East pole GP paddles

Anyone have an Eastpole Greenland paddle? How was your experience ordering?

I’m about to finish making my own and let’s just say it’s going to be deformed! So I have my eyes on one of the Eastpole paddles because they are inexpensive compared to some North American makers (don’t hate on me til you read til the end). Using both the arm span + cubit and curl your fingers over the top method I come out with 230 cm almost exactly.

I asked a clarifying question because the paddles come in stock loom lengths and was told order 220 cm based on my 6ft height. When I asked why 220 and not 230, I got a lengthy answer explaining why 225 was the correct choice and yet they don’t have a 225 cm option in the model I’m interested in. I suspect there’s something being lost in translation.

If both my measurements come out to 230 cm, is there any reason to go shorter for a first time purchase?

The paddle I’m building was measured out to be 230 but due to poor craftsmanship it won’t end up that length!

We stock them in our Chicago-area store (the Nanuk 2, a 2pc with epoxy tip and carbon ferule). Materials, finish, and workmanship are excellent - they’re made in Estonia, which has a number of companies building high end paddlesports gear, so no one is slumming by using Nordic-built gear. :grinning:

In terms of sizing, if you’re in a 21" wide boat or narrower, the 220 would probably be the better fit for you (If you’re in a 24" boat, the 230cm would be the way to go). Their looms are a touch wider than what we get with Gearlab paddles, and the 220 fit would probably still be a good match for your wingspan.


If I used the armspan plus a cubit model, I’d need a 93" (236 cm) paddle. I made my first few paddles 90" (228 cm), but ultimately went down to 86" (218 cm) and like them better.

Since you’re making a paddle, why not wait until you can try it before buying something? You didn’t say what length you were making, but once you have a paddle made, you can always shorten it to see how different lengths work for you.

I have made and used GL paddles from 6 feet 8 inches to 8 feet and Aleut paddles of 8 feet 8 inches long to 9 feet 4 inches long.
I am short. I am only 5’ 6". I read the recommendations for length and I made my first 3 paddles to follow those recommendations. But then I made one that was a full 8 feet long and I was able to do everything better with it then I could the shorter ones. After some time I made a few Aleut paddles and all were between 8 feet 8 inches to 9 feet 4 inches but with a long rib down one face of the blades and the other being nearly flat, and also the Alaskan types are quite narrow with the blades being only 3 inches at their widest points.

Now I am as far from an expert as you can get. So I am a bit confused.

For some reason I have found the longer paddles just are easier for me to paddle and to roll with, and much better in high waves. So I am open to the conversation, and willing to entertain dialog and ideas as to why I have done better with paddle FAR longer then what is normally recommended. I have no explanation myself, but I can only report what I have found to work better for me.

According to the usual recommendations I should be using a paddle of about 6 feet 11 Inches. And I own 2 around that length. One is 6 foot 8 inches and one is 7 feet. Yet they are the lest effective for me of all of them I made. Not really bad, but simply not as good as the longer 7.5 foot paddle and that one is a bit behind my 8 foot paddles. I only use the short paddle now as spares on my deck, in case I need an extra, and that because being shorter, they stow on my deck better. They are now my “spare tires”.

In the highest waves I have paddled in so far, I found the longer paddles are SO MUCH more forgiving and easy to brace with. Also my rolls with the longer paddle are easier. In fact, they are a LOT easier.

Am I super odd? Or have others found this to be true for them too?

I even hesitated a bit to write this because what I have found to be best for me seems to be radically opposed to what so many others are saying, and those others have YEARS of experience, so it makes me wonder why I am so far removed from the typical ratio of height to paddle length that I read and hear over and over.

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Brian, I was aiming for 230 cm but one of the tear outs happened very close to tip, so not sure I can smooth it out versus shorted the one end. I used both measurements from your book and they matched exactly; that’s how I came to 230.

I’m not married to that. It was just a starting point for the first paddle. 230 in a Euro blade is waaaay too long for me. I’m closer to 210-215

A simple solution is to just add some wood filler when you get to the point of sanding your paddle. It won’t look perfect, but so what? It’s your first paddle and probably won’t be your last. If you’re planning to epoxy coat the tips, the tearout may not even be visible.

What matters is how it works, not how it looks. Just think of your first paddle as an experiment and keep working on it. I was bummed when my first paddle turned out not to be the ideal shape, because it’s made from the prettiest piece of western red cedar that I’ve ever seen. I have yet to find another like it. That said, I learned a lot from that paddle, in design and construction and my subsequent paddles are much better in every way.

I followed the popular Youtube video for making your own paddle. It was a very helpful guide, except when it came to advising length. It came out to what seemed to me a little too short. I found others commenting on this issue. I am 5-11 and used a 22" boat at the time. It just didn’t seem like it was getting the bite I wanted.

I have a background in furniture design and construction. So I said, some people make their paddles shorter, how about longer? I first drilled and epoxied narrow 1 1/2" galvanized nails into the end profile for reinforcement . Then I made a mold, and cast a J-B weld extension of about an inch. Then filed and sanded the tip down to match. I finished things with a 3" band of gray epoxy paint at the bottom. It has held up remarkably well to some unintentional rock banging, better than the original wood tip.

