Looking to get a new paddle - advice needed

I have a 16 foot sea kayak and have been enjoying it thisseason but am looking to now upgrade my paddle. What I havebeen using is a 230cm harmony paddle which is light but not very stiff. I was thinkign of goign to a higher angle attack with a 220 cm paddle and I am currently looking at Bending Branches Slice Hybrid and a Aquabound Manta Ray. BOth are under150 bucks and seem light at 30ozor less.

Looking for suggestions and inputs.

I know I sound like a broken record, but do yourself a giant favor and look at and actually touch a Carlisle Expedition. Then find, or make the best deal you can for one and you won’t look back. Yes, they really are that good.

Just for the heck of it, I just took a look around the Internet and was a bit shocked at what some dealers are now trying to get for an Expedition. One place wants $252 and another wants $249. Those prices are ridiculous; you should be able to get one for $139, or less. I paid $120 for mine a couple years ago. Check with Amazon; I think they have them for $139.

Be aware that some “high angle” paddles have shorter blades than “low angle” paddles, so you might have to go to an even shorter paddle than you think, when actually transitioning from low angle to high angle stroke and also changing from low angle to high angle paddle, because the shaft length will be different, even though the overall paddle length is the same.

Ideally, the full blade is just completely submerged during the power portion of the stroke. I’m 5’6" and use a 205cm paddle in my 21" to 23" wide kayaks for my high angle stroke. I use a 225cm long paddle in my 28" to 30" solo canoes. 220cm seems too long for a high angle stroke, unless you have a long torso or the paddle blades are long and the shaft is short. Try using the manufacturer’s paddle size calculator.

I can’t help you with a specific paddle in that price range or weight, since my go to paddle is 21oz and costs 3x as much.

Congrats of getting lighter - makes a huge diff. But 220 may be too long for a high angle - as Yanoer says blades designed for a high angle are usually at the ends of shorter shafts than if they were for low angle paddling. A large variety of guys I know who paddle high angle run no more than 210 cm. Have you run one of the sizing charts, like Werner has? It may be worth your time.

But now I argue against myself… as you get into better blades they will often insist that they be paddled high or low as the blade shape was designed to do. If you try to force a high angle paddle into low you will get more flutter. I don’t think that either of the paddles you mention are so picky, but it is worth checking before you invest bucks. Or stay lower if that is where these paddles behave best.

Length of paddle is a preference, and there is no right or wrong, just what works for you.

That said, I agree with the others. Most consider 220 cm to still be a low angle type of length. If you want high angle, you probably would be looking at 200-215.

But switching from 230 to 220 would likely allow you to go slightly higher angle than you have been doing.

Well the Bending Branches Slice Hybrid 2-Piece Telescoping goesfrom 215 to 230cm so I get some play there. I have looked at the charts but maybe they are missleading. I am 6 feet tall in a 23-24inch wide boat.

I would be willing to go shorter - just not sure what to look at. I really don’t want to drop a ton right now on a paddle- that is why I set a max of $150. As for the carslile expidition best price I have seen is around 200 bucks - I might be willing to get one if I could find one in the 130 price range.

The charts are putting you on the longer side of shorter because of the width of your boat. Must be a transition boat? Full out sea kayaks for your size usually run an inch plus narrower, unless you have a ton of girth.

So you do have more boat to clear than some here coming from closer to 22 inch wide boats. That will (correctly) increase the paddle length recommendation a bit.

Maybe best if you can find one like you mentioned that has adjustable length. Mess with that and spme more paddling time before being seduced by the $500 paddles that are fusdier about your stroke.

Aquabound makes good paddles and Campmor sells them at good prices.

Looks like I have to be the one… I paddle a 16 foot kayak and I prefer the Greenland paddle. Check this out:


I will probably get some argument on this comment, but here goes anyway. Whichever paddle you decide on, I would strongly recommend that you check to see how rigid the shaft is. Believe me, you do not want one that is easy to bend. There will be times when you have to power up and that is no time to be paddling with a wet noodle. You want that paddle to respond immediately with no spring in the shaft. You don’t want that thing to feel like it might snap just when you need it most.

Too stiff can be hard on my joints. I prefer a bit if flex, but that is an individual choice.

Adjustable length is quite handy. My main paddles are adjustable.

I like carbon shafts. Don’t know where they fit on the flex scale but are pretty rigid.


For an extra $50 here, you will have a top notch performance paddle. I’m sitting here with a Werner Cypress 215 cm and a Bending Branches Navigator 220 cm. Standing on the floor, the Navigator is indeed 5 cm longer. Measuring between the blades, the shaft of the Cypress is 6.5 cm longer in between the blades. The Navigator’s blades are a little longer, and a little narrower. The effect is that the shaft is actually shorter on the 220 Navigator than it is on the 215 Cypress. I’m 6’, and the 220 Navigator is a very nice high angle paddle for me.

