help me understand

I’m confused about why folks are so passionate about Greenland paddles. I have a really wonderful, foam core Warner (Werner? whatever - I like it), small shaft paddle. the large blade helps me keep up with the big boys (sort of). What are the benefits of a greenland?

i tried one briefly, but not
long enough to get a real sense of it…it’s my understanding that’s it’s less wear on your joints.something to consider for sure. i would like to make one and give it an honest try and see for myself. a great winter project maybe. be open minded and try lots of different stuff…'cuz you just might discover something you really like , even though you never could imagine it. and maybe now is not your time to try a paddle like this, but in the future! the gentleman that let me try his said it took about a week to really get use to it and now won’t go back. i keep hearing that and it peaks my interest! good luck.

keeping up
In my experience, there is no speed compromise with my greenland paddle versus my euro. I use both, and enjoy each for different things. The euro paddle is better for strong maneuvering strokes and recoveries. The Greenland is easier on the body for long upwind slogs and general cruising. For me, the two complement eachother perfectly.

Many good things
First, I don’t know what blade you have but I have found that a big blade actually was slower than a smaller one. That is because the larger blade size I had on my Epic (same size as the Werner Ikelos) was too much for me to be able to easily increase my cadence especially into the wind. I went to a Werner Cypress as my primary blade, definately smaller, and automatically upped the cadence because it drew more easily. On my very first time out with this blade, I as well as my (all male) paddling companions noted that I was doing much better at keeping up in wind etc.

That ties to the GP discussion - speed is as much about cadence as blade size, and considering that the real size of a GP blade is not nearly as reduced as people tend to think it is, a properly fitted GP can be as fast as the Euro. Like the Euro, it boils down to technique.

I switch around so I am not an advocate either way, nor am I terribly good with a GP. But here are the things I’d cite as advantages -

Easier on the upper body and joints

Much easier to learn to roll, at least a layback type

In my experience to date, as good or better than a Euro at turns like bow rudder, cross bow rudder, low brace, high brace etc. The tendency of wood to float at whatever angle and the chance to easily change the length of the support paddle side makes it less fussy than many Euros.

Generally easier to mess with in wind, do things like shorten one side of the other on the fly if it helps to get more paddle on one side.

The regular brace is as solid as a Euro, but it does require a good bit of rotation to do right and for me that is presently the rub. I can do it but not necessarily as fast as I may need to rotate for a brace in a real near-capsize.

Can be made/acquired much cheaper than something like a good foam core Euro.

The hard core GP folks can, I am sure, come up with more.

I Switched Completely

– Last Updated: Sep-17-09 9:24 AM EST –

Sold my last Euro a month or so back. GPs:


don't catch much air (not sure why).

are naturally indexed - always know the blade angle. sunscreen-slick hands aren't a problem like with the Euro.

feel better in the hand than resin.

manuever under water much faster than the Euro.

simpler - no left or right or up or down.

won't scratch up your boat (unless you epoxy the ends)

What Celia said, and . . .
it just feels good.

I recently went on a 2-day, 40-mile paddle at the coast – supposed to be a tune-up for a race. The interesting thing was that of the 7 kayaks (all commercial hard shells, all but one 16 to 18 feet long, and all loaded with water and camping gear), 5 were being driven with Greenland paddles.

Easy to learn to roll with a GP too – but Celia said that. :slight_smile:

G in NC

Best To Try One…
…and see how you like it.

We’ve used used euro-type paddles since we started kayaking in '01, and only recently tried the GPs. We’ve found that we haven’t lost any speed, and that the paddle is a lot less tiring to use. Last time out, we paddled for about 4 hours; neither I or my wife felt any fatigue, and could have kept going. The GP is somehow just ‘smoother’ in the water…

Why? Well, my best guess is that the long, skinny blade ‘slips’ more than the euro blade, especially at the start of each stroke. A big euro tends to ‘catch’ solidly at the start of the stroke, with every catch being a mini shockload as you start to overcome the inertia of the water. That resistance is also spread over a greater length of the GP blade, with a lot of it closer to the hand than with a euro - if you think of the blade end of the paddle as a lever, the euro’s blade is at the end of the lever, and not spread along it’s length - hence, more initial effort to move the paddle.

