Best grip for small carbon paddle shaft?

I have an Aqua-bound Carbon Stingray with a small-diameter (1.12") shaft. Even though I have a light grip, I still develop blisters and calluses on the pad between my thumb and index finger if I go out for more than a couple of hours.

Can anyone recommend a grip or tape that will provide some cushion, hold up for at least one season and won’t slip on a small paddle shaft? I was toying with the idea of tennis or handlebar tape but I’m not sure they would hold up well to wet conditions.

If you have successfully used bike handlebar tape, let me know what brand/model/material (gel, cork, etc.) you like.

And in case you were about to ask: Yes, I could do gloves but it’s one more thing to lose or forget to bring with me.

I like the calluses on my control hand. It means I’ve been paddling. I take gloves with me for the early season blisters.

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Do you get blisters on both hands or just one? Paddling in salt or fresh water? Have you had a paddling technique “tuneup” recently? Not saying that any of these will solve the problem but worth mentioning - I paddle in saltwater and find that keeping my hands wet greatly reduces hot spots. Maybe it’s because I’m used to salt water but sometimes fresh water can be worse, it might soften your hands more.

As for technique, most blisters or abrasion in that area is caused by too tight of a grip on the paddle. Everyone can benefit from a technique tuneup now and then. Nothing like having a pair of highly trained eyes to pick out all of your flaws - and then help you correct them!

I have paddled with people who were using the Yakgrips - they do seem to help a bit but do slide around the paddle shaft which is very annoying. I’m sure it would be even worse on a small shaft.

I don’t like gloves either!

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One thing I have found is blisters between thumb and pointer finger can be caused by gripping the paddle too tightly.

A trick to cause someone to reduce the tightness of their grip is to have them open their hand on the side that is out of the water. The hand holding the paddle blade which is in the water does need to be gripping, but the other is in effect just pushing the paddle, so can be done with an open hand (releasing grip).

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I use silicone tape that you can buy under the brand name Burnwater Fusion Grip tape, I use more on the control hand side, less on the other side and it helps with grip as well as with centering the hands, I roll up the shaft end end to make a makeshift drip ring and keep my hands from getting too close to the blade :

– Andrew

My first paddle was a Carbon Stingray, my wife had one too and we both had blisters between thumb and forefinger even though my upper hand always has my fingers open during the stroke. We both used NRS boaters gloves to eliminate the problem.

About 5 or 6 years ago we bought Werner Cyprus paddles. The shafts are much smoother than the Aquabounds and we haven’t needed gloves since.

I used tennis racket tape on my old paddle. The package says Gamma Supreme G, Tacky and Absorbent, Soft and Durable for Hours of Play. I don’t see the exact stuff on Amazon today but there are dozens that look similar. Not sure tacky is the best for your left hand if you need to rotate the shaft for offset blades.

The tape helped. Eventually I ended up buying a bent shaft paddle with a bigger diameter shaft due to forearm pain.
I bought the 3-pack.

I paddle in freshwater. As for how I grip the paddle, I do the "OK’ thing with my hands but it’s resting on the pad between my index finger and thumb, so I tend to get blisters – usually on my left hand.

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I saw a link for those. Do they provide much in the way of cushion?

I may opt to add a high-angle paddle for variety at some point – that is, when Werner finally gets their carbon paddles back in stock! Did your wife get the regular size shaft or small diameter?

Feather angle?

Not a lot, but I never felt the need for cushion.

I only bought the paddle towards the end of last season so I have not settled on an angle I really like yet.

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My wife is barely 5’ tall and has small hands. I ordered her a Werner Cyprus, small diameter straight shaft, 200mm length, 2-piece paddle direct from the factory. It took a couple of weeks but it arrived safely and weighs in at 23.5 oz. She really likes it although after trying my Ben Fontenot Greenland paddle she wanted one of her own too, so she now has a beautiful 82" western red cedar paddle that she also likes. Overall I think she prefers the Cyprus though.

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Carbon Werner are in stock. Just depends who’s got stock.

Enough of a hint? :grin:

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Paddle wax and gloves

I have started a small study of six grips and will report the full results on Paddling,com after on-water paddling trials this spring. So far, I have only tested each for 35 minutes of simulated paddling and six weeks of weather exposure. At this time, my favorite is Head Presitige Pro overwrap for tennis racket grips. It is among the lightest and least expensive, has a pleasant feel and good tack, and doesn’t create a burning sensation after sustained paddling. If you try it, start the wraps a inch inward of where your thumb goes and wrap toward the blade. The worst of the six grips, in my judgement at this point, is a neoprene sleeve with high sales on Amazon, which slides both axially and fore-aft on the shaft.

Another strategy for reducing blisters in the fold between the thumb and index finger is to do your easy paddling with the thumb placed on the top of the shaft along with the other fingers, and then switch the thumb under the shaft when you need maximum power, conditions are lumpy, or the paddle blade might hit the bottom.

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