best WW canoe paddle?

I’m used to paddling with bent shaft ZRE uber lightweight paddles on flatwater. Tried them on WW and didn’t like them. Want something straight shaft, longer, and more durable but still not real heavy. Will be used for tandem and solo in a 16ft penobscot. Suggestions? Anybody have a used one or two for sale?

Check out
brands by Werner and by Mitchell.

I use a Mitchel Preimium Curved, wood shaft, carbon over wood blade.

I beat the snot out of mine for five years before considering getting it refinished.

Compared to my Zav though it’s a tree trunk.

They do make one with a carbon shaft and carbon over wood blade.

The Harold Deal paddle that ZRE sells looks like it might be good.

Then again you will get the most for your money with a Mohawk.

A very servicable paddle for not much cash.

So it won’t kill ya if it floats off without ya!

Right there with ya’
Inexpensive and built tough. I use single and double Mohawks in all my canoes. I never worry if I need to push or pry against a rock and as far as extra weight goes, you get used to it.

what length would you recommend?
As I said earlier, the boat is a 16ft penobscot that will be paddled both solo and tandem. I’m 5’ 11" with long arms. The 51" bent shaft ZRE’s I use now seem too short for the bracing and drawing I’m trying to do.

I’m 5’9" with a long torso and short legs. I use a 58" straight and a 54" bent kneeling on a 9" seat/saddle.

I’ve been messing with shorter sticks when my saddle is lower but I’m not sure if I like them or not.

Body, boat, style are all variables
One formula for river tripping and whitewater paddle length (from legends Bob Foote and Tom Foster) is;

Step 1. Tuck tee grip in armpit on your onside, extend thumb along shaft. Mark end of thumb. Your shaft hand holds the shaft below this mark. (Foster uses extended middle finger to make the mark, then holds shaft hand just above the mark). For most river paddling the shaft hand should be just above the gunnel.

Step 2. Sit or kneel in your canoe and measure from gunnel to waterline, and add this length to the shaft/tee grip length obtained in Step 1.

Step 3. Measure the blade you will use, then add the length of the blade to the length of the shaft/tee grip, and you will have the average length of paddle to use.

I’m 5’10" with stocky build, and paddle from a 9-inch pedastal. The distance from my gunnel to waterline is 12 inches. Up until recently I used a 56" straight shaft paddle, and a 51" bent shaft. They always felt a little short but they fit the formula I was using at the time. After going through the Bob Foote/Tom Foster exercise I added 3-1/2 inches to my shaft length. Now I have more power and better boat control.

I use a Werner Nantahala and a Werner Bandit most of the time.

another vote for a Mohawk 58 incher
I have two flate water bent paddles. One is 50 inches and the other is 52 inches. When you are trying to make the most liles the easiest way a short bent paddle is the way to go.

But for big waves and white water I really like the mohawk 58 inch paddle.

best ww canoe paddle?
True, the Mohawk is cheap and durable. Fine as a spare or a loaner, great for an institutional fleet.

But get yourself a nicer paddle!

If it still has to be pretty cheap, the wooden Grey Owl Hammerhead/C-1 is a pretty common starter paddle for WW.


Go with the ZRE power curve and don’t look back. I got one when they first came out and love the paddle. I like the light weight at the end of the day. I’m 6’ tall with a 74" wing span and my paddle is 55" long. Most of the time I paddle a 10’ long Esquif Detonator with a 8" saddle.

best value, best overall
best value, Grey Owl by a long shot. balanced, strong, very well made, awesome t-grip.

best overall? some highly regarded canoeists (slalom racers, c1 freestyle, etc) favour the Echo paddles. they don’t come cheap however.

my 60" Echo is for sale by the by…


– Last Updated: Aug-06-06 9:45 PM EST –

( also makes some nice paddles. Can't disagree with Mitchells...along with the mentioned paddle/blade for Bell.

I use a Za vrec/
It is heavier but did well for me up in Kibler valley last year…

Sorry can’t agree on Mohawk… Ok for
a second paddle only for the reasons mentionned otherwize the blade is too “floppy” when you want it most.

another vote for “fine” paddle
In my opinion a fine canoe and a fine paddler deserve a fine paddle. The Mohawk is okay for some uses, but for someone who’s been using a bent ZRE, and is paddling a really nice canoe, I think a really nice paddle is called for. Better control, less noise, lighter, prettier, more satisfying in just about every way.

For example, I just received the Carlisle Beavertail and boy is it a nicely balanced paddle, a joy to use. It has a reinforced tip for use in river travel, but not as well suited for whitewater play. I’m just using it as an example of a paddle that feels well balanced and fun to use, versus one that feels unwieldy and unbalanced.

Comparitively, IMHO, the Mohawk is just a chunk of plastic and metal that’s pretty industrial looking, blisters hands, noisy in the water, heavy, no “give” in shaft, hot as **** in the sun, cold as ice water in the winter. It’s only redeeming factors are that it is cheap and almost indestructible. Just my opinion. Of course, if that’s all you can afford then it is exactly the paddle you want.

BTW, when ordering beavertail style paddles it’s worth noting that the blade size is almost always longer than more modern designs. This means a paddler who is accustomed to a 56" modern paddle will want to add 2" to 4" to overall length to accommodate the longer beavertail blade. Otherwise, once you bury the blade for a quiet, powerful stroke, the shaft will be too short and your shaft hand will hit the gunnel, or your hands will be too close together for a decent stroke. If you only bury part of the blade it will cavitate and be noisy and less efficient.

jes my 2 cents…