Spare paddle: decent, or old beater?

Should a spare paddle for touring be something you would be happy using for a few days on tour if you lost or broke your good paddle? Or should it be an old beater?

I can’t make up my mind on this. I have a brand new Werner Camano, carbon shaft with fiberglass blades. On the one hand, it doesn’t seem to make sense to have a paddle that costs this much either in a corner at home or on my kayak but never used (where I would worry the whole time about damaging it).

On the other hand, if I broke my good paddle on tour, it would put a real dent in my pleasure if I had to finish out the tour with a lousy paddle.

In all my years of paddling I’ve never had to actually use my spare paddle. But “never say never.”

single blade
If you have a rudder get a single blade wood paddle.

I always see the spare as a trips over kinda thing, but if you are on a multiply trip I can see the value in a decent paddle. I would say go with a used nicer paddle.

Ryan L.

you are talking kayaking
but the principle is the same… Spare is a little different but you still have some proficiency in it to get back home.

Its fun to use something new and I second a short bentshaft single blade as a spare kayak paddle unless you are paddling really difficult conditions.

My spare canoe paddle on long trips is a kayak paddle.

…It really depends on what you have. If it’s a beater then it’s a beater. If it’s a nice paddle that you would be happy using then that’s what is is. I am fortunate to have a BS Cypress as a primary and a BS Ikelos on the deck. I switch when I want another gear or feel the need for better support. If my Cypress broke I would still be happy.

I think that if you have two nice paddles bring them both. If you end up with a couple of nice paddles for different uses but either one would work better than your beater then you leave the beater at home.


Think outside the box
You want an “alternate” paddle rather than a back up paddle. So, for example, pair your Werner with a GP. You can switch back and forth as the spirit moves you and you can bring on the GP when the wind comes up. In other words, match paddle one characteristics and lack of characteristics in paddle two and vice versa.

My main paddle is a Werner Kalliste carbon foam core. The only thing it lacks is a self-paddling motor. I love this paddle.

OK, I have an idea. Since I feel bad about the brand new Werner Camano sitting around doing nothing, maybe I should sell it and buy a used Camano on Craigslist? Then I would have some extra cash and a paddle that would be very serviceable if I broke my Kalliste miles from home.

P.S. I acquired the Camano incidentally as part of a kayak deal.

Get a really good GP and cut it in half. Stow one half on your boat and use the other. If you break the one you are using, the one on the deck will feel very familiar… Seriously though, I have brought along a wooden canoe paddle that I think I paid a couple bucks for at a yard sale. It is actually fun to paddle my rudderless Romany in creeks and for negotiating mangrove tunnels. But being out on open water or long treks could pose some rotational issues and the bracing becomes a factor if needed while the paddle is on the other side. For longer treks or better safety a similar paddle to your main one, that can be feathered or not as you usually paddle (muscle memory) would be your best bet. It doesn’t need to be as good a paddle.

Spend afew $100 on…
A paddle you are “more than likely” NEVER going to use.


that I will sell you as a “spare” just incase your $15 shell station glasses get drowned.

Paddl easy,


What Dr Disco Said
It’s not a spare. I carry an ‘upwind’ and a ‘downwind’ paddle. Think chainrings on a bicycle. When I bike downhill I use a bigger gear. When I paddle downwind I use a bigger paddle.

Had to use my spare once
All day, and it wasn’t a bad paddle. But by the end of the day I had resolved to get a second lightweight paddle. Once was enough.

It’s really quite simple
if you paddle with others there is a higher probability that someone else is going to break their paddle, or if you have a group member struggling to keep up with the group because of a heavy paddle and a long trip you would give them your Kalliste and paddle with your backup. If you would be happy finishing a trip using your current backup keep it, if not, sell it and get something else.

Same goes for paddling solo. If you will be happy finishing your trip with your current spare keep it.

Personally, I would probably keep the Camano, at least until I found a great deal on paddle with a different shaped blade.

Yes, that’s what I’m thinking
In my case, it could take literally twice the effort to paddle a plastic paddle compared to all-carbon. I would hate to be caught with a lousy paddle 2 days from my car.

HA! Never again!
In fact this happened just last week. A friend was stuck with my previous spare, an Aquabound Stingray. She hated it so much that I took pity on her and gave her my Kalliste. Very hard to hand that over, even to a friend. I love the Kalliste.

I would pump the brakes on twice the effort. I have all carbon for my solo kayak paddle and an aluminum plastic paddle for my rec tandem I paddle with my dad from time to time. While the carbon paddle is way better I’m not sure it takes half as much effort… Design of a paddle can be as important as weight.

Ryan L.

Twice "in my case"
due to shoulder problems. That’s why I had to go with carbon.

I used to carry a $50 paddle as a backup, and the one time I had to use it, I regretted it. it got the job done, but I was very happy to be done.

I now normally carry 2 different models of Werners - same basic level paddles, but different blade shapes. Shuna and Camano. Shuna is older and somewhat beat up, and the large blade is good for acceleration for rock gardens and surfing. Camano is more of a distance touring blade for me.

Get something you’d actually want to use - because you might spend a few days with it on a trip. I’ve been doing it long enough to use my former “main” paddle as my backup when I decided to make a slight change. In your case, you might try to find a similar used paddle or one step heavier (less expensive?) in material.

Bird - refer to your
third paragraph & there’s your answer. And as others have said, don’t think of it as a backup, think of it as another gear you can shift to if you want. My primary and secondary are both Werner carbon, just different blades. Just my opinion of course. It’s your wallet and your paddling pleasure or potential displeasure that govern your decision.

I think you’re right
Based on all these great replies, I’ve decided that my spare paddle should be very serviceable, not a beater. I may sell my new Camano and pick up an older identical one. I’ve gotten so used to my 23 oz Kalliste that I can’t really use the heavier Camano except for an emergency, but it would be more than satisfactory if I had to use it.

Thanks all!

it should be a spare
whether it’s $100 or $300 doesn’t matter.