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Carlisle Magic Plus Review

The Magic Plus has a lightweight shaft and durable blades that deliver powerful strokes at an affordable price.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $100 List | $64.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable shaft and blade construction, wrapped fiberglass shaft provides textured grip
Cons:  Heavy blades, play in snap button locking system
Manufacturer:   Carslile Paddle Gear
By Sara James ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 23, 2018
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 6
  • Performance - 40% 6
  • Ease of adjustment - 20% 6
  • Locking Mechanism Security - 15% 5
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Carlise Magic Plus doesn't stand out for one particularly unique feature. However, what does differentiate this paddle from its competitors is that it scored more than adequately across all testing metrics, while still retaining a price tag under $100. That's why it wins the Best Buy award. It is a popular paddle with budding kayak enthusiasts due to its quality performance and reasonable price. Although the fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades make it heavier than some options, it is a durable and well-constructed paddle that can deliver powerful strokes.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Carlisle Paddle Gear makes a variety of models of paddles aimed at suiting the needs of different types of kayakers. The Magic Plus is their version of a mid-level paddle, offering a durable and affordable option for beginner and intermediate kayakers. Alternatively, expert paddlers may consider this paddle as a solid backup in case of emergencies.

Performance Comparison


The Magic Plus is an enjoyable paddle for intermediate touring adventures.
The Magic Plus is an enjoyable paddle for intermediate touring adventures.

Performance


Testers were impressed with the performance of the Magic Plus, especially considering the lower price tag. The slightly scooped blades delivered a smooth and powerful stroke. Also, the reinforced polypropylene blades ensured that the paddle blade did not flutter when put under pressure. The performance of this paddle is comparable to the more expensive Werner Skagit.


The fiberglass shaft used in the Magic Plus construction was much preferred to the aluminum shafts used in other budget paddles, such as the SeaSense X-Treme II and Bending Branches. Not only is it lighter and more durable, but is also more responsive to the transfer of power, and less likely to keep your hands cold on a chilly day. Testers reported that the wrapped fiberglass shaft provided a textured grip that helped with hand control of the paddle and therefore the efficiency of each stroke. Overall, testers enjoyed using this paddle.

When the wind and waves picked up, testers were comfortable using the Magic Plus as it felt dependable and robust, enabling the kayakers to apply firm and forceful strokes. This sentiment was not felt towards the Bending Branches and SeaSense.

We tested the six paddles in a variety of conditions.
We tested the six paddles in a variety of conditions.

Ease of adjustment


The snap button system employed by Carlisle and numerous other kayak manufacturers has the benefit of being pretty simple and clear how to use. When the paddle was new, this was relatively easy to adjust while out on the water, and solo paddlers could easily dismantle the paddle on their own. However, testing observations repeatedly noted that over time these connection points were prone to collecting river funk and residue, resulting in a sticky joint that requires two pairs of hands to dismantle. In addition, after being exposed to salt water, the aluminum button showed signs of rust, making it difficult to push in, especially with cold hands.

To avoid this issue, paddlers should regularly clean the connection points of the two pieces of the paddle, especially after paddling in silty or salty water.


The Magic Plus can be set at 0 or 40-degree feather, left- or right-hand control. Testers were satisfied with these options. However, some paddlers may desire a greater multitude of options to suit different paddling styles and conditions, such as those offered by the Skagit, Camano or Aqua-Bound.

After extended use in sandy conditions  separating the two pieces of the paddle is difficult.
After extended use in sandy conditions, separating the two pieces of the paddle is difficult.

Locking Mechanism Security


The snap button system was observed to be relatively secure at first. However, after extensive use, the joint started to loosen, resulting in some wiggle room coming from the connection point of the shaft.


Most novice kayakers will not notice that this slight wiggle affects their paddling performance. However, expert kayakers, or those looking for precision and high performance in their kayaking, may want to consider a one-piece paddle, or a two-piece with a more secure locking mechanism, such as the Aqua-Bound Posi-Lok or the Smart-view system utilized by Werner.

