ZRE paddle options - solo canoe

I’ve made up my mind to order a ZRE bent-shaft paddle but would love some advice before I choose. I am 6’0" ~190 and will be paddling a Hemlock Peregrine on mostly flatwater and tidal creeks.

The ZREs I’ve tried I loved but felt like there was not enough “pull” for my tastes. I know racers like to have a faster cadence but I’m more interested in exploring and moving at a steady somewhat relaxed pace. The ZRE website doesn’t really describe much more than specifications.

As a starting point PlaidPaddler had recommended a 9 1/4" powersurge outrigger.

Any thoughts on the following would be appreciated:

Blade style and size(outrigger/powersurge).

Blade angle (why 12deg?).

Weight (does 1 oz make a big difference?).

Shaft length.

Thank you all for your advice and this great forum.

You should love the OC paddle @ 9.25
You will still be able to ‘spin’ it but have a nice bite for slow motion cruising too. The lip on bottom makes a big difference.

One ounce might be splitting hairs for the extra cost … ask ZRE about durability differences and explain to them how you are using it.

12 because it works.

Outrigger & Powersurge?
Thank you for the response.

You are recommending the outrigger with the powersurge style blade, yes?

i would still prefer a narrower paddle
Those paddles at 8-8.5 inches are so much easier on the shoulders.

zre paddles
I have a bent shaft power surge which I love for high cadence hit and switch solo paddling, If you are racing, the extra ounce might matter but otherwise I would save the money. And ZREs seconds are very nice paddles with small non-structural blemishes that are almost unnoticable.

If you can borrow some differnt lengths and try them, you should. My straight shaft paddles are 58"-59", my cruising bent shafts are 53"-54" and I ordered my ZRE at 50" and ended up cutting it down to 48.5". It sounds awfully short, but it sure works for me.

Outrigger + Powersurge
Yes, go with the Outrigger to get the big bite you want and the Powersurge blade to get the clean entry. No need to go lightweight or ultralight weight. The standard outrigger is lighter than the recreational paddle, it has the carbonfiber grip instead of the plastic grip of the rec paddle.

The suggested blade trim was to keep it from being way too much larger than what you have used. It took me a whole summer of hard paddling to work my shoulders into good enough shape to handle a full day with the big blade (9.75"). It does work great for getting the heavy boat moving, but is not ideal for high cadence with a light fast hull. Not the weight or grab thats the problem at a high cadence, its just so wide you really need to swing the recovery out from the boat too far to keep the blade off the water. At a high cadence and in a low drag canoe the narrower blade bites solid enough to give a good power transfer and its easier to swing the narrower blade.


Hi there
Bought the bent shaft power-surge 8.5 at the 10 oz. weight for use in a solo boat. Got a factory second and have no idea why it was a second. Primary purpose was for a solo trip to the BWCA. I paddled with a tandem boat and kept pace nicely (despite what they might tell you). I’ve found I now use it almost exclusively though often carry an ottertail for leisurely paddling and emerged recovery strokes.

I am 6-3 and paddle a Bell Magic and Swift Shearwater. Got the length at 52" and am pleased with the fit.

Long and the short of it is the 8.5 blade is a bit smaller but when you get after it a bit for speed the shaft flex and kick get you moving just as well as more surface area IMO.

One last thing; I do a bit of fishing and the ZRE is great for one-hand corrections.

Caution: The first few times out in wind I nearly had it blown from my hands while switching sides. Also don’t lay across the gunnals if windy.

Hope this helps.


Every bit helps…
Anyone else use a larger blade?

Any more thoughts on Length?

Thanks to all for advice.

power surge
I’d go along with the folks who use the power surge blade. I have a couple of ZRE rec paddles, plus a rac paddle with the power surge blade. It has a noticeably more solid grab than the others.

The why of 12 Degrees
In ZRE’s own words, “A 12 degree bent shaft is a perfectly balanced paddle that will allow your top and bottom arms to work equally.”

If you are looking for more bite, I would say to go with as wide a blade as is feasible for you. I have 2 of their black rec paddles in the maximum width of 8.75" and have no regrets.

