ZRE Paddles - Differences?

-- Last Updated: Jun-29-10 5:49 PM EST --

Can you help me figure out what are the differences b/w the flatwater ZRE paddle models?

Aside from obvious specs such as weight, price, and grip options?

The Power Surge seems to have somewhat rounder corners compared to the Z or the Recreational and is 1" shorter blade (18" vs. 19" for the other flatwatermodels).

The Z and the Recreational models seem identical to me just looking at the poor quality photos on ZRE's web site. Except the Z is 2 to 4.5 oz lighter and more expensive (comparing to Recreational with carbon grip at 12oz) ...

Any help? Why would one pick the Z, the Power Surge, or the Recreational?


CALL and ASK … they are the best .

I believe the Powersurge is Curved
My understanding is that the Powersurge is a curved blade. From the side the blade looks like ( while the standard looks like |.

My experience with other paddles makes me think the catch is somewhat improved by the curve.

I’ve never tried a Powercurve but I’m quite happy with the two standard paddles I have. Good catch, no flutter on a hard stroke and they slice like a razor.

And yeah I agree with Onno. Call them or email them with any questions. They are very knowledgable and seem happy to talk paddles.

Never tried a power surge but would like to. Supposed to have a better catch and firmer hold in the water.

The paddles I do have from them are a Z medium and a straight shaft rec model.

I didn’t think the weight difference between the Z medium and rec model would be that noticeable but it is. The Z is much easier to fling around when switching sides. The rec model seems to be built to withstand more abuse though. Heavier blade and extra wrapping around the shaft to blade junction.

I got the plastic grip with my rec paddle and it’s noticeably smaller than the carbon grips on my other paddles. Too small in my opinion. Someone else in another thread said their plastic grip is the same size as their carbons though so who knows.


The PowerSurge is indeed curved slightly near the tip. I like it, but I have paddled the non-curved version only for three days, so I can’t do a fair comparison.

I got the carbon grip and an uncut shaft, then slowly cut the shaft down to a length I like, then glued on the grip. Which was easy.

I got the medium-duty weight, and I’m fine with that. I used to consider my wooden bent-shaft a lightweight paddle, but now that I have the Zav, the wooden one feels like a club. So I am hoping I never have a chance to try the lightest-duty Zav, lest my current paddle start feeling heavy.


Good info
Thanks for the replies! I did email Zav a couple of days ago through their web site and hopefully will get their answer soon too.

I may be able to “swing by” their shop in NY later this month but it will add some mileage to my trip but hopefully I’ll manage to do it.

There is someone local with one of these paddles that can lend it to me to try, but having comparative info is useful -:wink:

Other options to think about
The “outrigger” blade is made in wider width ranges than the regular blade choices (and may be an inch longer). I find the regular width range blades, which are made for high stroke rate marathon racing, to be too small for my style of slower stroke rate cruising in a touring or tripping canoe. I settled on an 8.75" Outrigger Powersurge blade as having the bite I like.

They also offer a flexshaft option, which I prefer over the regular carbon shaft. Racers don’t want flex, of course; but as a lifelong user of wooden paddles, I find the regular ZRE shaft to be bone jarring and tactilely inelegant.

My usage, if I decide to go for it, would be in a narrow kayak for straight line paddling in flatt-ish water. I don’t see myself in a canoe any time soon.

I experimented a bit with two paddles I had at hand in the 46" length range. A 8.75" wide tear-drop shaped SUP plastic blade and a home-made 8" flat blade with somewhat more parallel sides that I cooked-up from okume plywood and a curtain rod. Both are bent shafts at about the same angle.

I think the near 9" wide SUP blade is too wide for me - I keep banging the deck. Plus it feels heavy even though the handle is carbon, the blade-heavy design makes a negative impression. It’s got some ridges on the outside coutours of the blade on the forward face that catch and lift water too much, for a noisy release…

The 8" by 18" plywood with nicely rounded contours I made seems to be better. I only paddled it for a few minutes before it broke so I might be mistaken, but I thought it had extremely clean release and smooth entry compared to the crude plastic SUP blade, not to mention was probably half the swing weight -;). May be I’ll make another plywood to test some more but will reinforce it with a layer of fiberglass this time so it lasts a little longer -:wink: That will help me figure out if this size/surface area is enough.

For a kayak
When I got my first seakayak, I thought I would miss the single blade, so I bought a very short 7 degree bent shaft from Camp Paddles (now Foxworx). Never used it much. Hence, I’m real glad I didn’t buy a carbon paddle at three times the cost.

I got my ZRE went I dropped kayaking in favor of outrigger canoeing.

Outrigger ocean racers, which I am not, paddle craft much narrower than kayaks in very bumpy water. They only want to go straight and fast (and surf). They have settled on the wider blades at a 10-11 degree bend. Wood predominates, and some races ban carbon paddles.