wide or narrow blade

Which paddle type do you prefer, a wide or a narrow blade and why? Thanks.


My wife
She had a Harmony with a wide blade but it is too heavy, 39oz, and long 230cm. She tried a Pacific Designs R1 and liked the weight and length but not the small blade. Not sure what size blade to get her since they make 3 different size blades.

Let her try them all?
Maybe it seems like too much effort, but I would find a shop that will let her try them all.

Good luck

Paddle of choice
I recently tried a Lumpy Paddle and loved it. I now have one on order because it made me hate my standard euroblade

Its my understanding
that the wider blade is used with a slower cadence and the narrower blade with a faster cadence.

I’m more of a wide paddle - slower cadence kind of paddler. I also like the power of a wide blade. This is noticeable at slower speeds/acceleration, but at higher speeds the difference seems to taper off.

The question is, what are you more comfortable with? Unfortunately, its been my experience that very few places have paddle demo’s.

high or low angle stroke
Its my understanding that wide blades and narrow blades often have exactly the same area. So its not size.

Its distribution. Long narrow blades have the best immersion with a low approach angle and wide with a high angle. Also wide blades do have a better acceleration but are more tiring over many miles. For guide work when I have to be at my client within seconds I use a wide blade. For touring a GP.

Her size? Kayak type?
Take the comments below about cadence and stroke angle (and other such variables) with a grain of salt. Popular views/interpretations, but a bit limited in scope and context.

Particularly so regarding Greenland paddles that are NOT automatically higher cadence (depends on many other factors) and are NOT low angle paddles (work well at any angle). The people that limit their GP use to these outdated interpretations of GP stroke are the same ones who are quick to point out the GP’s so called limitations! :wink:

With euros, there is some design/marketing differentiation effort around shorter and wider blades being “high angle” and longer narrower blades being “low angle” - but this is still a gross over-generalization that can get the wrong limiting ideas in people’s heads (it also sells new paddles to people who do mild/general paddling and were fine with something in-between - but no real harm, and old faithful often makes a good spare).

The trend has been to shorter overall paddles and higher angle strokes - and so a shorter wider blade can make more sense if that fits the situation.

There are more variables than blade shape driving all this. Blade shape is typically more a reaction to the other variables (use/user centric) than the driving factor.

So: How tall is she, what does she paddle, how does she paddle it (what does she do, for how long/far, at what typical speeds, and in what conditions)?

PS - For most, all the preformance related fit/detail issues really don’t matter. They’re not technical/competitive paddlers - and/or they’re not doing distances where the little stuff starts to become big stuff. They just need to like the paddle. Light weight, with a decent feel in the hand, and a simple/predictable feel in the water typically round out the top three decision triggers here (in that order, as many are bought without demo).

PSS - I think about paddles WAY too much, but it’s not an obsession or anything. I only have 13 or 14 (counting Kim’s 3)…

Try a Greenland Stick
I’ve been using a Greenland-style paddle for the past year. I made it from patterns taken off of actual Greenland paddles. It is extraordinarily efficient. It has saved me a great deal of pain, wear and tear on my shoulders. I still have a Werner Camano that I keep on the deck as a spare, but I haven’t used it for over a year! My Greenland paddle cost less than $7.00 (it started life as an 8’ cedar 2x4) and I spent about six hours making it. It weighs about the same as my Camano. One other benefit: people ALWAYS ask me about it wherever I put in or stop along the way.

There. Somebody had to say it. :wink:

Took the plunge and went narrow
I had used the typical euro shape, shorter and wider with the top of the blade distinctly longer than the base. Tried the cheapest all the way up to Werner (though I never did get to try bent shaft). Have to agree with the above that paddle demos are hard to come by, but they are out there. Helps to develop a relationship with the local outfitter, too.

That said, several months ago I bought a feather signature from Patrick at ONNO paddles. I am not plugging for Pat, but I would give his stuff a look. Can’t tell you how pleased I’ve been with this paddle. 22 oz of pure pleasure. The blade is longer and narrower than any others I’ve tried but I really don’t feel a loss of power. I will say that the drop in weight has been great. I’ve used this in open water, down current, up stream, in significant chop, you name it. Always very pleased. There was a learning curve (not huge or anything); just a period of adjustment. If you have the opportunity to try this paddle or something similar, give it a whirl. You might be pleasantly surprised. I find it works just fine for higher angles but I can crank out a great pace if I really bear down at a low angle. Depends on your situation. Making a GP will be my next project. Good luck! -Toddy