Another newbie wants a kayak. 😊

I find it astonishing that on a paddling forum, anyone would advance the notion that the paddle is a more important element than the kayak itself. In fact, that they would go even further and suggest that buying a cheap kayak and a high-end paddle is a reasonable tradeoff. That, my friends, is sheer nonsense. I can paddle a good sea kayak with a cheap paddle and make the boat dance any day of the week. That’s simply not going to happen with a poorly designed kayak and a $1000 paddle. End of story.

(Not singling you out ImI999, this was for the group.)

What a beautiful boat!

While I’m not ready for an investment beyond the typical plastic yak, maybe one day.

I did pick up the used Perception Carolina and got it out in the water the other day. It is leagues better than the wider pure rec boat I’d been using. I love it!

I have a “bit” of other interesting news too. My partner, who I’d been borrowing a kayak from, decided to look for something better for herself too. That led her to many dead ends also since our market is flooded with mostly fishing boats and rec boats. She ended up finding a great deal on two touring kayaks. So we now have two Neckys. A Zoar 16 and a Looshka IV.

We only had a few minutes to put them into a small lake before I had to head off to work (I travel to another state 2 days a week), but I gave the Zoar 16 a test run and it seems really spiffy!

I’m not sure if 16 and 17 foot boats can be all purpose, but we have no designs on white water runs. So, I went from no kayak to a 12 footer and a 16 footer! :smile:

Another beautiful boat! Thank you for the recommendation. That Priceline is something I’d be able to afford. I’ll keep an eye or for those boats if we ever decide to upgrade the touring Neckys my partner just got.

I think I’ve finally gotten a decent kayak to learn on and another one to grow into, to boot!

The owner of the neckys threw in two Carbon fiber Werner paddles! I had planned to upgrade my “Walmart special” one day, but it was going to be a while. Even in our short test run on the boats, the Werner paddles felt much better and will certainly be nicer for all day outings.
For me though, the boat(s) have made the most difference. I had been using something totally unsuitable for my size all summer. The “new” boats we have are so much more enjoyable!

No worries. I probably overstated the case. In my situation, my butt was already in a very nice vintage CD Solstice which fits me like a glove, and the paddle upgrade was icing on the cake. I also have a couple of poly SOT kayaks in the fleet (came with the house) and if I found myself floating in one, I would not bother to take the Werner as part of the experience.

So yes, you’re right…it does need to be a balance, and in retrospect, one’s hips and knees (and butt) are just as much part of the kinesthetic experience as one’s holding of the paddle…

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Wow, Ceci, you scored! Congrats. You’ll have fun in those Necky boats with your Werner paddles. And if you ever get to the point where you want a different boat, you’ll be in the best position to score it - you already have great boats you can paddle, and can take your time learning.

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Thanks @PaddleDog52. I wasn’t aware that all of the Solstice models had an HV option. Learn something new every day!

End of Story??? Do you mean …no discussion, no rebuttal?
This is a paddling forum , where we discuss all things about paddling.

PS where do you find these $1000 paddles?
{or do you mean paddles that we like so well, and wouldn’t sell for a mere $1000 as in a favorite non replaceable /one of a kind Greenland Paddle}
{asking for a friend}

Well, I did not. I meant every word I wrote.

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Have you ever actually used one of those discount store $29.99 paddles?

I’ll stand by my contention that for a beginning kayaker recommending that they invest in a better paddle is sound advice. When selecting a boat with little or no experience, you don’t know what you don’t know about what size or style of kayak will suit your needs or preference. The majority of us on the forums, and avid paddlers in general, gradually progressed beyond the limitations of our first boats as we became more experienced paddlers and either expanded the range of waters we wanted to explore or found fault with our initial boat’s performance and sought to improve the experience with a different design. The reason we urge beginners to seek a used boat is that there is far less financial loss in selling a used one when you have determined what you would like to upgrade to. So within a certain range of parameters that are immediately quantifiable, like the person’s size and the type of waters they say they want to paddle in to start with, we can give suggestions on what basic style of used boat to seek, with the proviso that they may find it suits them or may quickly decide that there are features of performance or fit with that boat that may suggest they need to move to a different boat. So the less spent at first, the more flexibility they have.

But there are a number of reasons why buying at least a mid range quality paddle is a far better idea than buying a cheap paddle. From a financial aspect, cheap paddles usually don’t yield a good resale – in fact most sellers just throw them in when they sell a used boat (and I politely decline them when they are offered in such sales.) I have always been able to sell a decent paddle ($120 to $200 new models) range for at least 80% of the original price. Just sold two last month in fact, as I have been reducing the fleet.

Also, as a beginner outfitting yourself if you invest in a decent paddle you will be able to keep it to use with subsequent boats. Though I only use it for backup or a lender, I still have the original Werner Skagit fiberglass paddle I bought with my first new kayak in 2002.

And, most importantly, having a heavy, crappy paddle can rapidly put a damper on a kayaking newcomer’s comfort and even their ability to learn effective technique. This is not a guess on my part – I have seen the transformative effect on a novice paddler of offering them a good quality light glass or carbon paddle when I see them struggling with a heavy metal shaft one with large clunky squared-off fat plastic blades. And I used to end up temporarily using the lendee’s crap paddle while they tried mine (and more than once took off with it in a surge of delight at how much easier it was to go fast with it). It always felt like I was trying to paddle in Jell-o when I had to use one of those things, which is why I carry a GP storm or Euro breakdown now (and mostly loan the latter).


