Composite Greenland Paddle

I plan to buy a new composite GL paddle. Two piece. Any comments on brand and models? I am considering a Gearlab and Northern Light brands.

I think the best is the Novorca, but I have been waiting 10 months for mine to show. I had a Northern Lights Aluetian and wasn’t happy with the feel of it or the joints. I’ve heard they have improved upon them since. Currently, I have a Gear Lab and like it though the harder shoulders on mine took a paddle to get used to. Ordered it late on Friday and had it the following Wednesday.

10 months
Wow I been waiting since November , you got me beat. BUT they charged my credit card back in January. I will wait till end of month. if not Iam canceling my order. then getting a Superior Carbon h Greenland.

So to the OP

I have owned three…One Aleutian, one greenland, one Greenland WRC, and two norsaqs…Back then…four to six-ish years ago…Ron could always be counted on to be about three weeks later than his quoted delivery time…they are really excellent…a tad heavier and tougher than Superior, but TEN MONTHS !!! seriously ??? and your card has been charged…Superior Kayaks will do you FAR BETTER than that.

Just had one of the wide loom models (WL) land on my door step the other day. Only five days from ordering to delivery. Haven’t taken it out yet but, boy, am I impressed with this thing. Twenty-seven ounces and absolutely flawless. The smoothest, tightest joint I’ve ever seen and I own some nice paddles.

Northern Light
I have been using Northern Light sectional carbon paddles (3 piece) for years and I have been very satisfied with them.

There is no other paddle that would stand up to the abuse I subject my NLP in the surf and rock gardens.

Some of the joints are not as smooth as my former Werner paddles but they also don’t wear out and become wobbly as the Werners (I had 5 of them).

I did reapply the goop that was in the inserts to make a tighter fit and eliminate the minor wobble.

I have the Aleut version too but I am not a fan of that one…

My favorite is the Skinny (shoulderless) since it fatigues me the least and still offers me max hull speed. Light too:

I started this season off…
with a new Gearlab Oyashio (shoulder-less) and I’m very impressed with it. I’ve owned a Superior and have a couple Beale cedar sticks that I also like a lot.

I give high marks to the Gearlab paddles. Great construction and a super price comparatively.

NL no-shoulder
I second the vote for a Northern Light no-shoulder “skinny” GP. Very happy with it, has the same feel and balance as my custom made cedar one but is much tougher and breaks down for travel. Very enjoyable and efficient paddle.

I ordered through Lyle Hancock at Folding kayak Adventures and he tracked down the size I needed and had it shipped within 10 days.

I surrender
After waiting 10+ months for my Novorca I give up. I just emailed and called to get my money back. Hopefully I get a response so this stays civil. I see on his web site that 86" and 88" paddles are becoming available but no mention of the 90" I was promised. I will look at the skinny Northern Lights after I get my money back.

Northern Lights
I have a northern lights. Love the paddle feel and the way it performs, but get water inside the paddle somehow every time out. You can hear the water slosh around inside the paddle. I have to take it apart after every trip to drain the water. PIA. I tried to get some answers from Paul at NLP, no luck. Several emails, one response, no satisfaction. Unfortunately.

water sloshing
my understanding of NLP is that the insert is a bit shorter than the throat in the blades leaving a bit of room between the two when assembled.

You might have just a bit more room than my paddles and you might get just a bit more water in there.

One solution could be to grease up the insert (loom) and then pour/spray some expanding foam into the end of the blade’s throat to fill the void between the two. Of course caution should be used to use just a little bit of foam as it usually expands dramatically (you don’t want the foam to ooze up the shaft and seal the two parts solid) and assemble the two while the foam is “wet”. The foam will stick to the blade but not to the loom, filling up the void.

NOTE: I have not tested this but theoretically makes sense.

Oh yeah: greasing up the insert well should be imperative or you might end up with a solid NLP, no longer being able to break it down, if needed.

carbon GPs
If I had only one carbon GP it would be the Superior Kayaks model (2 piece-shouldered). I used one going around Iceland (w/ Hoffmeister) and Newfoundland (solo). These are rocky coasts and the paddles stood up just fine to the beating and are still perfectly fine and in regular use seven years later. These have a large loom which might be too big for some paddlers, especially if you need to wear gloves/mittens. The blades are also wider than some paddlers prefer. The two piece model with the Lendal-lock is extremely secure and does not wiggle or creak.

I also like the NL three piece for convenient travel, but it doesn’t seem as robust as the Superior. At least my paddle complains with creaks and noise during braces, rolls and while sprinting. Mine has not broken but the noise isn’t very reassuring. Paul told me last year at Delmarva that this had been fixed. If you prefer smaller blades, the blade shape on the shoulderless paddle (designed with input from Maligiaq Padilla) is a very nice design.

For racing and if money is no object you can’t beat the BlackLight (now made in Germany by Lettman). It has extremely sharp edges (great for power) and is mere 19.1 ounces. That said, this paddle is extremely expensive at over $900 USD.

Novorca is a great paddle as well. I recently paddled with Turner Wilson and used the razor that he designed and was impressed. It has a diamond cross-section at the blade roots. Turner really prefers this shape, I prefer a more rounded loom/root and lenticular (lens) shape so it really just comes down to your personal preference.

Greg Stamer

Me too, Novorca is crazy slow
At this point iam also pissed off at Novorca paddles. I placed an order back in November then they switched the way they made the paddles and they said I should get the new Razor which I said ok they then charged my credit card on Jan 6 2014. Still no paddle. I have been calling leaving a message every day now for 3 days and will continue for a week after that I call credit card company. I already called the credit card people and had a notation on that charge so I can dispute this charge even though it was charged back in Jan.

