Zav canoe paddle

-- Last Updated: Sep-12-09 7:39 PM EST --

For those of you who own a Zaveral paddle....

I was thinking of getting a lighter bentshaft mainly for use on flat water wilderness trips paddling a loaded canoe. Have never had a chance to try one of these, but have not missed reading the reviews.

I have heard a few conflicting opinions regarding these paddles, ranging from being the greatest thing ever to being too skinny on the width and built more for a hi cadence racing tempo. Now, I know you can order in .25" increments.... so my question is... which paddle and width do you prefer and how would you describe your paddling style? Anyone use an outrigger paddle? I am starting to see the light on using a shorter paddle and more strokes per minute, but do not believe I would paddle like this 100% of the time.

Any thoughts on paddle size for a slower vs. faster pace? Is there a particular width you find comfortable for all day paddling without wearing out your shoulders? Is there a width that is comparable to the 8x20 blade area of my BB Special and Mitchell Cruiser?

Any input would be very welcome.

I prefer 8" or 8.25" Medium.
I can’t handle the wider blades very well - I guess I’m a wimp. I have some very nice wooden bent shafts, but use the Zave 95% of the time.

I never paddle all day long, unless it’s on a river.

50-70 miles aday go
for the narrow paddle and higher cadence. (I have done the 70 miler 4x, the 90 miler 5x and the 40 miler 11 times). The wider blades are great if you are moving a heavily laden royelex barge and you need the torque. For Tripping in algoinquin with a strip built boat and 12 days worth of food my ultralight power serge Zav was fine. If you can not hold the higher cadence then go wider.

My Zav…
Medium Outrigger with a 9 1/2 wide blade. I paddle a magic or Prism with it. However, I ordered a custom bend at 5 degrees. I love it. The guys who’ve borrowed it for a try seemed to really like it.

BP,you da Man!
I realized that when you ran up the hill at Givhan’s with my canoe.

I had some 8.25" Flatwater
Zavs, and two years ago tried a Power Curve Outrigger paddle. I now have three ORs in medium and light layup. They are 9.75" and it is by far my favorite.

I paddle a relatively fast cadance but not race pace fast.

I like the extra grab of the OR paddles. I am often paddling a Wenonah Voyager or Advantage and like the extra bite and the added bracing and turning abilities of the wider blades.

great paddles
I use a Powersurge Medium with 8.25 wide blade. I am thinking of switching to an OR paddle, the powersurge seems to excel with a high stroke rate, and for general messing around I rarely find myself over 60 strokes per minute. I think the Outrigger paddle is the way to go if you have a slower cadence.

They are awesome paddles though.

outrigger blade

– Last Updated: Sep-13-09 10:15 AM EST –

I have the 8.25 med Zav and REALLY love that paddle. Keep the wood paddle for emergency use and cringe at the thought of using it on a long distance trip should my Zav break. I do plan to buy another Zav and will probably go with the 9.25 outrigger blade. I don't keep a racing cadence and average about 40 per minute when I am paying attention :-)

Anybody have a well cared for used 9.25 at 48" - 12 degree bend to sell? PM me with particulars.


– Last Updated: Sep-15-09 12:33 AM EST –

40-90 miles? BP you are the man. My description of paddling all day might be a little skewed. For us, 15 miles tandem with a handful of portages, picture taking, and maybe a little fishing thrown in would be a pretty long day.

I think that when canoe tripping my stroke rate is probably on the slow side most of time, unless we are paddling in the wind. Perhaps something on the slightly larger side would work.

Thanks for the great reply's

have an outrigger
Got a Z medium with an 8 1/2" blade that I was very happy with. Liked it with my kayak as well and decided to get a dedicated paddle for it. Since it’s a faster boat I ordered a 9 1/2" outrigger paddle for the kayak.

I don’t like it as much as the Z medium and I don’t find that it’s faster in either the canoe or kayak (at least with me paddling). The wider blade is tougher to pull, catches more wind, and the extra weight at the end of the shaft is noticeable.

For my money I’d skip the outrigger blade. Take it for what it’s worth.


How about a 47x9.5"?
Almost new.


Smaller blade for faster boat

Going to the outrigger was the wrong direction for you kayak. A smaller blade would have enough surface to drive the slender kayak and would be easier at a higher cadence. The outrigger blade is not for high cadence unless you have adapted your shoulders to it. And you are right, it is a handful in the wind, especially when you are trying to go fast.

For a loaded tripping canoe it is the ticket. Lots of thrust.


You no good rotten friz a frat !
Now you have me wondering about my decision to use my OR in this Saturdays Lumber River Race.

I figured it would be good for all the turns.

I’ll probably start with it and take the smaller one for a spare and then if I start to wear down switch to it.



Good for steering

while the outrigger blade will limit your cadence, it does have the surface and thrust to take your canoe around the tight stuff with a minimum of strokes. It is my favorite steering paddle for the stern. You can switch to your narrower blade when you get into long straights where you want to pick up the pace.

Good Luck,


I’d just assumed the opposite would be true. With a faster boat you’d go to a wider blade and keep the same cadence, kind of like shifting into a higher gear on a bicycle when going down hill. Opposite for a heavier/slower boat.

Not arguing, just saying that’s what I’d talked myself into.


In retrospect, I’ve fallen out of love
I’m not a high cadence paddler, even in a fast boat.

I love fine wood paddles, but got a 9.25" Zav OR Powersurge in a manic moment to use with my outrigger canoe. I felt the blade was too wide, even for my modest cadence, and exchanged it for an 8.75" OR blade with an even shorter shaft. It works well for my outrigger and I like the light weight a lot. I use it and my Mitchell double bend Leader as my two primary outrigger paddles.

However, the paddle doesn’t translate well to my CanAm kneeling solo canoes. It’s too short and feels too narrow, and I don’t care for the squat blade shape for kneel canoeing and maneuvering. I have gone back to my larger, heavier wooden paddles for my CanAm solo canoes.