ZRE WW durability


I know this must have been covered, but I could not find the answer by searching.

I am interested in ZRE paddles. However, I prefer a straight paddle to a bent-shaft.

I was considering getting a “whitewater” model in a straight shaft. I had heard somewhere that these sorts of paddles are only stong when used as designed on the power face. Is this true? Could I break one with a hard backwater or low brace? Would I likely break one if I was low-bracing and hit a rock?

For a frame of reference, would it be comparable in strength to a Grey Owl Voyager, Scout, Hammerhead, or not as strong as any of these?

Could it really be used for whitewater (my current whitewater paddles were not cheap, but are more than twice the weight)?


Zav durability
I haven’t paddled a Zav whitewater in particular but I have a number of Zav’s both bent and straight and even the lightest lay-ups can handle hard hits on rocks (like powering upstream against the current in a river with shallow water) and the worst that happens is you might nick a tiny chunk out of the blade edge (like less than 1 mm) so in my experience you can beat the snots out of them and they might eventually just grind down a bit. You can sand the blade edge smooth and maybe put a fine line of epoxy on it and maybe put a strip of black electrical tape on it to protect it a bit.

My experience with Zav carbon paddles is that you might get unlikely once in a while and take out a bigger chunk…but I have ultra lights that have taken many high power hits on rocks and I trust them to get me home. The only carbon paddle that has ever failed on me is a Pat Moore cue when I nicked a rock going upstream.

Well that’s just great.

I actually thought they would fail in a more catastrophic way, like carbon fibre bike parts are rumoured to do.

I wouldn’t be using this paddle for rock-bashing, as I have others for that. I thought it would be a nice paddle on trips, and just wanted to avoid anything too delicate, as reality involves occasional contacts with the bottom.

Thanks for your experience.

no beatings
I’ve had the whitewater blades from ZRE. Honestly they don’t take a beating very well. If you want a ZRE that can take a beating get the ZRE rec. I think the lightweight paddles hold up as well as the whitewater.

ZRE says Medium stronger than Rec
paddle. They told me that the Medium is their strongest touring paddle. I have no idea how it’s toughness compares to their whitewater paddles.

I have a light wieght Zav. Last year the water was low at the 70 miler so I bought a Rec paddle to use as a spare. The last 15 miles of the Race the water got real low, they had shut of the Dams and I mostly used my rec as a pole in the stretches where the water was under 14 inches. ( I had rigged up a quick draw set up in the boat. Water got low I switched out light wieght for rec wieght.) Our combined boat/paddlers/supplies wieght was uparound 500 pounds so I was poling a heavy boat. My Zav lrec looks like it was through a war but it never broke. I would suggest you talk to Zav. They will give you straight info!

Zav durability
I think everyone’s right, the Zav Rec would be the most bulletproof of all. But it does weigh twice as much as a lightweight and 50% more than a Medium…it’s a big difference.

After lots of upstream paddling including lots of shallow water with a bunch of Zav’s, the only one that ever took a big chunk out on a rock hit for me was a Zav Medium (straight…the chunk was maybe 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch and could still be patched up), and the lightweights have held up just fine and I do not baby them. I’m sure that most Mediums are stronger than most lights so maybe this one took an extra big hit. But most of them take just tons of abuse and just chew down slowly, even if you used them as though you wanted to see if you could break them. The Black Bart Troublemakers are even (much) stronger than the Zav’s but I hear he passed away and you can’t get them any more.

i’ve had all the paddles
The rec takes an unbelievable beating. The medium doesn’t compare. You have to purposely try to destroy a rec to actually destroy it. The rec is still a very light paddle.

So rec or WW?
So it seems to me that the Rec or the WW are the ones I would be interested in, as they are a bit tougher.

If the weight isn’t an issue, I expect the rec would be just fine?

Thanks again, folks. These are a bit of money to spend without trying them out in the field (and nobody wants to let me take a test paddle and bash it into rocks - strange!)

The only WW Zav I would use on
Georgia whitewater is the one designed by Harold Deal. And I don’t think most of you are going to use it for marathon racing. It is really a slalom paddle.