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Thread: anyone recommend a white water paddle at sensible price

  1. #1
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    Default anyone recommend a white water paddle at sensible price

    Hi. I currently have a grey owl wooden blade but am wanting to get myself a carbon or fibreglass blade for the rivers. Kayaks and paddles here in Plymouth and AS watersports dont really offer much advice or choice. I know of the werner blades. Endless river do the phantom which looks nice. But anyone tried any of them?
    Andy

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    I have a phantom and have found it to be very strong and the broad blade gives a lot of power, The only downside is the carbon shaft has no give at all, so it can jar your elbow and shoulder if you hit something hard (also endless rivers ebay price is 10 more than from their own website)

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    Kinda depends on what you want to do... but I've just got another Mitchell Touring Special for river canoeing: ain't going to take as much abuse as some... but it's a nice all-rounder.

    Beyond that... check out this discussion...

    ...and if you find any Kober Rockets at a good price, let me know

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    I use a Grey Owl Hammerhead. I like wood and I want something robust and that does it for me.

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    Nantcoly said, The only downside is the carbon shaft has no give at all.

    Nantcoly probably knows this, but for the benefit of others, carbon shafts need not be stiff. I have carbon shafts on two "slalom" paddles, and both have shafts with more "give" than most of my wood paddles. Paddle makers like Mitchell can tailor shaft, and blade, flex according to your request. And if trying retail assortments to hold price down, sort through those with carbon shafts and see if you can't find some that are acceptably flexible.

    When wooden paddle shafts are laminated, it can be hard to preserve as much flexibility as I have in my carbon shaft paddles. I have one wood shaft paddle I made myself which is quite flexible, but I selected a single blank of ash very carefully, and aligned the grain with the anticipated stress so I could subsequently thin the shaft to reduce weight and increase flex. Again, if you are dealing with a paddle maker capable of custom work, specify what degree of flex you want and let the maker try to provide it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ezwater View Post
    Nantcoly said, The only downside is the carbon shaft has no give at all.

    Nantcoly probably knows this, but for the benefit of others, carbon shafts need not be stiff. I have carbon shafts on two "slalom" paddles, and both have shafts with more "give" than most of my wood paddles. Paddle makers like Mitchell can tailor shaft, and blade, flex according to your request. And if trying retail assortments to hold price down, sort through those with carbon shafts and see if you can't find some that are acceptably flexible.

    .
    Twenty years ago when paddling hard in kayak I was sponsored by Nomad Paddles who in those day largely catered for slalom paddlers. They ran me through the various options for shaft and advised me not to have the stiffest as it could easily shock load/damage ligaments and muscle. They advised the next stiffness down. There was a good range of stiffness available.

    All the carbon shafted paddles I have used have a degree of flex.

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    I've tried a few ,currently use a carbon bandit,spooned blade flex in shaft and seems as hard as nails.
    Put out a wanted ad when you have decided.
    reassuringly negative

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    If you want flex in the shaft, whether wood shaft, carbon, aluminum, or titanium, you have to shop for it.

    Vaulting poles are carbon, or largely so, and obviously they flex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RayGoodwin View Post
    Twenty years ago [...] Nomad Paddles [...] ran me through the various options for shaft and advised me not to have the stiffest as it could easily shock load/damage ligaments and muscle. They advised the next stiffness down
    Ray - as I recall, that advice was pretty common twenty years ago... and I suspect what you're calling "the next stiffness down" was still near the top of the scale: one notch off REALLY stiff... not super flexible!

    I'm not sure what the advice is these days, but one school of thought is that for protecting frail joints / tender ligaments you reduce blade area and go for a higher cadence. That's kinda like peddling in a lower gear on the bike, but spinning faster to achieve the same speed: it's perhaps kinder bio-mechanically... as you're forced to make a more delicate catch in order to avoid blade slippage / sucking air down the back of the blade...

    Beyond that, I see a lot of folk put huge shock-loadings through stiff paddles when manoeuvring through trying to "muscle" their boats around, where they could just let the boat do the work. Commonly, folk initiate a turn too vigorously, then stick in an aggressive blade placement (putting massive strain on the ligaments) and try and swing around the paddle as if it should be fixed at one point: locked in the water rather than slicing through the water. The answer here is surely being more delicate, not getting a more flexible paddle shaft!

    I've paddled with VERY stiff paddles: hand made Pat Moore Cues - the nicest blades I've ever handled, and arguably the nicest ever made. They still had SOME flex... but not so much as to have any significant impact on precision / performance... and they really encouraged delicacy and "feel".

    In my experience, the most common failing of wooden paddles tend to LACK stiffness: they're just way TOO flexible. The means they bend and absorb energy (rather than transfer power) at the beginning of strokes / placements (where you want the power transfer) and then spring back at the end of the stroke (when you're trying to ease off). If you've got the skills, you can make these work... but that's despite, not because of, the flex... as the sensitivity and feel and feedback we get from such paddles is always going to be limited.

