canoe paddle

Sorry if this has been covered before, no luck with the search feature…

Which paddles should I be looking at for something that can be used in a variety of conditions, but mainly be able to stand up to shallow rocky rivers? I have been using an “outfitter” type aluminum shaft/ plastic blade for paddling the wildfire and yellowstone which feels a little clunky (or maybe its just me) and wouldn’t mind something a little lighter. The Q-tip colored paddle is one I was considering. Thanks

What do you mean?

– Last Updated: Feb-05-08 6:44 PM EST –

Q tip colored paddle?
What Q tip colored paddle?


P.S. A "rock basher" that I used for paddling whitewater for many years was a Werner Rec/aka Point. I still carry it on occasion for use as my "beater paddle". In other words, I don't care what happens to it.
I use a BB Expedition Plus on occasion, but always have a "beater" to switch to if the going gets really rough. I also carry, on occasion, a Werner Bandit in fiberglass, but because of it's initial cost it certainly does not qualify as one of my "beaters".

Have several friends who have tried out my Expedition Plus & ended up buying their own.

ANother vote for the BB Epedition +
After a season of use (not really too heavy though) the rockguard tip looks great.


once again
I really like my AB Edge(s). Curved blade not for everyone, but I love 'em. Tough as nails, feel light. WW paddle.

I used a Werner Rec paddle for seven years and thought it was more than adequate, until the shaft wore out. I suspect the fiberglass shaft was weakened by UV as the trips accumulated and the paint wore off. The blade withstood lots of abuse on the rocks before the shaft broke in mid-stroke.

I replaced the Werner with the BB Expedition Plus and I really enjoyed that paddle until I snapped the shaft. I owned it about ten months. A paddle snake bit the blade (caught the blade between two rocks) and the shaft snapped just above the blade. It was near instantaneous and required less force than I thought it should have taken. There is some sort of tough, black composite material on the edge of the blade that wraps up beyond the throat of the paddle. Some wood is removed and replaced with the black stuff, so there is less than a full-shaft thickness of wood at the throat. That may be a weak point in these paddles, because that’s where it snapped. But the paddle had a nice feel to it and the edge guard material was holding up well. Obviously, I abused the paddle in a manner it was not made to withstand.

I replaced the Expedition Plus with an Aquabound paddle that has a CF shaft and plastic blade. The blade is tough and is not completely rigid. It has a curved blade, and I am not sure I like that. I’m used to flat blades and didn’t have to think about where the power face was when I executed a stroke. I usually figure I should paddle something about 100 hours before I decide if I like it. Others may be faster studies, but I just don’t notice some nuances until I’ve used a boat or blade for a length of time and in varied situations. I haven’t paddled it that long, so the my opinion is still developing, but I don’t think this one will break the way the BB paddle did.

When I was gathering recommendations a number of paddlers I respect endorsed the Mitchell composite paddles. I have borrowed Mitchell’s and they are nice.

Hope this little review by way of experience helps.



– Last Updated: Feb-08-08 12:37 AM EST –

Thanks for all the great replies, that will definitely help.

The Q-tip, as it was introduced to me, I believe was made by lightning paddles. This was a few years ago. It had a blue shaft and a white blade, but other colors available too.

I just tried to find the website tonight from my list of favorites, and the site apppears re-directed to a different website, not too much in english, looks like a new line of paddles too.

Think I want to get a flat blade for now, but will try to check out a few of those mentioned. May have tried the werner rec once or twice, the BB looks nice too. Anyone live in the chicago area? :)

Funny you got the carslile pegged Eric, a couple times used a rental outfit for a shuttle and had to keep a close eye on my paddle, slightly different but pretty close.

Saving the paddles.
I use a pair of bent shaft Mitchell paddles that I like.

To help save them on rocky rivers I made two 8 ft poles out of closet rods (using a copper end cap from the plumbing supply section) that I use to push off if we get stuck on rocks.

I think most of the damage to paddles comes when we use them to propel the canoe by pushing in real shallow, rocky water.

canoe paddle

I recommend Bending Branches for value. The Sun Shadow is a great paddle that works well in the water (no flutter, smooth) yet it’s pretty light and has great balance - and - is indestructible.

Even the cheaper Bending Branches can be great paddles and most have the big/thick wraparound epoxy edge that will take endless abuse.

In my experience you have to avoid Grey Owl Freestyles because they break (chip or crack)easily when you bang on rocks, and if your budget is flexible you’d be surprised at how much abuse a straight Zav will take.

If you’re coming off of an aluminum and plastic heavy/sturdy paddle, I think you’ll love a decent Bending Branches paddle.

Dogpaddle Canoe Works
is now making a river/touring paddle. It is a beautiful custom wood paddle with the blade heavily reinforced. I believe Marc is edging the blades with Dynel. As I recall they’re going for about $250. Not bad for a custom stick.

My home made paddles are both
going on three years of abuse on the Ozark streams I frequent. Light, pretty(I think) and efficient. But… When the river is low, I take my Aqua Bound Edge w/ fg shaft. It’s a hell for stout, bang it through the rocks paddle. And oh yea, thanks thebob!

You’re welcome…
You’re welcome duggae.

I’m waiting till your paddle making skills are perfected…then I’m gonna “ask for a favor”.