whitewater canoe paddle

I am looking for a ww paddle that will be durrable in the rocks and yield smooth underwater recoveries.

I’ll start
by saying I really like my AB Edges, particularly the carbon. I use the glass reinforced in shallower water, as the blade is more flexible, therefore more forgiving of the dreaded paddlesnake, whereas deeper water I use the carbon reinforced. Inexpensive enough where your backup can be the same as your primary, or in my case, you can provide your offspring with the same thing you got.

I use Mitchell and Clinch River curved
blade slalom paddles. They have thin wood cores covered by glass or carbon, and they stand up to rocks as well as anything I’ve used. Because they are designed for slalom, they are smooth and neutral in recovery, compound strokes, and when rolling.

Do you want a spoon blade?

– Last Updated: Jun-27-11 9:43 PM EST –

I have an Aqua Bound carbon Edge as well. It seems pretty durable, but to be honest, I like the feel of a Werner Bandit (another spoon bladed paddle) better. It seems to slice through the water more smoothly and the grip is more comfortable to my hand.

Lots of people seem to like the Mitchell Premier, which comes in both a flat and spoon shaped blade, although if I was going to spend that much I would probably go whole hog and buy a ZRE Power Curve, which I feel is hands down the smoothest spoon bladed whitewater canoe paddle I have tried.

The ZREs are expensive but the blade, shaft, and grip are all replaceable.

price point

– Last Updated: Jun-28-11 8:56 AM EST –

Whatever your price point there are good options out there. I think the lowest you can go and still get a good WW paddle is $89. That's the price of the Aquabound carbon Edge that Daggermat mentioned. I just got one for my wife based on his recommendations. I haven't had it in the water yet but it sure nice in the hand.

After that the curved bladed Werner Bandit comes in at around $160 as does the flat bladed Nantanhala. Carbon Bandit comes in at around $190. The Mitchell Premier can be had for around $240. After that the ZRE Powercurve at arond $315 and then custom made paddles above that.

Basically, pick your price point. They are all nice paddles for the money. I use the carbon Werner Bandit and like I said, I just bought my wife the carbon Aquabound Edge.

I have heard really great things about the Aqua-Bound Edge. It has low swing weight and a t-grip so you can get performance and comfort. It is hands down the best value at $89.

Otherwise, check out the Bending Branches Expedition Plus. This paddle has Rockguard so it never breaks when you hit rocks or whatever. It is supposed to be dynamite quality. Should be worth the $130.

Hope this helps.

My Take
I love my Mitchells but they do vibrate when I slice back during an in water recovery. Not a show stopper for me but certainly noticeable.

I have a Werner Nantahela but it cracked at the base of the shaft as Werners seem to do. The Mitchell has a far better feel in the water.

Speaking of Bending Branches,…
…I think that anyone considering a wood paddle for wheitewater like the Bending Branches Expedition Plus should also take a look at the Canyon Guide by Sawyer. I have both an Expedition Plus and a Canyon Guide, so I’ll compare them. I think the Canyon Guide is a better paddle when specifically used in whitewater. On the other hand, the Canyon Guide is a bit too heavy for non-whitewater use, and the lighter Expedition Plus is better as cross-over design for mostly non-whitewater use in shallow, rocky rivers. Both paddles slice very nicely, though I think the advantasge in that category goes to the Sawyer due to its thinner blade. In real whitewater, I prefer the greater propulsive force and control provided by the larger blade area of the Sawyer compared to the blade of the Bending Branches. I’ve only had the Expidition Plus for a short time, but so far I think the Canyon Guide requires less finess to achieve a “plop-free” entry of the blade when in flatwater. In non-whitewater situations, the hybrid “T” grip of the Expedition Plus is nicer in the hand than the true “T” grip of the Canyon Guide, but like other Bending Branches models I’ve tried, that hybrid “T” grip seems too small (to me anyway).

Haven’t been able to get my Mitchell
to vibrate. Maybe your thorax is serving as a soundboard.

couple paddles
Werner bandit is a popular and nice paddle,but I have heard many folks complain they wear out blades quickly in really rocky stuff.

aquabound Edge is a good looking paddle and it may be my next paddle.

the other paddle I have been looking at id the Fox works paddle- I like wood paddles.