I suppose it added a bit more weight at the tip than the original clear cedar, but I never noticed. The paddle is now 223cm.

The standard formula for paddle length is really only suited to people who are the same height and arm length proportion as Greenland men were when they came up with it (hunting was an exclusively male activity). Polar populations tend to be shorter, with shorter limbs and stockier bodies, which are adaptations to living in a cold environment. The formula breaks down when you try to apply it more broadly. It also doesn’t account for personal preference.

In my case, it led me to start with paddles that were too long. In the case of my girlfriend, who’s only 5’1", the formula would have her using ridiculously short paddles. You have to take it with a grain of salt and do what makes sense to you.

As for rolling and handling it waves, it makes sense that a longer paddle would be beneficial. It has more more blade area, which provides more lift when rolling, and more blade area in the water under wavy conditions where you may not be able to submerge then entire blade.

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I didn’t see anyone mention the loom length. What is the loom length and
your height?

The only true method I found to see what fits.

Three different widths and five different blade lengths all with adjustable looms.

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Loom length is a function of your shoulder width and the beam width of your kayak; height really isn’t a factor.
To determine it based on shoulder width:

  1. Stand up and let your arms hang comfortably by your sides.
  2. Bend them at the elbow until your forearms are parallel to the ground with your palms facing downward.
  3. Touch your index fingers to your thumbs.
  4. Measure the distance from the outside of one index finger to the outside of the other.

That measurement is your loom width.

If you have to do this by yourself, loosely hold a yardstick in in the loops formed by your thumbs and forefingers, read the numbers and do the math. It’s a good idea to repeat this measurement a few times and average the results.

Once you’ve done that, compare that measurement to the beam width of your boat. If the beam width is equal to or narrower than your measured loom width, stick with your measurement. If the beam is wider, it’s generally best to make your loom length equal to your boat’s beam width.

I know how to choose loom length. My question is the OP has been deciding on overall length yet not see what loom length he has chosen. I have seen MANY get hung up on overall length only to choose the more important loom length incorrectly.

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Let me add my 2 cts of experience. Not advice, just experience. I have carved over 60 paddles, sort of a chronic hobby. My first paddle was carved in Brian Schultz’s F1 Greenland SOF class in 2011. Time constraints resulted in a crudely shaped paddle. I call the shape a “blunt force trauma” paddle. I now carve very nice paddle. Your choice, or availability of wood is probably more of a consideration than length of paddle or loom. At times I could not get a 8 ft stud and had to work with a 7 ft 8x2. So the paddle was only 84-85 inches or so. Since my first paddle was 10 /1/2" for the loom, and it worked, I have made all them that size. That works with almost everyone in a 19-22" ocean kayak. With a full 8’ stud I have made paddles up to 91" long. I now use an 88" (I am 5’ 10" tall) paddle for most of the time. The 91" get me more grip on the water and the 85" ones are more comfortable on lazy days. I have made ones with the full width of a 2x4 and ones narrower about 2 1/2" wide. Some with a straight blade and some with a little more width at the tip.

There is no “right” paddle. They all will feel different in weight, swing, grip on water, etc. I have made multiple paddles from 2x4 construction studs in pine. Some in cheap fir, some in expensive select fir. Some had bad knots, some had birds eye knots, some started with a warp, some warped after carving. A lot in Western Red Cedar, and Alaskan Yellow Cedar. Lately paddles have been carved from Lowes/Home Depot ‘Select Pine’.

Guess what? They all paddle, each just a little different. The only other criteria I consider is flex. Some are pretty stiff, expecially Western Red. But all have a degree of flex that a carbon paddle lacks. In all the years of carving, I now think less about sizing, but carving a paddle as thin as possible (with the wood being used) to a useable flex. That would be soft flex for swamping but stiff flex for rock gardening. Carve your first paddle and expect to find your second one different. Forget about pretty laminations and tip protecton. Take a piece of wood, carve it up like a carpender, not a cabinet maker. You have the option of recarving to a smaller/narrower version of just making a new one.

A couple of tips. I have local access to a lumber company that carries prime specality wood. Such as Western Red Cedar. But not everyone has. So experimenting with local “stuff”, like the mentioned Lowes 2x4’s, I found that the ‘Select Pine’ works as a 1"x4" start. I then glue on bump outs to round out loom.

I rough shape the paddle in a band saw first. A lot less carving. I use killer sharp low angle block planes. No draw knives or spoke shaves. Paddles are lightly treated with ‘Danish Oil’. The result is a paddle like the one auctioned off in this video.
P.S. I do not sell paddles, just give them to friends or auctioned to support Greenland retreats.

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I put it aside for a week to take a break. Will evaluate tomorrow and see if I feel re-inspired to continue versus use credit card.

I started with a piece of construction lumber from a lumber yard, not the big box store. WRC, I chose the best looking piece from the lot. It always looks straight in the lumber yard! Then you start putting layout lines and you realize it’s neither straight nor square. The you tear out some wood etc etc and it becomes a bit demoralizing and you wonder why you didn’t just buy one. I have a lot more respect for woodworkers.

Don’t be discouraged; every paddle is a learning experience. Just go along for the ride and see where it takes you. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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