What to look for in a paddle?

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Rae1
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What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Rae1 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:09 pm

This weekend we went to Matlock (again!), and I thought I'd try a longer paddle I have.
My current paddle is a Palm Maverick, 197cm, £60ish. I took it down the Tay last week, and generally get on well with it, but I found once my fingers are both wet, and cold, that it is quite hard to use, in that it slips a lot through my hands.
So, this week I tried my other paddle, a Palm Drift 215cm which cost £40 ish.
I used that as it has an aluminium shaft, with rubber hand grips, which seem to give a little more grip when wet.

Anyway, even though it was only 18cm longer, it felt totally alien when used, and it took a long time to get the feel of it.
It will be sold soon as I just didnt get on with it.
Back to my query - my current paddle slips a little when wet, so I'd like something just a little better that is more 'grippy'.
Is there such a thing?
And, being a complete numptie, what should I be looking for in a new paddle?
I'm happy with the current 197 length, what else to look for?

Thanks.

damppaddler
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by damppaddler » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:57 pm

The only feature you need is "VE" on each blade

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DaveBland
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:39 pm

damppaddler wrote:The only feature you need is "VE" on each blade
Made me chuckle! And too true. VEs are fantastic paddles and the shafts are nice and grippy.
But in truth, any quality paddles will do the job for you. Maybe try and look out for a second hand something? A battered quality pair will still be way better than a new cheap crappy paddle.

But you won't find any second hand VEs. Way too long lasting and good to get rid of.
dave

Hakase
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Hakase » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:45 pm

OP, 197 is probably a good length -- I wouldn't go longer. You'll want a fibreglass shaft at the very least, and I should think at your level nylon blades would be best... which really sounds to me very much like your Palm Mavericks! I would suggest trying a few similar paddles -- the TNP Rapa (which I think is the best 'entry-level' paddle), the Werner Rio (inexplicably popular; aka I don't like it so why should anyone else), etc etc. Otherwise you could look into putting some wax on your shaft to make it a little more grippy.
DaveBland wrote:
damppaddler wrote:The only feature you need is "VE" on each blade
Made me chuckle! And too true. VEs are fantastic paddles and the shafts are nice and grippy.
But in truth, any quality paddles will do the job for you. Maybe try and look out for a second hand something? A battered quality pair will still be way better than a new cheap crappy paddle.

But you won't find any second hand VEs. Way too long lasting and good to get rid of.
Absolutely in love with my Aircore Carbons...

There's no going back for me.

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Jim
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Jim » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:56 am

In days past I would have (jokingly) said Lendal stickers on the blades, but having recently bought a second hand VE to experiment with shaft length, I'd say their stickers are a fantastic replacement.

OK so my VE is their canoe paddle, the mate I bought it from has been creeking with it for some time and has actually worn it down until it is asymmetric, and I just bought it as a beater paddle to experiment with, but it has taken some tough knocks already slalom racing in shallow water and shows no signs of damage beyond the wear it already had, and that itself is just wear, not splits or cracks. I also really like the feel of the blade and the smooth power transfer I get from it, and I have even won a race with it.

I'm really not sure the air core and its slight buoyancy will suit everyone, and despite joking about stickers I would always recommend people try some different paddles as you may find the ones you like are not the most expensive ones in the shop, but you should definitely try to demo a VE.

ali
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by ali » Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:53 am

If the problem is just the shaft is slippy when wet some paddle wax could be the solution. Just make sure you get either kayak specific or warm water surfer wax (as your hands are warm).

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by MikeVeal » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:48 am

There's a lot of tech in a paddle.

Blade shape and size.
Nearly all WW blades are spooned asymmetrical these days. Curved in two dimensions like a spoon to catch the water.
But the exact size and shape will influence how the paddle feels. A big blade will catch more water and slip less giving greater efficiency. But this will require bigger muscles and better technique to use (it will also increase swing weight). There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Weight.
Which essentially means materials. Lighter is obviously better (less fatigue), but its also more expensive.
What's not immediately obvious is swing weight. Weight at the blades is worse than weight in the centre of the shaft as you swing the blades about, but the shaft centre doesn't move much.There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Rigidity.
Which again means materials and construction. Put one blade on the ground, hold the shaft at 30 degrees or so to the vertical and pull towards you to assess stiffness.
Any flex will translate to wasted effort when paddling. But a paddle with no flex at all can lead to wrist problems, especially when you're at 100% power and you hit a rock.
Composite paddles are generally stiffer than ally/nylon paddles. There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Longevity.
Nylon blades are generally tougher than composite blades. So if you are regularly bouncing your blade off rocks, the nylon blade may last longer. Composite blades are known to wear down (on rocks)over time.
But Nylon blades are thicker (which makes them feel less precise), heavier and less rigid.
Composite blades are available with foam or air cores, which can make them extremely light, thin and rigid, but prone to puncturing.
There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Shaft type.
Straight or cranky?
A cranked shaft gives a little more reach and means the blade drags behind the controlling hand. Personal preference. There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Grip
Slipping hands on the paddle usually isn't seen as a problem. I'd rather have that than a grippy blister inducing shaft. What is important is a comfortable oval so that you can feel when you're holding the blade correctly without looking. There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Cost.
If you can't tell the difference between the £70 paddle and the £370 paddle, guess which one is better suited to you? Chances are this means you're at a stage of paddling where you'll be regularly abusing the blades with rock-paddle contact. Wreck cheap blades whilst you're learning and get something better when you can appreciate the difference. There really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

Paddle length.
Is related to paddling style, paddler size and seating position, with taller higher seated paddlers choosing a slightly longer blade.
Given a fixed paddler size, a longer paddle gives a shallower paddle angle, moving the blade away from the centre line of the boat. This increases the turning moment from each stroke and therefore decreases forward paddling efficiency. Most WW paddlers chose something in the 190-200cm range. 197 & 194 are popular choices. 214 is probably waaay too long, but and this may come as a surprise, there really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by MikeVeal » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:29 am

Feather, I forgot feather.
Angle between blades. 30 to 45 degrees is popular these days and generally accepted to place the lowest strain on your wrist. Playboaters often prefer a lower angle as they often have both blades in the water at the same time. There is no right answer. Um, there really is no substitute for demoing several different types to see what feels right.

