good value entry level paddle

My wife and I are starting out with our first canoe. We have rented a few times to see if we enjoy it enough to continue on. We were given an older (but mint) Coleman tupperware canoe but it does not have any paddles. We will be mostly flatwater canoeing with some easy rivers Cat II max. There are so many choices and prices. It makes sense for us to invest in something that will take us at least to an intermediate level. We are both fit from rowing, cycling, sailing, pilates. I am leaning towards a set of bent shafts. How much should I spend? Made in the USA is a given. Should I expect to take them to our next(?) more serious canoe?

Thanks for any help


If you are serious about taking them to
your next level of canoeing, then I would go all the way and get a ZRE. It is the sweetest and lightest bent shaft out there.

Then you can brag to people that the paddles cost more than the boat!

If I were to hop in a Coleman or any other el cheapo canoe right now, I would still want my ZRE

Jack L

Mid range
in both price and quality would be Bending Branches paddles. My wife and I are using and would recommend the Espresso models. They are both tough and light. You can bring 'em with you when you upgrade your boat.

entry level canoe paddles
Zaveral Paddles (ZRE = Zaveral Racing Equipment) are very nice, but at around $300 a pop, they are hardly entry level.

Before you can shop for brands you need to decide on blade size, shaft length and grip type. It would be best if you can try some friends’ paddles to get a feel for size and grip style.

Bent shaft paddles make a lot of sense for flat water cruising, and I have even seen a few whitewater paddlers use them (but not many). They cost a little more than straight shaft paddles. A decent wood bent shaft paddle is probably going to retail for $75-90 minimum these days, but you might be able to pick up something cheaper used.

I find Sawyer paddles quite usable, but this particular bent shaft is a little unusual in that it has a T-grip (most bents have pear-shaped grips):!035

Bending Branches paddles are popular entry-level paddles:

The Foxworx Standard bent shaft is a good quality paddle (scroll down to bottom of page):

I am also fond of the Wenonah Quetico:

thank you
The Bending Branches looked good to me. I was curious if the saved weight on the Espresso was worth the extra $ ?

If whitewater is in your goal
a straight shaft paddle is more versatile.

So is kneeling.

You did not mention the most germane information. If you will be sitting or kneeling.

Kneeling a straight shaft gives a better power stroke.

Sitting… a bent.

All of the mentioned brands are fine…but you have more choices to make.

I suspect given your canoe you will want to start with a pair of bents and then add a pair of straights.

By then you may have moved on to another canoe where you can kneel.

Dont dismiss Class 2 as always mild whitewater. Sometimes it requires precise maneuvering.

Inexpensive and strong. Use them until your tastes get refined.

Grey Owl Scout

Bending Branches
I use a Bending Branches paddle and it has held up considerably well despite it’s “cheap” price. I also abuse it pretty good, as I use it basically as a pole when the water gets shallow, pushing off rocks and logs and what not. Not a lot of flex to it and only a few scratches to show, I’m not disappointed one bit with it.

Scout is good … if you can find one

… and also the Grey Owl Sprite for a nice, light inexpensive bentshaft. For some reason I can’t find either one online except in Canada. Campmore had the Scout (straightshaft) for a while but they don’t anymore.

Neither paddle is made of expedition caliber wood (heavy). They are made to be light and inexpensive. But they both have a nice feel to them and are great till you eventually upgrade after understanding more of what works for you.

straight first
I would advise getting straight shaft paddles first. They are simply more versatile. Most of my river paddling is done with a 54 inch BB explorer. I really like this paddle and would recommend it. Once you decide you really like paddling and decide to invest more time and money in it, go ahead and get bent shaft paddles.

I like Fox Worx bent shaft paddles. I have used ZRE and think they are amazing, but I just like wood paddles and can not bring myself to by one ZRE for the price of 2 or 3 Fox paddles.

Be aware, paddles tend to breed when you are not looking. Before you know it you may have 8 or 10 of them. That’s what happened to me.

Expresso Plus
I also really like my Bending branches expresso plus. It is now my favorite touring paddle. Wonderfully lite and greate thin blade with a good shape. I have no desire for a more expensive touring paddle. I was once told to by a good paddle first and use what is left for a canoe.


try dri-ki woodworking, i recently purchased a beaver tail from them, they also have a otter tail, maine guide, and another to chose from, no bent shafts, but like others said, straight is more versatile. The price they offer is great! can’t be beat period, esp for the quality of paddle you will get, you will love it, and can buy a bent latter on if you don’t and not feel bad for spending the money (not much more than a cheapo crap plastic)

“Entry level” canoe paddles…

– Last Updated: Apr-14-11 12:36 PM EST –

I don't think you can go wrong with a couple of straight shaft paddles from either Bending Branches, or Sawyer.

Both companines have a decent selection of paddles.

I suggest you hold off on purchasing any expensive, composite paddles, from any company; until such time as you "know for sure" that canoeing is "your thing". New paddlers spending 200 to 300 dollars on a paddle is NOT a "well reasoned decision" in my opinion.


Best beater paddle
I’d start with the cannon palm grip bent shaft paddle in the new less square shape.

They are very durable and light enough for 15 mile days. They are the right shape and feel good in your hands.

Later you’ll want a ZRE or a wood paddle, but I think the cannon is the place to start. I know a couple of whitewater paddlers with a lot of experienced that still use the Cannon paddle because of it’s shape and toughness.

you could check out eBay …

– Last Updated: Apr-14-11 11:26 PM EST –

...... if you're interested in Foxworx , Bending Branches , Mitchell , an occasional Sawyer and Grey Owl Scout also ... these are new paddles so check and compare models and list prices to see if eBay sellers are offering good deals .

on Ebay in search , type - "canoe paddles" , narrow down what comes up to watersports , then click time ending soonest ...

You're going to be paddling a Coleman for awhile , nothing bad about that right now ... any reasonably light paddle (18-23 oz.) , and reasonable price (around $60. or less) will be OK for you at this point .

What length is your Coleman RamX , 15' or 17' ??

In either case I would advise you to stay out of all but very mild rapid waters (cl-1 ok) ... and be careful on large lakes with winds in that canoe ... better yet , just start off slow and easy till you understand the Coleman canoe and the water for awhile .

My paddle recomendation for you is one of the ones I like best ... a simple inexpensive but great paddle , the Carlisle 8" Beavertail ... call and order direct from Old Town Canoe Co. , delivered to your door ... I think get a 54" and a 57" (these are straight shafts) ... this will sound really weird , I have some very nice and rather expensive canoe paddles , Whiskey Jacks (and a Whiskey Straight too) , my own hand made ones (very nice) , one that a custom maker on this board made , Marc O. (very , very nice) , Turtle Works (bought from Dan B. of Whiskey) , and some others too , but I like my Carlisle 8" Beavertails so much I've aquired 5 of them and they are the ones that get used 90 % of the time ... my 54" is probably about 19 oz. and the 57" is about 21.5 oz. , the 60" weighs 23 oz.

1-800-343-1555 (Old Town canoe Co.)

and the Carlisle "Golden Light" (green plastic and gold alum. shaft w/foam grip) is a good powerful and light plastic paddle ,

you do have and plan to wear PDF's don't you ???