Paddle Choice Question


Last weekend I took my new Old Town Pack canoe out for the first time. I replaced my Mad River Independence with the Pack because I wanted something better to fish out of. The Pack is nice and short and has more width than my old boat.

One difference that I noticed right away was the Pack doesn’t paddle as as straight as the Mad River did. I’m not a design expert but it must be because of the shape that makes it want to turn easier. This is a feature that I had wanted anyway.

My question is about paddle choice. I have a bent shaft paddle now, and I have to switch sides constantly. Would a kayak paddle make more sense with the shorter canoe? Would it be easier to negotiate a kayak paddle than having to reverse grip every stroke with my bent shaft paddle?

My dimensions are 6’ tall with about a 35" sleeve. My canoe is 32" wide. If a kayak paddle is the way to go, how do you measure up for one?

This is really all I am asking about. Everything else is great. This smaller boat can go just about anywhere, and I am happy with it.

Thanks in advance for any advice, Eric

Old Town Pack
I have an Old Town Pack also and know exactly what you’re talking about. One hard stroke with my paddle and I can turn the boat 45 degrees. You’ll find that less aggressive paddling, with allot of paddle dragging will keep you going fairly straight. There is allot of wasted energy there!

I’ve ordered, and am currently awaiting delivery of a new FoxWorx 260mm KS kayak paddle. Fox makes it longer just for Solo use in a canoe like ours. I’m 6 feet tall, so a 260mm in a 32"wide canoe should be perfect. Fox also makes a 280mm KS, and will make any length you ask them as long as you’re willing to wait a bit.

A double bladed paddle in that boat is just wahat the Dr ordered!!

Old Town Pack
Thanks for the quick reply. I guess I will have to look into getting a kayak paddle soon. It looks like we are the same size so if that works for you, it’ll be good for me. I have just never used one before, but if it helps me get to my fishing spot easier, it’s worth the money.

Thanks again ,Eric


– Last Updated: Apr-29-09 1:28 PM EST –

be better off just getting a straight shaft canoe paddle and using it for some time and working on all the suttle nuances and variations of the single blade stroke.

the pack is able to be paddled without switching sides, but you need to concetrate on a modified J stroke for some ...

try using the blade at a angle upon entry, so that the outside edge (verticle stroke) is forward slightly so that as you move the paddle the vector force holds the canoe from turnning.

as you increase the power on the paddle, increast the angle....also run the J stroke slightly in a c style and under the canoe slightly at the center of the stroke.....pronounce your J at the end, until you master the technique...also learn to edge the canoe...even bycycles are ridden using the technique of edging.....HMMM leanning

as you get better at the technique, you will be able to lessen the J at the end to nothing but a small flip and the C at the beginning will all but dissapear.....Butt Time is the only thing that will fix a stroke, not a Kayak paddle in a canoe.

The single blade when used correctly is a real joy for mannurvering a canoe :)

If you don't mind some advice from a "these Days" Kayaker...I've done thousands of miles in a canoe ...everything from racing, touring, tripping and White Water....started canoeing almost 50 years ago

Best Wishes

Thankyou Roy
No, I don’t mind the advice at all. That’s how you learn! I am not a canoeing afficianado like I’m sure alot of the members here are. I have had a few different boats though. I just never learned some of the subtle techniques that make paddling better.

Thankyou for taking the time to reply to my post, Eric

solo canoes
I’m sure your paddling technique is just fine, but the boat design really begs for a kayak paddle. It’s a small, and very light boat. The Pack sits high in the water, with very little boat surface on the water. This characteristic makes for a very responsive boat, but too responsive to be used with a single blade canoe paddle. As I stated, I can track mine in a straight line but it’s very slow with allot of paddle dragging, this is the most inefficient way to paddle the OT Pack. Anyone who says paddling the OT Pack with a canoe paddle is wise, has never been in an OT Pack. Try a kayak paddle (longer than standard because it’s a canoe…sits higher than a kayak) and you’ll never again bring a canoe paddle in your Pack. Most paddle stores will let you borrow one to test it out, at least they do around here. Good luck.

Thanks MJFlores
you have helped me make my point that I have wanting to make for awhile. I am quite sure that those who have migrated to using a kayak paddle in a canoe do so as they do not know how to paddle a canoe straight and have not bothered to learn how to do it. “I can track mine in a straight line but it’s very slow with allot of paddle dragging, this is the most inefficient way to paddle the OT Pack” Rubbish! You do not drag your paddle when doing a correction stoke. No, no no! I suggest you learn how to do a proper correction stroke and then give others advice. A correction stroke like the Canadian stroke is a very efficient, smooth and uninterrupted that combines recovery with correction.

