Greenland Paddle Choice

Been thinking of trying a Greenland type paddle. My main boat is a Current Design Gulfstream and I paddle bayous, bays, the Gulf of Mexico. Anything I should stay away from, or look for? Just want a little input from some you out there who are users. Thanks.

I’m very happy with my Northpoint paddle. Each is custom made after a phone conversation with the builder. You can find them here:

Anything I should stay away from, or look for? “Stay away from” that thread about carving one with hand tools. I found my loom length measurement is best when it matches or slightly exceeds the width of the beam of the kayak. I had an 18" beam sof and and anthro formula stick that worked fine but that 18-19" loom on the 23" beam kayak made for a stuttered stroke cycle that was fatiguing at distance especially to wrist. My experience.
Peace J

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Plenty of on line sources and You Tube videos that explain paddles sizing and design. If you build it yourself, leave extra material that you can remove. It’s wood. If you have one built, the builder will help you with measurements. My test paddle cost $5.00 and took about five hours to build. My good blank cost $30.00 and I’ll wait until I test the first one, then make adjustments.

I LOVE my Greenland paddles from GearLab Outdoors- super light carbon fiber, they can be broken down into 2 pieces for easy transport and are precise and lively when paddling. I also have a wooden Greenland paddle made by Eric Schade that I bought through Chesapeake Light Craft. It’s a super nice looking, light-weight paddle. I’ve found that I prefer a 220 - 230 cm Greenland paddle which is longer than than I’ve seen recommended on some websites for my height (I’m 5 foot 5 in.) It works for me and my low angle paddling style.

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I use a gearlab kalleq paddle. It’s carbon fibre, and super light. I absolutely love this paddle. After 20 years with an epic wing paddle the Greenland paddle initially it felt very awkward.

There is a little trick to making an efficient stroke with a Greenland paddle (you have to tilt the paddle like an airplane propellor), so it’s a good idea to watch a few YouTube Videos from someone more skilled than me😀. Good luck with your decision. Joe.

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if you can try a few because there are diiferences between them

this is probably 1 of if not the best instruction vid you will notice the blade is not canted all the way through the stroke

Check this cat out. I enjoyed doing biz w/ him:

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My experience:
A wooden paddle feels better in the hand than carbon and you can tweak it to fit your hand perfectly.

But carbon can take punishment much better than wood.


I tweaked Paddle plugs and then made molds. So in a sense , I tweaked carbon paddles.

Works for me :grinning:


I think the most critical decision is shouldered or unshouldered. I started with a custom unshouldered wood one (5 laminations of fir and cedar) and then got a 3 piece Northern Lights carbon for travel breakdown which was shouldered. Found I did not like a shouldered paddle since I was accustomed to using a sliding stroke for a number of actions. Also did not like the more squared than oval loom. But there are folks who prefer shouldered – some techniques have the paddler bracing their hand on the shoulder. It is easier to keep your paddle centered with the visual cue of the shoulders.

Now I have a two piece GearLab Akiak (unshouldered) which has very much the same dimensions, weight and feel of the wooden one. I like both paddles, but tend to more often use the wood one which for some reason feels better in my hands and in the water. But since it was custom built for my grip and boat widths (all under 23") and has some sentimental value, that probably prejudices me.

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There isn’t one paddle that does everything well. Because a paddle suits my needs doesn’t mean it will suit the needs or be comfortable in the hands of another paddler. From what I’ve been able to glean from research is that among other things, the traditional paddles excel at control techniques, rolls and silent paddling. Above all, the design is easy on the joints and conserves energy. From what I’ve read, many advocate have said it won’t win races (although I read of one users having won an “endurance” race), but it’s superior in many other ways, if the paddler learns the proper technique.

A year ago, a friend made a Greenland style paddle. I barely looked at it, and argued that it was an anachronism, because it couldn’t compete with modern technology and innovation. The deeper I looked, the further that seemed from the truth. Then I learned that the paddle is used more like a propeller, and I thought, how ironic. Indigenous people came up with an idea many centuries before industrial societies that were still using inefficient paddle wheels into the 1800s. Boat builders along the Chesapeake Bay evolved the Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe from a hollowed out tree, to a sleek thoroubred. It was found that the hull shape closely resembled the hulls of Navy Destroers. Go figure.

It can be argued that no paddle is really bad. They all work. Some are just better than others. So which one is best? That’s for the user to figure out - that’s part of the journey, and it depends on whether your a “zoner” or a “grunter” . . .

What’s the greatest advantage of wood and the traditional paddle: if you own power or hand tools, find a straight 2x4 for $5.00, lay it out using very simple profiles that so many are willing to share, and make one that’s slightly oversized. It’s wood. So you can tweek it until it feels right. If you don’t like it, give it away, or build a campfire and make another one. It took me 5 hours with a combination of machines and hand tools. A friend of mine is knocking them out with hand tools in 4 1/2 hours. He gave one to a friend, then tweeked it. Instead of trying to keep up, the friend was then able to leave him in his wake. It can’t get better than that.

