Solo Canoe paddle

Need input on a good paddle for the Sojourn I recently purchased. I only have experience with the plain aluminum shaft Mohawk I think which is great for rock bashing and digging out steps in muddy banks.

I think I want to try a wood paddle and just want ideas on some good paddles without breaking the bank, around 100 dollars or 50 would be even better. Does a good paddle exist in this price range?

We the curious need to know
more about your style of paddling…

Are you a sit and switch paddler ( a bent shaft would be sweet there) or a kneeling straight blader.

Rivers in your future?

Take a look at the Rutabaga site for a sample

My favorite paddle
My favorite is a Mohawk bent shaft with a palm grip. Too bad mohawk doesn’t make those paddles any more.

Bending Branches
I have a sweet little Bending Branches bent shaft that I carry in my canoe. I switch between it and a 9ft double blade paddle as I change from sitting to standing when I paddle. My advice, be nosy, see what others are using and ask to try theirs for a few strokes. Paddlers usually are glad to let you test drive equipment. We all think we use the BEST paddle.

Well, for example, REI carries a
selection of Bending Branches paddles, most in your price range. A bent shaft would cost a little more.

Paddles are so personal
and I would highly recommend you visit a shop …Not Dicks or Galyans or Bass Pro

Hopefully you are near Birmingham.

I see they have Mitchell paddles; they are good.

As an aside I believe the paddle is more important than the boat. Your hands will be on that paddle all the time. If economies need to be made I would put them on the boat rather than the paddle or the PFD.

Mitchell paddles are the bomb. I’ve got two and I love them. But I don’t think you will find many new in the under $100 range.

I also have a Bending Branches Traveler that I bought when I needed to give my shoulder a break. Paid just under $50 for that, new, about 5 years back. It’s a pretty decent paddle IMO and BB has a decent selection of similarly made paddles.


Bendin’ Branches Beavertail
be a’mighty fine low wampum canoo paddle.


Bending Branches Traveller and
Beavertail are around $60. They are very cost-effective and servicable paddles. However, the Bending Branches Explorer Plus has an appropriately wider blade and is $95; a good investment that will last you a lifetime.

bending branches will fit your needs
they have a variety of paddles that are of good design and relatively cheap.

you can probably get a really nice model that fits your style for $60 to $80 or so.


Canoe paddle choices
I am not sure what type paddler I will be. I just bought my first solo canoe { I own a half dozen kayaks mostly whitewater but one touring. I will use the solo canoe a sojourn by the way mostly on flatwater or creeks of class I or so no real whitewater

As to my style I have always kneeled in the rapids and sat on the seat in the flats in my MRE bought about 25 yrs ago.

I like to kneel for control but my feet dont fit under the seat of the solo very well but I intend to modify it if possible.

I guess I bought the solo for the lightweight and being more responsive than other canoes I have owned. I know I may end up with 2 or 3 paddles maybe bent and straight. I"m sure I will buy a wood paddle first but not sure yet really what I want.

If you become fanatical or even semi-serious about a paddling hobby, you will eventually come to value light weight in all things – most especially in hulls and paddles. And very especially as you age.

The most popular of the ultralight paddles are the Zaverals (ZRE). However, they are all carbon and very expensive.

Foxworx (formerly Camp Paddles) produces a line of relatively lightweight wooden paddles that are also relatively inexpensive. Al Camp made perhaps the lightest weight wooden paddle for the bent shaft racing market before carbon.

I wonder how that compares in
weight to my Dog Paddle?

Weight is not listed and I dont have a postage scale but its close to my Zav.

Marc will be bringing some paddles to the Solo Canoe Rendezvous.

He does beautiful work and someday you may want one of his paddles. Granted I started with whatever I could find…

Grey Owls Voyageur paddle will move a solo boat nicely at a good price point…under 100. I think I paid 40 for mine. Its no work of art but it slices cleanly and is holding up well in its third year…about 100 outings.

Zaveral Paddles
I would strongly recomend that you DO NOT try a Zaveral paddle unless you intend to buy one. Once you paddle with one most other paddles are going to feel like logs.

my $.01 would be, as others have…
mentioned…straight, or close to straight blade…many made. Try to get one whose shaft is comfortable(ie not too narrow!) in your hand… Often the grip can use some shaving/sanding/shaping…to get comfortable…


With a Dagger Sojourn
, a basic tripper style hull, you’ll need a straight blade and a bent, because the boat responds to both kneeling technique with the straight and sitting technique with a bent.

Both blades should be ~ 8.5" wide, but you’ll want a ~22" long blade on the straight; ~18" on the bent.