    I don't see this problem with better wooden paddles. In that bracket I'd include the Mitchell "Touring Special"... the Grey Owl "Owl Feather"... the Bending Branches "Sunshadow" (among the more obvious touring paddles).

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    Ray - as I recall, that advice was pretty common twenty years ago... and I suspect what you're calling "the next stiffness down" was still near the top of the scale: one notch off REALLY stiff... not super flexible!
    Not that common because most were still paddling with very stiff and heavy paddles for white water. I was paddling around a lot of top slalom paddlers and their technique influenced me a lot. It was twenty years ago I got my Coach 5 Kayak (just called Coach in those days) so I was fired up on technique. I was regularly paddling kayak on class 5 water and working on class four was normal but I also trained hard on easier places. And yes the shaft was still near the top of the scale.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    but one school of thought is that for protecting frail joints / tender ligaments you reduce blade area and go for a higher cadence.
    Rather like the paddle the voyageurs paddled with. Tapered as well for low loading on entry.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    I see a lot of folk put huge shock-loadings through stiff paddles when manoeuvring through trying to "muscle" their boats around, where they could just let the boat do the work. Commonly, folk initiate a turn too vigorously, then stick in an aggressive blade placement (putting massive strain on the ligaments) and try and swing around the paddle as if it should be fixed at one point: locked in the water rather than slicing through the water. The answer here is surely being more delicate, not getting a more flexible paddle shaft!
    With you there. My common coaching mantra on this is to make the canoe want to do the move by its angle, speed and edge. The paddle stroke is then the modifier that can open or tighten the turn that is already happening.

    Ray
    www.RayGoodwin.com

    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    I have the same dilemma at the moment. I'm looking at a better white water paddle, and have now decided against a spooned one, as it will also get used for touring when in shallow/rocky slow moving stuff.

    So, its down to wood v composite. Probably the Grey Owl Hammerhead v Werner Bandit, as those are at least relatively widely available. As Greg and Ray are discussing, I'm debating stiffness. I definitely feel I am putting a lot of pressure on my joints when white water paddling, but this is just as likely to be poor technique as the fault of my current C100. My paddling has improved, but I suspect my arms are often too rigid and I grip too hard when "in the moment"!

    I like the idea of wood really, but at the moment I've convinced myself that the Bandit is probably the better paddle in the real moving stuff...but this may be as that's the one I've tried and I don't have access to a Hammerhead to play with for any length of time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post

    I like the idea of wood really, but at the moment I've convinced myself that the Bandit is probably the better paddle in the real moving stuff...but this may be as that's the one I've tried and I don't have access to a Hammerhead to play with for any length of time.
    I use the Hammerhead myself as I like wood.

    Ray
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    I like the idea of wood really, but at the moment I've convinced myself that the Bandit is probably the better paddle in the real moving stuff...but this may be as that's the one I've tried and I don't have access to a Hammerhead to play with for any length of time.
    Mal, I have a Hammerhead and a Phantom. If you can wait until the Nov weekend you can try them both although I do have mine quite long.

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    The original post didn't mention what kind of paddling they would be doing. For a whitewater tripping paddle take a look at at the Bending Branches Expedition Plus. A wooden paddle with glassed blade and reinforced shaft. It has a much nicer feel than the hammerhead and is definitely a paddle you can use all day rather than thrashing about for a hour or two at a playspot.

    Anyone looking for a spooned composite paddle should try one of Lance's Mitchell Blades. I have the Luxor in custom colours A really nice paddle for aggressive OC1 style boating.

    Chris
    "All right" said Eeyore "We're going. Only don't blame me"

    www.canoepaddler.me.uk

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    Having grown up with Clement and Norse paddles, I'm used to "stiff", but I did get some anterior deltoid soreness back in the day. I adapted quickly to the flex in my Mitchell, which is distributed in both the shaft and the blade. I think there's a trick in this Mitchell. There's already some trail in the blade, so it's like paddling a three degree bent shaft. And when the blade uncurls under pressure, that slightly increases the bent shaft effect. My Clinch River paddle blades don't have any trail, and are stiff, so I don't feel the slight bent shaft effect with them.

    Then there's my homemade five degree bent shaft, with a flexible ash shaft. The blade is large and flat, so it takes a bite promptly.

    I agree that technique is more a key than stiffness. What I had to learn was what I learned as an oarsman and sculler, to get the blade in neatly, and then catch very promptly, but without trying to destroy the water. That's the secret of cab forward paddling, and that's how I avoid having to J-stroke or rudder most of the time. When I advise others to get a comfortable reach and a prompt catch, I worry that they may try slugging the water without getting the blade in first. That's probably how I used to get my shoulder sore when I was paddling with a Norse.

