I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a nicer paddle, but would love to be able to try out several different types/brands before making a decision. Do dealers normally let you “demo” paddles like they do for kayaks? I’ve never really thought about it till now and was wondering if anyone has done this before.
…normally…sometimes…best to call ahead and ask .
Best chance is to find a club
We found that demoing the paddles you really want can be difficult. It’s often easiest to join a club, admire someone’s paddle and figure if you do that well enough they’ll let you try it.
paddles to sample
kayak shops that offer demo days will often have demo paddles and for that matter demo PFDs to use. Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte MI is famously notable for letting us demo fiberglass seakayaks, Werner carbon paddles and Kokatat/Astral/etc PFDs.
Paddle clubs -formal or not - are a great resource as Celia mentioned. I’ve often swapped paddles w. people wanting to try out my Werner Cyprus, and got to try bent shaft paddles. Folks even sample Greenland paddles, too (heh)
Lastly, at many symposia Werner Paddles’ rep (usually Danny Mongno!) will have a rack of paddles that can be borrowed for an hour or a class. Used the Werner Cyprus for a bracing and rolling class - fell in love w. that paddle, bought one later that year.
My local shop has a variety of demo paddles, including high-end and top-shelf selections from Werner. Even if your dealer doesn’t specifically have “demo” paddles, they may let you try one of the new paddles if you are seriously considering buying it from them, but just need to give it a real try to make sure. My shop has offered to let me take a non-demo paddle for a spin to decide if it’s the right one.