Any paddle recommendations?

These days I paddle solo mostly Ozark rivers–rocky, shallow, twisting. I carry a straight 56" Werner synthetic whitewater paddle but I’m considering the addition of a nice straight wooden paddle for deeper river paddling. Any recommendations based on your experience? Aesthetics is a part of my wishful thinking but I want to be practical too.

Check out Fox Worxs paddles

One paddle you might like is the Grey Owl Fleetwood. It’s pretty, it’s light, the grip is symmetric, the blade is a nice size and it works great in the water.

FoxWorx has ceased production. All they have to sell is existing inventory and that is sparse.

Some other manufacturers of high-end wood paddles have also dropped out of the picture including Mitchell.

Bending Branches makes decent paddles. They have never represented the pinnacle of wood paddles but they look decent and are quite functional. I have found that wood quality of BB paddles does vary with price point.

You might check out Sawyer paddles and Sanborn paddles.

In terms of paddle design, you obviously don’t want anything with a real long blade on shallow rivers so I would dismiss Beavertail and Ottertail paddles. I also paddle a lot of Ozark rivers. I usually take a moderately priced bent shaft paddle (a Bending Branches BB Special) as well as a synthetic straight shaft paddle. After years of use I did have to reinforce the shaft of the BB Special with a 4 ounce/square yard fiberglass wrap.

If you get a Bending Branches paddle make sure it has the Rockguard tip reinforcement.

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Making paddles is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a canoeist.
For rocky rivers I like strong materials like white ash, mahogany, and walnut. Make it a little more stout than a standard lake paddle.
A carpenter friend glues up blanks for me.
I have a paddle that I have used for 30 years. It has been found in eddies a couple of times.

Hmmm, it may come down to 1) the Bending Branches Expedition Plus (28oz, $190 from REI shipping included) 2) the Sawyer Voyageur (20 oz, $165 plus $35 freight from the Oregon manufacturer) or 3) two Sanborn paddles–the Gunflint ($160 plus
?shipping) or Gillis ($210 plus ?shipping). Weights not available on either Sanborn. This 56" straight paddle would supplement a 56" Werner synthetic straight shaft paddle while cruising deeper rivers in my solo canoe. Comments are welcome.

I have a couple of friends who also paddle shallow Ozark streams who have Sawyer Ranger X paddles which they seem to like. The Ranger X has a reinforced blade.

The teardrop shape of the Sawyer Voyageur and Ranger X make sense on shallow streams since you are less likely to dig a tip of the blade in the bottom.

I read about everything I could concerning paddles for Ozark rivers (or similar) in the forum archives last year and went in search of a Mitchell, but they had already ceased production, and I gave up midway through calling all of their old stockists to see if they had any remaining paddles in my preferred length. I went with a BB Expedition, and while a little heavy, it’s been more than adequate. I’m aiming for a Sawyer Voyager next year. I’ll have to cross my fingers that they keep making them.

I’ve not seen any comments from those with a Sanborn Gillis or Gunflint paddle. So far, my leading candidate is a Sawyer Voyager paddle.

Bending branches

Shaw and Tenny made in the Adirondacks. I still have several I’ve had forever. Their website is easy.

I have a Fleetwood and I love it. A plus, the blade edge is fully epoxied; a drawback is that it is wholly composed of light, SOFT wood. As a result, the shaft and grip are somewhat delicate.

Any reason your excluding Grey Owl? They make high quality traditional and recreational paddles. The laminates are strong and well priced (under $100) and the cherry solid paddles are lighter and very effective.