Kayak Paddle Holder: An Essential for Every Kayaker

Kayaking is a dance of balance, rhythm, and connection with the water. (I can be quite poetic, can’t I? 🙂 As your kayak seamlessly becomes an extension of you, there’s one tool that acts as your dance partner – the paddle. But what happens when you want a break, snap a photo, or just enjoy the nature? Here’s where the convenience of a kayak paddle holder shines. Essentially, a kayak paddle holder is a mechanism that clasps your paddle in place, ensuring it stays put when you’re hands-free. This small yet invaluable accessory provides convenience and safety. Let’s delve into the world of paddle holders and unveil their magic, shall we?

Different Types of Kayak Paddle Holders

When it comes to keeping your paddle safe and within arm’s reach, there’s more than one way to do it. Various types of paddle holders cater to different kayaking styles, kayak designs, and personal preferences. Let’s look at some of the most common types:

  • Clip-On Paddle Holders: These are the most popular type of paddle holders. As the name suggests, they come with clips that allow you to easily snap your paddle in place. They’re typically made of durable plastic or metal and are mounted onto the kayak’s side using screws or strong adhesive.
  • Deck-Mounted Holders: Mounted directly onto the kayak’s deck, these holders usually come with a slot or groove – like a hard taco shell – where you can slide your paddle in. They’re more permanent and offer a sleeker look as they blend seamlessly with the kayak’s design.
  • Bungee Cord Holders: These utilize stretchable bungee cords, which can be wrapped around the paddle shaft, keeping it snug against the kayak. They’re versatile, easy to install, and can adjust to fit various paddle sizes.
  • Suction Cup Holders: Perfect for those who’d rather not drill into their kayak, these holders use suction cups to adhere to the kayak’s surface. They’re easy to install and remove, making them ideal for temporary use or for those who switch between kayaks.

A kayaker on a green kayak with a kayak paddle connector.

Benefits of Using a Paddle Holder

The magic of kayaking lies in the tiny enhancements that elevate your experience. While a paddle holder might seem like a minor accessory, its benefits are many.

Safety First

Imagine paddling and needing both hands free to grab a drink or food etc. from your kayak or adjust your position. Without a paddle holder, you risk letting your paddle fall overboard or, even worse, it might become an obstruction. There’s no worse feeling than twisting to grab lunch from behind your seat and feeling the paddle slip off your lap and splash in the water as you’re trying to do an acrobatic trick to save it and your lunch – don’t ask for details. With a paddle holder, your paddle remains anchored to a specific spot on your kayak, ensuring it’s always where it should be. It reduces the chances of accidents and gives you peace of mind to focus on your journey rather than constantly worrying about your paddle’s whereabouts.

Convenience and Comfort

There’s something to be said about the convenience of not having to constantly hold onto or monitor your paddle. Whether you’re taking a short break to capture a scenic photo, trying to reel in a fish, or simply wanting to stretch and relax for a few minutes, a paddle holder ensures your paddle is securely being held for you. This convenience leads to greater comfort during your trips, allowing you to engage in other activities or simply soak in the surroundings without the burden of juggling your paddle.

Prolonging the Life of Your Paddle

Paddles, especially high-quality ones, are an investment. Continuously placing them on rocky or sandy surfaces can lead to scratches, dents, or other damages. Over time, these minor damages can compromise the paddle’s integrity and performance. By using a paddle holder, you can protect your paddle from such potential harm, ensuring it remains in good condition for a more extended period. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about being economical and protecting your gear.

Kayak and paddle side by side on the ocean.

Kayak Paddle Leash vs. Kayak Paddle Holder

Navigating through the maze of kayaking accessories can sometimes be overwhelming. Among them the kayak paddle leash and the paddle holder. Both are indispensable in their own right, but they cater to different needs. Let’s dive into their individual functionalities and see how they differ.

What’s a Kayak Paddle Leash?

A kayak paddle leash is essentially a tether, commonly made from coiled or straight cord materials, designed to connect your paddle to your kayak. Its chief aim is to ensure that your paddle doesn’t get separated from your vessel, especially if it’s accidentally dropped or set aside in the water. This can be particularly valuable in turbulent waters, strong winds, or any scenario where retrieving a lost paddle would be challenging.