    A proper prompt, firm catch should not damage anyone's shoulder, as long as the blade is sized properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RayGoodwin View Post
    I use the Hammerhead myself as I like wood.

    Ray
    Thanks Ray. I do like the idea of a wooden one, but not sure I wouldn't just trash it quickly. Do you find them durable enough? You paddle a bit more white water than most!


    Quote Originally Posted by elveys View Post
    Mal, I have a Hammerhead and a Phantom. If you can wait until the Nov weekend you can try them both although I do have mine quite long.
    Cheers John, if I don't get all impulsive between now and then, I'll take you up on that! My current C100 is quite long, compared to my other paddles, and I find this helps me.

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    No worries Mal. In answer to your other point about robustness, I bought mine off another member and it was in almost new condition. I used it most days on the Allier trip and managed to put an inch split in the end and take a couple of chunks out of it including a bit of the reinforced tip. I've actually put some glass and epoxy over the affected area but I'll probably just use it in future on moving water where I won't be doing too much rock bashing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elveys View Post
    No worries Mal. In answer to your other point about robustness, I bought mine off another member and it was in almost new condition. I used it most days on the Allier trip and managed to put an inch split in the end and take a couple of chunks out of it including a bit of the reinforced tip. I've actually put some glass and epoxy over the affected area but I'll probably just use it in future on moving water where I won't be doing too much rock bashing.
    Ta John. To be honest, I will probably end up using it just as much as a "shallow water" spare paddle as a full on white water one, so it'll have a tough life. I'm probably gonna end up with the Nantahala I suspect, which is actually what I was talking about when I said Bandit earlier!!! In an ideal world, I'd have a wooden one by choice though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Thanks Ray. I do like the idea of a wooden one, but not sure I wouldn't just trash it quickly. Do you find them durable enough? You paddle a bit more white water than most!
    .
    My last one has just been replaced after four years. A lot of use including some quite shallow rivers. I am happy with that.

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    Quote Originally Posted by RayGoodwin View Post
    My last one has just been replaced after four years. A lot of use including some quite shallow rivers. I am happy with that.

    Ray
    Fair play! Thanks.

    I shall wait till I've tried them both, and anything else that comes up in the meantime...cheers all.

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    Mal,

    What size paddle do you use ?

    Paul

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    Taking this thread slightly sideways and not having much experience with different paddles, this is more a question than a statement.
    Mal makes mention of his C100 (I have one of these), and others mention stiffness and the stress stiff paddles can make on joints.
    A while back when paddling with Paul Smith, he pointed out to me how buoyant the C100 is i.e. if pushed vertically down into deep water and released, it shoots back up like a trident missile. In comparison, any of the wooden ones we were using rise back up steadily in a controlled manner.

    So, if using a paddle all day that effectively has to be pushed into the water (as opposed to a nice wooden one that just seems to slice into the water), will this not cause extra stress on joints and make paddling harder over a prolonged period ?

    Just a thought and I'm prepared to be shot down in flames
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

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    Quote Originally Posted by bin_man View Post
    Mal,

    What size paddle do you use ?

    Paul
    Hi Paul,

    Sorry, missed this! Not as easy a question to answer. The shaft on my ottertail is, I think, 32". The shaft on my C100 is probably 2 or even 3 inches longer. So something around 34" shaft length is probably what I'll end up with. My plan would be to start slightly long and cut down until I'm happy.

    Cheers

    M

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLD MAN View Post
    Taking this thread slightly sideways and not having much experience with different paddles, this is more a question than a statement.
    Mal makes mention of his C100 (I have one of these), and others mention stiffness and the stress stiff paddles can make on joints.
    A while back when paddling with Paul Smith, he pointed out to me how buoyant the C100 is i.e. if pushed vertically down into deep water and released, it shoots back up like a trident missile. In comparison, any of the wooden ones we were using rise back up steadily in a controlled manner.

    So, if using a paddle all day that effectively has to be pushed into the water (as opposed to a nice wooden one that just seems to slice into the water), will this not cause extra stress on joints and make paddling harder over a prolonged period ?

    Just a thought and I'm prepared to be shot down in flames

    I have got used to the slight "push back" the C100 gives, to the extent that I'd forgotten about it until you mentioned it. I doubt it adds joint stress, but it may slightly increase the energy spent over a day, especially at the catch part of each stroke.

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    This 'floatiness' is one thing I hate about the C100. If you want to slice the paddle through the water you have to positively push it into the water against resistance; some thing I never have with any other paddle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    This 'floatiness' is one thing I hate about the C100.
    Out of curiosity, what are the other things?
    ​Change is inevitable; progress is optional.

