greenland style paddle

I’ve read good things about greenland style paddles. Now I’m interested. Is it true they are easier on the wrists and elbows than full blade paddles, and that they provide more power than one might expect?

Yes and Yes
I bought one on a whim several seasons ago, and fell in love with it. Be forewarned that your first five minutes with a GP wil make you wonder why you abandoned your euro-style paddle. Tey take some getting used to. But they are easy on the shoulders & wrists, they reward good form (particularly torso ratation) and yes, they do allow you to move a boat with surprising ease. Euros are better for sprinting and such IMHO, but I love my GP.


Some thoughts…

– Last Updated: Nov-02-06 3:59 PM EST –

Hi miker,

You wrote:

"I've read good things about greenland style paddles. Now I'm interested."

Off to a good start! :-)

miker wrote:

"Is it true they are easier on the wrists and elbows than full blade paddles,..."

This, I feel, is an individual issue for each paddler. It may well be true for one person, and be a non-issue for another. I never experienced wrist or elbow problems using a "Euro" paddle for years (I used an 80 degree feather all those years), and since becoming a "GP convert" several years ago, while I appreciate it on many levels (more so than I appreciate a Euro paddle), wrist and elbow problems are just as much a non-issue for me now as they were with the Euro paddle. That said, I'm sure there are some people who do benefit by using a certain type of paddle (GP, Euro, bent shaft Euro, etc.), along with the particular techniques associated with each type of paddle.

"...and that they provide more power than one might expect?"

I suppose that might depend upon whose expectations we're considering! :-)

At first glance, someone accustomed to using a Euro paddle with "full blades" (your description) might look at the 3 1/2 inch wide GP blades and wonder how they can catch enough water to generate much power. However, considering the total surface area of the long, narrow blades, they're not so far off from the size of many touring Euro blades. Even more important to consider are the differences in techniques as you explore the possibilities of different paddles (and GPs in particular).

Personally, I've come to much prefer the GP for most of my paddling, but I can still enjoy paddling with a Euro now and again. Each has its charms, just as different boats do.

Wrist and elbow problems or not, I think you'll love a GP (naturally, as I can't imagine anyone silly enough to not love them! ;-)).


I’m New At The GP Thing
Took my new Lumpy out Saturday in very high winds. I was impressed with how it did. Never once felt the wind try to snatch it out of my hands like with my euros.

My buddy commented that I was “moving right along”. I guess it doesn’t look like there’s enough surface there to propel the boat but I was, indeed, moving right along.

Worked fine for the Inuits
Got where they were going and chased seals fine with those skinny sticks, and if you look at the variety of tradtional boats you’ll see that not all of them were these no-volume rolling SOF’s. There were a significant number of boat styles that were pretty much barges, designed to carry a couple of adults plus kids laying down in the bottom inside.

It’s still the paddler, tho’ I have heard an impression that the power generated may be affected by how fine the entry is into the water.

Thanks all
I appreciate your input. I’ll give one a try.

If you’re like most of us converts, you’ll love the GP for its ease and simplicity of use and its power to brace and roll. To get a better sense of GP technique, you might want to visit: . The forward blade cant in particular will feel very odd at first. One way to minimize the transition from Euro to GP is to make your first GP a Besty Bay Kayak Greenlander, buy many folks do fine going straight from Euro to a traditional GP. Bill Bremer of Lumpy paddles makes a very nice and reasonbly priced western red cedar GP that is configured something like the Superior carbonfiber GP. Email me off line and I’ll put you in touch with him if you’d like.

One more thing…
…you can make your own GP for under $20 and have fun doing it.

There’s more
All true, Miker, but there’s more. GP’s are funky and historic and earthy and cool - and people will ask you about your paddle whenever you are out on the water. It’s a connection to the old ones - the ones who lived through these boats we love so much.

I use one 80% of the time, partly because it works so well, but also because it adds so much in other ways to the kayaking experience. And don’t get me started on how good it feels to tackle a piece of cedar with a good spoke shave…

Cheers, Alan


Book on making a GP
I find wood traditional paddles (Greenland or Aleut) are easier on my old body.

While he was too respectful of this post to plug his own book, Brian Nystrom has published a good book on making them. Can be obtained from him.


wood selection
I am interested in making one actually. I have the tools, but I have yet to locate a source for the wood. I’ve contacted local lumber yards with no luck. High grade red cedar appears hard to come by. Do you know of any good sources for suitable blanks?

thanks again.