If you use rotation and keep your paddlers box in a proper high angle stroke, your stroke starts right next to your hull where you plant it. As you rotate, your boat moves forward past your paddle. If you’re not arm paddling, your blade will not be right next to your boat at the end of the stroke. It will slip out to the side a distance. (This side-slip motion is where wing paddles get their extra “lift”.) If you’re not arm-paddling, you will not experience a fluttering blade. The Navigator is not dihedral. If you pull the paddle straight back via arm-paddling, there is a potential for flutter. I assume that since you’re thinking about your forward stroke enough to be thinking about high-angle paddling, this won’t be an issue for you. I’ve never had any issue with it, but I understand how poor forward stroke technique could potentially lead to flutter in a non-dihedral paddle. What I’m saying here, is that flutter is not an issue with this paddle.

What is the main reward in the Navigator’s paddle shape? I always think leaving out the dihedral gives a little bit more solid catch. But I think the main advantage is in blade angle control and maneuvering. Both a spoon shape edge-to-edge and a dihedral shape edge-to-edge, when a paddle is held verticle slicing through the water on the move, will cause the paddle to curve one direction or the other. The less of this you have, the less turbulence is created in your maneuvering strokes, and the more smooth and natural the control of your blade angle feels. This is also true of sculling. While you can get used to controlling a paddles natural tendency to curve as it slices through the water, I find it to be like a breath of fresh air when you don’t have to.

Paddle swing weight? Is that a marketing gimmick? Not at all when it works in practice. If I plop one of the Navigator blades in the water, it will come right back up to the surface due to the buoyancy of the wood blade. What that means in practice is that a submerged blade is just a bit better than weightless. It actually has that touch of built in lift. This paddle has a noticeably light swing weight when you’re in your forward stroke cadence.

So you know how when you spend more money, you can often get a noticeably better feel from a paddle. I put the Bending Branches Navigator with other nice paddles at the top of the heap. You can get a different feel, but not necessarily a better feel. It works great for a high-angle stroke, no reason you can’t take a lower angle, and it’s truly a top-notch feel for maneuvering and sculling. And the shaft has just enough of an oval that you can positively orient the blade for rolls and re-enter and rolls and such, just by the feel of the shaft, which is no small benefit in my experience.

This is a very nice paddle at a bargain price.

At 189 I may pull the trigger on that Navigator 220 cm - littke concerned that the navigator is not listed as a high angle paddle on the bending branches website- I think 210 or 220 would work for me for a higher hangle of attack - 220 should probably work but if it is mean more for a low angle that makes me think…

Well don’t be fooled by that $349 regular price thing. I’m not saying that the Navigator at $189 wouldn’t be a pretty good deal, but the stated regular price is a bit out of line. When you get into that price range ($189) there are a lot of very good paddles that deserve a look.

Yep, Swift paddles are $249 and are good paddles.

I’m mostly a pretty experienced ocean and rough water paddler. I’m not a seasoned, dedicated racer, but I’m occassionally good enough to win local races. I’ve been sea kayaking for well over a decade, and regularly give considerable attention to my forward stroke. There is no reason not to consider the Navigator a high angle paddle that I can figure. It works great in that regard. I haven’t used anything at that price that I would rather paddle with. A person may consider paddling foolish just in general, but if you’re going to paddle, that would not be anything of a foolish choice. My trips to Wisconsin have always lead me to believe that there are a lot of good, honest, friendly, and hard-working folks up there, and the Bending Branches Navigator, I believe, is a very good reflection on them.

well am between the navigator ($189) and the Slice Hybrid Plus ($150)-

I consider the Navigator a significant upgrade from the Slice Hybrid, and more than worth the extra $40. The two will have a fairly significant difference in feel.

Yes, this is typical.

Two months ago we had a paddle meeting topic at the club meeting. Members were to bring a paddle to the meeting and tell why they liked it. There were plenty of paddles of different designs. The one constant is that everybody had a reason for using their particular paddle. Paddle is a personal fit decision. The only ones that had one paddle were the ones that selected a paddle solely on cost alone. Some thought their paddle was better at some things, others disagreed. It was nice to be able to talk, touch, look and feel the individual paddle styles. We often trade paddles on trips for a little while to try out different designs.

High angle paddling does not necessarily equate to shorter paddles. I paddle a Greenland 230 cm. I’ve tried shorter and it isn’t the same. My Greenland has more surface area than many euro paddles. Little short paddles might be better for some, but sweeps and braces are better with longer paddles. Yes, there might be more stress, but that can be eased by slowing down the pace. We have one member that uses a 240 cm with his new 21" beam boat. There is a Greenland storm paddle but that stroke is just strange all over and not easily related to other paddle styles.

Paddles like shoes and gloves are a personal decision.