Then there’s the paddle’s inherent bouyancy - being all wood, it floats. I find that it tends to ‘pop’ out of the water on the recovery, involving less lifting to get the blade out of the water and back in position for the next power stroke. Great for bracing (and swimming!), too…we don’t roll, so can’t comment on that…

Finally, it’s tres cost-effective. My new GP cost $6.78 Cdn., plus a few pennies of electric power for the portable planer. Took an afternoon to turn a white cedar 2x4 into a usable paddle, and we enjoy making our own paddles (and kayaks) anyway. If you have a friend with a spare GP, ask him or her to let you try it; if you like it as much as I did my friend’s spare, you can always “admire” it out of him or her like I did…:->))

A few other things
I use mostly GP but practice my euro skills too.

You hold a GP right where the loom widens so you always have an index of the blade angle. This is an enormous benefit when learning to roll. When you roll with a GP, you are holding one end of the blade so one half the paddle doesn’t have to be put on top of the kayak. This makes the angle parallel to the water and easier to handle.

I know a few fellow paddlers who used the GP for a year or two and went back to the euro for the stronger bracing. So, the best thing is to try one and see for yourself how it feels and what you like or dislike.

I paddle with euro users and GP users all the time and nobody is doing anything that the other paddle users cannot do except for those who worked at learning fancy GP rolls. BTW: your big blade is not what is allowing you to keep up with your friends, it’s the engine.

for the same reason you like yours
it works. Your ability to keep up with other paddlers has nothing to do with having a big blade, it has to do with how you use your body. I paddled in 25mph+ winds with a friend who was towing another paddler while using a Greenland paddle. I never used a Greenland enough to become comfortable with it but was blown away by the ability to roll and make recoveries within a roll using a skinny stick

…Come to the dark side, Lee…
You know you want to… :wink:


– Last Updated: Sep-17-09 11:08 AM EST –

Many good points above - I'll add a couple. I use a GP about 3/4 of the time, it's easier on my wrists and elbows which are finicky after years of carpentry. The ease on the joints and reduced fatigue is probably mostly due to the smooth power curve when using a GP. The blade is long and enters the water over a longer time, so the power exerted (and forces on the joints) begins and ends more gradually than with a Euro blade. A Euro blade really needs to be fully immersed before power application to avoid ventilation, and the tendency is to spear it in the water then pull hard - tough on the joints. My GP strokes tend to be longer, so the power is applied more slowly as well.

When used with a canted blade, a good GP generates lifting forces, same as a wing paddle. Someone with good technique can really move with a GP, and it looks deceptively smooth and easy.

Also, I suggest borrowing a good GP to check it out. There are good and bad paddles, and a bad one just feels like a plank. I made my own during a course and it's OK, but I subsequently got one from a talented builder and it's much better. The physical differences seem minor, but the difference in the water is obvious and major. I was a convert after using the good paddle for a while, not from the one I made.

BTW, there are video tutorials and paddle plans available at

PS I still use my foam-core AT paddle about 1/4 of the time. But mostly it's just my very sexy spare and loaner.

not to be passionate about … it does everything and feels like it carr-ess-es the water (like a soft hand on a well oiled thigh does)

the power builds durring the stroke, not all at once at the beginning…

A Euro blade can also be used gracefully, but a greenland paddle lends itself naturally to gracefull paddling and becomming a part with the water as in swimming with a boat.

Best Wishes


I like some of these statements
and others are interesting but maybe misguided (Kudzu I can scratch my deck with anything wood or not!)


The big thing that I am surprised no one else mentioned is this:

I feel like I have a connection to history and another culture when I use a wooden greenland paddle. It’s perhaps a misguided feeling, but it is real enough for me.