Where are you located?
That information would really help others recommend sources. Shipping a 2x4 would be prohibitively expensive, so you really need to source your lumber locally. There are other suitable woods, such as Alaskan yellow cedar, sitka spruce and redwood that may be more available in your area.

Fairfax, Virginia
Just outside of DC.

I’ve contacted a few lumber suppliers like Smoot’s Lumber - they are a leading supplier in our area - and they dont stock high grade red cedar. I read somewhere that a 2x4 of high grade red cedar would cost about $35. Does that sound right?

Hey Neighbor! I’m in Alexandria.

– Last Updated: Nov-03-06 12:13 PM EST –

The first GP in my hands was a Beale. Spoiled me rotten. Thanks Pyker. Now I am not quite satisfied with my subsequent less than Beale GP bought later!

No, really Pyker I do thank you as if I had not had one of the best in my hands I would be saying GPs are not such a big deal and wouldn't care much. The Beale fits me well. Better than others I have tried. I am slowly scrimping enough together to get a real Beale! And am looking to build a few (Beale style) in the future too.

Mike, I suggest looking at the Beale and other good sites for all the info you can glean. N.T. builds GPs. I haven't used one of his, but have heard from others they are good. I'm sure he can steer you right too. If you would like to see/ try/ etc my Nashwaak GP you are welcome to come on over.

Check your e-mail.



a greenland paddle on the water is like running your hand on a smooth well oiled thigh…

sorry…always wanted to say that

Best wishes


Counter info (partly anyway) and more…
I recommend against those in-between paddles. They are more like skinny bladed euros or double bladed canoe paddles and don’t give you the same thing.

They are well made, but the looms/shafts are overly long and designed to be used with hands 100% on loom/shaft. Such a hybrid doesn’t give the same experience or fully take advantage of the magic of the Greenland paddles. Some love them, and paddle fine that way, but I think it just allows you to continue euro habits that you will eventually need to unlearn to really get the most out of a GP.

Instead I’d recommend going straight to a properly sized GP with a loom length that allows you to grip with thumb and forefinger around loom and the rest of your hand out on the blade roots. As you adapt and learn you’ll come to understand why.

The Superior mentioned is a good example for a well shaped paddle. I’m not familiar with “Lumpy” but if similar it should be good. I can recommend don Beale as well: - well made, good price, and he’ll make sure you get the right size.

Carving yourself is a good option too - but I feel it really helps to have some exposure to GPs prior to trying to make one so you know/understand what you’re trying to make. Many first attempts are made from plans only with poor/misunderstanding of what is being made - and the results can be less than optimal. This can negatively color the whole experience.

I’ve carved two so far. Both came out great and perform exactly as I wanted - but before I ever cut wood I’d already put a couple thousand miles on a Superior, and have seen and tried dozens of other paddles. Superior a Beale set a high benchmark and give a very good frame of reference.

The little things matter. Sizing (not a little thing), shape transitions, shoulder shape, blade thickness, blade width, edge/tip thickness, etc. Quite a bit of variation in paddles and preferences.

What you start with will impact both your learning and future paddle preferences. Given the work required to source good wood I’d recommend buying first. For cost effectiveness and good proven shapes I’d again recommend Beale.

If you carve, download the Holst plans…

There’s a great free online video here:

… and also consider getting Brian Nystroms book. $19.95 + shipping ($2.05 domestic, $3.55 to Canada). Paypal, checks and money orders accepted. Available directly from:

Greenland Paddle Book

337 Broad Street

Nashua, NH 03063


Other places are carrying it too, search the web…

I haven’t read it yet, but have been following his posts on different boards and know his preferences and opinions on a lot of this stuff. He goes beyond the basic and offers options/enhancements. He has similar sentiments on the long loom Midwestern interpretation of Greenland style paddling mentioned above too.

For technique tips, searching the QajaqUSA forum archives will keep you busy for long time. Just be careful not to read too much into the comments. The water’s your best teacher.

I get my WRC 2x4 at Menards
for $6 a board. I have to dig through a hundred boards to find 6 good quartersawn knot free boards.

I started using a greenland paddle
because it was less stressful on my bad shoulder. I could paddle longer with less discomfort during and after paddling. I can’t say if it would do the same for some one elses problems.

A greenland paddle can be very efficient but it does use a different paddling stroke than a euro paddle. There are many different styles of greenland paddles that work much differently so try as many different styles as you can and getting some competent instructions will help a lot. Enjoy.

Where is Menards?