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Thread: Coolest paddle, Opinions?

  1. #1
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Coolest paddle, Opinions?

    Well, having just bought a pretty nice paddle by Bending Branches, super lightweight, laminated wood, figuring it was a good choice by my experience, always wanted one of those "Designer" ones, right?

    NOW, I am wondering what all the experienced folks on the Forums think about Paddle Choices.

    Some questions, what do you prefer for blade shape, mine is kind of squared off,
    I'm reading about the efficiency for long trips of an Oval Shape? My Favorite Kayak paddle was Long and Skinny, very big factor in major kayaking trips, same with single blade while Canoeing?

    Do these Fancy Wood ones hold up well?
    (Actually I have already been caught slapping the water to "spook Salmon into a Subsistence Gillnet and just about blew my new paddle all apart, I epoxied it back together and coated it thickly but, having to take care of it now...... not a Salmon Plunger, I guess)

    Are you old time Ak guys using Aluminum for obvious reasons, or going designer for distance and exhaustion factor?

    What Do you folks think ??? I'll be buying another for sure, got two boys to rig up
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  2. #2
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    I like the well built aluminum paddles that use either Anodized aluminum shafts, or have a poly covering on them where you grip the throat.
    if it does not have either of those ,,,, I don't like Aluminum paddles with plastic blades...
    Wood is my favorite in my hands for feel and warmness... if the temps are around 45 degrees or less,, I really like wood much better than plastic grips..
    seems like my hand will easily warm the wood and it retains the heat a little better..
    Plastic grips and aluminum shafts suck the heat out of your hands pronto..
    Shaft design??? well,, the bent shafts can provide some added benifits to proper ergonomics of paddling,,,,, and here is the big but.... But,, unless you are using your body as a coiled spring in your paddling, they are not of any value..
    I see 99%; of my customers using arm strenth in there paddle strokes,, and this is not a good way to do any long distance paddling.
    most hold the paddle in less than desirable positions. the length may be wrong too,,, I try to size paddles for each person, and invite them to keep the paddle that best fits there height and arm length.
    I give them a quick lesson on strokes and how to coil your body and use it for power in the stroke instead of just using arms, but when I cast them off... I see most flaying away at less than productive angles and using their arms entirely to paddle..
    I see many that tell me they own canoes at home and have paddled for years, but still don't paddle like it...
    If you want to get the most from any paddle,, no matter the style and media its made from,, do some reading on proper paddle strokes, and really practice them..
    I see folks show up with 200 dollar bent shaft paddles from sawyer that wasted the money,, because they did not have a clue about how that paddle was supposed to be dipped in the water..
    I could have done better with a willow stick and a mashed out coffee can nailed to it for a paddle than an improper stroke..
    ,,, sorry for the rant.. ,,,, it does frustrate me though at times to see folks wear themselves out when its not really neccessary..
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Thanks Max,
    didn't seem like a Rant, but very good information, and in Detail, very much appreciated by myself anyway.

    It's been a while since I paddled other than a Kayak w/double blade. It does seem to come back to you though. Trying to teach my son and reteach myself the coiled body concept and remembering there is a LOT to Canoe paddling, doing it right and for the long term. I did find an old book on paddling and all the strokes so am reading up, that's where I started thinking of the Oval Paddle idea.

    My current paddle is not a bent shaft as I decided to stay conventional for the sake of disciplining myself to relearn what has been working for centuries. So thanks for that reply,
    Al
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  4. #4
    Member cristancanoe's Avatar
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    Paddles are very much a personal preference. For me the type of paddle I use depends upon what I am doing. For whitewater I have a fiberglass paddle with a large surface area blade. Its very durable and powerful.
    I also have a handful of aluminum/plastic "rafting paddles" for spares or friends to use.
    For flatwater I use my wooden bent shafts. I love the feel of the wood in the water! That being said, I just ordered a set of super lightweight carbon fiber paddles (can't beat 10 ounces!).
    My wooden paddles have gotten a ton of use and abuse with mostly no issues. I did break mine (stress crack along the blade where the shaft is connected) but this was after 1000 miles of hard paddling on a lightweight paddle.
    I am surprised your paddle broke just by beaver slapping it on the water, what brand was it?

    I encourage you to try out different paddles (and lengths) to see what you like. If your ever near Seward let me know, I'll let you take out my Mad River and try out some engines.

  5. #5

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    good points above. proper technique, type of paddling, and personal preference seem to be the golden combination.
    me? flat water/tripping, front seat: custom lightweight wooden bent shaft. pretty short (so am i), i guess you could call the blade a rounded square.
    flat water/ tripping: rear seat, wooden sawyer straight shaft, longer, square.
    tandem river boating i like medium length straight shaft wood w/ round blades.
    solo river, shorter straight shaft wood with round blades.
    i have never really liked aluminum/plastic. cold, leaves black crap on your hands, and no give or spring like a good dynamic wooden paddle. of course they are durable, so they are alway there as loaners or for newbies.
    cheers

  6. #6
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detail dirtysteev, That's good info, I am predominately Flatwater/Tripping and have a Bending Branches straight shaft, longer, square paddle for this. As I mentioned my all time favorite for kayaking was a Long and Skinny blade for extended paced cruising. Loved that it had just enough Water Grab that I could keep paddling for hours without any kind of rest. Literally hours of continuous action. By skinny I mean like 4" wide and maybe 16"long made by Werner. So I was wondering about finding a Canoe paddle like that or if it wouldn't work very well for the steering action of a J stroke required for one side paddle/steering. Probably wouldn't work but I may try to find a more oval shape just for kicks, for less water grabbed per stroke.

    I will look you up cristan if near Seward, I'd love to try several types and swap stories, Yeah you should have seen that Bending Branches paddle break up, it didn't break on laminating joints like I would have expected but right down the grain, in three places on one slap, but it all held together because of the end piece (rockguard tough plastic on tip) so I brought it home and clamped it together on Epoxy then put a fairly heavy coating of Epoxy on the entire blade. Didn't increase the weight noticeably and is pretty tough now. Didn't have time to send it back and thought they might wonder what I was doing.
    "I was trying to spook Salmon into a Gillnet" might not work for "Bending Branches" types, but I still like the paddle, would buy another from them, just know I can't slap it around. I had slapped it on water maybe twenty times when it came apart. Pretty good slaps tho to make sound, ykno

    I really like the feel of wood also.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  7. #7
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    I guess Ive never given much thought to paddles. The aluminum ones dont appeal to me, though I own some for loaners as others mentioned. I mostly use the cheap laminate ones that are long and skinny. I guess they are about 5' tall and maybe 6" wide. I am no canoe stroke expert, but I can manage a pretty good J-Stoke with my 41" wide discovery with a paddle like this. I am usually paddling stern or solo. The cheap laminates give me the feel of wood, but I dont feel bad when I wedge it against a rock.

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