Wood vs. Composite

Just picked up a Tempest 165 and I’m looking to upgrade to a better touring paddle than the cheap rec. paddle I own now.

I kinda like the idea of a wooden paddle… any suggestions? pros/cons between wood and composite?

What is everyone out there paddling?


– Last Updated: Jul-18-05 11:31 AM EST –

Wood looks great and feels wonderful..

It’s just very difficult to match the blade shape and weight of a composite paddle.

I have one wood paddle now that came with a used boat. I don't use it as it is too heavy but it looks good in photos.. GH

Ever consider a wooden GP?

– Last Updated: Jul-18-05 12:59 PM EST –

About four years ago, I switched from using a composite "Euro" paddle (with which I was very pleased) to a wooden Greenland Paddle (GP). I've never looked back, and my trusty old Werner must feel very neglected (unless a friend is visiting and doesn't want to use one of my GPs).

I've never bothered to weigh my wooden GPs, but that really doesn't matter to me, as I love everything about them; not only the paddle shape and techniques used with them, but also the feel in my hands, particular flexibilty, and buoyancy of the wood. In any event, I certainly don't get any more tired paddling with the wooden GP all day than I ever did with very light composite Euro paddles.

Though it's true that the *very lightest* paddles are indeed composite rather than wood, weight alone is not an absolute measure of ultimate functionality. The "right" weight, balance, flexibility, and durability for a given purpose is more important to me than simply "as light as possible". In fact, I've tried paddles that were so light that they just didn't offer the "right" combination of "substance and balance" that I feel most comfortable with. Durability in certain circumstances can also be an issue; especially with very light, very thin composite blades.

Just as with trying different types of boats, one must also try many different types of paddles in order to find what is most agreeable to one's boat and other personal preference considerations. For use with a long, narrow touring boat, I know my preference; a wooden GP. The only circumstances in which I would prefer a composite Euro paddle now is if I'm paddling a dedicated surf or whitewater boat in ocean surf or whitewater. When I'm lauching or landing in the surf (or even just playing in the surf) with my touring boats, I've never had a problem with the GPs.

Finally, I don't think there is an "absolute best" that everyone will ever agree on; only that which satisfies our individual, personal preferences for the various types of paddling we enjoy.


Greenland paddle
I would reccomend trying a greenland paddle. I have enjoyed using one for the past couple years and everone that I let use it seems to like it. If you want you can make one for a few dollars.

My wood paddle is a Sawyer wind paddle
that is very light. Not as light as carbon, but a major improvement over a rec paddle.

Other view.
I personally don’t like wooden paddles. What drives me crazy in particular is their flotation, which is what others (such as those above) often really like. You really do have to try both. Whether Euro or GP a wooden paddle is warmer on your hands in cold weather. Wooden paddles need periodic maintenence. Some people don’t mind that, some people like it, and some people like me don’t want the bother. It used to be that you couldn’t get a bent shaft paddle in wood and I prefer bent shafts. But now they are generally available, so if you don’t go GP, have a look at Bending Branches wooden bent shaft paddles. Happy sanding and varnishing! :slight_smile:


– Last Updated: Jul-18-05 3:39 PM EST –

nice composite WING is the thing

but I have reached the point where I wouldn’t think of entering a race without my wing, but I can’t stand it when I am touring.

If I am going to be doing an all day nature paddle with “the bride” I will only use the touring paddle.

And-- when I now use the touring paddle the stroke is similar to my wing stroke.

One of these days I might just try a greenland just to see if I can confuse myself more!



I always use the wing now, and when i use my touring paddle it feels funny like its Slipping through the water… but to each his own… I dont use the wing when i am Swamping though, as draw strokes ect are MUCH more effective with a non-wing…

Be careful Jack!

– Last Updated: Jul-18-05 6:37 PM EST –

You will like them. Then you'll be rolling all the time and building SOFs! *L*

GP has a winglike feel in the water (without the wear and tear), but more suited to touring (this relates to what Iceman often says about wing being too much for heavier sea/touring kayaks and that decent fitness is a must with wing) and offers more stroke options. As you've seen, I can hold decent speed with mine and I'm fat and don't train like you.

Anyone can make one go, but I've found when people have tried mine it's the wing paddlers that adapt more easily. All I have to do is show them the basic grip and in seconds they are cruising with decent power and automatic natural blade cant. They are used to letting the blade find it's path and not fighting it.

Euro paddlers tend to have less feel for it - want to keep blades more perpendicular, and try to pull vs. letting it fly. As a result they often get poor bite and some flutter for a while.

Wing guys get a smooth pull and comment that it's pretty sweet (the few that will even consider touching anything non-wing anyway), while the euro people may think its weird and weak feeling.

The euro people simply have more to unlearn. That's why some recommend paddling only GP for a while in the beginning. Short test paddles don't usually get you to where it is really working right. Until it is smooth and silent, going back and forth between paddles can complicate learning.

Everyone's different and some take to it right off. It felt weird to me at first (going from a Werner San Juan) but in a couple minutes I had decent cruising speed. I committed to using it exclusively for a while and I'm glad I did. After about 100 miles I got rid of the splashes and gurgles. After that it just got better each time. Then it taught me to roll...

I have little doubt you'd like one - just be sure you try well made one's that fit you fairly well. They are most definitely not all created equal and can vary from GP to GP more than the difference between your wing and euro. Knowing how you paddle, you'd probably like my carbon GP (but maybe a couple inches shorter). Don Beale's paddles are also nice if you want wood. You could just make one - but I'd suggest checking out some examples first (on water too) or you won't understand the significance of the various cross section shapes and options and may end up with a clunky war club (#1 reason people that don't like GPs is poorly made and/or heavy paddles! #2 reason, not enough time to get to know them).

BTW - My GP weighs same as your wing, maybe less.

What Greyak says
I can’t agree more. I only use a Euro on shallow rivers around St. Louis. I never have to worry about someone absconding with my paddle as all the “carbon” guys think it is too heavy. They all tell me I can paddle longer with their light weight stuff. At the end of the day I’m still with them so I don’t see what they mean. I’m sure my Mitchell is a little heavier than an all Cedar GP but the ash/walnut/cedar laminate is sure pretty. Plus, I don’t worry about paddle assisted entries from docks etc when the water is too darn cold.


you guys get away from the question fast.

Hey! I answered the question…
… tangentially with a resounding “both”.

I have a carbon GP - my girlfriend has wood (now that’s a weird comment!) and I like them all.

If I still paddled euros it would be composites all the way. Tougher, lighter, more advanced shapes possible (though still crude compared to GP form). Carbon for touring.

Once you go to lighter paddles it’s really unlikely you’ll want heavier. Once you pay decent $ for a paddle you’ll learn that you really don’t have to abuse them (same with boats) and they more than stand up to heavy use (note lack of “ab”).

Where do you get one? Brands?
A carbon GP sounds interesting. But I know nothing about them. Info?

carbon GP

If you don’t like bouyancy, this may not be your paddle…

Yeah, you’re probably right
They have a foam core. But interesting none-the-less. Thanks.