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Santa says I have been very good this year and is interested in getting me a very nice new paddle. I need to nudge Santa in the right direction. I am a kneeler looking for a straight stick, non zre. I like at least a little wood on the paddle. Eyeing a Mitchel Surreal and the Cricket Gemini IV for general touring. Looking for insights and opinions, or even alternatives. Thanks for your help.


Still saying it

– Last Updated: Dec-05-12 9:39 PM EST –

I know you said no zre, but i recommend you get a zre. their power surge light makes other paddles feel inadequate IMO

Is this advice from a non-kneeler?
That model Zaveral has a bent shaft, and the OP is a kneeler who wants one with s straight shaft. Some favorite strokes that I do kneeling can’t be done with a bent shaft, or even a straight shaft if it has a designated grip orientation, so I have a hunch the OP has his reasons for wanting a straight.

Dog Paddle

Kneeling if you are solo bents are a little tricky and involve reversing the powerface. This means reversing the grip which is often uncomfortable because it is dedicated.

I do some wicked FreeStyle and we use bents tandem. But we often have to cantilever out on opposite sides to engage vertical paddles. And sometimes we frankly blow it.

Aside from powering forward from a sitting station, bents require a lot of thought as to optimal placement. They are just the ticket for solo or tandem seated paddlers.

Anyway talk to Marc, the owner of Dog Paddle. He makes some of the best straight sticks available at a price point that is affordable. They are double dihedral with symmetrical palm grips, meaning one side is exactly the same as the other. The only superior paddle I know of is a Quimby. The last I knew Craig Quimby had a three year wait and the paddles were priced accordingly.


– Last Updated: Dec-05-12 11:58 PM EST –

I've enjoyed Zaveral's since 2003, but I like the feel of wood when it's cool or cold out. You get the wood "Feel" with light weight. Very well balanced, good feeling paddle. Only had mine since August, but I really like it. Almost bought one a few years back, but couldn't part with the cash. Ironically, I found a "Steal" on E-bay on a day I "Linked" someone else over there to check out paddles! I have a bent model, not the straight stick, though.

Second the Dog Paddle
Functional art. Extremely light and quiet. Slices perfectly in water. However, I am not wild about using it in shallow or rocky places, because it’s too nice (not too delicate). But if Santa is bringing you a lake paddle, you should check them out.

You can get a straight shaft cant you?

– Last Updated: Dec-06-12 8:09 AM EST –

You can get ZRE paddles with a straight shaft if thats the issue. You're right that the power surge might not work for him, but the regular flat water blade should be symmetrical.

I usually dont kneel, so you are right about that GBG.

Surreal or Tourning Special.
The Mitchell TS is all wood awesomeness. But if you want carbon in the stick too, the Surreal is great. The light weightness of the western cedar, base wood laminated shaft balanced off the carbon blade is sweet. Just the right amount of flex.

I’m bias. Lots of great paddles out there.

I third Dog paddles. Marc Ornstien is a freestyle canoe champion and really knows how to make a sweet straight shaft paddle. One of his custom made paddles would be an ultimate xmas present. I love mine. Also,I have padled with Marc in rocky streams where he uses one of his paddles. I belive he is planning a paddle just for that type of use.


Yes, and with a symetric palm grip.

Hmmm. I just checked their website…
… and unless I missed something, every paddle listed was a bent-shaft. They had a whitewater paddle that appeared to have a straight shaft, but I didn’t check too closely once I noticed that the blade itself was curved, and meant to be one-directional.

Maybe a straight shaft can be custom-ordered? I wouldn’t expect a company with “Racing Equipment” in their name to make traditional, bi-directional paddles.

Its under “shaft angle”

– Last Updated: Dec-06-12 3:04 PM EST –

You can select a custom shaft angle (0* in this case) in the drop down box labeled "shaft angle".

12* is default and he charges an extra $25 for anything besides 12*, but that can be offset by selecting a factory second. I just looked at 4 different models and they all had this option. Even the power surge, even though I know he still wouldnt want this blade due to its non symmetrical nature.

I just noticed too, you can order a T grip so you could get that on a normal blade and have a fully straight, symmetrical paddle from him.

Sawyer Straight Shaft Manta
I’ve been paddling for years with a Quad Bend Sawyer Manta Paddle, that I liked very much, and ordered another one, with a straight, no bends shaft. Now, I can use both the front and back faces as the power face and like it even more. This is a very powerful paddle, but very smooth feel when using the back face as the power face. Unfortunately, the straight shaft version feels a lot heavier than the quad bend shaft, which might be due to denser wood used in the straight shaft?

recreating or racing

– Last Updated: Dec-07-12 10:29 AM EST –

When racing I use what everyone else does, a graphite bent shaft. My preferred paddle is made by Grasse River Boatworks (GRB). On several moderately long races (such as the Adirondack 90-miler), and ultra long 460/360/1000 mile Yukon races, it is important to keep a consistently fast and powerful stroke all day long without tiring or killing your muscles and joints. My crew and I train to maintain up to 50, not less than 40 strokes/minute for fully up to 18 hours a day in the case of the Yukon 1000 miler.

But for recreating I much prefer a well made wood straight shaft with a feather thin blade edge to cut through the water for advanced strokes. I've used Caleb Davis Tremolo ottertail and willow blades for more than 20 years and wouldn't want anything else. Caleb describes his paddles and paddle making classes on his web page here:

Than ks (nm)

There are more than a few choices.
Obviously, Santa wants you to be very good next year, too. And the year after next.

I love my Mitchell Surreal
Very light, very thin, very stiff. And you can customize the grip should you so wish, unlike Zavs. And if you ever do in-water recoveries you will be amazed at the nearly totallack of resistance and quietness of the blade slicing the liquid.

That said, Dogpaddle makes beautiful sticks. I limit myself to one stick per year - 2012 was the Surreal, 2013 might be for a Dogpaddle.


Dale Fox at Foxworx makes nice wood and composite paddles for a reasonable price.

ZRE, but look at Gillespie for hybrids
There was no bigger wood bigot than me until a few years ago. I have now narrowed a lot of paddles down to two: a 48.5" bent (outrigger light Powersurge) and a 57" straight (WW blade, symmetrical grip) ZRE, both with flex shafts. With these two blades I go on any waters – shallow, deep, flat, white – for a total weight of 25 oz. I cringe now at the weight of even my finest wooden paddles.

Even though I am lifetime kneeler, I use the bent 95% of the time on flatwater.

The Cricket Gemini IV is a giant retro blade. Do you really want that big of a blade?

If you want a hybrid paddle – wood shaft and carbon or kevlar blade, or vice versa – Brad Gillespie will make just about any variety and color you want. His wood shaft on a ZRE blade is popular.

57" ZRE Straight? That’s a 38" shaft,
that’s huge!

I bury the blade about 4" with my 56" ZRE Straight. It feels way too long.

You mush have a long torso or keep your top hand way above you forehead.