how significant is foam core to you?

is it a nice to have or need to have? do you find the paddling benefits substantial? if you paddle with a foam core blade, then a non foam core blade do you notice the difference if you’re not thinking about it? i have one of each, am considering another, lighter paddle, and some of options at the high end are not foam core, hence the question…

I have both…
and really don’t notice that much difference except that the foam core allows for a smooth back and a quieter entry. The increased buoyancy may be a plus or a minus.

I wouldn’t base my selection of a new paddle on whether it had foam or not, just what feels good.

Noticeable difference

– Last Updated: Feb-27-07 10:29 PM EST –

I paddled a Werner Molokai (all carbon, big blades) for several years and was quite happy with it. Then a friend let me test his Ikelos. I'm not someone who has to run out and get the newest piece of gear, but I thought I'd see how I liked the foam core.

Within a week, I'd ordered my new paddle.

So what did I like about the foam core:

- The foam core doesn't require a spine on the back of the blade to add strength, so the Ikelos has a smooth backface...this reduces cavitation and makes linking of vertical strokes much smoother.

- The blade literally pops out of the water at the end of strokes...over long crossings there's less work/less fatigue.

Here's a review of the Ikelos by Chris Duff that I think captures it perfectly:

I basicly agree with you well put
I enjoyed the smoothness of foam cored paddles.

i owned a Weren Kalliste bent shaft
for a bit…weighed like 26 oz…HATED IT…felt too light in my opinion…i felt that i could not trust it because it was so light…plus RI rocks would rip it open…

for surf and the occasional i use a seven2 airidium…it has an almost complete solid shaft with BIG air pockets on the backface of the blades…works great…the air pockets cause the blades to rise rapidly in a roll or bracing situation…

i have heard of people popping this pocket and filling up their blade but i have not had this happen…


I am not a great form paddler by any means, have spend all day in a boat and in conditions using both my foam core paddle and a good quality Lerner plastic one. For moment to moment paddling both were fine - good blades and overall light enough. And I like not having to feel fussy about the Lerner blade in rocks compared to my foam core paddle. The Lerner also did fine in bracing and paddling in runs to ride washing surf over rocks - didn’t notice any diff.

But I did miss my foam core paddle when I had to roll up.

Not For My Use…
foam core bouyancy makes the blade feel slow, for me, in blade entry and maneuvers for surfing. I prefer the slicey, non bouyant feel of a good carbon blade. Don’t need the bouyancy for rolling either. So, no advantage.

All depends what you want/like to do.


And tendency to dive

– Last Updated: Feb-28-07 11:18 AM EST –

If I tense up I am often still fighting a diving blade. I am more likely to notice I am doing it with the foam core than non - as above a factor of my lousy form. If you don't have that problem...

not that significant
but my favorite paddle for years was a Lightning Offshore, no core, STRONG center spine. It wore out and I got an Epic with foam core. It’s very nice. Methinks the issue is whether you like the paddle and go from there.

Prefer non-foam
I’d recommend you give one a try before buying. Some people love them, some people don’t.

For Ding Dongs and Twinkies, important
For whitewater paddles, eh! I do prefer a wood core paddle, stronger and more flexible than foam core, and somewhat more floaty than, say, a plain Werner.

paddles i have
i’ve got an Epic Signature Active Tour (could they have made a longer name?) and a Big Spoons 150 touring paddle. the BS is not foam core, but a great paddle all the same. it’s a bit heavy (35oz) but very solid, great catch, and extra nice around rocks. a great shaft index as well.

the Epic is fantastic for sure. it’s foam core seems a bit slimmer than say some of the Werners. seems i’ve become a ridiculous gear snob however, and as i demand more from myself i demand more from my gear. i want lighter and better yet. my Epic is 4 years old and weighs 29 oz. looking at the Epic site, i see that they advertise that same model as being 23.5 oz. i contacted them about this and they said weights have been coming down over the last few years, but mine may just have been a heavier batch. when i paddle with friends 25 oz paddles, dam, i don’t want to go back to my Epic which now seems heavy.

so there are some really nice paddles out there, like ONNO that don’t do foam core but make awesome and very light sticks. i’m looking at my next paddle being in the 20-23 oz range. like the rest of us, i’m not getting any younger. so i’m trying to figure out how much i like foam core myself and how valuable others find it. like most things it seems almost completely subjective.