Have You Ever Needed a Spare Paddle?

I understand that some have a psychological desire to be prepared for every paddling possibility, no matter how rare. But, after 8 years of hard paddling in ocean condiditons, I have never needed a spare paddle and nobody I have ever paddled with has ever needed one. I have always used lightweight carbon paddles that most would consider fragile and can not imagine a situation where I would be screwed by not having a spare.

I always figured that even if I broke my paddle, I could use half of it to get back to a friendly shore. I did fracture a paddle blade once, but it remained useable. Not only did it get me home fine, I continued to use it on other outings. What is the worse that could have happenned?

Since there are many that find it important to carry a spare paddle, I assume there are some stories out there of paddles broken into many small unuseable splinters or lost because the paddler let go of it.

Have you ever been in a situation where your paddle became so unuseable that you could not get back to shore?

haven’t broken one, but…
I’ve often used my spare(storm GP) to “switch gears” and work different muscles. It’s better for sneaking up on wildlife, and I have used it to roll after dropping my main(euro)paddle.

So no, I’ve never needed a spare, but I’ve certainly enjoyed having it.

I have
My mistake though. I was using my ONNO paddle in a rocky, shallow river. I have an Aquabound that I usually use for that kind of stuff, but that ONNO was so awesome, I couldn’t resist. Broke right across the blade face. My buddy had a spare and I used his.

No, but in the time I’ve been paddling
I haven’t needed a spare tire either…

I have, and didn’t have one.
Banked to do some wade fishing (yeah, I’m a rec kayak fisherman, so I know you look down on that). Thought I balanced my paddle better than I apparently did and when I came back to the yak a half hour later, it was gone. Had about 4 miles of flat, slow moving river to float downstream w/ no paddle. I used a broken tree branch to paddle/pole with once I reached a wide place w/ no current.

Made for a nice relaxing time, but I was in a better situation than some might be. Whitewater or tricky situations would have made that near impossible.

Do you need insurance?

I have, I broke a wooden grey owl
and on a Paddle Canada Level III course, one of the instructors broke his aquabound paddle. The aquabound broke off at the blade while the grey owl had a split from the blade right to the ferrule.


several times
I broke a few paddles - in a cave, in dumping surf, and 2 in whitewater.

I have also been on one trip where someone lost their paddle (on shore) and needed one to continue. And during training (a night navigation course) a guy was so busy working out his route he didn’t notice his paddle float away.

Sometimes I switch paddles to switch gears or let other people use one of my paddles if they want to try something new.

You’re just a hard man
Yes, I’ve needed a spare on a few occasions. One, I was 65 miles away from anywhere when the shaft of my Lendal snapped. On another occasion the blade of my Aquabound folded in half. On another occasion the paddle got loose and I needed half the spare to paddle up to it. I lost a paddle in the river once and if I found my boat also I’d have needed a spare paddle but that was not the case. I carry a spare.


Broken paddle
When I first began paddling before I owned a kayak I rented boats that came with a spare paddle. The shop I was dealing with at the time sent me out with only half a paddle as the spare. I was practising solo rescues with their crappy overused paddle when it snapped on the female half just past the joint. Guess what? The spare half paddle they sent me out with was the female half so now I had no paddle at all. I tried the cowboy re-entry but failed so just as I was about to swim it in another paddler came by and we quickly did an assisted rescue and I paddled back with half a paddle canoe style. Then I let the rental shop know I wasn’t taking it well. The lesson I learned the hard way was if you paddle alone never go out with only half a spare paddle.

I have
Paddle would have been usable as I broke it (I was rolling in the surf - but my blade dove and I ended up rolling off the bottom and bending the paddle shaft).

I have heard of people having paddles stripped from them by surf (and once on a person who was using the paddle to pole heir way through the kid, and the paddle stuck in the mud while momentum kept them going).

And there are times when I’ve gone out without one, so don’t take this answer as “only an idiot would go out without a spare.” But yeah, I’ve been in a lot of situations where if I lost my paddle I would have been in deep, deep trouble.

cheap insurance
I was on a trip and brought a one-piece bent shaft lendal, nordkapp blades. I put the two-piece paddle I usually use on the deck. Unfortunately, I had only used the Lendal for short paddles and playing in surf, was accustomed to the smaller diameter shaft and straight shaft of my regular paddle, and my wrists swelled up two days into the trip. We finally rigged a way to carry the one-piece on deck.

I think Eric makes a great point regarding having choices. So does yakofsteel regarding possibly losing a paddle. It’s cheap insurance.

Have seen it…

– Last Updated: Nov-30-07 12:12 PM EST –

I have carried things like a GP for spare so that I can alter the stress on my shoulders, as above, or switch back to a more aggressive paddle if things get nasty.

I've been there when a spare was needed, once in a rescue situation where both the swimmer's and the rescuer's paddles ended up separated from the boats in high wind in an ocean bay. I've been in other situations where a spare paddle came into play at least for a while because after a capsize the first paddle had ended up in a spot from which it was time-consuming to retrieve it. All of the above long boating - seems it is more common in WW for the paddle to end up downstream.

In the above rescue situation, the rescuer eventually did get their paddle back, but with the wind and current the two of us with the swimmer and the rescuer with the swimmer's boat got stretched quite far apart and the rescuer had to do some long and bodacious paddling.

I usually paddle with people who have the habit of carrying a spare themselves though. So my own spare has tended to stay on my deck in emergencies.

yes - for another paddler
His Onno broke while he was practicing a brace.

It was more than several miles back to his put in (we launched from different places) so he used my spare paddle, we paddled over to his site, and I paddled back with both.

Many split blades

– Last Updated: Nov-30-07 12:08 PM EST –

an' a half dozen broken shafts on me' canoo paddles over de years, so ah' carry a spare at all times.


You use ruddered boats, so it’s easier
for you to continue you paddling with only half of a paddle.

canoeing, broke one and lost one when a tree grabbed my glasses. Mint retrieved my lost paddle, but we couldn’t get my glasses back. Payback for getting my paddle for me was nailing me with a snowball! Poling too, always have a spare.

i had a boreal paddle blade split into 2
pieces during a roll…

then they would no warrantee that-but that is a different matter…

yes to spares!!!good things…

or for fun try a pair of hand paddles for a trip…that is fun too!

I broke a Norse in whitewater, but back
then I had a spare on the back deck, held by a bungee and a special clip. I had a paddle blade cross-split once, but I had enough blade left that I could have continued without a spare.

I’ve been canoeing and kayaking since 1973, and paddle failures have been very uncommon. I’ve gotten easier on paddles with skill acquisition. If I’m open-boating, I carry a spare canoe paddle. If I’m in a decked boat, in whitewater or flatwater, I don’t carry a spare.