I am currently paddling with a Bending branches Expedition Plus. It is not ideal, but works well on the class 1,2 I normally play in. I am looking forward to trying a spoon blade.

One other to look at is the Werner Rec Canoe. It makes a serviceable WW paddle.

Expidition Plus vs. Canyon Guide…
First off, the standard t-grip in Sawyer and much of the other paddles out there is garbage compared to the curved t-grip in the Expedition Plus. After using the curved t-grip I would never go to anything else. The problem with the Canyon Guide is you get a thinner blade which is much more likely to break and a larger surface area so your paddle is stuck in the water longer than you wish. If I need to push a lot of water, it’s a great paddle. But when you do that, it’s extremely exhausting so it is not “less fitness”. Not to mention, the large blade area doesn’t give better control, it gives more power and less control.

I am not saying that Canyon Guide is a bad product, I am just saying a lot of the above comments we not true. At $10 less than the Sawyer, the Bending Branches Expedition Plus is much better value and more appropriate for WW canoeing.

thanks for the great input
I would like a paddle with a little flex in it for shock absorbtion when a inadvertantly stab a rock. Do any of these have some "give " in them? Sounds like the AB glass edge does. How about the others?

Paddle Preferences

– Last Updated: Jun-29-11 2:29 PM EST –

Well, to each his own. I still think that anyone wanting a wood paddle would do well to look at both models, not just the one you prefer.

I must admit I don't follow your logic about why the Sawyer model is such a piece of crap though. I don't understand the "less control" idea at all, nor the idea that the paddle somehow remains "stuck" in the water for longer than you wish (I simply withdraw the blade when I'm done with a stroke or slice it to a new location, and it sure slices easily). The blade size is more similar to longtime standards for whitewater blade dimenensions and I don't recal hearing complaints about traditional whitewater models. The blade is nice in pushy conditions, but in all conditions, I've never experienced "less control". I just think the paddle is too heavy for non-whitewater use, as I already said.

How many of these Saywer paddle blades have you broken that you can be so sure it is "much more likely to break"? I've been amazed at the accidental abuse mine has survived. You equate "thin" with "weak", but don't be so sure that this is the case. Here's something to consider that goes against that line of thinking. I've used a Bending Branches Traveler as my shallow-water paddle for a few years now, intending to save my "more fragile" Cedar Voyager from possible breakage. In the meantime, I've broken the blades on two of them in situations that were far less extreme or abusive than the great many accidental rock-bashing and rock-prying situations that my Sawyer Cedar Voyager paddle has taken, and the blade on that the Voyager is paper-thin in comparison to the blade of the Travleler so it really looks like it "should" be the more delicate paddle. In actual fact, the Traveler blade is not very strong at all in comparison to that paper-thin Voyager blade in situations where the tip gets caught between rock edges or simply strikes a rock with great force. That may be mostly due to the glass reinforcing on the Voyager blade, but don't be so certain that a thin but well-made blade will always be weaker than a thicker blade, because it's not always the case. I have plenty of faith in the blade strength of the Canyon Guide, both because of the "unreasonable" degree of rock-prying and bashing that it has already survived, and because of my accidental comparisons of the blade durability of the "delicate" Cedar Voyager and the "apparently more robust" Traveler.

I agree with you about the grip, and that's why I said what I did about it. For non-whitewater use I prefer a rounder grip. It's just that once I got used to a larger, more traditional grip, I no longer like the smaller grips that Bending Branches makes. Like most other aspects mentioned here, I see that as something related to individual preference, not dogma.

Werner Rec
got a couple that came with a nearly unused Encore a couple years back. Yellow shaft, whitish blade. My kid broke his at the shaft/blade junction real quick, and I had elbow issues after using mine too much. On the plus side I could attain a certain ledge easier with the Werner than the Edge at one of my local playspots. I learned to increase my cadence and stick to the Edge now. Personal preference; Werners good when soloing my Tandems. Bigger blade.

Zav Power Curve
Zaveral has a curved blade WW stick designed by Bob Foote and Harold Deal. Very well made, does inwater recovery on X Fwd quite well.

One would not use in-water recoveries for onside forwards, slows the boat.