULA Kayak Paddles 4 Pieces

HIKULA Kayak Paddles 4 Pieces Aluminum Shaft and Fiberglass Reinforced PP Blade Floating 90.5 inch Lightweight 2.16 lbs Oar

Check Price on Amazon
 

This HIKULA kayak paddle comes with an aluminum shaft and fiberglass-reinforced PP blades. Overall, it’s pretty lightweight, despite being made of four pieces, coming in at just over two pounds.

It is 90.5 inches long and designed to fit most people who are over 5.5 feet tall. The attachment system allows you to adjust the paddles at three different angles for a better paddling experience.

The anti-slip grips will help you maintain a comfortable grip on the shaft without blistering your hands.

The diameter of the paddle shaft is 30 mm, and it is designed to float so that you don’t lose it if it falls into the water while kayaking in a lake or the ocean.

2. Ejoyous 2-Piece Kayak Paddle

Ejoyous 2 Piece Kayak Paddle, Adjustable Detachable Aluminum Alloy Paddle Lightweight Ribbed Kayak Paddle Oars for Inflatable Boats Rubber Boat Air Mattresses

Check Price on Amazon
 

Despite being labeled as a two-piece kayak paddle, this paddle from Ejoyous is actually a four-piece paddle that can be broken down into four parts. However, it is designed to be turned into two separate paddles as needed, hence the name.

The shaft is made of aluminum alloy, and it is designed to float in the water if it gets dropped in so you don’t lose it. The blade is thick, dilated, and ribbed, which exerts more pushing pressure on the water and helps you propel yourself forward.

It is not as long as I would like, though, with a length of only 49.6 inches. I would use this paddle as a backup paddle; if you are in the market for a primary paddle, choose another four-piece paddle.

3. Advanced Elements PackLite 4 Part Paddle

Advanced Elements 4-Part Packlite Paddle

Check Price on Amazon
 

While the shaft of this paddle is made of standard aluminum, the blades are made of glass-filled nylon and are asymmetrical for better paddling performance.

It’s 90.5 inches when fully assembled, it is only 25 inches when broken down, which means you can fit it into your luggage or even a large backpack.

At only 2.5 pounds, it is comparable to most two-piece kayak paddles in terms of weight, so it won’t weigh you down. The design is sleek, and it is made to support both high and low-angle paddling styles.

4. Abahub SUP/Kayak Paddle

Abahub SUP Paddles - 3 Piece Adjustable Stand up Paddle - Lightweight Oar for Paddleboard, Aluminum Alloy PU Coated Shaft 68" - 84", Black Plastic Nylon Blade

Check Price on Amazon
 

This paddle is actually interesting because you can easily convert it between a SUP and kayak paddle by replacing the blade at one end with a shaft. It comes in four pieces, and it has an anti-twisting lock system that ensures there is no movement when paddling.

I also liked how you can adjust the length based on your needs. The paddle comes in many colors as well.

Conclusion

A two-piece kayak paddle is generally easier to use and put together, although it requires more space for transport. They tend to be more lightweight, and there seems to be more options in the market to choose from.

A four-piece paddle is perfect for a backup, just in case your primary paddle breaks down or gets lost.

Now that you have a fair idea about their pros and cons, buy the one that suits your requirements.

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Peter Salisbury

Peter Salisbury

Pete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.

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