I have difficulty using anything else since I switched to Zav’s and bent shafts.

See: http://www.zre.com/gearcare/paddlesport/whybentshaftpaddles.html

Never Paddled That Canoe…
…but I have two Zaveral’s. They are both “Rec” model “Blems,” and have held up well being used on roacky Ozark streams. I have a 54" which is too long in most of my boats, but perfect in my 16’ Mad River Explorer. The 52" is better in most of the other canoes I’ve paddled, but a shorter paddle might be better? Thanks to Mcwood, I’ve been experimenting with shorter paddles my two 50" feel best. If I were buying a sit-on bottom boat like a Rob Roy, Placid Boatworks Spitfire, Starfire et al, I would probably go with a 48". So, in summary, I’ve only used Zav’s “Cheapest” paddles and love 'em, and have no qualms bashing them arround. As for paddle size, for years we relied only on PADDLER size, but you also have to take in account the boat, how low the seat is, tumblehome, etc. Hope my thoughts on the matter helped! BTW, I’m 6’1". WW

pick your blade and get a 2nd
i’ve had a few factory seconds with the carbon handle. saves money, and within a few weeks you’ll forget where the original scratch was in the first place. i use the rec. paddles, but did replace the cheap plastic handle. also, you can order them uncut and cut it to say 53 inches. duct tape the handle in, try it without too much muscle and cut the shaft down to a length you like. then you just epoxy the handle it. great paddles. you won’t regret it.

I love my Zaveral paddle, but made the mistake of getting on with a shaft length equal to my straight-shaft paddle. It’s too long to be comfortable, and I had to cut it down by two inches (A fairly easy process)

Later, while testing a couple race boats at the Gen’t CLinton, I found that moving from a rec boat to a race boat warranted a shorter shaft, since I was sitting a little closer to the water.

I primarily use a Zav Rec Blem paddle, and beat it often on Adirondack waterways. It’s proved to be durable and a delight to own.

I reccomemd them highly, but get a shorter one than your stratght shaft. Get a paddle bag, too. It impresses some folks, annoys others, protects things from paddle bumps and makes carrying three paddles very easy.

Paddle Blade size ???
So with all the good advice this 6’0"er is settled on a:

50" 12deg Powersurge …

The only doubts I’m having is about the blade width.

Is there anyone else out there that could please

comment on their experiences with different powersurge blade sizes?

Is the only difference between the outrigger and the flatwater powersurge size?

Thanks to all!

12 degree angled face
The 12 degree isn’t fixed in stone. It is the “industry standard” for a bent shaft. I have met people who went to 10 and even 7 degrees for a “touring” paddle. They had to make their own though.

I made a bent shaft at about five
degrees, and it works very well for cruising the flats on Georgia rivers where the rapids are only intermittent. Also, since my boats are set up for kneeling, with relatively high seats, a 52" 12 degree bent shaft would not work.

Ordered a 9.25" Outrigger Powersurge med
Thanks to all who have replied. I was glad to see several others looking for bent shaft advice in other posts since my original post.

I figured I’d try the Powersurge Outrigger trimmed down to the 9.25" and at 50.5" length. I know I’ll be able to try some other more “standard” paddles for comparison down the river and this way won’t be left wondering what if …

Springtime is starting to pop here in Georgia and I’m getting excited for the season.

Thanks again to all and I will report back after some miles.

Have you received your new paddle

ZRE paddles
I’m 5’11", and paddle with 50", 8.5oz paddles. At 6’, you might want to see if a 51" or 52" might be better. It depends how you sit in the canoe(how vertical), and how close to the water your bottom hand is on your normal stroke.You basically want the whole blade in the water through your stroke, and the shaft vertical throughout the stroke. What I was told was to think of paddling as pulling yourself up a fence line, by going post to post. By keeping the shaft vertical and the blade at the 12-14 degree angle, you are lifting the canoe out of the water a little with every stroke, reducing the wetted surface area, and adding a 10%+ mechanical advantage to your paddling.