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KIALOA Insanity Review

This is a high-performance paddle that is easy to pull through the water.
KIALOA Insanity
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $200 List | $198.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, strong, easy on the body to use
Cons:  The handle allows excellent grip but can become uncomfortable
Manufacturer:   Kialoa
By Megan Ferney and Shey Kiester  ⋅  Dec 6, 2018
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#4 of 10
  • Performance - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Ease of adjustment - 20% 10
  • Locking Mechanism - 20% 10
  • Aesthetics - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Insanity Adjustable Fiberglass is a fantastic lightweight paddle, constructed with a durable impact resistant fiberglass blade and shaft. While this makes it a little heavier than our lightest-weight paddle, it also means it is more affordable than the uber-light Werner Trance. We love this paddle for its performance and construction.

If you're looking for something a little more budget-friendly, the BPS Alloy scored well overall.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kialoa Insanity Adjustable Fiberglass is a fantastic paddle. Its shaft is light and comfortable to grip, and it features a durable impact resistant Fiberglass Fibrlite blade. These blades are created using recycled material.

It was the easiest of all of the paddles to pull through the water, and some testers felt less fatigued at the end of the day. This model has a one-piece shaft and does not break down for travel. The Insanity is a lightweight, high-performance paddle that allowed our testers to make quick and decisive movements while on the water.

Performance Comparison

Wildfires couldn't keep our testers off the rivers or lakes! The Insanity features high performance and lightweight design.
Wildfires couldn't keep our testers off the rivers or lakes! The Insanity features high performance and lightweight design.


We tested the Insanity with a size small blade, which is a teardrop shape that measures 83 square inches. It has a versatile 10-degree blade to shaft offset, which works for a range of SUP styles and weighs 1.56 pounds (25 ounces). It has a strong and light blade made of Fiberglass Fibrlite which improves impact resistance. This paddle was the favorite among river surfers because of the durable blade material and shape. (One tester even ended up buying the test paddle.) It's also eco-friendly and is one of the only high-performance blades that includes recycled materials in production.

The Insanity blade is high performing and durable.
The Insanity blade is high performing and durable.

The thin, light, performance design of this paddle provides a high-performance feel. The impact with the water is smooth, clean and nearly effortless. The power face of the blade features a PowerARC (dihedral) blade profile, which performs aggressively when moving water, yet requires minimal effort and promotes a smooth, easy paddle cadence.

Another paddle that packs a punch in the performance department is the Werner Trance. This model is more expensive as its construction is entirely carbon, but if you're a serious user that considers weight to be the most important feature in a paddle, we recommend looking at it. If you don't require as much performance from your paddle, it may be in your best interest to look at the Best Buy-winning BPS Alloy.

The ridges on the Insanity's handle are less comfortable than solid handles for a long paddle.
The ridges on the Insanity's handle are less comfortable than solid handles for a long paddle.

Because the Insanity's lever-lock adjustment system is completely contained within the handle, there is nothing to obstruct your hand on the shaft when paddling and switching hands. Unfortunately, the handle isn't very comfortable. Although it's made of a nice, almost soft material, the bottom half is molded ridges that start to irritate your hands after paddling for a while. We're not sure if this design is supposed to increase grip or decrease weight, but we found the solid design of the handles on the other paddles more comfortable.

The Insanity  the blue paddle second from left  is shown here with the Bending Branches Balance  the Werner Trance and Vibe (from left to right).
The Insanity, the blue paddle second from left, is shown here with the Bending Branches Balance, the Werner Trance and Vibe (from left to right).


The Insanity weighs in at 1.56 pounds (25 ounces) or about average for the paddles tested. The Werner Trance is o.3 pounds lighter, and the Bending Branches is similar in weight.

Ease of Adjustment

The updated Insanity includes a lever-lock adjustment system, which offers 16-inches of adjustment. As a result, the paddle ranges from 70 to 86-inches in length. There are clear lines marked every 2-inches on the paddle showing its total length and height measurements for the paddler, which help you determine how to adjust it for you.

The lever-lock system is incredibly easy to use and is the favorite locking system among testers. You simply lift the lever in the handle and slide the shaft to the desired length. Push down the lever and to lock it back in place. Because the locking system is located in the handle, nothing is obstructing your grip on the shaft. It's the perfect system for multiple users, or if you are planning on using your paddle for activities that require different handle lengths such as recreational use and river surfing.

The Insanity is easy to adjust and marks both paddle length and user's height.
The Insanity's Lever Lock system is easy to use.

Locking Mechanism

Kialoa refers to the lever-locking system on the Insanity as their 16" Utili-T insert. The lever-lock is the favorite among all of our testers and it includes the adjustment system and the locking system in one. Simply pull up on and then push down on a lever in the handle to lock and unlock the adjustment.

The lock is tight and doesn't budge once it's set. There are no screws or parts to adjust whatsoever. It also allows the shaft to be free of adjustment system parts, which prove annoying when paddling or when switching hands during a mission. The low-profile lever-lock system is solid and easy to adjust.

The Insanity has great graphics with Hawaiian inspired art.
The Insanity has great graphics with Hawaiian inspired art.


The updated Insanity is a beautiful paddle with a cool vibe. It features a matte cobalt blue blade with Hawaiian inspired graphics and a shiny black shaft with "KIALOA" printed in a white outline.

The blade attaches thoughtfully to the shaft, and the handle is a nice black, somewhat grippy material. The paddle's aesthetics add to its appeal and demonstrate attention to detail.


The Insanity has a one-piece shaft that doesn't break down. However, if you're interested in high-performance, we feel that the Kialoa is worth the extra hassle of hauling around a longer paddle. For users with small cars, this might not the be right choice for you although we were easily able to fit this paddle into a variety of station wagons and SUVs. We even fit all of the paddles in a 2-door hatchback with the handles of the paddles reaching into the front seat.

The Kialoa Insanity Adjustable Three Piece Travel model is a great option if you plan to pack your SUP paddle often. This is the compact version of the paddle we tested, and has the same features but breaks down into three pieces for a 38-inch length. It costs a little more. It also adds 4 ounces of weight. It works well for air travel. This 3-piece version is not appropriate for high-impact situations in heavy surf or whitewater.

Testing through wildfire haze  the Insanity was the first choice for river surfers.
Testing through wildfire haze, the Insanity was the first choice for river surfers.

Best Applications

This paddle is made for non-racers, but it does have some high-performance features. It has an extremely lightweight shaft, and its easy-to-move blade makes it simple to increase your cadence. Because it's adjustable, it's easy to share with friends or use for river running.


For $199 you get a high performance, easily adjustable, lightweight and sturdy paddle that is a pleasure to use and won't wear you out. The Insanity comes with a one year warranty.


We loved the Insanity and recommend this paddle. The blade is strong and light and cuts through water cleanly and easily. The shaft is smooth, light and comfortable. The Insanity is assembled in the USA.

Megan Ferney and Shey Kiester