Thoughts on B.B. Sunburst paddle

I’ve been shopping for a new paddle. I had been thinking of buying a carbon fiber with a straight shaft but another thread on that subject has discouraged me. So, I went to the paddle shop and looked at their offerings. The Bending Branches Sunburst with the carbon shaft was tempting but the blade seemed a bit small. Does anyone have experience with and opinions about that paddle?



I think Kim bought one, didn’t like it, and returned it.

I’ve only hefted them in a paddle store, but I knew right away I didn’t like the weight balance or the shaft stiffness. I like some flex in the shaft, which ZRE offers with their flexible shafts. Also, in a hybrid paddle, I prefer wood shaft and carbon blade for balance and feel. The Mitchell Surreal is a popular hybrid.

Glenn. I need to think a little more about this.

I was looking around for a carbon fiber straight shaft paddle because I thought it would be tougher for use in shallow, rocky places. I had been using a B.B. Espresso with an edge guard until this summer when I broke a wedge shaped piece out of the tip. The paddle has been fixed but I am left thinking that I need a tougher paddle for those conditions.

Being gun-shy after busting the tip on the Espresso, I started carrying and using a plastic livery paddle in shallow water. That does the job, of course, but it is really clumsy.

Not having found a carbon fiber paddle that was suitable, for the reasons stated on the other thread, I started looking at paddles with shorter blades as one would assume that they hit fewer rocks. That’s why I thought the Sunburst might do the trick (the blade is 17" long vs 20" for the Espresso).

What I think I now know is:

  1. Tough carbon fiber is not cored carbon fiber.

  2. A symmetric solid carbon paddle with a straight shaft cannot be had.

  3. Maybe I should not be scared off by one bad experience with a wooden paddle.

  4. Perhaps, also, I should not be scared off by small assymetries in the solid carbon fiber paddles that are available.

    So… I will ponder some more.


Peter, the short answer is that this is why we end up with lots of paddles.

I don’t understand your goal. If your goal is to have a strong blade in shallow rocky streams, then I don’t think a carbon FW paddle is where you should be looking. I’d be looking for a strong wood paddle blade.

I settled on two ZRE’s for weight reasons, especially on whatever remaining wilderness trips I may have in me. Since I might encounter WW or rocky streams on a wilderness trip, I got my straight ZRE with the WW blade as Harold Deal did. It’s a little stronger and heavier than the regular medium ZRE blade.

However, if I knew in advance on a day trip that I was going on a shallow, rocky stream, I would not subject my expensive carbon paddles to that. I would use an old beater wood FW paddle or one of my wooden Mitchell WW paddles, none of which have broken in 30 years.

I wouldn’t be put off by the offset blade in the ZRE, but the asymmetrical grip would be a more serious concern to me. In that connection, I will email you with a suggestion.

I’t not clear to me why you think the Sunburst blade would have benefits over the Expresso blade in the rocks. I recall the Sunburst blade being wood.

I am late and tired
because we started the Connecticut hockey circuit at 5 am this morning. And I have seen too many cars on the parking lot called I 84 moving at parking lot pace because someone or three was stupid and decided to try and defy the laws of physics,

The BB line seems to have a very small blade relative to what one might expect for the shape. Now just having hiked one of those overblown supermarkets in CT for less than a dozen items my mind is shot for exact measurements. But my Espresso seems to be two inches too long in the shaft for good balance and I bury the thing too far in the water. Its not a bad paddle at all considering its price and the torture I give it, but its not my dream paddle either.

Will be going forth to smack some more oyster bars in two weeks. The Espresso ST is a tough paddle. I did get a Sunburst as it went on sale…and the balance so far off and the feel just so wrong that it went back…again the blade too small for what I expected. And frankly I do not mind carbon shafts, but that one felt rough and icky to me. I just don’t like rough and icky things in my hand.

Good morning all,
and thank you for your advice. Glenn has graciously offered to let me try his collection of carbon fiber paddles some warm day this winter. I’m going to take him up on that and put off any paddle buying decisions pending that trial.



B B sunburst 14
I bought the bent paddle this summer for our trip to Biscotasing Ontario.

Yeah its stiff, But of all the other paddles I have ever used ; it’s by far the best paddle I have ever used or ever bought.

I’m no paddle expert or anything like that.All of my canoe paddeling has been with wood paddles.

Some cheapo’s, some with all wood B B laminated paddles.All straight shaft.

In the river… as cheap as I have.

On ponds… good padles.

In lakes where I wont have to worry about rocks… it will forever be my Sunburst 14 degree bentshaft paddle. No questions asked…I wouldnt trade it for anything else and 150 combined miles on it in one summer for me speaks highly of it.

Now if I could just get myself to splurge on a better kayak paddle…

Keep on paddling

Remember to keep the smooth side down.


Two things
1. I don’t like the way it looks. That “sunburst” pattern is ugly. No big deal, of course, it’s a matter of taste.

2. This is the big deal: BB has it backwards. If you want to make a hybrid, make the shaft out of wood and the blade out of carbon. You want to have the great feel and flex of wood on the shaft because it’s the part you grab (duh!). You want the low weight of carbon on the blade which is what you swing.

Why did they do this backwards? Looks, I guess. They wanted to show off the wood on the blade, but they could have at least chosen a nicer-looking pattern.