Salwtood Paddles--great product

About a year ago I made a post ranting about the Saltwood Reggie I got at Savanah Canoe and Kayak. For whatever reason I stopped using it for a while and went back to my Werner Cyprus and Ikelos, but I recently switched back to the Saltwood and I regret that I stopped using it for a while. I think I was lured by the light weight of the Werners, but the attributes of the Saltwood more than make up for any slight weight penalty. The greater weight may even be a benefit on a very windy day.

A quick disclaimer—excuse me if I sound overly enthusiastic about this blade, but I just have been really impressed with it and it has helped me with my paddling which I will explain in a moment. When I find a product that impresses me I like to share my thoughts. I also am not necessarily getting rid of my Werners, but think I am going to be using them a lot less in favor of the Saltwood.

The obvious attributes of this paddle are the flex, the unique ergonomic grip shape, the great indexing, and high bouyancy of the blade. These all give the paddle a really nice and unique feel, but I have found some other attributes of the paddle that I think are pretty unique.

First is that (as strange as it may seem) I find that this paddle actually helps me to paddle better. My stroke form is better with this paddle and I am not sure why, but I will take a stab at it. For whatever reason it causes me to reach farther forward with my stroke and get a good blade plant prior to beginning my stroke. I think that the ergonomics of the shaft encourage this for whatever reason—it has a very unique shape and fairly substantial width. I know that may sound strange, but I find it to be true. Or perhaps it could be that the buoyancy of the blade helps me to get a better blade exit which may set me up better for a far reaching catch on the opposite side. Additionally I think I get a better catch due to the indexing which allows me to ensure that the blade is completely square to the water to provide maximum purchase.

Next, I find that the blade has a different catch than that of the Ikelos or Cyprus that I am used to paddling. The full power of the catch seems to “build” as with a Greenland paddle. At first this may seem like a disadvantage, but I find it to be an advantage for a couple of reasons. First, I find that the “sweet spot” of the power stroke hits a couple of inches farther back which is where you have more power than when you are fully extended. Second and perhaps more significantly I find that this encourages me not to want to pull the paddle hard and fast at the beginning of the stroke. This helps to ensure the blade is fully immersed before applying power to provide a better catch, and it also prevents “ripping” the paddle through the water where you trap air on the surface of the blade and reduce the paddles purchase on the water. Last, I just find it encourages a smoother stroke that allows me to harness more power from each stroke I take.

Another thing I like about this paddle is how easy it is to roll with. I like to roll a lot and am a perfectionist so I like my form to be as perfect as possible. Whenever I feel like my form is getting slightly less than perfect with my Werner paddle I have switched over to the Saltwood which helps me to fine tune my roll again. The buoyancy and shape of this blade makes for a perfect sweep roll and helps to retrain the muscle memory to execute this maneuver with perfect form.

Last is that I found that you are right about the power of this blade in a stern rudder. I was out surfing some wind waves this weekend and used the Saltwood. I found that the backside of the blade really did offer a lot of power for a stern rudder, and the indexing of the blade helped to ensure the blade was inserted squarely into the water. A good strong rudder / stern pry is an asset in the surf where I am really looking forward to trying this paddle. Since I have had it I have only used it for flat water, but I really think it is going to excel in the surf zone given super buoyancy. I think that it is also going to help relieve some of my tendonitis given the shaft flexes a bit and given the ergonomic shape and larger diameter of the shaft which may allow a slightly looser grip.

In all fairness I do need to provide a comparison to my Werners since they do some things better. The Werners are obviously lighter, they are much stiffer and provide more immediate and higher power, they also slice through the water a little more smoothly which I feel makes them better for strokes like the side slip and sculling draw. On the bow rudder it is a bit of a tossup. I think the smoother slicing blade action of the Werner helps with this stroke and with blending it with other strokes, but the Saltwood plants in the water like a fence post allowing you to really edge hard to the outside and “hang” off the paddle for support which allows you to make a really nice, sharp turn. So both designs have their attributes, but for most paddling I think the Saltwood is preferable for me. Additionally I still need a split paddle to put on my deck as a spare so the Werners fill that role at a minimum.