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by davebrads » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:22 am

Rubbing a bit of sand onto the paddle grips when you get on the river often helps, it will also remove any grease you may have on your hands.
it's not a playboat, it's a river runner

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Neptune
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Neptune » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:12 pm

I find the finish on the paddle shaft on the Werner glass blades very easy to grip and keep hold of, no matter what grade of water you paddle on (G1 to G5) or how much of a trashing you might get when things go pear-shaped...

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Jim
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Jim » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:30 pm

davebrads wrote:Rubbing a bit of sand onto the paddle grips when you get on the river often helps, it will also remove any grease you may have on your hands.
Also taking something like 400 grit sandpaper or wet and dry and lightly sanding the grip area (on composite shafts) will take off the gloss and make it feel less slippery when wet.
First time I used my new polo paddle I forgot to do this and ended up rubbing the grip area on some stones (sandstone as it happened) so I could keep a grip on it - there was no sand around...

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by chriscw » Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:48 pm

Paddling exclusively deep water in park and play spots. Buy a really expensive showy paddle. Rock bashing in the Peak District or Wales a cheaper pair will suffice you are going to damage them whatever you use eventually. Borrow all your mates paddles especially when you are cold and wet and see how they feel. I have an older pair of Streamstyle paddles and because they went missing for a while I also have a pair of Werners. Both are quite good for me and both have shaping on the shaft for the right hand. Some of the ladies I paddle with have Sven O paddles which have really nice grips for both hands and a smaller shaft which I like because I have small hands. I'm told that these are no longer available.
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Rae1
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Rae1 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:44 pm

Thanks all, I'll try the sandpaper, if that doesnt work, some wax, if not, I'll try out some other paddles - at least I think thats the advice - try a few!
Thanks.

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Chalky723 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:42 pm

Plain old electrical tape works for me, if you wrap it the right way round the ridges will stop your hands sliding up/down the shaft too...

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by davebrads » Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:35 am

DaveBland wrote:But you won't find any second hand VEs. Way too long lasting and good to get rid of.
So true. I have had a search saved on ebay for "VE paddle" for about 5 years now, ever since mine got stolen, and today I got my first email letting me know one has been listed. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VE-Kayak-whit ... 914548128?
it's not a playboat, it's a river runner

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Big Dee » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:35 pm

Kind of bit of advice and a thread hi jack in one here.

I've been out today paddling using 197 shoguns, cranked, foam core, bells and whistles. These are paddles I use for playboating but because they're comfortable I often find myself river running with them.

I took a while to get used to using cranks and they're excellent my wrists don't hurt half as much as they used to but, all is not well. As I'm paddling more difficult water where I need more power from my blade im starting to feel very disconnected from the paddle and on my weak side, left as I'm right handed, the blade will actually wobble as I try to pull it through the water occasionally. This in turn causes me to have to grip the shaft very hard sometimes and that's no good for paddling..

I'm putting this down to the feather being only 30 deg which means I'm lazy as I rotate between either blade, I think 45 deg would be better as it makes you actively rotate the blade. Although the blade isn't slicing so I may be wrong! I've heard similar in the past and people say it's because of the cranks. I'm ordering some VEs soon and could do with advice myself about 30/45 deg and cranked/straight as I don't want to get new paddles that aren't comfortable. I used to suffer really badly with my wrists acheing after paddling sometimes.

P.S. For about three years I paddled everything from Scotland to French Alps solid grade 4's using my gorrilla Carbon x paddles. By no means sophisticated but such an excellent paddle.. Being 90deg and straight shaft though I eventually put this down to being the reason for my sore wrists.
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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by DaveBland » Sun Nov 08, 2015 5:51 pm

I really don't know much from any qualified position, but if you are getting wobble when pulling hard on your weaker arm – it sounds like you may need a smaller blade.
Wobble is I think what happens when you are short of power and the blade is trying to fight moving through the water and winning.

I find with by left arm that if I'm tired, my hand moves closer to the blade – presumably to compensate for the lack of power. On a straight shaft this is easily done (if not the right thing to do) but is probably harder with cranks - hence the wobble.

VEs do have a really powerful blade so can be compensated for with a touch shorter shaft or I think there's a blade size option too.
I suspect I am not strictly strong enough to be paddling with my (I think 197) full blade VEs – but I have a slow lazy style and like the fact I can pull big on the blade when I'm stuck!
dave

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Re: What to look for in a paddle?

Post by Big Dee » Sun Nov 08, 2015 7:58 pm

DaveBland wrote:like the fact I can pull big on the blade when I'm stuck!
This is something I'm looking forward too ha. I don't get that feeling from these blades.

The smaller size blade might be something for me to look into. I've only been back paddling six months after a couple of years absence and definitely not as strong or fit as I used to be in a kayaking sense. I have assumed because I'm still strong it will transfer over but maybe not.

I think it might be the cranks because my hand position is fixed I can't move my hands were I want them.

Thanks for the comments. Food for thought
Born to paddle, forced to work!

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