Your Favorite Paddle Material?

Let’s see, what have we got here… nylon/various plastics, fiberglass, carbon, kevlar, carbon-kevlar, wood.

What do you prefer and why?

And btw, how many ppl here have ever broken a carbon paddle? They’re certainly uber-light, but I always worry they could be brittle, too.

Foam core carbon
It’s like dry suits. Once you get used to how light they are, it is worth the money to take a risk with them.

carbon double blade
when you have to hold the whole blade up all day, weight matters.

Never broken a carbon blade. But I have been told not to drop heavy stuff on the shaft. Or put it on the bottom layer of something.

Wood canoe paddle. The water does a good bit of bearing the weight. I do not have to hold it up as much and the biomechanics are different. However I love my carbon bent shaft so much I am probably going to get a carbon straight. But high floatation is sometimes not what I want in a cnoe paddle.

Carbon…and you’ll never go back
Carbon all the way. I went from a relatively light Wenonah Quetico wood paddle at 20oz to a 11oz ZRE whitewater then to a 8.5oz ZRE light and now even the 11oz feels heavy =( you dont feel the weight so much on the stroke but when I switch sides its amazing how much faster and better the light paddles feel. some people say carbon is too stiff but I disagree.

Ive never broken a carbon blade but Ive seen 1 person do it. It was on a river race and he planted it hard on a submerged rock near shore. The blade was fine but the shaft broke where it met the blade. He ended up repairing it so it wasnt too bad. Also it was a 7oz ultra light paddle which is the most brittle/delicate of course.

After going to carbon Ill never go back unless the nano carbon film comes down in price from $10k a square foot =)

Another vote
in the carbon column. - single blade, straight shaft please.

cedar, for now
For now my favorite is a five-lamination Western Red Cedar Greenland with a tung-oil/varnish finish like a baby’s bottom – light and well balanced and feels so good in my hands I hate to wear gloves. But that may change if Santa Claus brings me the emerald green carbon-fiber Novorca I’ve been lusting for.


– Last Updated: Sep-27-12 11:44 AM EST –

Greenland paddle hand carved by me, western red cedar. For a euro paddle carbon but since I dont use it much i have a fiberglass one but would prefer carbon.

carbonb haft, glass blades
Most of the paddles I and my girlfriend use are carbon shaft and glass glades. Part of that is we want bright colored blades, as we have found the blades to be the most visible part of a kayaker and we live in an area know for fog. So we trade off slightly heavier paddles for more visibility.

colors are an option with carbon fiber
It can be any color – at least one company makes pure white and one, Novorca, makes any color you want as well as many you could never dream of. Of course they are either Greenland or Aleut style.

Full carbon, probably with foam core
blade, since most in my quiver seem to have a foam core.

I prefer carbon
, but having said that, I’ve managed to break both of mine. Once in a race I got a little too agressive pushing off a gravel bar in the suck water and-“crunch” went the paddle right where the blade meets the shaft. Broke my other Zav Outrigger with the dreaded tailgate crusher of my pick up truck. Both were expertly repaired in a week by sending them off to Jim Jenkos of J&J Canoes in NY. I expected a much heftier price tag for the repairs than what he charged.

Wood or carbon…or both (nm)

Western Red Cedar
In a GP. It just feels right.

WRC in an Aleut
Not only does it feel “right” to my hands, it also is ridiculously light. Racers who use carbon and have picked up my cedar paddle are usually very impressed!

As to other properties of woods, WRC is easy to work, but very strong for its weight. Also exceedingly water and rot resistant, even without finish it seems.

Of course, it’s much better with Tung Oil for a finish.

Western Red Cedar

– Last Updated: Sep-27-12 5:22 PM EST –

from Lumpy Paddles.

Ahhh... perfect.

Oh yeah... why do I like it? The wood feels warm right away. With minimal oiling it doesn't get too slippery. The little bit of flex feels good; let's you know it's not so brittle that it'll snap when stressed. The shape of the GP shoulder in the hand is light years beyond what the Euro offers but that's really not part of your question.


Started with glass shafts, glass blades, and plastic blades, and have gone down the line like many through fiberglass, wood, carbon, foam core carbon, combinations of carbon shaft with wood blades, wood with carbon finished blades.

I use Euro blades, and I favor wood. My favorite is the Black Magic, wood shaft and wood core blades finished with carbon. Fantastic feel and performance. Cricket paddles makes a fine wood paddle called the Arctic Spoon. I’m a fan of the wooden Sea Blade as well.

ZRE carbon for canoe paddles
However, I recommend their flexible shaft, which many people don’t now about, for anyone who is concerned about slightly moderating the repetitive impact on shoulder and elbow joints and getting closer to the feel of a wood shaft.

The flex comes from some linear fiberglass they put inside the shaft. There are arcane arguments about whether shaft flex reduces race propulsion by some fractional amount, but those arguments are both inconclusive and completely irrelevant to me, a non-racer.

I have an expensive Vitudden carbon kayak paddle from the mid-90’s that I stopped using because of its relentless rigidity and racing blades. I’m sure there are more flexible shaft carbon double blades available today.

I like wood
but that’s for canoeing and not racing. I own two kinds of Grey Owl bent shafts (14 and 12 deg) and a cherry beaver-tail Tripper (my favorite). I also have and like my Sawyer ceder voyageur. Still have my old Grumman originals also, though I don’t use them so much anymore.

The greater weight of wood doesn’t bother me too much - if I get tired I do more underwater recoveries. Doesn’t matter how much they weigh if you don’t pick them up.

I like the warmth of wood, and having the ability to shape the grip to better suit my hand, and having a bit of flex. I believe a decent paddle should be “lively.” They feel right, balance right, and darnit, they’re just pretty.

Those carbon paddles are so darned light I’d be afraid some windy evening I’d pull into camp, lean one up against a tree or leave it lying in the boat on the thwarts and have the thing blow away when I was pitching the tent and not looking. Too pricy for that…

Those carbon paddles are marvels though. I’d probably get one if I raced more. I expect they make more sense for kayak paddles.

not plastic
Carbon kayak, light wood or carbon canoe.

I really don’t think you are much more likely to break a carbon paddle. Maybe under specific conditions, but paddling in water without absolutely crushing something is not one of them.

Ryan L.