paddle power

I just started canoeing this year and I’m looking to get a new paddle. I have a wood paddle from walmart and a plastic/aluminum one from Dicks. Both do the job but I would like something a little nicer. I have noticed that even though the blades of both my paddles are the same size the plastic provides a lot more power. The wood paddle seems to “slip” through the water. The wood paddle feels better but its slows me down. Is this common with wood paddles or is it because it’s a cheap paddle?

Could be blade "design"
I put the word “design” in quotes because there was probably no thought applied to function by that maker of that paddle. I think sometimes a wood paddle having a blade that is extremely thick may not grab as well as one with a nice thin blade. I’m not sure, but I think I’ve felt that very thing when using such paddles, though it’s been a really long time (I wouldn’t paddle with such a clunker nowadays). If yours is like a lot of cheap wood paddles, it doesn’t deserve to be compared to anything else in terms of performance. At the very least, get a medium-grade wood paddle from a maker like Bending Branches or Sawyer (I like Sawyer a lot better, just between those two brands) and THEN start deciding if you don’t like the performance of wood paddles.

Featherbrand is a word not spoken around here.

Try this: See how far you can throw that paddle out into the water.

Then: Go out and get a “real” paddle. I’m sure others on here will have some suggestions.

I make my own paddles so can’t fairly advise on the ones to buy. I think you need a wider blade.

have given a fair amount if thought …

– Last Updated: Nov-19-10 11:42 PM EST –

...... to all the discussions that have came up here over the years regarding paddles (canoe single blade) .

Have tried to understand why people feel and think the way they do about thier paddles , and dispise some other paddles . I have my own preferences as well , but my standards don't seem to be very high apparently . Although I can (and do) appreciate some of the finer attributes in more expensive paddles such as beautiful wood craftsmanship , lightness of weight (to a degree) , ballance and smoothness in hand ... I find that my Carlisle 8" Beavertail is my favorite . They can be purchased direct from Old Town Canoe Co. sent to your door for about 58. bucks (that's not an impressive price and so goes that it must not be an impressive paddle I guess) . On the other hand , I can't remember any high (as in 150.-250. or more) priced paddle that I didn't like and have appreciation for , they just are not my favorite .

I have other finer made paddles and have used them enough , but still always return to my Carlisle 8" Beavertail and will use it 90+ percent of the time . I don't believe many here think it's anything special , some would even go as far as to degrade it and call it a piece of junk compared to a "real" paddle .

Perhaps much of what a person feels are better or worse qualities in a paddle has alot to do with what canoe they are paddling , where they are paddling it and what they desire to accompish when paddling .

It seems many here (probably most) go out in there boats to primarily paddle , cover a distance (of course with all the sights , sounds , picture taking , etc. accopanying) . A handful really do the WW thing primarily as thier reason to go paddle (I think that's an exciting thing and can relate , although doubt I will ever pursue real WW paddling as in seek it out solely for what it is) . Real WW is more like a fantasy in my mind , not a reality .

My canoes are first and fore most a tool to go fishing from (that's probably the biggest difference between my canoeing desire and most others) , they're tandems (16-9 & 16-10) and practically always used tandem . I like all the sights and sounds that go along with canoeing also , but fishing from it is the reason it goes out on the water mainly , seldom just to paddle around only .

It may run around a mountain reservour for a few days (go out 5 miles one way and return back , stopping at this spot or another to fish) . It may run around a pond or small lake , or most of time it's in a mountain river (with rocks) running both down and up current .

I like to know I can bash whatever is in my way if required and not concern about it . I like space and room in a canoe , I don't think 84 lbs. (one canoe) is heavy at all (acually has it's advantages in many cases) , the 72 lb. canoe is good too (Royalex) . I feel the same way about my Carlisle paddles , they don't have to be babied , I like that . Yet I think my 8" Carlisles are light also , well ballanced , feel good in the hand all day long , great for pushing it hard up river or down , covering distance on a reservour , you name it ... they do as good (and better at some things) than any of the other finer paddles I have ... so it's either I have yet to put my hands on a "real" paddle and just don't know the difference , or for some reason believe there really isn't any paddle that can beat it for how I use a paddle .

I do not like thick akward heavy clunkers , they make me think something like a 2x4 would be almost as good them . We have a Carlisle Golden Lite also (alum.& plastic) ... it's a good strong paddle , gets the job done well (and appreciated) . Those types have that T top grip like a rafter paddle .

