carbon paddles

Carbon paddles are light and strong. What is the downside, besides price?

I have quite a few scratches on my Werner San Juan’s but that is just a cosmetic consideration, like the few scratches and small gouges on my Kevlar boat. I can’t imagine anything that I can do that would break the paddles. Why are people so concerned about using carbon paddles around a few rocks and mangrove roots?

Add in moving water, sharp rocks

– Last Updated: May-28-04 10:14 PM EST –

coral barnacles. They can do alot of damage to a thin paddle blade. Lightness is at a sacrfice of strength. I had a carbon San Juan and it held up on rocky beaches and coral scratches, but the blade did chip a bit. The San Juan is beefier than a lot of the other carbon paddles.

light and strong
light compared to what,strong compared to what?

Werner doesn’t make extremely light paddles,they do emphasize durability,when carbon is chipped it is sharp. The drawback is cost.

It’s a bit like the Kevlar/glass boat debate. if you built a kevlar boat or carbonfiber paddle to the same weight as a glass one, it’d be bombproof. But most folks want something more tangible for the extra money, so manufactureres make the hulls/paddles lighter by using athinner layup while maintaining roughly equal strength. Carbonfiber is very strong and stiff, but it’s brittle, and a thin carbon layup that’s as strong as a thicker glass one in bending and tension can be more vulnerable to point or impact loads.

Not all created equal
"Carbon fiber paddle" tells you nothing other than what the paddle is made from. The construction varies dramatically from one manufacturer to the next. Some like Werner, Aquabound and Lendahl, make relatively rugged paddles. Others, like Onno and Epic emphasize light weight and their paddles are relatively fragile. Some of the lightest paddles cannot even be used for self rescue, which seems a bit ridiculous to me.

It strikes me that the extreme emphasis that some people place on paddle weight is somewhat misguided. While ultralight paddles do save a bit of energy, dragging yourself home with a broken paddle takes far more than you could ever save. Paddle design also plays a major roll. I get far less tired using a 30 oz. Greenland paddle than I did with a 24 0z. Euro.

Sun seems to break down carbon more than some other materials. I don’t know this for a fact but I do know that sun damaged my windsurfing masts when I left it outside. It didn’t do it to my other masts. It may be because it is black and absorbes more heat.

I have two carbon paddles and like them both for long trips. Wood is my choice for feel.

I agree with Bnystrom completely on this

Your profile shows that you kayak in the sea.

Well the ocean has surf, rocks, and waves, and they can all take a toll on your paddle.

I paddle the Pacific Ocean and although I have not broken a paddle myself (yet), the half a dozen or so guys that I usually paddle with have broken at least a half dozen paddles in the last two years alone.

As a result, I use either a Werner Kauai in FG at about 30 oz, a DH designed Toksook on a Lendahl carbon shaft (about 41 oz), or a wood GP at about 30 oz. These choices appear to be a little stronger, but anything can break–that’s why there is usually a spare paddle on my back deck.

You may be right about the heat, but
carbon fibers are as impervious to UV as is fiberglass. UV will damage the epoxy in the layup, and heat caught by the black carbon fibers will accelerate epoxy breakdown, or in extreme conditions, may even bring temperature in the layup to the point that the epoxy softens.

Repairing carbon blades is EZ
I have broken two carbon blades due to my hard use in ocean conditions. In one case I stuck blade in sand while pushing myself upright and then fractured blade. Noones fault but my own.

I will not mention brand names, but the paddles were from different companies. I was able to continue using both paddles for many trips without much concern, however I did get some leaking water into one paddle.

I recently repaired carbon cracks by grinding out damaged resin and fibers with a Dremel. I then used epoxy with structural filler and some charcoal for black color to fill all gaps and depressions. Finally covered damged areas with 6 oz glass and more epoxy. A bit of wet sanding and it is ready to go. Epoxy should be protected from UV rays with a good varnish or wax.

It is difficult for me to imagine seriously damaging either a kayak or a paddle from hitting rocks in the ocean. I paddle in one of the rockiest parts of the East coast with swift currents and yet avoiding rocks is easy.

Sometimes avoiding rocks…
…is not the intent. :wink:

dont put your kayak on top of one
Apparantly carbon fiber paddles dont compress well and are prone to crack if someone steps on the shaft or drops something on it. For that much money you would tend to be careful anyway and have a paddle bag to prevent car carrying damage, which is a prime spot for real paddle destroying.

In CF canoe paddles sometimes the bent shafts arent reinforced on the backface. Broke one at the throat on a wilderness trip.

Varies by manufacturer and also within manufacturer.

At the B&B…
I saw one laying on the ground next to a car get run over by a large empty powerboat trailer. I wasn’t pretty… GH

I had a gust of wind drop the hatch of my car about 6" onto one of my Epic carbon shafts. I thought it was all over, but that paddle is still going strong a year or so later.

That’s not much of a test. If it couldn’t survive that, it would never survive paddling.

Maybe my description wasn’t clear
The paddle shaft was lying partly in and partly outside the car. The edge of the hatchback dropped onto it. The force isn’t that large, but it’s concentrated in a very small area, which is not the kind of load the shaft is designed to take. I wouldn’t want to take the same impact on a shin or a finger.