Is a lighter paddle REALLY worth it?

I’m considering upgrading from my aluminum Cannon paddles that came with my kayak to lighter ones (a little over 100 bucks for new paddles)

I usually paddle for 2-4 hour trips, mostly intracoastal waterways here in Florida, but some ocean and bay trips.

To the veterans out there, is it worth upgrading? Is there a marked difference in fatigue after a few hours?

I am 165lbs, 5’ 9", and paddle a Tarpon 100. I am in very good shape, but am addicted to kayaking and it seems I’m always eyeing the next level of gear.

No. Not for a $100
Cannon paddles are not bad as low end paddles go. For $100 you might get a bit lighter, but not sure how much better it would be. Might as well skip that step and get a really good $400 new paddle or a used one for a couple-hundred bucks if you want to see a real difference.

I didn’t think so
but a friend of mine let me try their ONNO paddle and I really liked the power it had. So, I got one for myself. What I didn’t realize until I started using it was that I could go significantly farther with less fatigue.

Look at aquabound at ~ $180
or better yet look into Onno paddles.

Yes a lighter paddle, with a stiff well designed blade, makes a huge different compared to cannon paddles. I started with cannon aluminum paddles, no way would I ever use them if given a choice.

I have an
Adventure Technology Ergo T4 Carbon fiber that came with my used kayak (my 1st kayak) and I don’t even want to think about what it would be like with a cheap paddle. I think they’re around $280 new, but I’m going to have to get another one for my other paddler. I’d imagine they make at least as big of a difference as the carbon fiber canoe paddles, which I’ve done some racing with in concrete canoes…

Big difference
I have 3 CF paddles and another on the way…all ONNO’s. Recently I was forced to use my wooden bending branches paddle and it felt like a club compared to the ONNO paddles.

If you want to progress toward
longer and faster you need to upgrade.

jack L

Paddle weight absolutely affects fatigue over a few hours.


– Last Updated: Jul-12-13 7:24 PM EST –

I've never regretted dropping big bucks on my AT bent-shaft carbon paddle. Having dodgy wrists, I'm a fan of the crooked shafts. I bought it before I had a boat, and used it while renting and demoing. You know it's good, because my wife now thinks it's hers.

There's a 230 cm Werner Kalliste bent-shaft on the p-net classifieds right now at a bargain price. Those aluminum paddles should act as spares, at best.

I agree
I agree with the sentiment that lighter is worth the money, but also that upgrading from a $50-75 paddle to a $100-125 likely wouldn’t buy you much. I’d save the money and shoot for one in the $200-250 range (but of course, don’t just go by price - feel them out in the shop or better yet, see if you can demo).

generally, yes
A lighter paddle is worth a lot. I don’t have the calculations handy, but, it has been shown that over a particular time and distance, with the number of strokes taken, and the weight lifted per stroke, you can save many, many pounds of lifting, by having a lighter paddle. More immediately, each stroke is also a pleasure.

A Werner glass bladed Camano sells at MSRP of $265. Sometimes you see them for sale near $200. That’s good bang for buck.

One caution, though. You might spend the bucks for a better paddle. Then, when you get to wanting to replace your boat with something more efficient, you’ll likely go with a narrower, lower boat. That may change the optimal paddle length… then, you may find that the paddle you splurged on is no longer right for you. You should probably check out the paddle length calculators on Werner’s and Epic’s sites. They take into account paddler height, boat width, paddling style, etc.

Yes and maybe
Yes - If all we are talking about is performance and efficiency. Get lightweight carbon with the blade size that’s best for you. If you get too big a blade, the work involved in pulling that may offset some of the work saved by the lighter weight.

Maybe - When you factor in the very high cost of a carbon paddle. We don’t know your budget; only you do. So I can’t answer that part of the equation.

I have 2 CF paddles and have never
regretted buying them. I also love my Onno . Get yourself a longer boat like a 140 and you will really feel a difference.

i dont know and i dont care
But I do know my cf onno is light and absolutely wonderful. Best and most irreplaceable piece of gear I own, including boats.

Ryan L.

It certainly has been for me.
Before I tried an all carbon paddle I was skeptical that they were worth the price.

That all changed when I tried a ZRE ultra light canoe paddle.

Since then, I’ve acquired multiple carbon canoe and kayak paddles of differing sizes & shapes.

The benefits are greatest when you also have arrived at the best size for you. I learned early on that I need paddles with blades that are on the smaller size.

Good luck with your upgrade.

1000 strokes per mile

– Last Updated: Jul-13-13 7:02 AM EST –

Times however many miles. As far as we are concerned a $400 paddle is worth it to get lightweight. (carbon foam core)

However, it is not clear that you would get that kind of advantage from the upgrade you are considering. If you are looking at $100 - $200 range, I'd suggest you look at the Aquabond line. Last I knew they had some pretty decently light paddles for that money, with a good swing.

Light and Low
For a light paddle at low cost, it’s hard to beat a Greenland paddle - >$20 for the blank, a few hours simple work with basic handtools, and voila, a light paddle that’s custom-fitted to you. Making them is bug-simple - just Google “carving greenland paddles” and you’re off to the races…

I second the notion
You absolutely should decide if you are happy with the boat you have before you buy a high end paddle and even then you should do a lot of looking and watch for a good sale. I would also highly recommend looking at the glass Werners. They are within a couple of ounces of the carbon paddles and if you watch for a sale, they are half the price.

Do not overlook a very important feature on any good paddle and that is the ferrule. In recent years there have been some huge improvements. I’m very partial to Werner’s new one, but there are lots of others.

If you’re anything like the rest of us, you will probably acquire a whole bunch of paddles over time.

A good paddle makes any boat
that it’s the right size for more pleasant to paddle.

A bad paddle, or too big a paddle, can make any boat use it with unpleasant to paddle.

The paddle may be more important than the boat.

Talk to a drummer in a band
They’ll switch to shorter sticks during a long night.

Repetitive hand motion is all about feel and response.