Buying first paddle.... my experience..

Okay, so the general consensus is to buy the best paddle you can right off. While this is great advice, it is not easily heeded due to the cost of paddles! But one can and should do better than a cheapie. Here is my experience…

Just bought a Necky Manitou 13 and a used Perception Acadia. Since I got the Manitou first, I also bought two cheapie Carlisle Day Tripper paddles. At first glance to a beginner, they would seem to do the trick. Then, I bought the Acadia, and the owner threw in a Werner paddle. Now the Werner was a wooden handled paddle with thick blade.

So, we went on trip #1, and I paddled a Carlisle while my GF paddled the Werner. We swapped off for a bit and swapped back. What I learned is that the cheap carlisle paddle was loose, wobbly and a real step down from the Werner. Since I originally bought TWO of the cheapies, I took them both back (REI) and got one Aquabound Stingray carbon handle paddle for $120 after coupon at REI. Its solid, stiff, and light (about 30 oz). I took it home. My GF picked up both the Werner and the Aquabound and said “I’m paddling the Aquabound”. This Werner paddle must weigh 45oz!.. I am not joking.

So, now we go on paddling trip #2. I paddle the werner for a few hours, and we swap off a couple of times. There is no comparison between the Werner and the Aquabound. I am still $$$ conscious, though, and unwilling to shell out $150 for a full priced Aquabound paddle. I have ordered a $115 Pacific Designs T-1 . (a sub-30oz paddle). It has an unconditional 30 day return and 3 year guarantee. I’ll get a chance to paddle in two weeks. If its close to the Aquabound quality, I’ll keep it.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that cheapie paddles just aren’t worth it, nor or heavy paddles. Even if you can’t spring for the $250 paddle, the extra $80 to buy a well made 30oz paddle buys you an entirely different paddling experience, regardless of the boat. Its an experience even a newbie can appreciate.

p.s. What do do with the Werner? It is a 230cm one piece wooden handle. Is there an inexpensive way to re-handle on old werner paddle in order to lighten it up? I have also thought about sawing it in half and put a T handle on each half to make it into a spare worthy of disloging kayaks from rocks… and because each of us needs a spare paddle. Thoughts.

Aquabound Paddles
IMO are great paddles for the $. While Werner paddles are nice, I can’t see paying more $$ for a heavier paddle. I have a AB Manta Ray with C-fiber shaft and the ABX (white) Blade. Paid $100 for it new (on sale). The closest Werner design is the the FG Shuna at $250.

Bought another AB paddle, the Mariner for $220. All carbon (shaft and blade) and weighs less than the Werner FG Camano at roughly the same price.

The thing lacking in the Aquabound paddles isthe 15 deg adjustments in the feather angle. AB has 0 and 60, whereas Werner has 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90 deg settings. Not many people I know need that many feather angles, so I don’t know if this really a necessity.


Wooden Werner?
I’ve never seen a Werner with a wooden shaft, and they’re not shown on the website. I suspect the previous owner might have salvaged a broken paddle by putting the Werner blades on a different shaft.

could be fiberglass…
It could be fiberglass, but it sounds an awful lot like wood when I knock on it.

Shaft color?

The shaft color is yellow.

rdhood: i hate to tell you this, honestl

– Last Updated: May-16-06 10:54 PM EST –

But I bought a Pac Design paddle from eBay new nd it is lousy, There was a short thread on here about that paddle about three months ago, and it was almost universally panned by all three of us that own one. It is cheaply built, and although I have seldom paddled it (it is my backup to the backup to the backup), others who have paddled it say it falls apart. It looks like something Jethro Bodine built in his basement. Again, the key is that the blade will--according to others--fall off. You should return it if you find similarly. Don;t get lazy and keep it like I did. See the pnet reviews which are linked in the prior thread... even the people that gave it a 10, interstingly, say it falls apart. And when you paddkle it, because the blade contour is not correct, you will hear a sucking and glub-glubbing sounds. It is so far inferor to the $150 Aqua Bound that it is shameful.