So a paddle is what you think of it , how it serves you for where you use , what you do with it ... you'll most likely be aquiring many as time goes on always seeking one that you might think you'll like more , end up with a collection most of which you will like for one quality or another , but don't be surprised if you find your favorite to be the most versitile , practical and carefree paddle costing less than the finer ones . I like to look at all my paddles , makes me feel good , paddles are neat , but I depend on my Carlisle 8" Beavertail when it comes down to it !!

I’m pretty certain Feather Brand …
… paddles are some of those thick clunkers that remind me of a 2x4 … never paddled with one just held one once and couldn’t imagine using it unless I had to for some reason (as in a paddle is better than no paddle) .

better quality
I bought a demo canoe this past spring, first one in about 10 years or so (have a bunch of kayaks) so wanted to get a new paddle to go with it. Ended up with a FoxWorx bent shaft and love it. Never had tried a bent shaft canoe paddle and now I definately understand why they have become popular. It also weighs almost nothing and wasn’t grossly expensive.

Cheap paddles arn’t worth much, probably less than the amount paid.

Bill H.

The feather brand
was out of one of my fishing boats. I’m glad I tried it in my canoe before I needed it in my bigger boat. It will now be replaced as well. After taking another look at the 2 paddles I noticed the wood paddle is 1/2" thicker than the plastic one. Will most decent wood paddles be as thin as the plastic ones? My closest paddle shop is about 2 hours away. I will be close to one during my Thanksgiving travels and hope to stop in. If not I will have to make the drive or buy online. I just don’t know what to expect out of a wood paddle compared to plastic.

The burn I was refering to while exercising is mainly in my upper back with a little in my torso(where I need it the most). My arms never seem to get tired. I know I have poor technique but I’m slowly learning thanks to everyone on pnet and youtube. I hope to attend a paddling event or class next year and get some pointers. Paddling doesn’t seem to be too popular in my neck of the woods so it’s hard to meet local people and try out gear. Most folks around here would rather push there boats with 200 ponies instead of a paddle.

One last question. Is it worse to kneel with a bent or sit with a straight? I mainly kneel but sometimes sit if I have company. I know I will end up with a collection of paddles but I just need a good starting point. I think I want a wood paddle with a lot of power. Any recomendations?

Thickness reference

– Last Updated: Nov-22-10 4:10 PM EST –

My Sawyer Voyageur, beaver tail and whitewater paddles have an average blade thickness that's just a whisker less than 3/16th of an inch. The blade of the beaver tail tapers to a thickness along the mid-line of nearly 3/8ths of an inch, while the whitewater paddle and the Voyageur are a constant thickness across the full surface of the blade. My Bending Branches Willow is 5/16ths of an inch thick at the blade edges, and noticeably thicker along the mid-line.

Compared to those paddles (which are a long way from top-of-the-line), your Feather brand paddle is definitely a clunker.

Probably to sit with a straight

– Last Updated: Nov-22-10 4:10 PM EST –

Though bents were made for sitting, you can use them kneeling.

I am not sure that you should concern yourself too much with that now. I am guessing you have lots of rivers to run. Straights are more adaptable to river running and are easier in learning a variety of strokes (dynamic and static )

Its unavoidable. Soon enough you will have a collection.

Hopefully the store you visit will have Bending Branches paddles. I like the Espresso though they have a number of other non clunker paddles.
Its not terribly accurate to compare Wal Mart wood with Dicks plastic.

talking about the Carlisles 8" again …

– Last Updated: Nov-22-10 6:01 PM EST –

...... I'll ususally take one 54" and one 57" of that Beavertail along with me .

I find it is nice to switch lengths during the day . I'll use the longer 57" when I feel like paddling harder , want to go faster or fight stronger winds or current .

The 54" is very light , "plenty thin" enough blade . The 57" is built just a tad heavier , a "slightly" thicker blade .

You can call Old Town Canoe Co. and order by phone at this number ... 800-343-1555 .

I don't know about paddling 30-40-50-70 miles a day ... 20 is a walk in the park but doesn't leave much time for fishing (just have to start earlier and stay longer) ... what I do know about is 10-14 hour days out paddling and fishing , nasty winds , tough river currents upstream and down ... and pleasant conditions too .

No matter what paddle you get next , at some point get yourself a 54" Carlisle 8" Beavertail (not expensive but very nice paddle to use) ... if you don't like it enough , I'll consider buying it off you . I've only ever seen 1 or 2 come up for sale used (and I'm always looking at the used paddle market on eBay) , that ought to tell you something .

I have 4 at present , started with 1 ... only have one of each of my other "real" paddles .