Once you find the right combination, take it to a custom paddle maker and ask if it can be made in carbon or wood. Then you can ask for the bells, whistles and bows. You can even make one yourself and put a compass in the loom. Merry Christmas.

Way to go roym :heart:

Willowleaf, I haven’t used mine yet, but I’m interested in your comments. I’m glad I went the same direction with the oval loom and non shouldered blade. I’m holding off making a laminate until I test this one when warm weather returns in the spring.

I’m suprised at how strong the pine is for the thickness. My main concern is that I may have taken too much mass out of it and it won’t perform as designed.

Although it’s far heavier than my carbon Euro, I’m suprised at the comfortable balance and how well it swings.

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I have different preferences than Willowleaf, strongly preferring shouldered paddles. That’s the beauty of Greenland paddles, they’re designed and made to suit the needs and preferences of the individual user.

What I’ve found is that it’s generally easier for new GP users to learn the canted stoke with a shouldered paddle, as the shoulders automatically cant the paddle if it’s held and used properly. Once you’re comfortable with the stroke, you can do it with any paddle.

Depending on how the shoulderless paddle is designed, it may have significantly less blade area than a comparable length shouldered paddle. However, you can make up for this by adding a couple of inches or so to the paddle length. It doesn’t take much because blade area added at the tips has more effect than area added closer to the loom.


Very good point, bnystom. I primarily went with shoulderless because I often place my hands wider than shoulder width. I paddle a 250 cm Euro and find it helpful to shift the hands to change the amount of leverage. It reduce fatigue and uses muscle groups in a different way.

I understand how the shoulders give the user an instant sense of the cant. While reviewing plans and assimilating input, I considered a range of factors., and actually made a short section of loom before laying out the paddle. The oval shape automatically positions my hand so the blades acquired the proper cant with my eyes closed.

The semi-circle tip is uniformly thin as it tappers in a pie shape to the the center ridge that begins convex and transitions into a diamond shape ridge, back to the loom, where it transitions into the loom oval. I’m pleased with all aspects of the paddle, but am unsure about the thin profile of the blades. It more closely resembles a typical carbon model than a traditional. I’m concerned that the shape doesn’t resemble the traditional design that I see in museum pieces. As soon as I find another suitable 2x4 blank, I’m going to make a model with a shoulder. The primary reason is to gain a slight increase in surface area, and it will still give me the option of cutting it down.

From starting with a total lack of interest in the design, I’m now sitting in limbo waiting for spring. I’m not equipped to handle cold weather, and I dontbwant to build anything else until. My tongue oil was estimated delivery on Thurday, but it got pushed back to Monday when I’ll be at the shop. Errghhh!

What is “Shouldered”? Is that the same thing as feathered?

Nazz. I just made my first one and won’t test it until spring, so all I can do is explain the building process I used. To directly answer your question, the five paddles I found on line show a good example each. The center and center right have no shoulder, the ones on the ends have shoulders.

Bnystrom gave a good explanation of the benefit of a shoulder, while several other paddlers explained why they don’t like the shoulder. I plan to make both and try them each. My reason is to have a wider loom (longer shaft); I also want more blade area, but don’t know if I need it. Some users tumble around in wild surf and like the shoulder to orient the center and know the angle of the blade.

Proper stroke technique doesn’t draw the blade flat with the blade vertical. It enters the water at a slight cant with the bottom catching first to reduce flutter. An experienced user can describe the technique.

Jyak illustrated it well. A shouldered paddle has a distinct “step” at the ends of the loom (the loom is the cemter portion of the paddle shaft that should be sized to your natural grip spacing) where the blade portions of the paddle abruptly widen. An unshouldered paddle has a smooth even taper from the center of the loom out to each blade tip.

Greenland paddles are generally not feathered. Since the blades are slender they don’t catch the wind the way a spoon shaped paddle does, so the one function of feathering (to cut wind resistance of the upper blade during a stroke) is not needed.

I really don’t buy the wind resistance argument for feathering a paddle. Unless you are always paddling almost directly into a strong headwind (I know it often seems like it), feathering for this reason doesn’t make sense. If you feather to reduce wind resistance, you would have to constantly adjust the feather angle to suit the wind. As you learn to use muscle memory to know where your paddle blade is at all times when paddling, bracing, and rolling; constantly changing it means risking making a spectacle of yourself as your blade slices through instead of catching the water.

Where feathering does make sense to me is that a number of paddlers find a feathered paddle, with their paddling technique, puts less stress on their wrists and is more comfortable for them.

Realizing that all traditional paddles are not the same, one feature that attracted me to the Greenland paddle that has symmetric blades and no shoulder is how, if properly sized, the blade orientation is always apparent. That’s the reason I like a round shaft on an unfeathered Euro paddle. Within the first few strokes the blade finds center and the grip remains constant thougout the trip. No hoaky poaky, just contemplate on rhythm, cadence, blade presentation and follow through. I don’t tumble in turbulent water, but it seems the Greenland would have the advantage there in reestablishing blade orientation.