When you use the same style of paddle that was used by ancient hunters, or even modern day people in Greenland (and the rest of the arctic that uses a similar paddle for that matter) it offers meaning to the experience beyond the pleasure of just paddling.

For people that don’t paddle it would be like walking out along a trail in some one else’s old leather boots, or in a wooden wagon for fun, you sort of step into history and into a different way of looking at things when you use a traditional paddle.

Learning to use the paddle for all of my strokes including all the bow rudders, sideslips, and draws has been great fun, I have to admit I for the most part learned to paddle with a traditional paddle. The rolls and rolling in general have been very enlightening to my paddling. The tradition behind the rolls is fascinating, e.g., why you might perform one roll over the other.

I really enjoy getting the MASIK from to read about how the skin boats are made and used. When I went to training camp and heard Harvey Golden speak, it was immensely gratifying to hear about the variety of skin boats and paddles within arctic culture. If it weren’t for paddling, I don’t think I would have ever learned about them with the depth of experience I have today.

Maybe for those with no imagination, or no poetry in their souls (brian I am looking at you), it’s just a way of getting from point a to point b. Despite the fact that I use both paddles I still love the traditional paddle. I think the traditional paddle is a great tool. However, if I am trying to do something specific, surf, rough water play, I do consider ALL the tools available and use the best one. :slight_smile:

You guys are a hoot! Caressing well oiled thighs, stroking, etc.! To the dark-side poster - yes, I do want to try one and hope to soon. Thanks for all the feedback - I will try it.

I Wish…

– Last Updated: Sep-17-09 3:07 PM EST –

I wish kayak manufacturers made decks from the same stuff Werner makes paddle blades with. :-)

I dislike the greenland stick.
Maybe if the shaft was half the diameter of what it is I could get used to it, but I love my ONNO with the thin diameter shaft.

I have at the urging of many of my paddling friends tried them on numerous times, but it feels like paddling with a rounded 2x4 to me.

I have one that I won in race drawing, and never use it. I would have given it away a long time ago, but “the bride” keeps saying she wants to try it.

Just me- set in my ways - why change?



Brother Jack!
I had the same issue. I think it was due to having my hands on handlebars so much. I took my paddle to my buddy’s house and he modified it with a router. Let me know if you want to customize yours when you’re in the neighborhood. It didn’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes.

I’m with you, barrylyn
I had a GP paddle. Did nothing for me. Even my favorite old wind swift has taken a back seat to my Werner since I discovered the advantages of a larger blade in the surf. To each his own. I’m just not a GP-er.

100% GP convert here
For the first 3+ years of my paddling, I used Euro paddles only. I loved them, and got quite good at using them with great efficiency and aesthetic refinement. But then, I’ve always been the curious sort, so I’d been thinking about GPs for a bit when someone advertised a few used GPs for sale. I purchased them. Within minutes of their arrival, I was on the water. Since then (over eight years ago now), I’ve not once used my trusty old Werner paddles.

Just as it took me no time at all to realize my preference for Greenland style boats, I was immediately impressed with the GPs. It didn’t take long to get used to them, and I’ve enjoyed learning/refining my techniques ever since. I thought I loved Euro paddles, but I had no idea how much more I would come to love using the GPs. For me, there are absolutely no disadvantages, and many advantages over the Euro style paddles. Certainly, to each our own, but without question, it’s GPs for me. :slight_smile:


I use a GP about 3/4 of the time,
Though I use a Euro (usually my Epic Full Carbon Active Tour)for moving water and surf, I use a GP for most other, non whitewater, paddling.

My reasons have been stated well by others and include less fatique and ease of sculling and rolling. I can paddle longer at a quicker pace with my GP than with a Euro. Rolling is such a breeze and the GP forces me to slow down my roll resulting in better technique and more success.

Al Mapes made my GPs. I enjoy the fact that they were made by a friend. I also smile that I use my under $200 GP more than my well over $400 Euro :wink: