questions about ww paddles

Why do they come in one piece instead of breaking apart like touring paddles do? And they all seem to be feathered. Why?

If I wanted to buy one (and I’m not sure yet whether I do) how do I determine the right length for me? Does it depend on what boat I’m paddling, or is there some magic formula based on your height or arm span or some other factor?



WW paddles
Most WW paddles are one piece because they are stronger that way… you can determine the right length paddle for you by your height. most websites will have a chart of which paddle is the correct size for you. Generally with a WW paddle you go with a shorter length then a touring paddle. hope this helps.


Some Thoughts

– Last Updated: Oct-03-04 5:05 AM EST –

The length of white water paddles are generally anywhere from 20-25 cm shorter or more than what you would use in a touring boat. For example, I use about a 205 cm in a touring boat and 180-185 cm in white water/surf. The trend is even for even shorter by some surf kayakers. One guy I know is using a 168 cm though he is good 4-5" taller than my 5'3". The shorter length reguires higher angle strokes and more body rotation. The length should be just long enough to catch the blade by your toes and pulled and long side the hull with just the blade buried and exit by your hips. This facilitates straighter tracking of more rockered, shorter ww boats. Any longer, the blade will likely go deeper and hit rocks as you pulled the blade along side the hull. If you reach out to accommodate too much length, the boat will have a tendency yaw (go one way and another) when you don't want it too.

Feathered angle has dropped for 90 to 60 to 45 degrees over the years. You can even find some at 30 degrees now. Feathered is supposed to help with wind. I don't think this is a much of a problem in inland rivers, not to the extend it is going to affect your distance traveled over time. (you can always let the river do the work.) I think folks using feathered are used to it some they maintain some aspect of it and it is also a matter of personal comfort and technique in the stroke. I have a paddle that is 45 degree, 2 that are 30 degrees (one prototype and another custom ordered) and another paddle that is customed at 15 degree. Ken Whiting, a well known playboater, used a 0 feathered paddle because he finds it easier to do back deck rolls off either side, something he wants since he goes over quite a bit as part of playboating.

Single piece or breakdown. I don't think a breakdown is much weaker if at all than a single piece. The ferrule adds a tad bit more weight, involves a bit more time and more materials and thus slightly more expensive to produce. Having said that, I have a Werner Freestyle that is customed as a breakdown paddle with 30 degree feather and 185 cm. You can ask an outfitter to custom order for you from the factory. I have an Onno customed to a breakdown 185 cm paddle with 15 degree feathered. My Big Spoon paddle is single piece 180 cm and feathered 30 degree. It's a prototype paddle and not yet sold in their line up. Bet you can custom ordered one though.


Another question

– Last Updated: Oct-04-04 10:45 PM EST –

Sing and Jpiano, thanks for all the good info; it's very helpful.
Now another question: I'm not familiar with the various brands... what's good, what's not, and I hate to just assume price is an indicator of quality. I'm not planning on doing anything impressive - just your basic downriver paddling on Class 1-2 probably, so I don't need top quality, just something functional but I don't want inferior quality. Suggestions?

It’s hard to go wrong with Werner. They’re a mainstay among white water paddlers and I know they willing to custom order having done that. I actually think you may be better off with Onno because you can have a discussion with Pat about what you think you want and he can give input. Can’t expect that from Werner, being a larger company. Onno’s prices are more than fair. You just have to be willing to way. Season is coming to end for most folks anyway. Put an order in and have for the next.


Good advice from Sing, but…
Don’t forget the “used” market. IMO, when starting out, it’s the best place to buy.



You’re Right
Big ommission on my part, being a big fan of gearswaps myself. Doh! I got my first Werner that way. Good thing because the 194 cm is too long for me.


I’ve got a basic fiberglass Mitchell Cougar – nothing fancy, but it’s taken a lot of abuse as I flail my way up the learning curve.

I’ll admit to a bias here – I took Peggy Mitchell’s beginning whitewater class, and helped teach it this year. Nice folks running a family business.