paddle weight significance

More on paddles…

For those of you who guide, instruct and otherwise spend an inordinate amount of your time sea kayaking…

How much do you value ultra-lightness in your paddles? Given all the “itis’s” that people out there are suffering, do you put stock in getting the lightest paddle available? My paddles range from 35 oz’s (not light) to 30 oz’s (quite light). In your collective experience is there much to be gained, over time, in seeking ultralights; paddles under 30 oz. Is there such a thing as too light?

Thanks for your input.

light paddles
I have a friend who is sort of a sea-kayaking god. He has a Werner pro-deal, and borrows anything he wants to try from a shop. As such, I have had the advantage to try lots of really nice paddles.

I also have some experience with overuse/repetitive strain injuries.

It is my opinion that a few onces makes a bit of difference in enjoyment (though good design is even more important - fit - swing weight - balance), but little difference in the risk of injury.

The forces you are transfering through the blade are far far greater than the weight of the paddle itself.

I suspect most of the problems people have relate more to the design of their paddle (feathered vs straight, bent shaft vs straight etc.) and the style of their paddling than the weight of their paddles.

Light paddles are so nice though . . . maybe we could claim the weight thing and get some health insurer to buy us all foam-core carbon beauties!

Do the math

– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 12:04 PM EST –

Multiply the weight difference times the number of miles paddled times 800 strokes per mile.

A 5 oz difference means 250 less pounds lifted per mile.

People who tell you weight doesn't matter are not likely doing much distance or speed. Even for casual paddling a light paddle is an asset.

Exception being rock bashers and those generally rough on gear (not using as intended) - though many light paddles are also quite strong.

PS - 30 oz is decent, but not that light. Both my Greenland paddle and my adjustable (adds weight) Wing paddle both weigh in at 24 oz. Seen much lighter.

Not an instructor or other pro kayaker
I don’t kayak full-time, but I can give you a direct comparison of two paddles of same size, almost the same blade profile, but different weights. Have used both extensively.

In 2002 I bought a lightweight (26 oz.) Nimbus Zephyr paddle. Right away, I loved this paddle and I still do. I used it for all my day trips and camping trips in '02, '03, '04, and part of '05, and it was the only paddle I used on a month-long camping trip in AK.

I used to have a much cheaper spare paddle that I never really liked. In 2005 I bought a Nimbus Vesper (34 or 36 oz? something like that) as my spare paddle, because it was the closest thing to the Zephyr in blade size and shape. They are almost identical in profile except at the tips.

Right away, I could feel the Vesper’s greater weight. Yet I quickly adapted to that and soon didn’t give it a second thought. I deliberately changed its use from “spare paddle” to “main paddle”–for day trips. I wanted my body to feel that the greater weight was normal, and it did.

My conclusion is that, within reason, your body will get used to a heavier paddle. The key phrase being “within reason.” I doubt I’d be happy using a really heavy paddle, but I’ve had no trouble with the Vesper.

If you are racing, I think it will make a difference. If you are doing lots of miles, or on a long trip with day-after-day paddling, it might make a difference. But not for a few day paddles per week. I use the Vesper for day paddles up to 20 miles and have not experienced any fatigue or pain from the greater weight.

However, for my camping trips, I switch to the lighter Zephyr and stash the Vesper as the spare.

Fuzzy math
Maybe a more valid comparison would be the weight of the paddle relative to the weight of your arms.

Ounces are quite insignificant when compared to the double digit pounds that your arms weigh.

250lbs per mile sounds like a lot, but if you’re picking up 16,000lbs per mile (20lb arms times 800 strokes) it pales.

I do LOVE my new Werner Corryvrecken fiberglass paddle though. It’s a few ounces heavier than carbon, but more substantial. I actually get a bit nervous when I lay it across the cockpit in windy conditions. I’m concerned it might blow away!