20 miles a day is a walk in the park for
you? Dang, I’m really out of condition.

Could be he’s talknig about rivers

I do have almost unlimited endurance …

– Last Updated: Nov-23-10 8:35 PM EST –

...... in just about any strenous physical activity . I can sustain a relatively quick pace against high resistence conditions for hours on end . I can go and go and go with only slight notice of decreasing strength over 10-12 hrs. . At about 12 hrs. I begin to feel tired much sooner between breaks . It is important for me to keep refueling on the move with small snacks and fluids throughout a day of activity , but I can keep the pace from sunup to sundown plus some w/o any problems . I am not the athletic type , but the tough as nails type both physically and mentally (not brag just fact) . As time goes on I have noticed that I prefer a more liesurely pace than a running one though , but am still inclined to drive hard constantly and always trying to slow down a little more now a days . When not doing anything I tend to be as still as a church mouse , not the fidgity type at all .

I have been a construction worker all my life and am very tough endurance wise , do not wear out very easily at all . I have hardly any body fat and do not have big muscles so to speak either ... just lean and strong . My body is just about exactly the same as it was when I was 25 ... I'm only 56 now , maybe in another 10 yrs. something will change and I will begin to get weaker ??

Yep, I really need to start working out.
I’ve never had the type of endurance that you describe.

Need to build up to it gradually and often. Paddling once a week won’t do it. If you can go out for an hour 2 or 3 times a week and gradually increase the distance paddled and work on your technique it really doesn’t take forever to dramtically increase your endurance.

Much like any workout btw.

Bill H.

You know, the paddle is the primary hand tool of canoeing. Almost more than the canoe, it is what connects you with the water. There is some logic to buying good tools, maintaining them, and taking pride in using them properly. There’s also some logic (that I can’t quite see) to buying crap tools, not learning to use them correctly and trashing them.

The walmart paddle will work, just like a chisel can be used for opening a paint can.

and I’d bet a dime to a dollar …

– Last Updated: Nov-25-10 1:52 AM EST –

...... that someone who has really studied , understands , practiced and perfected the art of paddle control (such as an accomplished freestyler , world class racer or extreme WW paddler) could paddle rings around the majority of long time (and well experienced) paddlers here using that Walmart stick ... while this same majority can use the finest made high end paddle they want to that's available .

I believe it's the paddler 90 percent and the paddle 10 percent . A finer paddle doesn't make the paddler more skilled in paddle control , and the outcome in either case (worst paddle or finest paddle) will be very similar with the same paddler using them ... that's what I believe .

I'm not one of those who has studied and attempted to perfect the art of paddle control(s) othter than to do what I need a paddle to do which isn't much considering all that can be done with a paddle , but have found the way (mostly) to make my paddle strokes be highly efficient both on my body and the canoe's movement . No matter what paddle I'm using doesn't alter that very much , but a lighter paddle (to a degree) , more refined ballance and thickness (to a degree) does make it easier on me physically (stress wise) .

I don't disagree that tools designed with greater care from the git go for thier purpose will perform better than tools that are less refined (design wise) ... but the user of that tool is what makes 90 percent of the difference ... that's what I think .

In other words , I believe there are some (not many) paddlers who can take just about any paddle from a Walmart clunker to the finest hand made one and get them all to do what they desire (amazing things) with them with near equal perfection ... the paddler not the paddle is what is causing 90 percent of the control ... that is what I truely believe and you'd be hard pressed to convince me otherwise because a paddle is a very elemental object and all the refinements in the world won't change it very drastically as to what can be accomplished with it in a given individual's hands .

I also believe that most (as in practically all) paddlers will never take thier paddle control skills and perfect them to the level/degree that could come close to or exceed what a Walmart (or other basic paddle) paddle is capable of .

One doesn’t need to be an accomplished free-styler, world class racer or extreme ww paddler to be a skilled with a paddle. I found that it is actually quite fun to work on and develop good paddling and canoeing skills… no competition, no comparisons to others…just me becoming one with the canoe and paddle. And, I make my own paddles, just to further that connection.

There is a wonderful feeling that comes along with a cleanly executed j-stroke, with the zip of the blade returning submerged in the Canadian J, with the paddle entering the water without the slightest of splash.

Select your tools to fit your needs and aspirations,

and this is where I agree with you, if you’re not going to enjoy working on the technique and if your not going to paddle long distances or with great frequency, yes, any paddle will work…

…pretty much like I said, if you’re not going to do fine woodworking, you might as well use your chisels to open paint cans.