spare paddle... for me or for you?

This is a question inspired by Brian Nystrom’s comment on the securing the GP thread in which he commented that he carried a Euro spare in case others need it. I find that I do the same thing. Although I paddle sea kayaks exclusively with a Greenland paddle, when I go on extended paddles, I always bring along my nice carbon euro in case anyone will need a spare. I’ve actually only paddled a couple miles with that paddle so it really is just a dedicated spare paddle. When I paddle alone, I bring a spare GP instead.

What got me thinking is that I probably could sell the Euro paddle and use the funds to help pay for a nice two piece Beale paddle. Should I really have to bring extra gear on my kayak that I’m not comfortable using in the slim chance that another paddler gets in trouble? Is it reasonable to expect the other paddler to bring along his own spare or be able to paddle with a GP? What is my obligation here if I’m a trip leader or one of the more experienced members on a particualar trip?

I shouldn’t be alive…
…that show just made a really valid point…if you see a paddler who is unprepared for the trip at hand, SAY SO…

NO paddle trip (Even a short two hour day paddle) should be made by ANYONE without a spare paddle of some sort.

HECK YEAH it’s the other paddler’s responsibility to have a spare, and the Trip Leaders responsibility to point out missing equipment.

I’d say you should serve yourself first.

In a pinch, any half-way competant paddler can manage with a GP, even in a touring boat, to limp back to shore.

(ok, I’ve tried it, just for kicks. It took perhaps 10-15 strokes, with a quick pointer or two from the GP’s owner, for me to get comfortable with the GP)

There you have it. Fund for your nice 2-peice, AND still a spare for your buddies in the event of dire need.

Duty of Care
While I agree that each paddler should be responsible for themselves . .

bottom-line is that if I take a group of people out, I am going to do everything in my power to make sure each and every one of them gets back safely. The safety gear I carry is not for my use, its purpose is to protect me by making sure someone else’s bad day / failed equipment / bad judgement / illness / injury doesn’t ruin my ability to have a safe day on the water.

If each person trains and paddles as if they were paddling solo but brings safety gear to cover another paddler’s misfortune then most of the bases are covered. For example, consider seeing a paddler in distress and being unable to help because you didn’t have your tow-belt readily available. How much would it suck if that paddler suffered some terrible tragedy that you might have prevented had you been fully equipped?

I’ve never had to use any of my safety gear for anything I did. But the gear gets used often for others that haven’t spent quite as much time at the school of hard knocks.


what is really fun:
Paddle long boat with white water Hand Paddles!!!

you can make a tempest Cruise!

and theya re the smallest spare paddles (only for flatwater fun though)


And I do bring along paddle floats, etc. on trips even though I will never use it just in case others might need it. If we assume that as good leaders (or experienced paddlers) we want to be able to be prepared to support our group if the need arises, is it unfair to expect your group to be able to use a GP? Is our kayak education system pigeon-holing paddlers into a narrow window of skill which is inflexible? If you hand someone a GP or a wing paddle, are most paddlers so uncomfortable with the differt type of paddle to the point of possibly being a danger to themselves and others? (I teach kayaking classes and we only use euro paddles in class.)

there’s a thought!
I always bring my hand paddles with me on whitewater but I never considered that they might be ok in my long boat. Hmm, I think your arms would get a little tired if you had to make a long crossing with hand paddles. :slight_smile:

Nobody/everybody is an island logic
On a group paddle where you know you can depend on certain individuals, I’d say divvy up the group oriented gear. Otherwise, there will be a lot of unused gear hauled. That said, should you personally have to carry a spare paddle? Better question: Can you do hand rolls in conditions until someone can get to you with a spare? I’d say carry the spare you’d want to use. If others want to use a spare they’d want to use, they should bring their own. If everyone packs with this mindset, I’d bet there would be a whole lot of spare paddles on decks and ready.

Maybe I’d make a poor group leader, but packing everything for everybody, then everybody packing everything for themselves seems a little redundant.


Being a solo paddler for the most part
I carry gear that I am comfortable with. When I paddle with a group, it seems I lend my Windswift to a fatiguing paddler. Most of the time, that paddler is using a 220-230cm euro paddle with very large blades. A smaller bladed paddle, such as a GP can be just the ticket.

Not really a question of spare vs. not…
but rather one of Euro vs GP for a spare. I almost always carry a spare and I also have a pretty bombproof hand roll in conditions on both sides.

From the sounds of it, yes I should carry a spare but I shouldn’t feel guilty about not bringing along a Euro.

The question is not really for you, or any of the posters so far I’d guess. I suspect we all carry spares for ourselves whether we use them or not. As a leader, it would be the question to ask those thinking of going with you…so they see things in the same light.