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    Flat / dull / lack of feel / poor slice

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    I'm not a ww paddler but do use a Hammerhead for heavy weather and strong currents and my observation is that it requires what I would describe as a deliberate and slow entry.

    Going for a fast and forceful one is a bit like pulling a well entrenched fence post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    Flat / dull / lack of feel / poor slice
    But that's exactly what I feel about the Werner Nantahala!
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


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    I've a Nantahala.

    Its very strong and relatively light and that's about it.

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    Adrian/Matto - what do you use? I'm pretty sure I'll be upgrading my floaty/flat/dull no feeling poor slicing paddle this season. I've been looking at the Mitchell Blades - I know Ms Mutt rates them.
    ​Change is inevitable; progress is optional.

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    Just to chip in an opinion. I've a Werner Nantahala and bought a cheaper Schlegal Duralen as a spare. Must admit I prefer the Schegal and use that the most. The Werner feels stiff and light and that's about it really. Sounds odd I know but I feel it tends to slip on water rather than gripping and sliding through it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happyfish View Post
    Just to chip in an opinion. I've a Werner Nantahala and bought a cheaper Schlegal Duralen as a spare. Must admit I prefer the Schegal and use that the most. The Werner feels stiff and light and that's about it really. Sounds odd I know but I feel it tends to slip on water rather than gripping and sliding through it.
    See, now my "narrowed down to 2 or 3 and try them" list has expanded again....

    Of course, actually changing my paddle will make far less difference than learning to paddle better anyway...but I do hate the feel of the C100. Perhaps the wooden options would be nicest for me after all. Confused of Woking

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    Quote Originally Posted by SandfordSailor View Post
    Adrian/Matto - what do you use? I'm pretty sure I'll be upgrading my floaty/flat/dull no feeling poor slicing paddle this season. I've been looking at the Mitchell Blades - I know Ms Mutt rates them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Happyfish View Post
    Just to chip in an opinion. I've a Werner Nantahala and bought a cheaper Schlegal Duralen as a spare. Must admit I prefer the Schegal and use that the most. The Werner feels stiff and light and that's about it really. Sounds odd I know but I feel it tends to slip on water rather than gripping and sliding through it.
    I've also been using the Schlegel Duralen paddle for quite a while now, and for a cheap/basic paddle I really like it. I just haven't felt that any of the more expensive off the shelf blades were worth the extra money so far.

    However since acquiring my Encore, I don't find them so good. I feel the need for a more effective paddle (i.e. one that can generate more bite and more power per stroke), so I've just ordered a VE Carbon C1. It's the only paddle I could find that combines lightness, curve and no ridges on the blade to adversely affect slice strokes, oh and has a nice open T-Grip - not that horrid curvy Werner thing . Let's just hope I like it when it arrives .

    [rant]Oh and while I'm on the subject, what is it with all the various paddle manufacturers who seem to think they don't need to show you what the T-Grip looks like. Mitchell Paddles, 185 for a paddle and all they show you is one crappy little photo of the blade and no photo of the T-Grip. Endless River Phantom the same. Do they not think this part of the paddle is important? Come on guys this is the 21st century. I'd like to see a bit more info before parting with that kind of money.[/rant]
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  35. #35

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    I really fancy something with a wooden shaft and composite blade. I'm not sure what the options are, but there is a picture of one that looks ideal in Ray Goodwin's book (third from the left on p.26 and p.28). The book doesn't say what the specific model is, but it looks like a good combination to me. The closest i have managed to find so far is the Mitchell premier – although i think i would want it with a flat/symmetrical blade (flat rather than curved/spooned blade). The only issue is finding one/cost of bringing it over from the U.S.

    Speaking of Mitchell paddles (the U.S. branch), i recently noticed that http://www.gokayakingscotland.com/ (the place in Perth that was formerly owned by Brookbank) have a couple of very nice Mitchell premiers in their bargain bin at a reduced price (both with curved blade, one with carbon shaft, one with wooden shaft). The only catch is they are quite short (at least they seemed short to me. It would be worth checking to be sure, but i think around the 56" or 57" mark). I should also probably say that i don't have any connection to the seller (other than a happy customer) but thought it a worthwhile heads-up for anyone looking for a relatively short whitewater paddle.

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    If you give a curved blade Mitchell a trial, you may become quickly convinced. Mitchell are well into kayak paddles with wooden shafts and composite blades, but for canoe slalom paddles, they can do either wooden shaft with (glassed) curved blade, or carbon shaft with curved blade.

    My Mitchell curved blade slalom paddle is maybe 17 years old and still in great shape. The curved (not spooned) blade handles very near to neutral and does compound strokes just as well as a "flat" blade. Many thousands of slalom paddlers can't be wrong. Curved blade paddles, properly designed, should be preferred. Have you seen kayakers reverting to flat blades? A curved blade has a bit of extra bite at the catch that makes it easier to paddle properly.

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