My family and I have only been into kayaking for the past year, but it’s become one of our favorite go-to weekend activities. Surrounded by Northwest waterways, we have no shortage of places to drop our Pamlico 135t tandem and Pungo 120 into the water for a few hours of fun. Being relative newbies, we don’t have the most hardcore kayaking skills, let alone the most hardcore kayaking gear. But after a year of getting our proverbial feet wet, we were looking to test some more-advanced stuff. We began with a baby step: the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle.
Fiberglass kayak paddles are a step above aluminum, but that step tends to come with a price. Beginners often choose aluminum paddles because getting off the ground and into a kayak can be an expensive proposition. After ponying up for a kayak, even one from Craigslist, the prospect of shelling out up to $150 for a single kayak paddle seems financially overwhelming. Naturally, the the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle jumped right out as a great potential upgrade, as it only costs a bit more than an aluminum paddle.
Quest Force products are only available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but there are more of those stores around than there are specialty retailers, so that’s no obstacle. In the store, the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle didn’t seem much different than the Carlisle Day Tripper kayak paddle we’d been using. In the water, the differences were clear.
Fiberglass is both strong and light, though not to the same degree as a super-spendy carbon fiber paddle. Still, at first blush the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle didn’t appear much lighter than the Day Tripper. Yet using them one after the other on our Pungo 120 showed that even a few ounces make a big difference. It’s much like lighter-weight shoes feel more comfortable over a long hike. During the span of a half-mile push, I found myself wanting to rest less with the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle than I did with the Day Tripper.
I also realized that the shaft itself is, in fact, considerably lighter than aluminum. However, the plastic ends of the Quest Force are heavier than the Carlisles, which counteracted that lower shaft weight. At first this seemed like a design flaw, but those heavier paddles is where the comparative magic happens.
As you can see in the full-length photo above, the end of the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle has much more of a cup-like curve than the Day Tripper. This curve lets the Quest Force move more water, and move it faster. As a result, it gives you more “get up and go” acceleration than the Day Tripper offers. My 10-year-old son loved this. Of course, at 10 years of age he’s supposed to love speed and torque. Yet I liked it too, and so did my wife, who’s traditionally the very definition of “recreational” in “recreational kayaking.”
Like most other paddles, the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle has rubberized grip that helps insulate your hands from its cold-prone shaft. It also has adjustable drip rings near the plastic ends to help keep cold water from dripping into your palms. Those are both winning features in my book, regardless of whether they’re unique.
Unlike most fiberglass paddles, though, the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle costs anywhere from $20 to $110 less depending on the brand. In fact, it costs just $10 more than the aluminum Day Tripper. Considering its unique balance of performance and price, the Quest Force fiberglass kayak paddle is a a must-buy upgrade — at least for people in a similar “relative newbie” boat.
Quest Force Fiberglass Kayak Paddle
- Great price for a fiberglass kayak paddle
- Drip cups and hand grips help keep your hands warm
- Form factor enables fast acceleration
- Splits into two halves for easy storage and transport
- Heavy ends counteract some of the fiberglass shaft's lightweight appeal