I own an AquaBound AMT Expedition, and love it and find that it is the best paddle for the $$, even if you do pay $150 for it. It is so worth the price.

Then I have some Werners, two Shuna high angles and one Camano Bent Carbon... they are the absolute best, but the price is woo woo! Worth the price difference from the Aquabound? No. Better than the Aquabound in construction, feel, stiffness, variable feathering, and warranty. Yes. I also own a couple of lower end Brending Branches, which i think is a good company; these are my loaner paddles (still much better than the Pac Design).

Sorry to burst your bubble on the Pac Design paddle but thought I'd post here before you crapped it up in the water and then you can't return it. But maybe you'll adore it, I don't know, rdhood. Your post is a fun one to read and think about. You describe your experiences well. You are right about the paddle making the difference. By the way, sell the cheap Werner on eBay.

Here's the Pac Design thread:

Here's a deal on the Aqua Bound!

Just be sure whatever paddle you buy is the correct length for you, or like the Aqua Bound eBay Seller, you'll be back getting another expensive paddle. Many Archived posts on here about paddle length. Good luck, rdhood. Keep that paddle wet (just not the Pac Design paddle).

I will give it a bid.
Hey, no problem!. I can always send the Pac paddle back. I will check the ebay auction and give it a bid. We will see what it goes for.

Don’t ever touch an ONNO or an epic

– Last Updated: Nov-11-06 2:13 PM EST –

really don't do it :-). Well ok go ahead, your girl will love them!

edit: These paddles are just so good that after you touch them you will not be satisfied with normal, ever again.

Aqua Bound Manta Ray convert
I wound up with a 230cm Aqua Bound Manta Ray with aluminum handle precisely because the store was out of the $40 Carlise cheapie paddle when I went to buy. Frankly, I was shocked at how much paddles cost, given how little there is to them.

I couldn’t see paying a lot more to get the upgraded Manta Ray that was only 3oz lighter, so settled on the aluminum shaft.

Well, a friend has the cheap Carlise, and one day we swapped for a few minutes. It took me less than 2 minutes to be grateful that I’d purchased the Manta Ray. The cheaper paddle didn’t lock up as solid, was heavier and just felt clunkier.

Since then, I got to briefly try a 220cm Werner carbon fiber premium paddle. It was nice, but for my needs, I’m of the opinion that I’m not yet advanced enough to appreciate the 3x cost differential. Whereas, I could easily appreciate the difference between the really lowend paddle and the mid-grade Aqua Bound.

How much is saved after all these cheap
paddles are purchased. Even if you return them it is a colossal pain in the butt. When I bought my first paddle I bought a higher end paddle due to the fact that it is light (I figured less wear and tear on me) and well built. The second paddle was what I would consider a “top of the heap” type. The difference between a paddle that cost $250 with discount (Swift) and a paddle that cost $405 after discount (Werner) is amazing and readily apparent. Its not just the weight but the whole design. Every outfitter I talked to warned me about buying a cheap paddle and I am glad I listened. I am almost ready to believe that the paddle is the key to paddler happiness. I don’t want to come off as a paddle snob or anything but quality matters if you are going to be on the water for any length of time or any appreciable distance from shore.

Just my newbie opinion.


Forget Carlise!
They make good oars but their paddles are the WORST I’ve ever used. If you still need a rock basher, then get a Mohawk paddle. They paddle much nicer than the carlise and they last longer. I have one where I traced out the outline of a paddle I liked onto the big Mohawk blade and cut it out with a jig saw. That made it even better!

For another back up alternative carry a Mohawk single blade canoe type paddle. Most kayakers will want a short 48 inch one. It can be slipped under the front deck bungess where it is imediately available. If you lose your paddle then you’ll not be wanting to reach around behind you and fool around with assembling your backup.

pacific Design paddle
Well I am in ND and bought the paddle on line, had it sent east so it would arrive ahead of me. My bro an experienced kayaker opened it and nearly puked. Oh boy, hope I get home in time to return.