"The forces you are transfering through
your arms much greater than the weight of the paddle. knowing this, it is why i’ve wondered if it is worth it to pay for an ultralight. i do love my 2 “lightish” paddles but as my paddling lifestyle and time in the water will be increasing dramatically in the near future, i’ve wondered if i would be better off to go whole hog on a truly light paddle for long term wear and tear.

thanks and keep your thoughts coming.

i agree with krousman
your arms are clearly much heavier than the differences in paddle weight. that said though, as an instructor and paddler who typically does 5000-8000 miles a year, i like light paddles with slim blades. my paddle of choice happens to be the AT Xception carbon and it doesn’t get much lighter than that.

Chomping at the bit here …
I want to write a book here but I really, really have to get out to shop.

Synapsized, YES the lighter weight makes a difference both long and short term. Your arms are what they are and not much you can do about them or how you have to use them while paddling other than shooting for some good non-injury causing technique. Best thing you CAN offer is to not have to hold and extra, redundant weight out in from of you for hours at a time. Blade function and design are important, especially for everything from ones elbows down while less weight really lessens

the stresses above that thoughout the torso.

So much to say … JBV call me if you want.

Your arms are not dead weight the paddle is. The heavier your arms are the stronger they should be.

I like the lighter weight in a paddle where momentum is not needed and more weight for my battle axe and sword. … “What’s in your wallet?”

Further muddying of the waters
How about the difference between how high you raise your hand during a hig-angle stroke vs the lower path od a GP?


Work is work
Your are fuzzing things up more by adding another variable.

You are stuck with your arms - and the only solution to make that part easier is to make them even BIGGER!

You are NOT stuck with your paddle.

Your logic is a bit perplexing. True in it’s own way, but not of any use, and certainly not an argument against lighter paddles!

If you like swinging war clubs all day - great.

Pat, i’ve been trying for weeks!
to get in touch with you. remember my messages, 'this is James from Winnipeg, coming to SD and want to buy a paddle from you…, 217, JCD, etc,)

Hey, leave Pat alone
He is making my paddle first. LOL.

Lighter is better, as long as…

– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 4:16 PM EST –

it isn't so light that it will flutter.

Who says GPs are paddled lower angle? This myth has got to die!

Curses to the originators of the low and slow BS.

Do you paddle with GP, Euro and Wing? GP works at all angles, with all strokes. Low is good for some things. Vertical is great too. So is wing stroke. Paddle height above water is not the issue.

Hands may be a few inches lower crossing in front of the paddler- as grip is closer. Paddle may be sunk deeper. This can result in the center of the paddle being slightly lower on balance (and any angle) - but the paddle is still held with little difference in effort.

The economy of the GP comes not from holding it lower, but from it’s buoyancy (it holds itself or even pushes back mid stroke - and jumps out of the water on release adding momentum) and reduced impact on the joints from the longer narrower blades loading and unloading in a less abrupt and more humane way.

Flutter is blade shape (right Pat?) and technique dependent (right everyone else?) - not weight.


– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 6:16 PM EST –

My point is that it would be just as difficult to hold your arms out straight for hours as it would be to hold your arms out straight with a few ounces of weight in your hand. The few ounces are INSIGNIFICANT in relation to the weight of your arms.

I guess if you're old and feeble, you know, with poor eyesight and everything ;-) a few ounces may make a difference. For me, 5oz. either way is insignificant.

Werner Corryvrecken bent shaft fg: 35oz.

I really wanted an ONNO but poor Pat was busy (apparently pro-creating) when I was trying to reach him.

swing weight
Don’t forget the swing weight of the paddle.

Two paddles with the same weight can feel as if they are not. The paddle that has less of its weight concentrated towards its blades will be easier on your body if all other factors are the same.

Simple experiement
Pick up something about half a pound in one hand (I just used a half empty worchestershire sauce bottle that is sitting on the table).

Place both arms out straight in front of you and hold them there.

Which arm do you want to put down first?

surface area too
has an effect on how ‘heavy’ a paddle feels. a light paddle with a big blade could feel heavier than a smaller blade at the same weight.