Winner of the Best Buy Award, the Carlise Magic Plus is well suited to novice and intermediate touring kayakers as it is a durable and affordable paddle. It 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. Although the fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades make it weightier than some options, it is a popular paddle with budding kayak enthusiasts due to its quality construction and reasonable price.
Carlisle Magic Plus Review
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
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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 reliable backup in case of emergencies.
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 is much preferred to the aluminum shafts used in other budget paddles. 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 isn't felt towards some of the other models in the comparable price bracket.
Ease of adjustment
The snap button system employed by Carlisle and numerous other kayak manufacturers has the benefit of being simple and clear on how to use it. When new, the paddle is quite easy to adjust or dismantle. Testers observed that over time, the connection points were prone to collecting river funk and residue, resulting in a sticky joint that required two hands to dismantle. Saltwater exposure also caused signs of rust to develop in the aluminum button, making it challenging for cold hands to utilize this system. 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.
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 strokes, may want to consider a one-piece paddle, or a two-piece with a more secure locking mechanism, such as the Werner Systems Rock-solid Leverlock, Aqua-Bound Posi-Lok, or the Smart-view system utilized by Werner.
Due to the fiberglass reinforced nylon blades, the Magic Plus was one of the heaviest paddles tested. This added weight increased arm fatigue and deteriorated paddling form for testers during long journeys.
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, some brands offer models that 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.
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 some other budget options. Carlisle is known for its high-quality paddle construction. Although this is one of the cheaper models they offer, testers were confident that this paddle was designed to withstand significant use and abuse.
Few paddles scored higher in terms of durability. Those that outperformed the Magic Plus at this metric had more robust connection points that are immune to the grit buildup that was observed in the Magic Plus snap button. Overall, testers felt that this was an exceptionally durable paddle that should last for many years.
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 newly entering the sport and would meet their needs for multiple years to come. There are cheaper paddles available. 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.
The Carlisle Magic Plus is an enjoyable paddle to use and can withstand conditions beyond those which it was probably designed for. We would confidently recommend it for short day trips or moderate length journeys. The durable blades will not be worn down by repetitive use, nor are they likely to break. You may notice the weight after long journeys, but it will not let you down.
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.
The Magic Plus 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.
— Sara James