Back up paddle?

-- Last Updated: Jun-16-05 9:48 PM EST --

Ok, I'ld like some feedback on this issue. We've been paddling for a couple monthes now, gotten all kinds of gear, and contemplating some longer trips in the future. I have read in two books that a spare paddle secured in your rigging is a neccesary piece of safety gear. We have paddle leashes already, so we're pretty unlikely to loose our paddles out there. I also never paddle alone, and my wife and I both have tow lines. Even a cheap paddle is not a cheap purchase, is this something that is really neccesary. I can see how being out there without a paddle might be, well, like being up #@% creek without a paddle, but is this something we really need to carry for a day trip or a couple of overnights? Any thoughts?

The Longer And Further Out…
you go the more you would want a spare paddle. It’s usually a redundancy, that is until you really lose a paddle. Yes, then you would really be up the “creek…” or worse…

A good approach to a spare paddle is that if you end upgrading a paddle, keep the old one for the spare.


Broken paddle, not just lost paddles.
About 6 miles from launch on a trip on Lake Champlain last year I broke my carbon shaft paddle while using it to re-enter my kayak after a lunch break. It was a four piece and cracked along an 8" long section where the blade connects to the shaft. Possibly a lot of duct tape would have gotten me back, but I was fortunate enough to have brought a spare that day. Now, I always carry a spare on day trips, and I no longer use a paddle to brace off an object (e.g. rock, shore, dock) for support in entering the cockpit.

At a minimum I would carry three paddles for your two boats. Not only should you carry a spare, but it should be retrievable while under way (not stowed in a hatch).


Get a different type of paddle
If you use a large bladed paddle, get a small bladed euro or a Greenland paddle or vice versa. If it turns unexpectedly windy, you ewill really appreciate that small blade. Just make sure you are comfortable with all of the paddle you use.

back up paddle
Paddles can and will fail and of course it’s not when you are 30 feet from the boat launch. If you practice paddle float rescues and are a big guy you put a lot of stress on your stick. So it is very wise to have a backup on board. Some good advice is to get one that’s a little different than your main paddle so you can mix up things when your on longer runs. Changes the swing weight and grip which in turn may relive over-gripping and tendonitis. Don’t laugh as swapping paddles out on a long trip saved my poor aching wrist and elbow so I could finish the trip.

it depends . .
How far are willing to paddle with a broken paddle, or if you wife breaks her paddle? You could always call a cab if you are close enough to the mainland with a reasonable landing zone. It’s a bit more problematic when you paddle off-shore or in remote areas.

Consider the number of people in the group, multiply by 1.3 and round-off to the nearest whole number. This is the number of total paddles the group might reasonably need if things go horribly wrong.

Some people never break a paddle, other people never break more than one, a few break paddles with some regularity. The general rule about safety gear is the more resourceful / experienced you are the less you’ll need to use any of it. Remember the old backpacking creedo “The more you carry in you head, the less you’ll have to carry on your back.” My head is full of all the wrong stuff, so I carry a bit of kit in my boat.

Cheers and god luck with you choices.


The only time I take a spare is…
on extended camping trips or when I am going to be way out in the ocean.

The last thing in the world that I would use is a paddle leash.

If you are ever way out and get caught in a storm get that thing off of yourself. It is a disaster waiting to happen.



I always carry a spare paddle
I use a lendal n12 crank shaft paddle my most of my paddling and carry a two piece wooden paddle for my spare. The wood is much lighter and as mentioned by another poster, having the lighter paddle makes easy work of paddling in wind.

I beleive the rule of thumb is one spare for every four paddlers.

As I said, I carry mine whether its myself or a group


I believe it’s pretty much
been said already , but …a friend showing another a high brace w/a 250$ Werner and he goes swiming-why ? The paddle broke off the shaft , it was new , and not damaged . Another just paddling along and almost goes over , again paddle broke , nothing excessive , new blade a Cannon , lower end . So it is all up to YOU . Do you carry a spare tire in your car ? It’s pretty much the same kind of deal . Read “Deep Trouble” put out by Seakayaker mag. , food for thought .------M

Only time I don’t carry a spare
is when I’m paddling at the lake down the street from my house. You’re never too far from shore there that you can’t hand paddle in and deal with your problem.

In salt water — always.

I usually carry my homemade Greenland storm paddle, unless I’m going a long paddle or a big crossing. Then, I carry a Lightning Offshore two-piece as my spare. I’ve had to use my spare in the past, and I was glad I had it.


Im with Tsunami Chuck
I believe the back up paddle should be of a smaller or less blade surface and I believe a sturdier in durability than your #1 paddle.

A small blade will work better in windier conditions and will work better if the paddler is fatigued or injured.

or standard greenland and storm greenland.

Do as I say not as I do…


Thank you all
for your input! After reading what you’ve posted, and doing a little surfing, I’m thinking I’ll look into a Greenland Storm paddle for a spare. I thought perhaps I would look for some plans or specs and perhaps make one! I enjoy a good woodworking project. (I make furniture in my basement. Just finished a dining room set, still have to sand and finish 10 chairs. hmmmm, mabe I should just look into buying one.)

Thanks again,


paddle plans



– Last Updated: Jun-17-05 1:51 PM EST –

Do you think cherry and oak would be ok? I have enough of that laying around to laminate something together. It would be pretty, don't know if that would be practical.

Hardwoods make for a very heavy Greenland paddle. Most people use softwoods such as cedar, spruce, fir or pine. For my backup paddle (a short Greenland “storm” paddle), that I want to be fairly robust, I use douglass fir. For my regular paddle I use western red cedar (WRC). I use only quartersawn lumber for my paddles. It is stiffer, stronger (in the direction of paddling stress) and much less prone to warp.

Greg Stamer

Sounds reasonable,
The cedar sounds like a nice choice, haven’t seen a lot of quarter sawn cedar, but I’m sure I can find some of if I look. I have a couple of nice pieces of american beech, but it sounds like that might be too heavy as well.

I had a sneaking suspicion that this new hobby might lead to carpentry.

Me Too

– Last Updated: Jun-18-05 5:45 AM EST –

I do what tsunamichuck does. I have different gears on my bike for different conditions. Therefore I have an upwind paddle and a downwind paddle.