Grey Owl suggestions ...

I am paddeling a tandem solo more and more often. I am looking at a Grey Owl traditional paddle for this. So, for someone 6’4" @ 220 paddling canadian style in a 16 foot wood canvas boat, which paddle would you recommend, Chieftain, Sagamore, or Tripper?

I look forward to your replies.


Don’t let your grey owl and your
spotted owl hang in the same rack.

I have used a couple GO Chieftains and liked them. They were oiled walnut ones. Now they make them out of cherry and usually varnished. It had a thin shaft and compared to my Turtle Paddles it was like holding a pencil, but weighed much less. Good paddle. The Guide is similar, but laminated.

Grey Owl’s carbon Freestyle will yield better control of your canoe, and more forward speed too. Old timey sticks made sense when we cut them out of a sapling with an axe and a crooked knife, but since the development of waterproof glue and fiberglass/carbon lamination, there are more effective shapes and lighter/stronger construction.

nice to see you back
but your suggestion doesn’t work well. Its very handy to be able to work under the canoe for Canadian Solo.

Plus those wide sticks give lots of torque when you dont want it.

Canadian Style is enhanced by being able to microtwiddle a long narrow stick. Doing a one handed stationary pry with a long blade works lots better than with a FreeStyle blade.

Other maneuvers are harder too. Its tough on joints to make fast motions with a wide blade… Often in CS there are times when you want to make lots of fine tuned adjustments…like five or six in thirty seconds.

The FS paddle is fine for a few movements fairly widely spaced and held… But thats not CS often.

couldn’t agree more with above post

– Last Updated: Apr-01-09 10:18 PM EST –

microtwiddle is the precise word until now missing from my vernacular, thank-you!
and that's exactly what is needed to a large degree in paddling this kind of boat, lots of underwater recovery, minor corrections and paddle english -- microtwiddle!

you will also be prying the shaft off of the gunwhales on most strokes, (very effective fulcrum, easier on the shoulders, enhanced control), so stay with the wood shaft. the slimmer blades, certainly don't offer the immediate, intense catch of a freestyle/whitewater blade, but you don't want that anyways! i prefer the GO beavertail, now called the tripper (mine is ash, and GO may have modified the grip, etc, and renamed it making it from cherry). the poorly named 'voyageur' but excellent design, is also a great choice but getting wider now, bigger catch. of course, in your trad boat, you may want to tackle moving water, get the Hammerhead for that, it's an awesome blade! i have other paddles very similar to the guide, sagamore, and cheiftain, it's six of one, half dozen the other with those blades. cost is a big factor with the use of the wood, laminate vs single piece.

hey, get a few of different styles, play around and embrace all paddling types, it's fun!

Bought a 58" Tripper today.

– Last Updated: Apr-02-09 12:02 AM EST –

It weighs about 20 oz on my wife's kitchen scale. This 58" was noticeably lighter than the other 58" that this dealer had in stock, so compare paddles in person if you can. The blade faces were also noticeably smoother on some than on others.

This one also has the resin insert hidden in the blade tip as Eric described.

I hope to try it out tomorrow in my Curtis Lady Bug. I normally use Zaverals, both bent and straight, but have been looking for a beavertail type paddle that I like, maybe this is it. They aren't inexpensive.


Regarding the Freestyle, the newer versions that I saw in the store today had much thicker blade edges than the older version that I got with my Curtis Lady Bug a few weeks ago.

The blade edge on the Tripper that I bought today actually has a thinner / sharper blade edge than the Freestyles that were next to them.



Dang! I just saw on Grey Owl's paddle spec sheet that the Tripper has the largest blade area of their traditional paddles, I hope that I can handle it. I may be under powered.

Grey Owls
I’ve been using a Tripper for years and love it. I’ve also used the Chieftain and liked it. Never tried the Sagamore. Both were in cherry. I think the Tripper had more flex - was livelier. I like that, though not everyone does.

I discovered last year that the liveliness comes at a price. I was pulling out of an eddy looking to “jet ferry” across a channel, so I was putting my back into the stroke pretty hard. The paddle shaft just broke.

I’m 57 and not particularly strong and was paddling a reasonably light boat (Blackhawk Starship). This surprised me. I’ve never broken a paddle in my life. I always assumed that if I ever did break one it would be by backing over it with a truck at a landing or by getting it caught under a rock and snapping it under the boat. Thought that “brute strength” kind of breakage was something that maybe 20 year old jocks might be able to do, not something that normal use by old guys like me might cause.

I love that Tripper and have replaced it but the Chieftain might be a stronger paddle. My new Tripper has a little less blade area, I think, and might be more durable for it. It still is plenty lively and slices beautifully. Love the grip - especially after stripping off the varnish on the grip and oiling the bejeebers out of it.

I tried the Tripper and I liked it : )
It does seem very smooth in the water and does flex when pulled hard.

I like the feel of it in the water and the way I can reach under the canoe to move it around (Wenonah Whisper, this time). I need to work on my in-water recovery, but was making some progress with my first attempts. My sample seems well balanced. It does require a little more effort than my Zav bent and straight paddles and the additional weight (double the Zavs) is quite noticeable, but I like it’s feel in the water and look forward to getting to know it better.