Paddle Recomendations?

After some good advice from this board I ordered my first rec. canoe, a Mad River 14TT. Now I need some advice on paddles and Pfd’s. I’ve seen the rule of thumb, between chin and nose, idea. I really need to start this off on a pretty low budget so I’m looking at Carlisle’s cheaper paddles.

Are there products I should stay away from? I’ll be picking up the canoe from REI in Austin and I get 10% off while I’m there.

I’l be paddling with my 7 year old son. Any recomendations on paddles for him? Should I attach a leash? We’ll be doing some basid I & II level water but, we’re likely to go out of the boat a few times.

Pfd’s? Any suggestions? I’m watching a few on ebay.

Thanks for the help! Dwayne Scates

As far as the PFDs
just make sure they are the right size and reasonably comfortable, then wear them all the time. I don’t know much about the paddle question. I picked up a pair of nice wooden beavertails when I bought my canoe. I’m sure that they work for general paddling.

I use all sorts of paddles. For flat water get a bent shaft. Go straight for moving water. You want cheap and bent shafts start at about 50 bucks each. Personally for rivers strength is more important than weight. I am 5 and a half feet tall and like a 54 to 57 inch paddle with a nice wide blade-8 plus inches by 19 to 21 inches. In shallow water a long blade is useless so look for short and wide.

Error on the short side as a long paddle is awkward in a tight place in a creek. Go wood. Plastic paddles are for liveries. Also I would not leash the paddles as they can tangle you in a tip over. Paddles float, and while it has taken me up to a half hour to do so, I have always found them. I have found nice paddles for 25 bucks or so. Good luck have fun. My Dad started taking me down the river when I was 6. I still paddle that canoe and it has been a great part of my life for 20 years.

Good Advice
Thanks for taking the time to give me some feedback. I know these topics get covered over and over again and it gets old restating the same old stuff.

I was considering the leash for my son. I was just thinking that when we end up out of the boat the first few times he’ll probably be more concerned about holding onto the boat than a paddle?

So you’d stay away from plastic/alum. shaft paddles? What do you thing about a Bending Branches straight paddle? I could pick that up at REI with a 10% discount when I pick up the canoe. They also have a paddle made for youth.

Good feedback about you doing this with your dad. I was ready to buy a Tarpon 140, and still am next year, but I decided this would be a really good opportunity to spend time with my kids.

Just a side note in case anyone is looking this over. There’s a great book out called Wild At Heart by John Eldridge that goes into detail about the Spiritual connection of being out in nature and the Father/son relationship.

Thanks again and God Bless! Dwayne

Personally I do not like plastic blade paddles. They are heavier than the cheapest of wood paddles. The blade will flex too much if you really put pressure on them, but they last forever. I do not own any bending branches but have heard that they make quality gear. Make sure you hold and get a feel for any paddle you think about buying. Lower end gear will often have poor finishes and tear your hands up. I bought a 51 inch paddle for my (ex)girlfriend who was 5 foot tall. It was like 25 bucks but had a little gaunch I had to sand out. Now it is great and she is gone.


– Last Updated: Jul-03-04 8:39 PM EST –

BendingBranches Beavertail: That's a good choice Dwayne, particularly with the nice medium-thick diameter of Bending Branches' shafts, if you get too thin in the shaft or too wide a blade for a given'll add much more resistance.

Just a "little" advice on paddles(;-)..famous last words!!)
The one thing with many paddles is that their grips are very generic(LARGE/FAT)...and need to be shaven(thinned) down..and round off the corners a bit as to not be too large for YOUR hand(palm)-size.... Using a more diagonal, relaxed grip, more "cradling" rather than the horizontal death grip directly on top..
Keep your wrist relaxed & *back*..using the base of your palm/wrist and utilize your forearm(instead of your smaller tendons in your hands)...for the power other words: don't make the smaller tendons do the work...(duh)
...and using ultra-light sandpaper, sand off the hard, slick varnish where you'll be holding the shaft. Treating it with just a touch of oil is all that it takes. The one thing we do when grasping a hard, slick, and WET to grasp it even tighter = muscular_disaster by every minute.... Getting the varnish off adds some texture for gripping without you having to add the gripping force.
Bentshafts are indeed terrific on flatwater and slower rivers. The learning curve towards an efficient stroke is much shorter...
$.01_(+ a whole lot of ramblin')

Used to Have 14TT
I used 54" and 56" bent and 60" Straight in this boat and I’m 6’1. Wenonah makes a nice, inexpensive paddle that I believe is called the “Fisherman.” Light, but durable. I believe it’s ash. I, personally can’t stand those heavy, plastic blade paddles. I believe you’d be much happier with a decent wood paddle. WW

kids and paddling
As others have stated, wood is the way to go on paddles. I like both straight and bent, depending upon the type of paddling I’m doing. The important thing is that your seven year old have a positive experience if paddling is to become a long-term or even lifetime activity. Wood paddles have character (they look cool) and they are comfortable. Regarding a PFD, again comfort is important. I’d have the youngster try it on before buying, rather than buying blind off ebay. PFDs are one thing that I would buy only after trying first–even if it means paying a little more. Quality is the best bargain. Best wishes in your new family activity.