Key Differences

Primary Function:

Paddle Leash: Its main job is to keep the paddle attached to the kayak, preventing it from floating away in case of accidental drops or when momentarily set aside.
Paddle Holder: Designed to offer a designated spot on your kayak to securely stow away your paddle when it’s not being used, be it during short breaks, photography moments, or while fishing.

Design & Material:

Paddle Leash: Typically crafted from durable cord material, either in a coiled or straight design, and equipped with clips or velcro fasteners on both ends for attachment.
Paddle Holder: A more fixed structure, it can be mounted onto the kayak’s deck or side, and is often made from materials like plastic, metal, or incorporated bungee cords.

Frequency of Use:

Paddle Leash: It remains active throughout the kayaking trip, constantly ensuring the paddle stays close to the kayak.
Paddle Holder: Employed during specific moments when the paddler wishes to be hands-free and needs a safe spot to place their paddle.

Which One Do You Need?

The decision between a paddle leash and a paddle holder depends largely on your personal kayaking habits and the nature of your usual routes.

If you’re kayaking in unpredictable waters or places where currents can quickly sweep away a dropped paddle, having a paddle leash can be a lifesaver. It does add a heaviness to the paddle so I’d only use it when I really need it. Conversely, if your kayaking sessions involve frequent stops—maybe you’re bird-watching, fishing, or snapping pictures—a paddle holder is what you want.

For many, the ideal setup involves having both. I like having a paddle holder there for when I want it. I use it on nearly every trip. I like putting my paddle in a specific place when I take a break – and it’s out of the way. The paddle leash, I don’t use every time because it can be in the way and add weight.

Step-by-step Guide to Installing a Paddle Holder

Equipping your kayak with a paddle holder can enhance your kayaking experience manifold. Most people install it themselves as it’s quite easy to do. The exact steps will depend on which paddle holder you choose but here’s a general, step-by-step guide to give you some things to consider and help you through the process:

  1. Choose the Right Location:
  • Visibility: Ensure that the spot you pick is easily visible to you while you’re seated. This makes it simpler to secure or retrieve the paddle without any unnecessary contortions.
  • Accessibility: It should be within arm’s reach and not interfere with your paddling motion. You don’t want to keep bumping it.
  • Flat Surface: Ideally, select a flat or slightly curved surface on your kayak. It ensures better adherence, whether you’re screwing the holder in or sticking it.
  • Dry Test Run: Get in your kayak with your paddle and hold the paddle where you think you’d like the paddle holder to be and test out different spots. Pretend you’re paddling – is the spot you chose going to be in the way? Take your time.
  1. Gather Necessary Tools and Materials:
  • Depending on the type of paddle holder, you might need:
  • A drill and drill bits (for screw-in types)
  • Strong waterproof adhesive (for stick-on types)
  • A marker or chalk
  • A measuring tape or ruler
  • Cleaning supplies (mild detergent and water)
  1. Prep the Surface:
  • Clean the area where you intend to install the paddle holder. Use a mild detergent and water solution to get rid of any grease, dirt, or debris. This ensures better adherence.
  • Dry the area thoroughly.
  1. Mark the Spot:
  • Using your marker or chalk, mark the spots where you’ll be placing the paddle holder. If it’s a screw-in type, mark the points where you’ll need to drill. If it’s a stick-on, I’d avoid marking it so the chalk doesn’t inhibit the adhesive.
  1. Installation:
  • For Screw-In Types:
  • Using the appropriate-sized drill bit, carefully drill holes where you’ve marked.
  • Position the paddle holder over the holes and screw it in securely. Ensure it’s firm but don’t overtighten to avoid damaging your kayak.
  • For Stick-On Types:
  • Apply the waterproof adhesive to the back of the paddle holder.
  • Press it firmly onto the spot you’ve chosen. Hold it in place for a few minutes to ensure good adherence.
  • Allow the adhesive to cure based on the manufacturer’s recommendations before using the holder.
  1. Test the Holder:
  • Once installed, test the paddle holder by placing your paddle in it. Ensure it holds the paddle securely and doesn’t wobble or come off.
  • Try retrieving and placing the paddle multiple times to make sure the process is smooth and hassle-free.
  1. Post-Installation Care:
  • After installation, regularly check the paddle holder for any signs of wear or loosening. This ensures it remains effective and safe to use.
  • If you’re not using your kayak for an extended period, consider removing the paddle from the holder to reduce constant stress on it.

