Feathered paddles

-- Last Updated: May-23-05 9:54 AM EST --

Here is another thread where I risk being flamed, but when do the benefits of having feathered paddle blades kick in? I've paddled with both feathered and unfeathered paddles, haven't really noticed a benefit to feathered paddles. Neither paddle config seems "harder" than the other, though feathered blades require maybe the tiniest bit more concentration and effort, so I stick with unfeathered. When is feathered really better?


– Last Updated: May-23-05 9:57 AM EST –

In a strong headwind, an unfeathered Euro paddle can be blown around and make paddling extremely difficult. On the flip side, a 90 degree feather takes some getting used to and for those without good technique, this can lead to wrist problems. Most people find that 45-60 degrees of feather (in touring) allows them to paddle efficiently without the wind affecting their paddling too much. For whitewater, you are rarely paddling long distances and in that format, an unfeathered paddle is popular because it helps with playboating moves and it is easier to brace/roll on your offside with an unfeathered paddle. Still many whitewater paddlers use a feathered paddle (30-45 degrees) as a little feather is actually pretty comfortable once you get used to it. I personally use a 30 degree feathered whitewater paddle, an unfeathered Greenland paddle, and a 60 degree feathered touring paddle.

I second the wind…
I just can’t get used to a feathered paddle. I have tried it many times over the years, but just can’t get used to it. Oh, Well…

I do feel the “head wind” trying to blow around the paddle blade that is up out of the water, but I just deal with it. I don’t paddle much when it is windy, but sometimes the wind pickes up, so I “suffer” with it.

But if the wind is quartering, or from the side, an unfeathered paddle isn’t so bad.

Oh, well,… You now know the benefit of a feathered paddle.

Happy Paddling!

It takes a lot of headwind
for it to bother me. Usually, I’ll lower my paddle a bit. Don’t paddle often enough with feathered paddles to learn the technique and usually have other things to worry about/learn when out paddling.

That’s about the only time I will feather my Harmony esturay to 60 degrees, in the winter when we get strong northers and I’m trying to make it out into the bay, but for me this is an extreme circumstance, and I really only notice a slight improvement. I just don’t find the wind to really push it that bad. Most of the time I paddle, like in the summer, there is a light breeze or no wnd at all, so I keep it unfeathered.

You get used to it.
When I started kayaking last year, I was learned with a feathered paddle, so that’s all I’ve ever do. I use a Carlisle RS Magic paddle, which I can either use at 0 degrees or at 60 degrees feathered. I’ve tried paddling non-feathered, and it just seems awkward to me. So I guess that it’s just what you get used to.

Plus feathering does really help when paddling in strong winds, which I seem to do more often than not.

~ Arwen ~

I have no problem with paddling feathere
so I don’t need to get used to it, I just don’t see what all the hoopla is for anything other than a serious headwind.

It’s my understanding that until the recent boom in recreational kayaks, the primary desgn driver was slalom racing. The classic 90-degree feather was seen as having some advange for missing gates, and it works well if you use the “control hand/guide hand” technique with a near-vertical stroke.

I find that feather helps in a headwind but can cause problems with a beam wind.

it’s a matter of personal preference. All that matters is how it works for you and the kind of paddling you do.

It’s for forward paddling technique…
… specifically, positioning the blade properly for entry.

If you use “correct” forward paddling style, using the hips to wind up the torso and shoulder plane, positioning the blade for a semi-sideways spearing of the water, etc, a 60 degree feather tends to set the blade at the correct angle for the entry and catch on both sides, with a minimum of wrist rotation.

I’ve heard that from a couple of instructors I respect. It makes a lot more sense to me than the issue of cutting wind resistance.


And then…
You have us Greenland paddlers.

I rarely use a euro, and when I do, I use it unfeathered, so as not to mess up my Greenland technique. I don’t have any problems with wind when I do. All a matter of preference.


It is the wind resistance for sure

– Last Updated: May-23-05 1:34 PM EST –

I paddle with a friend who has a boat that, all other things being equal, should be faster than mine is (Seda Impulse vs. KajakSport Artisan Millenium). Yet I was always able to pull ahead of him, until I was able to convince him to feather his paddle. From then on it was either dead even or him pulling away. If you don't think it matters just hold one blade up on a windy day, it makes a fair sail. BTW I use a 90 degree feather....

How About Feathered & Rolling?
One of my instructors at pool class was trying to convince me that rolling is acomplished more easily with a feather paddled. I was a bit skeptical about it, but then what do I know?


Makes it harder
on the offside in my experience. On the onside, there’s no difference.

When you first switch to feathered, it can also mess up your bracing for a short while. Nothing that you can’t adjust to, though.


30’ feather for flatwater and wind,
unfeathered for stronger current and tight maneuvering. I brace, don’t roll (canoe)and use the backside of the paddle a lot. I have a ywo piece that I switch from feathered to unfeathered as I go down the river.

As mentioned, feathering is especially important(for some) with larger blades. I didn’t mess with it with the smaller, more flexible blade.

Unfortunately, it’s nonsense.

– Last Updated: May-24-05 11:21 AM EST –

You can't have an asymmetrically shaped paddle and paddle with a symmetric stroke unless you grip it with one hand and allow it to slip through the other. By comparison, an unfeathered paddle is truly symmetric and the stroke on one side is an exact mirror image of the stroke on the other, which doesn't require one to grip the paddle to control the blade orientation. That's not to say that you can't learn to paddle perfectly well with either, as that's obviously the case. But this stuff about a feathered paddle aligning itself better is pure bunk.

I agree with what was said about feathered paddles and rolling. It's much easier to learn to roll when the motions on one side exactly mirror those on the other side. IMO, feathered paddles are largely responsible for the "onside"/"offside" issues that people have when learning to roll. Again, one can adapt to anything given time and practice.

I tried
feathered , but couldn’t get used to paddling that way. Although in a strong headwind ,it does help.

I have heard that too and

– Last Updated: May-23-05 4:48 PM EST –

although it seems to be difficult to understand for some, if I paddle unfeathered I notice the difference at which the paddle enters the water immediately. Paddling feathered gives me a much better forward stroke too. But it's all bunk. :)

Interesting … (offside rolling issue)
I am just starting to work on an offside roll (now that my boat is better outfited!). I felt very awkward in the offside set up and suspected the feathered blade might cause a problem. So, I unfeathered it to start learning offside. I have done one or two successfully so far, but am not yet confident enough to switch back to try offside with a feathered blade.

When paddling (touring) I always use a feathered blade because I decided to learn this early on and it works for me. I will be using a GP this summer, so I will have to learn that technique as well. I know at least one person who paddles with GPs and American blades (ya know, not really Euros, e.g., Werner Camano, etc.), and switches between the feathered American and the stick without a problem.


yeah bunk
All these athletes in the galleries (click foto in the toolbar) here:


Yeah, somebody needs to tell them that feather isn’t optimal for the forward stroke.

The “competition” galleries are particularly good.

All my paddles are feathered
After seeing mostly feathered paddles in the stores, I thought it would be best to get used to them, as it would be more difficult to find the paddle I want (in a straight version).

I use a 45degree feather. That way, neither head winds nor beam winds will directly affect my paddle blade.

The only other benefit I can see to feathering is that the blade in the air is in a better postition for a quick brace.