Have you paddled an Old Town Pack
with a single blade paddle? Just asking.

The answer to your question…has MMC ever paddled an OT Pack with a single bladed paddle…the answer is CLEARLY NO. It doesn’t sound like he’s ever been in one.

No matter the sport, there are always people who cant adapt themselves to a superior technique and this is a perfect example. There were those, in the dawn of Fords introduction to the automobile market, that swore they’d never give up ther horses.

I’ll gladly paddle with anyone who wants to go…me in my Pack using my kayak paddle, and them in a Pack with “whatever the want to use”. If they’re using a canoe paddle, I’ll be far ahead of them, going straighter, with less effort, feeling more rested, and smiling while they stick to their completely inefficient paddling techniques, flipping their paddles at the end of each stroke, dragging for correction, watching their bow wag from port to starboard like the tail on a happy labrador retriever…LOL, it’ll be fun.

I have zero problem taking my 15 footer out with my bent shaft canoe paddle and having a peaceful paddle session and fishing trip, but the Pack…forget it, it’s more of an open kayak than a canoe. Try reading reviews for the Pack, these are written by actual owners who have really paddled a Pack (not Internet armchair paddlers who pretend they have). Read what the overwhelming majority have embraced as their paddle of choice with this boat design.

MMC, what else are you a hold out on? Cant be the computer because you’re on here insulting me for recommending the use of a kayak paddle in a canoe and claiming it’s becuase in my 35+ years of strictly canoeing that I never learned how to paddle. Let me guess, you still use an icebox instead of a fridge right? lol. Are ya thinking of signing up for that new “Cable TV” all the kids are talking about these days? Haha

Try double blading.
See if you like it. Chances are you will. There are downsides to DB’ing:

  • It is wetter, even with driprings than a solo “C” stroke. About the same as hitting and switching with a bent shaft.

  • Doesn’t stow as easily as a single blade

  • Traditionalists will belittle you.

    If a DB works for you, great!


Possible Long GP?
Had Lumpy Paddles make me a 104" (264cm) Greenland Paddle for my W-Vag UL and really like it. 3 1/4" blades, low shoulers, and opened the loom up to 22". Very east to use, easy on the body, and plenty of power and control for windy and rough conditions and chasing local yaks. Only challenge is getting it stowed in the boat when single blading. Increasing number of soloists using/trying GPs around here. Might borrow a long one and try it. R

Pack Paddle
When I first got my pack I thought the only way to go straight was with a kayak paddle but after a while I only used the double paddle to cross open water in the wind. A large blade straight shaft canoe paddle works really well. The pack can go straight paddling from one side but it takes practice. It will always turn on the first couple of strokes from a dead stop so just use a couple of gentle J strokes to get it moving. Then do a J stroke with an exaggerated J (more correction than the average canoe) until you find the sweet spot. You can also choke up on the straight shaft blade with the grip against your elbow to paddle one handed to adjust boat position while fishing. I never felt the bent shaft blade was a good match for the pack but others may disagree. A non feathered 240cm kayak paddle works pretty well if you decide to go with a double.

DBL blade as wet as hit & switch with
bent shaft? Not in my experience, but I use a relatively high angle stroke when using a double blade paddle in canoes and a 230cm length for higher torque and better rotation.

I get MUCH less water in the boat doing sit & switch with either a bent shaft or straight shaft paddle than I get with a 230cm kayak paddle and the water that does come in the boat is toward the front of the boat, rather than on my head, legs and feet, as it is with the 230cm kayak paddle. Even with a 240cm Werner Camano, I still get too much water in the canoe.

I haven’t tried a kayak paddle longer than 240cm, so maybe they get about the same or just slightly more water in the canoe than a bent shaft singlbe blade paddle does when doing sit & switch.

hone those paddling strokes = control
You might wanna sometime try just using a standard straight shaft/blade paddle and work on those canoeing strokes.

A short canoe will be just as unwieldy with a double-bladed as a canoe paddle if you don’t know the secret to obtaining straight ahead momentum with strokes! The J-Stroke with a brief, but solid “Pop” in a short pry is one of the keys… You’ll be surprised how much you like paddling once you can thoroughly control the boat.

A little draw at beginning of forward stroke can help re-alignment as well.


GP is always a possibility
I have a 90" Mitchell Horizon and have always meant to give it a try in my Magic. For a Pack, I bet a longer length would be required.