Expensive or cheap paddle.. flatwater

I can see the benefits to a super duper costs as much as the boat ultralight scientifically developed paddle… for whitewater.

But, for the flatwater paddler, who basically just loafs along…

What, other than lighter weight, would be the benefits of a higher end paddle?

(I DID discover one benefit over cheap breakdown paddles, when one paddle end fell off and promptly sank during one trip…

So I got a $40 paddle.)

try both
if you cannot discern the difference between a quality paddle and a cheap “throw-away” paddle, then i’d suggest you don’t need that expensive blade. incidentally, you can get some nice paddles for around $200 … you don’t need to go whole hog for that AT Xception. 'course, i paddle that AT X but then, that’s just me.

cheap paddle
A cheap paddle is much worse than a cheap boat. A cheap, heavy plastic boat may be great in the water, but a cheap, heavy plastic paddle will be slow, painful, and horrible. They hurt your wrists and they ruin your form. You might as well just give up and go for a swim. For $135 you can get good, reasonably light paddle from Aquabound, and for $180 you can get very light, excellent carbon paddles from them. Both are so much better than those $40 to $60 clunkers.

DIY for Less
$40?? Lordy, that’s expensive for a cheapie in my book!!

We just build our own, for under$20/paddle - nice, light, tough jobbies, lumberyard spruce shaft and 3 mm marine ply blades, with a bit of epoxy to0 hold it all together. Takes 6-8 hours to do one. Here’s a link to some webshots of our paddles, less the one my wife just completed for herself - try cutting and pasting into your browser.


  • if it doesn’t work, just e-mail me and I’ll send a direct invite to view. If you like, e-mail me at vk1nf@yahoo,ca, and I’ll send along the instructions and a diagram via e-mail, - N/C, of course.


    Rick Hayes

Priorities, . .
For me the paddle is much more important than the boat. I feel a much more intimate relationship with my paddle than with any of my boats. Hands are sensitive things, feet (through shoes), knees and butts are relatively insensitive. Shoulders have small and relatively weak muscles, legs and hips have large powerful muscles.

That being said, buy equipment that is no more expensive / better than you can appreciate and are willing to pay for. I have no difficulty believing that I can feel and assess the differences between the most expensive paddles. I choose to use all-carbon Werners & Lendals because I really believe there is a difference. But that doesn’t mean that you should do the same.

On the other hand, I know of no paddles below ? $150 retail that I consider to be decent paddles. But for $150 > $250 there are several option of high quality paddles out there. Everyone has their preferences. If you are happy with a $40 paddle then good for you, you’ve avoided the more-expensive is better trap. If you want high quality for short money make your own, either GP or Euro.

There are some truly great but expensive paddles out there. If they aren’t your cup of tea then use something else. Just don’t expect people that use $300+ paddles to say nice things about sub-$100 paddles.



Cheap paddles

Like many things, there’s a diminishing return for increased price. To illustrate, a $400 paddle isn’t (likely) twice as good as a $200 paddle.

Really cheap paddles, though, are nasty in my opinion but, if you don’t paddle much, a cheap paddle might be satisfactory. Really cheap paddles tend to be very heavy.

If you paddle frequently, I suspect you’ll find that a good inexpensive paddle (~$100) is much more pleasant to use than a really cheap paddle.

You don’t necessarily need to spend (eg) $300.

For whitewater, my preference is an inexpensive good (and sturdy) paddle, since it is likely to get beat up.

Try a better paddle.

From your description…
of what you do and what you want to do and the benefit that you already mentioned you will get no benefits from a high end ultralight paddle.

Just curious why are you asking since you already have the answer?



for flat water
i like my daughters grey owl dragongly at $70 (they dont list its weight maybe because its lighter than some of their more expensive ones)… almost as much as i like my homemade gp and euro paddles.

Because they look cool

Ok so that is a joke, but for me and my wife pictured above the lighter weight is the only benefit I need to know. I tried both the cheapest Aquabound paddle they had and their carbon fiber one and the choice was easy for me. If I want to work out my arms, shoulders and chest i’ll do some pushups.

that was taken on the Oklawaha here in Florida in some bad light. :^)

fighting the tool
One of my other hobbies is woodworking and the same question comes up there all the time… do I really need this expensive plane,chisel, gouge when I could buy this less expensive one? For me, it’s not about owning the best, it’s about owning what feels good to use. This is, after all, a pleasurable pursuit. So I find a tool, a boat, a paddle, a pack, etc. that I CAN AFFORD and that gives me pleasure to use. As for a paddle, specifically, I value light weight. And I value a thinner edge that will slice through for an underwater recovery, and I value laminations that will hold, a finish that doesn’t give me blisters. And as for both boats and paddles and things that I use like handplanes and chisels… I really like it when they just “feel right.” It gives me pleasure to use them, to see them when I go out to paddle or to plane, or to turn a bowl. Basically, I don’t want to fight the tool. When I can find those tools for less money, even better.


