Feathered vs. Unfeathered

I was advised to paddle unfeathered several years ago, and I am having a difficult time changing. Is is it a significant advantage to paddle unfeathered? I can see how it would help in the wind.

If you are having a difficult time…
trying to change, then don’t change.

Paddle which ever way is the most comfortable.

Paddling is a fun sport.

Some like feathered and some like straight.



A lot of different
opinions on this. I paddle feathered or unfeathered, and find that it usually takes a few hours of paddling to get used to the switch. Even longer to regain decent paddle dexterity for rolling and bracing after the switch since these things are normally done less that forward or sweep strokes.

Feathered is said to be better in the wind, as the blade that is in the air during a stroke is turned as to provide the least resistance to the wind. Unless is it is really windy, I don’t think much about this at all. I have been practicing doing some of the Greenland rolls and braces with a euro paddle after doing them with a GP, so for the most part I have been sticking to the unfeathered paddle.

I about dunked myself a couple of times over the weekend fighting with this.

Remember, kimosabe, unfeathered
For those that staunchly advocate a feathered paddle when paddling into the wind, do they unfeather when they have a tailwind (wind from the back)? This seems less emphasized but would seem to be equally important for the “Yes, feather according to wind” crowd. Why not get the extra “push” from wind on unfeathered blades.

Listen to your heart…
Observe the duck, who paddles most of his life.

Have you ever seen an unfeathered duck? (Peking being the exception)

As a high angle stroker, I find the feathered paddle keeps my wrists in a more comfortable position throughout the stroke.

I think the “windage” theory is… wind.

find that I can change my stroke to a lower less wind catching one if paddleing in high winds…the thing I can’t seem to change is the size of my body. no matter how low I get, sometimes the wind pushes on my body…haven’t been able to feather or un feather my body…it’s what gets the real push…and in big gusty winds…whoa…look for a landing

who cares about feathering for the wind. with a properly designed crankshaft paddle, and a loose grip, it rotates naturally…same with a Greenland paddle…wind and feather is a very small part of any equation in paddling…body size and what you are wearing can be the real problem in wind.

Best Wishes


injury prevention
Whatever you decide, make sure to learn good technique if you are going to go feathered. Improper technique with feathered style, along with a “death” grip on the paddle cause a very high % of chronic and severe tendonitis in paddlers.

but not tarred.


Adjustable ferrules

Trying to wean off 60 degree feather because of wrist and tendon problems. I love the adjustable ferrules and have settled on 15 degrees for the most natural feel for my low angle touring paddle.

Interesting observation
One of my projects this spring is to experiment with a piece of duct tape and my AT Exception. It too is feathered at 60 degrees, but since I paddle almost esclusively with a GP I find “re-learning the feather” to be awkward. I have tried zero degrees and found THAT awkward due to the ergo grips on the AT. Maybe 5. 10 or 15 would be an acceptable compromise.


Hull water resistance
becomes a bigger factor downwind, so you don’t gain as much speed as you lose going upwind.


It’s better to surf the windwaves…
than stick your paddle up.


When I started paddling I quickly adopted a feathered style because it was natural for me allowing for correct blade positioning for the catch. My stepson, who started at the same time as me, stayed with an unfeathered style.

Whichever style works for you.

Much better…
Thanks for the advice. Instead of concentrating, I just paddled today and found a couple of dolphins that were kind enough to let me join them for half an hour. Just got lost in the moment. I think thats the point.

I paddle with a lot of unfeatherd…
paddlers. Our paddles always end up in heated arguments because they are doing it wrong. Their defensiveness on the matter is further proof of their dysfunctionality. Ok, I won, so why am I always boating solo so much these days? Maybe I should stick to the BCU vs ACA debates.

Augustus Dogmaticus


Would not feathering keep just one wrist (not the control) in a comfortable position? Can you explain?

I’ll try
When I lay my paddle on my front deck (of the boat) and grasp it with both hands, my thumbs are UNDER the shaft. When I raise the right side of the paddle up (to stroke on the left side) and bring my forearm across my face, my thumb is no longer on the under side of the shaft, but on the FRONT of the shaft. This rotating action does not occur with the paddle unfeathered and I have to cock my wrist to keep my right hand grip on the paddle.

With you…
all the way! Feathered paddle just puts my wrists and thumbs in the most comfortable position. Plus, I started in crew and skulling boats so feathering is most natural for me. Nothing whatsoever to do with the wind. However, I like to use my favorite paddle both feathered and unfeathered because sometimes the change in styles is nice. Doesn’t seem that hard to adjust for me, but I’ve been out with other folks who have to have it one way or the other and can’t cope with a change in angles. I really want to try the adjustable ferrules. Don’t have a paddle that spiffy right now.

Maybe there is a “right” way to angle the paddle (feathered/unfeathered) but I could care less. I’m generally on my own with no one to heckle me and that means I can try more positions, more strokes etc. until I find the one that works best for the situation. Isn’t that the point?