My emphasis was that if one has to choose between the two, the kayak is more important than the paddle.

Willowleaf - I never said that a fine paddle, or a mid-range paddle, wasn’t better than a crappy one. And yes, of course I’ve used the crappy ones. I have a crappy euro as a spare on my aft deck. But that wasn’t my point. I was responding to comments like these:

‘If you want a good experience, a good paddle is much more important than a good kayak.’

'I would rather paddle a crappy kayak with a high end paddle than a high end kayak with a crappy paddle."

So the issue that I’m addressing is the notion that the paddle is more important than the kayak.

Suppose we take as an example someone paddling a 12 foot rec boat with a high-end carbon fiber paddle vs paddling a decent sea kayak with a Walmart-type paddle. I say it’s absolutely no contest. That’s what I meant by my use of the term “end of story”.

And while I’m on the subject of return on investment, I might as well throw in that I think teaching a beginner a good forward stroke is one of the most important “gifts of knowledge” that an instructor can impart. In my experience, given a 3 mile trip, a beginner with even a halfway decent forward stroke will have a far better experience than one who is “arm paddling” - regardless of the type of paddle they’re using. In other words, a better paddle will not compensate for a crappy stroke. Nor will it compensate for a crappy kayak. Note my earlier comment: “I can’t begin to count the number of paddlers I’ve encountered over the past decade with “top of the line” carbon fiber paddles who couldn’t do a decent forward stroke to save their lives”.

I agree you need to balance both items in cost. Not one part so far superior in the equation.

I have 5 CF Werner paddles some new 450 + - At least one I got used for 150 slightly used but great deal.

When you have something to paddle that’s not to bad then you can look for used equipment at a deal. What you look for you need to be vigilant about doing near daily. Good deals go fast.

several things to clarify. The 90 degree feather was about clearing the gates in slalom so you didn’t lose points, not really about wind,

the second statement about feather angle not being argued until adjustable ferrules came into use is also not quite correct. As things went from 90 degrees, the next major jump was to 60 degrees and then some manufacturers went to 45 degrees. This was all done prior to the use of adjustable ferrules.
I also disagree that you would lose your roll…since I know for a fact I can roll with any angle and also with euro, Greenland or wing . I believe the roll is more based on the actual roll expertise and not the feather or style of paddle.
I am in the camp of the value of a quality paddle. Not talking about buying a junk kayak…but the paddle is the one thing you can easily travel when taking a kayak is not an option {think Airplane} It will allow the user to take a familiar paddle and use whatever kayak they can rent with a more pleasure. it also will allow the paddler to use the same quality paddle to assess kayaks before buying , so they are only changing one part of the equation when testing any kayak. {this is my 2 cents}

{I wasn’t going to reply, but there were too many things that were being stated as facts…and they were, in my opinion, and base of experience, off a bit}


I had missed the rolling argument re feather. Even when I get around to recovering my offside roll this coming season - it went missing and I am resolved to fix that - it is unlikely I would be able to hit good success rates with something like a 45 degree feather. But that has nothing to do with the feather per se, it is because I will be working on it using the same zero degree or very minor feather that I actually paddle with. You can’t roll with a tool that you have not practiced with.

I also saw the change in feather angle as my husband and I started paddling, by then the fixed feather paddles had gone more to 45 or at most 60 degrees. The ones with multiple fixed positions we saw that were new virtually never went to 90 degrees.

In sum I agree with both of your points from my own experience, starting in the 90’s.

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The correct feather angle is whatever you are comfortable with. I’m not really convinced by the windage argument as the wind is variable in speed and direction, but that is beside the point.

The point is that how you hold your paddle should be burned into muscle memory. You can roll with any paddle angle, but you must know without having to think about the correct angle when you capsize or have to brace unexpectedly. This will not be the case if you are constantly changing the angle to suit different conditions.

I am most comfortable with a 0° feather. This setting also gives you the advantage of being comfortable with almost any paddle.

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As I said earlier, my understanding is that the 90 degree feather was pioneered in Olympic flatwater racing. Kayak sprint events began in 1936, but slalom competition wasn’t admitted until 1972. You’re probably right about the ferrule. Manuractureres loved that innovation because they no longer had to make single-angle feathered paddles.

I think you misunderstood my point about feathing and rolling / bracing. In fact, you made the same point that I was making when you replied to Celia:

" …it is unlikely I would be able to hit good success rates with something like a 45 degree feather. But that has nothing to do with the feather per se, it is because I will be working on it using the same zero degree or very minor feather that I actually paddle with. You can’t roll with a tool that you have not practiced with".

My disagreement lies with people who advise varying the angle on the blade for different circumstances. If you’re practicing your brace with a zero feather and then switch to a 45 degree feather, that blade isn’t going to be where you expect it to be. That’s why I recommend that people pick an angle and stick with it.

Finally, I never said anything negative about a higher-end paddle. As noted earlier, my comments specifically addressed the relative importance or utility of a kayak vs a paddle.

My experience with any activity that I have done is that if the equipment you are using does not fit and is uncomfortable to use you are less unlikely to continue using it. So find something that fits you and is comfortable and you will enjoy your activity at a higher level. It takes time, trial and error to get the correct configuration and what works for me may be terrible for you.

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