Suggestions and advice on buying a Greenland paddle?

I want to buy a Greenland paddle for learning kayak roll. I saw there are wood ones and carbon fiber ones (see the link below, for example). Any advises on their pros and cons? And any suggestions on where to buy? I live in Chicago area, and am not sure if there are any stores here. Maybe I have to buy online. Thanks,

Gearlab shows having a dealer in the Chicago area:

I have seen & held their paddles but have not used one. People that know far more about traditional padling and rolling like them.

Joe-O-Paddles in Thunder Bay Ontario is well known:

You can carve your own. I carved my main paddle in a workshop at QAJAQ-TC given by Don Beale
Qajac-tc is near Frankfort, Mi in late August. Registrations starts May1,:

There are vary few outfitters and kayak dealers that sell Greenland paddles so you are very unlikely to find any in “brick and mortar” stores. However, there are a lot of independent makers of wooden paddles.

As a long time user of GP’s I would suggest that you start with a one piece wooden paddle. Wood and carbon are pretty much the same weight. The only advantage of a carbon is toughness for rough usage. I have both a laminated Western red cedar wood paddle (have used it for 10 years) and a newer GearLab carbon – like them both but if I had to only keep one it would be the cedar. My cedar is more buoyant, which I like a lot.

Also, a quality carbon paddle would put you back $350 or more and until you’ve used a GP you won’t know if you prefer a shouldered or un-shouldered model and what exact length, so investing in something so costly at this point would not be a the best move (yes, there are cheap Chinese made carbon paddles, but many are of questionable quality). Also, you have a wider range of sizing options with wood than carbon fiber, like loom length and diameter. The guys who make them will usually give you good advice on sizing for you and your boat and personal service in custom making one.

Tuktu makes quite nice paddles – a basic GP from them will run you $200. They have a good sizing guide. can also often find

Start with wood. Carbon later. Keep in mind that the GP will give you great ‘bite’ or ‘purchase’ if you push it forward or backward as you push down on it. It’s called sculling. I found bracing with the GP to be very different than with the Euro. Down and forward at the same time. Light grip… let the paddle find the right angle. Works like a charm.

This post is a reminder for me to touch up my Lumpy paddles. Gotta make 'em last.

Wood is cheaper, often has a lively flex, and can be customized (you can widen the paddle shaft, shorten the over length, etc). It’s a good place to start, at least until you know what size works best for you.

Some good info on Greenland paddles is on the Qajaq USA website:

The Qajaq USA forum is a good place to ask for information as well:

Greg Stamer

Thanks for all the responses. It helps a lot.

@willowleaf, I checked the GearLab web site. It says Carbon Fiber paddles are lighter than wood. However, your cedar is more buoyant. Is it because it’s cedar? And is other typical wood heavier?

Mine is an Eric Schade purchased through CLC. Wood and wide enough it has more surface area than many Euro paddles. I like the wood shaft/blade. It doubles as a cane getting out after a long paddle.

The density of individual pieces of wood even within the same species is quiet variable. The density of wood can range from so dense it sinks in water to balsa wood which floats very high.

I see. Thanks.

Yes like others have said go with a wood one first. Gearlabs are NOT lighter unless they changed there design since I have seen a few. The lightest I know of and have one is Superior carbon paddles at 22 ounces two piece with lendal lock. BUT are pricey. I love mine. Worth it to me.

Seems everybody is recommending starting with a wood one first. OK. I was leaning towards a carbon fiber one at the beginning, but I will start with a wood one per all the recommendations.

Thanks everybody.

Jie…A point of clarification…I paddle a wood/epoxy kayak. So naturally I paddle with a wood paddle. I don’t recommend a wood first over carbon fiber or carbon fiber over wood. The carbon fiber paddles generally weigh a lot less. Most of 'em have narrower blades. But I like the match of the wood paddle and “wood” boat.

The wood one might be less $$. If you’ve never paddled one you might have to experiment a little with width and length and paddle strokes(technique). A paddle is a personal thing. You really have to pick out the one you like based upon how it fits and feels.

Thanks for your clarification. And it’s a good point. I have a composite kayak (a white one), and a carbon fiber paddle might go better with it in the sense of matching it. @rival51 recommended a local GearLab store, which happens to be just 30 minutes from my work. I will check it out after work these days.

Some wood GPs I own are lighter than some of my carbon GPs – it depends on the wood species and brand of carbon GP. That said, I normally use a 2 piece carbon as it’s easier to store/transport/fly with. If you are switching to Greenland, it will take awhile to find the right size that fits both you and your kayak (so you might go through a few paddles until you zero in on the right size). Carbon is usually stiffer than wood (not an advantage if you have shoulder issues), and is colder in your hands.

All Greenland paddles are very buoyant (which helps rolling and sculling). The advantage of wood is that either you or a custom builder can make one to your unique measurements and/or modify as needed. Some disadvantages of carbon is that they are $$$ and come in relatively few combinations of length/loom length/loom thickness, so you are fairly lucky if you find one that fits “perfectly” – you are stuck with whatever you buy in carbon. Wood can be “adjusted” easily with very simple tools – some sandpaper (or even glass – to scrape) and a handsaw, and just need to be oiled occasionally (linseed oil or tung oil).

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Thanks for a thorough pros and cons analysis. Helps a lot. I checked some web sites above, and they have, e.g. $200 wood ones and $300+ carbon fiber ones. I’m OK with either price, as long as it’s lighter and with right size for me (which I need to find out, looks like).

Might want to tell people on this forum approximately where you are located or where you paddle. There is always a possibility that someone here lives in relatively the same area and already has a few Greenland paddles that you could paddle with them and try. {some of us have a few paddles}.

Best Wishes

another thought …look at the Greenland Kayak gathering list on the Q-USA site. get instruction and use several different paddles {Greenland} at the gathering. Then you quite possibly will not only learn to roll, but could buy or make a paddle with some basis of what size etc.

That would be great. I live in Aurora, IL, west suburban Chicago area. Most of the time, I kayak on the Fox River and Lake Michigan. Canoe launches on Fox River in Batavia and St. Charles, and on Lake Michigan at Montrose Beach in Chicago are my favorite places. I can go anywhere in the area and beyond regularly. Thanks.

Roym, OP noted that he is in the Chicago area.

@willowleaf said:
There are vary few outfitters and kayak dealers that sell Greenland paddles so you are very unlikely to find any in “brick and mortar” stores. However, there are a lot of independent makers of wooden paddles.

Paddling Warehouse, in the Chicago area, stocks and sells GearLab, for those interested in seeing before they buy.