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Carlisle Magic Plus Review

This model features durable blades that deliver powerful strokes at an affordable price
Carlisle Magic Plus
Photo: Carlisle
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $100 List | $99.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable blade and shaft construction, ribbed fiberglass shaft provides textured grip
Cons:  Heavy blades, play in snap button locking mechanism system
Manufacturer:   Carslile Paddle Gear
By Sara James ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 20, 2021
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 12
  • Performance - 40% 5
  • Ease of adjustment - 20% 6
  • Locking Mechanism Security - 15% 5
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

A Top Pick for Durability, the Carlisle 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 surprisingly reasonable price tag. The fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene blades are heavier than some of the options we tested; however, they were also more durable. The Magic Plus is a popular paddle with budding kayak enthusiasts due to its quality construction and reasonable price.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Carlisle Magic Plus
Awards Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $99.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
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$104.00 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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$42.09 at Amazon
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Pros Durable blade and shaft construction, ribbed fiberglass shaft provides textured gripSecure locking mechanism, light weight carbon blend shaftExceptional value, quality blade design, fiberglass reinforced nylon bladesAffordable, durable blade constructionEasy on the wallet, functional, indexed shaft
Cons Heavy blades, play in snap button locking mechanism systemHeavier than some models available, locking system can become stiff to adjustHeavier than some models, locking mechanism prone to wobbleHeavy aluminum shaft, play in locking mechanismAluminum shaft transfers heat/cold, flexible blades, wobble in connection point
Bottom Line This model features durable blades that deliver powerful strokes at an affordable priceDon’t be fooled by the bland rental paddle look, the Skagit FG has premium quality features and is able to performThis well-designed paddle delivers outstanding value without sacrificing on performance or durabilityThis is an affordable entry-level paddle that can get you and your family out on the waterAffordable, functional and suitable for the casual kayaker who is not looking for a high-performance paddle
Rating Categories Carlisle Magic Plus Werner Skagit FG Werner Baja Bending Branches Wh... Pelican Poseidon
Performance (40%)
5.0
5.0
6.0
3.0
3.0
Ease Of Adjustment (20%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Locking Mechanism Security (15%)
5.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
Weight (15%)
4.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Carlisle Magic Plus Werner Skagit FG Werner Baja Bending Branches Wh... Pelican Poseidon
Measured Weight 1190 g 1000 g 1070 g 1050 g 1110 g
Shaft Material Fibreglass Carbon blend Fiberglass Aluminum Aluminum
Shaft Shape Round Round Round Round, Oval Round, Oval
Blade Material Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene Fiberglass reinforced nylon Fiberglass reinforced nylon Polypropylene Plastic/fiberglass
Blade Shape Asymetrical Dihedral, asymmetrical Dihedral, asymmetrical Dihedral, asymmetrical Asymetrical
Adjustment Style Push button Smart View Adjustable Push Button Push button w/ basic ferrule Push Button
Blade Offset Settings L45 0 R 45 0, 15, 30, 45, 60 L and R L45 0 R 45 L45 0 R 45 L60 0 R 60
Length Options 220, 230, 240 cm 205 to 260 cm in 5 cm increments 220 cm, 230 cm, 240 cm 220, 230, 240 cm 230 cm
Style Low-Angle Low-Angle Low-Angle Low-Angle Low-Angle

Our Analysis and Test Results

Carlisle Paddle Gear makes various 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, adventurous paddlers may consider purchasing this as a reliable back for longer trips.

Performance Comparison


The asymmetrical blades design is suitable for a range of kayakers...
The asymmetrical blades design is suitable for a range of kayakers needs.
Photo: Sara James

Performance


Testers were impressed with the performance of the Magic Plus, particularly considering the lower price tag. The slightly scooped blades delivered a smooth and powerful stroke. In addition, the reinforced polypropylene construction ensured that the paddle blade did not flutter when put under pressure, a common flaw in other paddles in this price category. Overall, testers felt that the performance of this paddle is comparable to paddles that retailed for considerably more.


The fiberglass shaft used in the Magic Plus construction is much preferred to the aluminum shafts used in some other budget paddles. Not only is it lighter and more durable, but it 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 ribbed 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.

The snap button system enables the user to adjust the feather angle...
The snap button system enables the user to adjust the feather angle of the blades.
Photo: Sara James

Ease of adjustment


The snap button system employed by Carlisle and numerous other kayak manufacturers has the benefit of being very simple and clear on how to use it. When new, the paddle is relatively easy to adjust or dismantle. However, testers observed that the connection points were prone to collecting river funk and residue over time, resulting in a sticky joint that required an extra set of 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.

Many testers noticed the slightly play in the shaft, however it was...
Many testers noticed the slightly play in the shaft, however it was not enough to impact their enjoyment on the water.
Photo: Sara James

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 play coming from the connection point of the shaft. This was noted to get worse with use over time.


Most novice kayakers will not notice that this slight wiggle in the shaft 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 that utilizes a more secure locking mechanism.

Weight


Due to the fiberglass reinforced nylon blades, the Magic Plus was one of the heaviest paddles tested. This added weight increased arm fatigue which can lead to a deterioration in paddling form during long journeys. Those who are not looking to increase their heart rate while paddling may not notice this weight, particularly if using a low-angle, slow-paced stroke.


Kayakers looking for a lighter paddle option may consider a model that uses fiberglass blades rather than the heavier reinforced nylon blades option used in the Magic Plan. Or a further step up, if you can afford the price difference, some brands offer models that use carbon in the construction of the blade and shaft, thus offering a significantly lighter and higher performing piece of equipment that all paddlers will be able to appreciate.

The author Sara James testing the Magic Plus on a windy day in Sand...
The author Sara James testing the Magic Plus on a windy day in Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe.
Photo: Eric Gillespie

Durability


The Magic Plus paddle blades were found to be very durable, withstanding abrasion despite heavy use in rigorous conditions. No wear was noted after the gravel tests or after being left to rattle around the back of a truck with other gear. This can be attributed to the fiberglass reinforced polypropylene. This is less likely to be affected by sharp impacts (i.e., rocks). The plastic is also more rigid than the basic polypropylene used in some other budget options, making it less prone to damage from repetitive flexing. Although this is one of the more inexpensive models they offer, Carlisle has a well-established history of high-quality paddle construction. Testers were confident that this paddle was designed to withstand significant use and abuse. This is a paddle we would loan to our clumsiest of friends with no concerns.


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.

If you have to buy two paddles for a tandem kayak, the economy of...
If you have to buy two paddles for a tandem kayak, the economy of this paddle will entice you.
Photo: Sara James

Value


This paddle managed to deliver a solid performance across all metrics, while still retaining a price tag well less than most. 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 more affordable paddles out there; 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 wrapped shaft gave improved grip on the paddle, particularly...
The wrapped shaft gave improved grip on the paddle, particularly useful when testers had sun screen on their hands.
Photo: Sara James

Conclusion


The eye-catching Carlisle Magic Plus is an enjoyable paddle to use and can withstand conditions beyond those for 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.

The Magic Plus is an affordable and dependable option.
The Magic Plus is an affordable and dependable option.
Photo: Sara James

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 four eye-catching color options. Although this will not directly impact your performance, it will help you stand out on the water, helpful in emergencies, or if you want to stand out in your holiday photos.

Sara James