Bending Branches Espresso vs. Special?

-- Last Updated: May-27-10 11:13 PM EST --

Of course, the two paddles I am trying to decide between are not in the review section here. Anyone ever use them both? The differences are slight- The Special has a laminated shaft and a rock guard on the bottom of the blade. The Espresso has a solid shaft with a wrap around rock guard and fiberglass on on the blade. There is no fiberglass on the Special. The special is made from basswood, maple and red alder. The Espresso is made from black willow and weighs 4oz less. Does 4oz really add up that much? Having spent time in a sea kayak I can appreciate a light paddle, but I don't know if 4oz is worth the extra cost and possible loss in durability. (I am told that the solid shaft is not as strong as the laminated, but I don't know about the blade and differences in the wood). Anyone used/owned them both?

just the Espresso
Its been my tripping paddle for a year.

I like large FreeStyle paddles but the Espresso being just a bit smaller bladed is fine.

Beware the shaft length is comparatively long. If you are used to a 58 inch paddle you might want to go down to a 56.

So far I have about 400 miles on the Espresso. I dont worry about the shaft breaking. Poorly laminated shafts would bother me more than a one piece…

My laminated bents were lower grade Bending Branches which fell apart quickly (read cheap…my fault) and my other laminated shafts are by Quimby and Dogpaddle…neither is cheap and the workmanship exquisite.

K, I have a BB Special and IMO
there’s nothing at all wrong with it for an entry-level paddle. I’d put the quality over the comparable Foxworks. Tight joints, good grain on the laminations and, as long as I keep after the varnish and avoid prying off rocks, I don’t see why it shouldn’t last as long as most other laminated choices.

4 oz is huge
I spent over hundred bucks more to get a paddle that was 4 oz lighter, and always felt it was a good investment. If you are only going out to Lilydip and not spent alot of consecutive time paddling then it might weigh out different. ( I spend little time portaging so the extra 15 lbs on my Jensen is irrelevant)


Oh I have B7B special for years and use it for a loaner to scouts . It has held up well.