I am very tempted to buy another Saltwater for whitewater use—probably a Habit; although I do have some concerns about the blade durability in a rocky river. Not sure if anyone has any feedback they can offer on this. I currently have a Werner Sho-Gun.


Feedback on White Water
You might be able to find past threads where I offered feedback on the performance of these on WW. Here it is again.

The Reggie felt much better to me, the Habit was too big and wide, leading to a bit of wobble and instability - too affected by the waters.

The Saltwood blade seems a bit more durable than the Cyprus for whacking against rocks. Neither is made for this, however, so they will chip or delaminated at the edges. I’ve seen two Saltwods that others use (very gently) on WW and the results are not good - too much wear for hard use compared to a properly reinforced WW paddle. I have personally used my Cyprus on WW and have chipped the blades and had to repair them. Compared to my AT2 whitewater paddle, which barely shows any damage from whacks that would have destroyed the Cyprus, I see why you would want a WW paddle for rocky areas.

You can put a door edge gard sold in all automotive shops and that will make the edges almost bomb proof. The Cyprus blade and the Saltwood are both thin at the edges and these door guards work wvery well for rocky use.

Saltwood Paddle - two thumbs up!
The Saltwood Reggie has replaced my 7 year-old Werner Cyprus as my go-to paddle. I picked it up from Marshall at The River Connection last year.

Matt, I cannot add much to your excellent review. However, I actually prefer the Reggie to the Cyprus for side-slips or sculling draws. It just feels better in my hands.

Walking into this room, I’m already known.

I’ll just put in a quick observation on the Saltwoods. From a whitewater background I’m habitually used to a 60 degree right feather on my paddles. I’ve become a bit more adaptable over time but have never really gotten good at unfeathered paddles until using the Saltwoods. I keep a few of them in our Demo/Instructional Fleet in an unfeathered configuration and I can actually use them effectively without my muscle memory trying to rotate the shaft for that non-existent 60 degree offset which if you’ve ever done with an unfeathered paddle is called roll practice. The hand position is so obvious feeling that it doesn’t take any mental note to know where the blade is in relation to my hands.

Matt, for power the Habit has a lot of chutzpah. Yet with the bit of flex from the hollow core wood shaft it doesn’t hurt my joints as the Ikelos will after a long paddle. I think with a little less positive buoyancy to the blade I’m not fighting the blade down into the water as much as on the Ikelos. The laminated cork coring still provides plenty of lift on the exit.

Paddles are so subjective that the only way to really know it to use it and see what clicks.

OK, my $.02. Back to the Inbox to get things tied up before leaving for the Charles Race this weekend.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

(new site - quite spiffy)

(gps race updates start at 10:42AM 19mile)

I know kocho above recommends the Reggie for whitewater…but are you referring to paddling whitewater with a true whitewater boat or with your Delphin?

I like the Reggie with my sea kayak and could not imagine going bigger with a sea kayak, but with a true whitewater boat it’s a different ball game since they require such little effort to move on the water and therefore are easier to paddle with a bigger blade than a sea kayak.

I think I am satisfied that the durability will be enough.

So what is the general consensus on which blade you would choose for whitewater–Reggie or Habit?

I usually paddle the Werner Shogun which is a pretty big blade so I am leaning toward the Habit, but open to suggestions and will consider kocho’s comments above, but for context would like to know with what boat he paddled the Habit.


I paddled both a WW and the Delphin
When I had a Saltwoods on loan. I forgot which WW boat I had (either WaveSport Fuse 64 or Dagger Axiom 8.5) but I used them in river running with some play scenario (Little Falls on the Potomac at about 3.2 level on the gauge). With the Delphin I actually only used them on flat water …

The guy who sells them locally recommends them for WW (and uses them, but I don’t know how carefully; the guy who bought it and uses it on WW is very careful (uses for playboating and does not hit too many rocks like a river runner or creeker would) and he does not like the edge wear… so I suppose you have to know who’s who when you listen to their comments :wink:

Thanks for another great review!
Been wanting to replace my coryvrecken with either a new Lendal or a Saltwood. Will take a closer look at them.

hurricane riders
Doesnt Roan Gloag from the hurricane riders paddle some crazy longboat surf with a saltwater paddle?