Alex, carry a spare that everyone, …
including yourself can use. It should be capable of left and right control, feathered and unfeathered. Shit happens. No one is perfect. Putting a storm paddle on your rear deck will insure the only person who can use the friggin thing is you. People break their paddles, lose their paddles often enough to have to think through your kit. I’ve rescued several people who did not originally start the day with me. Have the clip to your tow belt out and ready to use, too, btw. When I put together a club trip I also bring an extra helmet, pfd and spray deck. Then there is the extra gloves and neo caps, the dry clothes in a dry bag.


Good point
>When I put together a club trip I also bring an extra helmet, pfd and spray deck. Then there is the extra gloves and neo caps, the dry clothes in a dry bag.<

I’ve been on the receiving end of such thoughtfulness to appreciate it very much.

However, most of the trip leaders who do that usually through whatever spare gear they have into the mix “just in case” others in the group forgot thier own. It’s a different story to carry an expensive carbon Euro paddle “just in case” others might need it.

If schizopak has an old spare Euro paddle, by all means bring it along to the launch, and maybe another paddler can store that on THEIR deck! But I don’t think it’s even neccessary to take it on the water if there’re already many spares on other people’s deck…

My point is, there’s already so much we need to consider when preparing for a trip (remember, this is our hobby, not our job), I think it’s too much to ask the leader to think about what type of spare will be most useful for the rest of the group. Put too high an expectation for the leader, there won’t be any more group trips because no one feels they’re qualified as leader any more!

save yourself first, but…
The first priority is to have whatever spare you’ll be most comfortable using in the conditions you’re likely to need it. If you feel safer with a GP when things get ugly, then by all means carry a spare GP.

If you want to carry a euro spare for someone else, there’s no need to have a lot of money tied up in lightweight carbon. The point of a spare is to enable someone to get home safely. You just need something that’s rock-whacking tough with a decent blade shape.

Should a spare be an after thought?

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 1:19 PM EST –

I often see people mention that they carry a spare they never paddle with: A GP user who carries an EP, Someone who uses a Storm that rarely if ever practices the sliding stroke needed to use it ( and maybe doesn't even paddle GP at all normally!). People who carry heavy yard sale junk spare but use top end carbon as their regular. Comes in all varieties.

There should be an obvious problem emerging here. You tend to need a spare when the chips are down. Is that really the time to force yourself to rely on an unfamiliar and/or poor quality paddle? Maybe if you only need it for a minute to retrieve you main stick, but what if it's more than that an that paddle's busted/gone? What if you're still far from the takeout?

There is also a lost opportunity here. Rather than thinking of it as a spare - just for simple safety/redundancy - think of it as a second paddle that offers variety.

I know several do this already. Two paddles they like, and use both. Maybe one is shorter, or has different blades. One they prefer upwind, or in rougher conditions, the other for flat cruising - whatever.

Point is, if you're going to carry two paddles - why not make it two good paddles you like that expand your options? Short of that, at least make it two you're familiar with. Many do this by default when they upgrade to a new paddle - and the former main paddle becomes the spare.

I use GP and carry a Storm. Call me anti-social. I am also guilty of not practicing the sliding stroke much - but I am functional with it. I also use the shorter stick for rolling practice - and it's actually better for this than the full length. If I loose my paddle and capsize - going for the storm is not only easy, I know it's as good or better than my regular paddle for rolling up, and a lot better that half a euro (hmm... need to practice that too...).

My choice of spare may be a bit selfish - as it doesn't cater to the needs of unprepared Eurobladers - but I mostly paddle alone. When with others, most have spares - and we're generally near shore so not really life or death stuff.

If I came across a paddler in distress, without paddle (reasonably likely scenario here), my Storm may indeed be nearly useless to them, but they should be able to get by with my longer GP while I use the storm. GP is different, but not THAT different (I also carry a wing occasionally - and handing a that same person a wing paddle could be considered cruel! Again though - they'd get the GP and I'd use the wing).

Reminds me, I need to put my quick tow rig back on my PFD. It isn't Surf/WW/long distance worthy - but it will give a tired boater some help to shore, or let me retrieve a wayward boat, or...


agree . .
I know what you mean:

I use a paddle float as dunnage in one of my hatches. The double-duty use means I don’t mind carrying that particular piece of gear that I personally might never need. If every paddler that needs one carries one, then those that don’t know better cannot ruin the trip for others.

I don’t think the kayak education systems does that but lack of training, skills and experience produces that same result. As you know, there is a big difference between having taken a lesson and having skills or being “trained and experienced”.