All I can say is if you want a Novorca paddle be prepared to wait a long long time.

Do you have a Blacklight paddle Greg? I’ve never seen one yet. Curious to see one…

Best Wishes



I have had one for about four years. When you first see one the blade cross-sections are so thin that you are sure it will be as flexible as a noodle but then you press on it and discover that it is extremely stiff. The thin, sharp edges give a great bite.

My biggest complaint about the design (that I have voiced to the designer) is that the sharp edge is carried all the way to the blade roots, which isn’t as comfortable as a round transition. This doesn’t bother me much in use, but if this was a wood paddle I would have already reshaped the blade roots. I like the blade transition to be nearly round.

I used my BlackLight in the 300 miles Everglades Challenge (my primary was a small Onno wing). Unfortunately the Blacklight doesn’t fit my 18x very well (the 18X is wider and deeper than a Greenland kayak and demands a much longer paddle shaft), so I am making some prototype paddles from Paulownia wood (almost as light as balsa, but still pretty strong) as a possible replacement for the BlackLight next year.

Greg Stamer

Ron emailed me last night and asked me to hang in there a bit longer rather than cancelling my order. If he gets back to me with an ETA I’ll hang in there because I do appreciate the beauty of his paddles and, as a small business owner too,want him to succeed.

much longer?

You said, “…I used my BlackLight in the 300 miles Everglades Challenge (my primary was a small Onno wing). Unfortunately the Blacklight doesn’t fit my 18x very well (the 18X is wider and deeper than a Greenland kayak and demands a much longer paddle shaft)…”

What was your strategy for changing between the BlackLight and the wing on the 300 miler?

What are the dimensions of the BlackLight that you would preferred have been ‘much’ longer? By a longer paddle shaft do you mean a much longer loom length? The 18x is 22 inches in beam, not that wide. Did you not paddle an NDK Explorer around Iceland with a GP? Was that GP much longer than the BlackLight?


Dancing partners

I used the wing most often during the day and switched to the GP sometimes at night, or if I was getting fatigued, or if the weather became more violent. This reflects my bias and experience with a GP.

The Explorer and Greenland Pro that I paddled around Iceland and Newfoundland are fairly large kayaks (compared to a small Greenland SOF), however each of them was fully loaded to the gills with expedition gear such that the black seam of the kayak was nearly in the water. This provided more reach for a shorter paddle. Unladen, I have the same issue with those kayaks, I need a longer loom and longer blade GP to get a good catch.

When sizing a paddle you have to take into account kayak width, foredeck height, how deep the kayak sits in the water, what kind of stroke (e.g. high or low), and the sitting position and more. You might not tell by looking at the specs on paper, but you can tell immediately when you try a good forward stroke. Either you can sink the GP blade up to your pulling hand pinky with good posture and form or you can’t. If you can’t fully bury the blade you are losing power.

I use the 18x as a “race boat” so it is usually empty or packed with ultralight gear. It is also under 40 pounds empty. Along with its slightly longer length and light load it sits comparatively much higher in water. I also have the seat padded higher and this also factors into needing a longer reach for the catch.

The typical anthrometric measurements that are often published for a GP assume that you are using a (SOF) kayak with very low decks, very low seating position (directly on the floor) with a width of your hips plus a fist on each side. As your kayak moves away from this “standard” you have to make adjustments and experiment with GP sizing.

Unfortunately many people, when using a GP in a wider/taller kayak make the required adjustments by altering their posture, sometimes slumping forward in order to bury the blades at the catch, or moving their catch well aft. If your paddle does not allow you to bury the paddle with good posture, close to the hull, then I’d rather modify the paddle than my technique. You CAN use a partial sliding stroke to bury the blades if your GP is too short, but this is not my preferred stroke during a race.

The Greenlanders often make a new paddle to match a new kayak as the fit between them is critical and they are a tuned pair. The late kayak historian John Heath used to call them “dancing partners” to emphasize this.

My Blacklight is 87.5" long with a 21" inch loom. This is a fine size for me in a Tahe or Anas but not in much larger (unladen) kayaks. The first Paulownia paddle I’m making tailored for the 18x will have a 25-26" loom and 90" overall length. I have the lumber and will start work soon. I’ll report back with my findings for anyone who is interested.


that’s a long loom…the longest I have is 24 inches on a 90 inch paddle {3 1/4" width}. I’m curious about how that long of loom and paddle work. Please …keep us informed

Best Wishes


Longer looms
In Greenland the racing kayaks are longer and deeper than the “rolling kayaks” and are often used with a longer paddle with sharper edges (for bite). An image of some Greenlandic racing kayaks is at

A minority of the racers there, including Maligiaq Padilla, regularly use paddles with looms of 24" or slightly longer for both the short and long-distance races.

We have somewhat “standardized” a Greenland paddle in terms of loom length, blade width, IMO. That’s both good and bad considering how poor some of the GPs were in America 20 years ago. Visitors to Greenland are often very surprised at the variety of shapes and lengths you see there. For example. Steffen Olsen, who was one of the best racers in the 35 - 49 age group when I competed there, uses blades that are very wide, over five inches.

Having said this, for a longer length loom, ideally you still hold the blade with your fingers on the blade roots, not the shaft, so at some point the loom can only be so wide unless you have the shoulder width of a giant. After that point you are holding onto the shaft only which negates some of the great features of a GP. This might be necessary if you want to use a narrow blade with a canoe, etc but I would no longer call it a GP at that point.

Also wider is good to a point for power/leverage but a wider grip also requires more arm lift (more effort and more wear-and-tear on your shoulders) to achieve a vertical catch, so like most things, it’s a trade-off.

Greg Stamer