Lightweight River Touring Paddle

I’m thinking of treating myself to a new river paddle for use with my solo canoe. CII would be the maximum. I’m thinking of a carbon fiber model, such as the BB Black Pearl. Blade seems a little aggressive though, possibly tiring for all day use. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Im a big fan of ZRE’s Black Rec model. you can select the blade width with all ZRE’s so you could just specify a blade on the smaller side if you like. I prefer blades under 8", and the ZRE’s work great for this.

I personally like the power surge blade more, but there is nothing wrong with their regular blade as well. The ZRE’s are 4oz lighter (with the carbon grip, which I highly recommend you get) and have the option of a smaller blade (100sqin vs 105 on the BB) and the ZRE is cheaper too.

The BB might be more durable though. (just based on weight - I assume more carbon means greate strength in general, though I have had no problems with the 12oz paddles. I also have an 8.5oz Power Surge Light that I have damaged twice, but I was being dumb and dont blame the paddle in any way.)

I recommend you treat yourself to a carbon paddle, whichever you choose. Once you use a light (12-16oz) or ultralight (7-10oz) paddle its hard to go back to wood.

Second the ZRE Black Rec. Mine is 9 years old, has a lot of miles on it, and is in great shape. I will often carry a club* along for when it gets shallow, rocky, & a bit steep.

  • either one of the old wood bent shafts or a straight shaft Horizon Line from my Whitewater days.

+1 on the ZRE. You won’t be sorry.


+3, sort of. While I also frequently paddle a ZRE Black Rec as well, I wouldn’t rule out a wooden paddle, or “club”. There are some very good and light wooden paddles available, especially if you look at a blade that combines wood and carbon fiber. The Sanborn Nessmuk is between 12 and 14 ozs depending on length and is actually a little less expensive than the ZRE. On a cold day, I find myself grabbing a paddle with a wooden shaft over one of my ZREs. Maybe it’s all in my head, but my hands seem to stay colder on the carbon fiber. I’ve also got a couple of custom all-wooden bentshafts that are in the 14-15 oz range that are a pleasure to paddle. I don’t know where you are, but if you’re in Canada, I’d take a look at Ripple FX paddles as well.