The Carlisle Day Tripper at $39.99
is a decent paddle for kicking around. It’s lighter than some of the paddles that cost over $140, but it’s certainly not as ergonomic or efficient. I think it’s lighter than my Bending Branches Infusion crankshaft. It’s metal shaft would be cold on the hands in cold weather, unless, of course, you’re wearing paddling gloves.

DIY Paddles

– Last Updated: Aug-31-05 8:15 PM EST –

For about $30, you can make a world-class GP, and for about $50, you can make a great Euro.

I think Nick Schade has some free Euro paddle plans on his website www.guillemot-kayaks.com There's also tons of links there, so you may find a set of plans to your liking.

Unless you're comparing them to super high-end carbon/exotic layup paddles, you can build as good or better than you can buy totally on the cheap.


GP builder, Homebrewer, and if I ever get off my lazy a$$ & finish the thing, kayak builder.

Great Wildlife pics
As an amature photographer and nature lover I thought your wildlife pictures were amazing!

My take
You’re right on with lighter being the primary benefit - at least for me. I’m sure there are other benefits (e.g. one of the halves of my old Aquabound paddle will sink if dropped into the drink, while the hi-tech foam core bladed paddles will float), but most of these I haven’t discovered - yet.

On a 5-10 mile paddle I often will choose my heavier, shorter, perviously owned, $60 Aquabound and it’s fine.

On 10-15 mile paddles I generally choose my lighter (and longer) Aquabound carbon paddle, because it’s lighter and seems to be less tiring over the longer distances (even though I prefer the shorter paddle).

For over 15 miles I would prefer to be in Jeds camp for the same reasons as above, but I don’t own a high end Euro yet, so I will likely be using my just completed $10 GP which weighs in at 21 ounces.

On further thought, I will probably use the GP a lot until I make one I like better or it breaks.

So, “for the flatwater paddler, who basically just loafs along…” anything is fine, but you should carry a spare with you (as you have already found out).

I really love my new GP because it is light and short, and because it actually did cost me less than $11 (there is a real feel good about that!).

Hey Jed: the new GP already has three onside rolls and one offside roll on it - and it didn’t break! Pretty significant flex though …


Homemade GP’s
Hi John,

I’ve been heart broken since I broke my homemade Storm Paddle, my nice little 6’ job. I really liked that paddle but I’m sure I paid $15-20 for the wood. Based on my hourly rate I figure the paddle cost me about $200 in labor to make. I’m envious of people that can knock them out quickly, for me each one os a major effort.

I guess I’ll have to get busy carving up some new ones but the Superior Kayaks carbon GP’s are looking more attractive each day I’m with out a nice storm paddle in spite of the $400 cost.

Keep working that off-side.



superior carbon gp storm
I broke down and bought one of these babies and let me tell you it is one sweet stick. It has very crisp edges as do superiors wooden gp’s and IMO they dont roll as easy as more rounded (i.e. Sawyer) paddles. They are expensive but I freely admit to being a bit of a gear head.


Long for a storm paddle?
I hear you and really liked the ones I’ve tried but I’m confused by the minimul length of 76" for a storm paddle. My recently broken favorite was 72" and I’ve been thinking of going shorter. They do make an awfully sweet paddle. I really like the sharp edges for all of the same reasons I like my Kallistes.



Think of the paddle as…
Think of your paddle as you would think of Running shoes, Racing tires, or just the regular tires on your car.

The action all takes place where the paddle interacts with the water, or where the tires interact with the road.

The better paddle interacts with the water better, and is more efficient. Just like the better tires interact with the road better.

A more “efficient” paddle will let you go farther and faster, with less effort. I found the extra money for the better paddle was well worth it! (IMHO) :slight_smile:

Happy Paddling!

I’m Old
So anything thats makes my paddling easier is a good thing.

Get a good paddle

– Last Updated: Sep-01-05 2:50 PM EST –

The price in and of itself does not mean anything. I've had good $60.00 paddles (Harmony), I have 2 carbon/E-glass paddles from a company that has since gone out of business that were under $200.00 ea. and are extremely light and strong (I was at a demo day for one manufacturer and they were what was being lent to the clients, so they can take a beating), I also have a $335.00 paddle that is a bit heavy but I like it for certain other reasons (A Toksook, and it is the paddle I use the most).

I'm rambling aren't I? There are good paddles available in most price ranges, and you don't always get what you paid for.