I’m about to drop the $200 on a ZRE medium weight.The main use of this paddle will be for tripping. Spending this much on a paddle makes me nervous so I want to get the best width for my purpose; what are your recommendations?
More info - how strong and fit are you?
If you’re strong and fit, a wider blade my work fine for you. If you’re less strong and fit, you may prefer narrower.
Also, consult the staff at ZRE, I’d think that they’d be able to offer some good advice.
Congratulations on choosing a great paddle. I rarely use any other paddles since I got my Zaveral Mediums.
I’ve always used 2 8.25" wide ZRE medium blades. I consider myself a strong paddler, but for the repetitive amount of strokes one does over a distance while tripping, wouldn’t recommend going a whole lot wider. Think of it along the lines of spinning on a loaded bicycle verses pushing a big gear. A bigger blade will wear you out over time pushing a loaded canoe. On the other end, I really need more blade width for pushing my Wenonah Javilin outrigger canoe, the 8.25" blade doesn’t wanna keep up with the hull! In the unloaded, sleek outrigger a blade approaching 9" wide would probably be the ticket.
ZRE blade width
I check with ZRE and they said that their general recommendations are 8.25 for competitive paddlers with a higher stroke rate and 8.75 for recreational paddlers with a lower stroke rate. I,m leaning towards a 8.50 width for canoe tripping.
Eight and a quarter
You are going to love that paddle !
Just make sure you take the swamp scum off it when you take it to bed with you each night.
I’ve got both 8.25 and 8.5 and have used their paddles up to Outrigger width.
I agree with the recommendation for an 8.25…it’s the sweetest overall width and paddle.
If you’re under 30 and can’t get enough exercise an 8.5 will be fine. I think you’d hate an 8.75 if you ever paddled an 8.25.
The narrower the blade the better the paddle balance; it’s noticeable.
instead of worrying about width,go with even a light one. I only use the ultra light 7 oz. paddle. Very strong, probably more than wood and some of the other materials too. ive never broken one and only saw 1 broken ever in a canoe race.
forgot to mention you can get cheaper ZREs on their website listed under “factory blemished” or “seconds”, cant remember what they label them at. i have ONLY bought those kinds and get them about 40-60$ cheaper than the 200 ones. There is no difference in strength with these its all cosmetics and i still cant see the difference.
I’ve got an 8.25
That blade has a good firm catch. It will move you along just fine.
I found that my stroke rate went up quite a bit just due to the light weight.
In my own experience
Having had an 8.25" blade for a number of years and buying an outrigger paddle last year, I bought another (lighter) outrigger paddle this year.
I am by no means a super athlete, and paddle many hours at a time, and I see no reason to buy a narrower blade than an outrigger for my own use which is only a moderately fast cadance, not the 60 strokes a minute stuff racers are doing. I tend to average 35-40 strokes a minute, and have a bit of strength.
I see no reason at all to go back to a narrower blade or to choose my narrower paddle other than as a beater because it is older and less valuable than the others.
How would you decide on shaft angle? Would a 7 degree be best for a solo paddler in a 17 foot Kevlar?
solo or tandem
For me, the width would depend on what my paddling partner, if any, were using to paddle.
Last summer I paddled in the BWCA from the bow with my 8.25 w. Zav, but my stroke rate was too fast for my partner in the stern using a wider wooden paddle. A wider Zaz would have had more “bite” and slowed by rate to match the stern and keep him happy. So I switched to a wider paddle.
I use my Zavs to paddle solo, where I have only myself to care about my stroke rate.