Fox and Bending Branches make price pointed wooden sticks. The Raven composites, if still on sale through Piragis, are fine sticks for the money. [List $200, sale $120?]

paddle suggestions
My take is that you can definitely find nice paddles that are inexpensive. I have more paddles than anyone needs yet I still find the cheapest Bending Branches and Grey Owl paddles quite nice…I suggest you get either a Grey Owl Scout or a Bending Branches Loon as your straight shaft paddle.

Tell us your height and we can recommend best length.

I agree with Charlie that you’d really enjoy both a bent and a straight…a straight is nice for developing your paddling skills but your Sojourn is a fast cruiser that does not maneuver like some river boats so it should respond very nicely to a bent shaft paddle. Again I’d say go for the least expensive Grey Owl or Bending Branches bents. If you can visit a store with stock - pick a light one. If you can test paddle paddles that’s even better.

These wood paddles would be a huge upgrade from your Mohawk aluminum paddle and you’d love them and they are all you need. Sometimes the cheapest paddles are nicer than more expensive ones since they make them out of light wood (basswood) so they are light with nice flexibility.

==> You can get a good bent plus a good straight for under $100!

I have to disagree with FE…a beavertail is not a good match for a Sojourn (though I agree that the BB model is a great paddle and a great value), and I’d also disagree that you need to spend the money for a Cricket or Dogpaddle or other super-premium paddle - you might like the Scout or Loon BETTER! My wife will only use her Scout - and won’t touch several other superb paddles that I’ve tried to offer her (so I sold them).

Over time you might contact Zav and see if they have a bent shaft blem for you.

Bending Branches Loon

– Last Updated: Jun-06-09 4:03 PM EST –

Let me preface these remarks by saying that I am NOT bashing Bending Branches with this post. I like many of their paddles and their decent paddles give you good quality for the money.

That said, I bought a Bending Branches Loon way back when I first got my little "pack" rowboat because I needed a paddle for maneuvering near shore or in tight spaces. Once I got my first solo canoe, I started using that Loon a lot. In my opinion, a person would be much better off spending a bit more money for something better. Bending Branches makes a lot of good paddles, but the Loon isn't one of them. It has a very small blade that doesn't get much "grip" on the water, and in relation to its size the blade is very thick. It also has an asymetrical palm grip that makes many of the nifty strokes which are the domain of straight-shaft paddles impractical/uncomfortable to do. I'm pretty sure that the Loon is the cheapest/worst paddle in the Bending Branches line-up, and if it's not, it's gotta be close. Kayamedic mentioned earlier that getting a good paddle is more important than getting a good boat, and whether that's entirely true or not, I do know that the difference between a bad paddle and a pretty good one is tremendous, and I say stay away from clunker paddles like the Loon. Obviously, for every incremental increase in quality the price goes up to, but you get a lot more extra quality for your extra money when upgrading from a bad paddle to a decent paddle then when upgrading from a decent paddle to a really nice one. It just makes good sense to stay away from the very cheapest paddles because you can get something SO MUCH better for just a little more money.

Bending Branches

– Last Updated: Jun-06-09 3:58 PM EST –

They make good paddles at a reasonable price. We have 2 of them: the beavertail and the traveler.

I paddled a Blackhawk Shadow 14 with a BB Loon for over a year very happily before adding more paddles. One thing about BB paddles is that many have a thicker than average shaft - which I like but others may not. That said I do agree that the blade is relatively small - which might be fine for a Sojourn or an efficient boat like a Shadow 14 - but the Grey Owl Scout may be the better all around low cost high value paddle.

I also have a Bending Branches Sun Shadow 14 and the equivalent straight shaft and they are fine medium-priced paddles…both under $70 I think. I ahve one relatively expensive Mitchell that I like a lot (light and clean in th water) and another that’s extremely disappointing (heavy and buzzy).

My personal experience is that there is a lot of variation in wood paddles - I paddled about 10 Grey Owl Chieftains (same dealer, same day) before picking mine out…weight, balance, flex, lack of vibration in the water all can vary quite a bit even with relatively expensive paddles, so my personal experience is that one can get a low priced paddle that can feel and work better than a medium or high priced paddle (perhaps at the cost of ultimate durability). Bending Branches also made some paddles (not in their catalog) with just butternut wood - maybe some laminations in the blade - shaped like the Black Bart Troublemaker (short/wide blade) - and these were amazing paddles for about $30…although my paddling buddy did manage to break one!

My favorite paddles are carbon but among my wood paddles my fondness seems unrelated to price - more to specific individual paddles and how well they work.