Yes, I believe the majority of paddlers might "in deep . . " if they had to use a gp or a wing paddle. I don’t think that’s how it should be, but I think that’s how it is in a practical sense. I carry a euro and a gp. If someone needs a paddle they can take whichever they prefer, I’m happy to use either.

There are different standards of care for a working instructor versus a trip leader vs a trip organizer vs a trip participant. I used to adjust my kit depending on the circumstance, but these days I find it easier to have one kit and take the whole thing with me each time I paddle. My kit weights about 35#, I don’t even notice the weight once underway. I don’t carry a lot of comfort items just the kind of stuff that might save a day’s paddling or save a life. But much of this is a personal choice, YMMV.

To clarify…
When I wrote that the Euro spare was a paddle that I was not as comfortable with, I wasn’t referring to my skill level with the paddle but rather my physical comfort. I am equally comfortable with a Euro paddle as a GP in tough conditions but I vastly prefer a GP for long paddles. I am definitely believe that your spare should be as good as your standard paddle. In my case, my spare these days typically is a very nice laminated Beale paddle with different proportions to my standard Beale paddle which breaks up the pace. I would like to carve out a nice storm paddle one of these days as the sliding stroke is one of my favorite paddling strokes and I use it all the time with my full size paddles. Personally, I’d be fine with a wing paddle as well as I’ve paddled and rolled with them before without any trouble.

I guess the idea of “selfishness” is what I’m trying to come to grips with. Neither the euro spare or the GP spare is putting me in any disadvantage from a personal safety standpoint. I guess the sense of responsibility I’m developing as my skills increase is somewhat in conflict with the minimalist in me who only wants the bring the bare minimum and rely mostly on my own abilities to keep me safe. I’m trying to remember my first few times with a Greenland paddle in bigger water. I had lent out my Euro paddle and I was scared to death as I hadn’t yet learned to brace effectively with the GP. I think I swam out of my boat 3 times that day while repeatedly attempting to surf with the GP. Boy did I miss my Euro paddle that day.

From another perspective, I wonder if I just secretly want more people to paddle with GPs and therefore I want a spare GP to pass to people to try. :slight_smile:

and to also clarify…
… my comments were meant for general consumption - and no one in particular.

How’s this for simplification: If you are being paid to guide or instruct, or are in any way considered to be in charge of or coordinating the on water events of the day - and it’s not a 100% G-style group/event - bring a Euro spare. Otherwise, carve that storm and enjoy.

Side note/preference: I find little use for sliding forward stroke a full length personally - too much leverage. Quite different with a short paddle that requires it to get normal/full blade immersion.

The concerns over handing someone a GP or wing for the first time, to rely on as a backup in even mild conditions, are valid. The sort of paddler I’m likely to run across on a solo paddle (typical beginner rec/rental/SOT) would be served about as well with a brick. On the other hand, water’s warm here year around, I didn’t take them out, and hopefully they know how to swim! Unless they’re yelling for help I’ll assume they are just cooling off. If still upright, they go so slow and drift around so much I wouldn’t know if they’d lost a paddle or not either.

Not to beat this thread to death, but I don’t think this has been said.

I would only carry a spare that I was willing to use personally. I have a good paddle (fiberglass) and a better paddle (carbon). The blades are identical, but one paddle is shorter and the other is lighter. I use them both depending on what I feel like and would lend either to whomever was in need.

Now I paddle primarily with a GP. I expect that in most conditions if I loaned this to another who had never used a GP they would be fine with it in a matter of minutes. Maybe this would not be so in extreme conditions, but in many instances, like loaning to someone who broke a paddle, they would be able to get back with a GP.

My first, awkward experience with a GP was about 15 minutes of paddle time. The next time I used a GP was for a 15 mile trip, and one of my euros was my spare. Granted, this was not is surf or other difficult conditions, but I never used the euro that day and I consider myself just an average paddler. A wing paddle may be more difficult for first timers. Can’t say, I’ve never tried one.

Alex, if need be, loan out your primary and you use the spare. I think GPs are fine as long as you are comfortable using a storm to get back. If not, then a take apart GP or a euro makes sense.

I only needed my spare once when I broke my carbon euro. Luckily, it happened to be the first time I carried my own spare (I only owned two paddles at the time). I have always had a spare with me since that day!


Single blade as spare
I think any kayaker would be able to use a gp paddle if they had too and in an hour they might find that they really like it. Another option is to carry a single blade canoe paddle of about 48 inches. It is easily stored on the fron deck where you can grab it any time. Any one can use it. It’s ideal for twisty creeks or giving your regular paddling muscles a rest. And its have the weight and cvery strong!

Try one this week!