We felt a slight give in the adjustment point of this paddle. However  in flat water conditions  this did not cause paddlers much concern.
We felt a slight give in the adjustment point of this paddle. However, in flat water conditions, this did not cause paddlers much concern.

Weight


Due to the fiberglass reinforced nylon blades, the Magic Plus was one of the heaviest paddles tested, weighing the same as the SeaSense X-Treme II.


Kayakers looking for a lighter paddle option may consider the cheaper Bending Branches Whisper, which uses a basic polypropylene blade and compromises on rigidity for a slightly lighter paddler. Alternatively, kayakers might consider the somewhat more expensive Werner Skagit, which is lighter overall due to the carbon shaft; however, it does not compromise on quality. If you can afford the price difference, the Werner Camano and Aqua-Bound Sting Ray use carbon in the construction of the blade and shaft and thus offer a significantly lighter and higher performing piece of equipment that all paddlers will be able to appreciate.

This paddle is well matched in performance for sit-on-top kayakers looking to enjoy their local waters.
This paddle is well matched in performance for sit-on-top kayakers looking to enjoy their local waters.

Durability


The Magic Plus paddle blades were found to be very durable, withstanding abrasion despite heavy use. This can be attributed to the fiberglass reinforced polypropylene which is more rigid than the basic polypropylene used in the Bending Branches. Carlisle is known for high-quality paddle construction, and although this is one of the cheaper models they offer, testers were confident that this paddle was designed to withstand significant use and abuse.


The only paddle that scored higher in terms of durability was the Aqua-Bound as its Posi-Loc connection point was immune to the grit buildup that was observed in the Carlisle snap button. Overall, testers felt that this was an exceptionally durable paddle and we would expect buyers to be able to use this paddle for many years.

The give in the Magic Plus' adjustment point is evident when the paddle is put under increased force.
The give in the Magic Plus' adjustment point is evident when the paddle is put under increased force.

Best Applications


This paddle would be well suited to novice and intermediate touring kayakers as it is durable and affordable. We would confidently recommend it for short day trips or moderate length journeys. As the paddle is quite heavy, kayakers may want to avoid using this on a long journey as it is likely to cause fatigue. Despite this fact, stronger paddlers may consider using this paddle in more challenging conditions as it can deliver an effective and powerful stroke.

The Magic Plus is well suited to those looking to enjoy their environment  rather than focusing on high-performance kayaking.
The Magic Plus is well suited to those looking to enjoy their environment, rather than focusing on high-performance kayaking.

Value


This paddle managed to deliver a solid performance across all metrics, while still retaining a price tag under $100. Testers felt that this paddle delivered the best value as it was affordable for kayakers coming into the sport new and would be able to meet their needs for many years. There are cheaper paddles available, such as the SeaSense and Bending Branches. However, as kayakers become familiar with the sport, we expect that they are likely to progress beyond the performance of these paddles and want to purchase an upgrade. Those that invest in the Magic Plus are likely to be content for many years to come.

Testing the Magic Plus in the surf off Sand Harbour  Lake Tahoe.
Testing the Magic Plus in the surf off Sand Harbour, Lake Tahoe.

Conclusion


The Carlisle Magic Plus is an enjoyable paddle to use and can withstand conditions beyond those which it was probably designed for. The durable blades will not be worn down by repetitive use, nor are they likely to break.

This paddle is an obvious choice for novice and intermediate kayakers as it is durable, affordable and able to perform. Advanced paddlers looking for a reliable backup paddle, or those looking to save some money, may also consider this paddle.

This paddle is available in two eye-catching color options. Although this will not directly impact your performance, it will help you stand out on the water. That's a factor that is important in emergencies and has the added benefit of helping you look stylish on the water.

Other Versions and Accessories


Available in the following configurations :
  • Color - Sunrise and Cloud
  • Lengths - 220cm, 230cm and 240cm.


Sara James