Practical Tips for Maintaining Your Paddle Holder

  1. Regular Cleaning:
  • Saltwater Usage: If you often kayak in saltwater, rinse your paddle holder with fresh water after every use along with everything else. Salt can corrode metal parts and weaken plastic over time.
  • Mud & Debris: Ensure no mud, sand, or other debris is lodged in the holder, as this can hinder its functionality and cause premature wear.
  1. Check the Tightness:
  • For screw-in types of paddle holders, occasionally check to ensure the screws haven’t loosened over time. If they have, tighten them gently but avoid overtightening, which might strip the threads.
  1. Lubrication:
  • If your paddle holder has moving parts, like clips or hinges, periodically lubricate them with a silicone-based lubricant. It keeps the movement smooth and prevents any squeaking or sticking.
  1. UV Protection:
  • Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can weaken and fade plastic paddle holders. If you store your kayak outdoors, consider using a UV protectant spray on the paddle holder or covering your kayak to shield it from UV rays.
  1. Inspect for Damage:
  • Regularly inspect the paddle holder for signs of wear, tear, or damage. This includes cracks in plastic or rust on metal components. Address issues promptly to prevent them from worsening.
  1. Avoid Overloading:
  • While paddle holders are designed to hold your paddle securely, avoid using them to store items heavier than they’re designed for. It can lead to stretching, distortion, or breakage.
  1. Seasonal Care:
  • If you kayak seasonally and store your equipment for extended periods, and you choose a screw-on or suction holder, remove it and store it in a cool, dry place. It prolongs the lifespan and ensures it’s ready for use when the season returns. It’s easy enough to add it back on when you’re ready to kayak again.
  1. Replacement Parts:
  • Some wear and tear, like worn-out bungee cords or lost screws, can be easily addressed by replacing the specific part instead of the entire holder. Keep a small selection of replacement parts handy, especially if you embark on longer trips.


The world of kayaking offers a blend of thrill and tranquility, and it’s often the little details that amplify this balance. A seemingly simple accessory, the kayak paddle holder, stands as a testament to this, ensuring safety, convenience, and the protection of our paddle. As every stroke connects us deeper with nature, it’s heartening to know that tools like the paddle holder work quietly in the background, enhancing our experience. Whether a seasoned enthusiast or a newbie, embracing such additions can truly elevate your kayaking adventures. Here’s to countless journeys filled with seamless experiences and the joy of exploration. Happy paddling!


Q: Why can’t I just tuck my paddle under my kayak’s bungee cords instead of using a paddle holder?

A: While bungee cords can temporarily hold your paddle, they aren’t designed specifically for that purpose. A dedicated paddle holder provides a secure grip, ensuring your paddle won’t slip out, especially in rough waters or during swift movements. And it’s quick and easy to place in the holder and remove. I think the safety and convenience are worth the investment.

Q: Can I install multiple paddle holders on my kayak?

A: Absolutely! You can install multiple paddle holders for added convenience or when you have spare paddles. Just ensure they don’t interfere with your paddling motion or any other kayak functions.

Q: How often should I check and maintain my paddle holder?

A: It’s good practice to give your paddle holder a quick check before and after every kayaking trip. For thorough maintenance, such as cleaning or tightening screws, consider doing it at the start of every season or after every 10 trips.

Q: Are there paddle holders suitable for both single and tandem kayaks?

A: Yes, paddle holders are versatile. Whether you have a single or tandem kayak, the primary consideration is the available space and positioning. On a tandem kayak, ensure the holders are accessible to both paddlers and don’t hinder any cooperative movements.

Q: I have a unique, custom-made paddle. Will standard paddle holders work for it?

A: Most paddle holders are designed to accommodate a range of paddle sizes. However, if your paddle is custom-made and has unique dimensions, you might want to try out a few different holders or consider getting a custom-made holder to ensure a snug fit.


The author, Sophia Monroe, kayaking.

Sophia Monroe

My initial goal to inspire others to embrace the wonderful world of water sports has evolved into a commitment to share my love to the widest audience possible. In a world increasingly consumed by sedentary lifestyles and digital devices, it's vital to reconnect with nature, prioritize physical activity, mental health, and live life to its fullest. I believe that by providing information and resources, we can empower ourselves to embrace strength, vitality, and a life lived to the fullest. Let's embark on this journey together!

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