Take a look at the Epic range (Knoydart have them) - I've just been trying some and am very impressed indeed. Nice and light, good to hold, and a very dynamic feel in the water.

I'm a big fan of Lendals, and my much loved big Nordkapp blades (N12) on their cranked fibreglass shaft served me well for years. The Epics are looking like a serious competitor however!

They come either as a one piece shaft, or with a variable centre joint (for feather and up to 10cms length) which while not as neat as the Lendal PaddLok system, does allow you to adjust and set length and feather without having to use a key. That said, they also provide a thing that looks a bit like a large "Y" spanner to help tighten or loosen the joint if needed. I didn't need to use it.

The overall quality is excellent and both the shaft and the blades are nicely finished and they seem very well made. Interestingly, the shaft is ovalled on both sides, so the paddle can be set up using the variable joint for either left or right handers, and it falls nicely into a natural paddling position.

The other very interesting thing was that although they are straight shafts (and I'm now used to a crank), I found them flutter-free and was able to paddle with a very relaxed, open grip. Not being constrained by the position of a crank, you can also move your grip much more easily.

On the subject of grip, I found the shaft fine for my big hands, and a lady of somewhat diminutive build was equally happy with them as was her somewhat larger partner. Both liked them as well.

Entry and exit was smooth and controlled, and I did everything with them with ease and comfort. Except roll. It was a cold day, so I didn't! Kayaking is, after all, a dry sport.

There is an immediate cost and weight difference between my fibreglass shafted N12 bladed Nordkapp and the Epics of course, so I'm not comparing like with like. However, having also tried a very light hi-spec Lendal of roughly equivalent blade size / area, the Kenetic, the Epic still had me hooked and the prices compare favourable.

Epic offer a range of models - and constructions. I've been using the "Relaxed Touring" and the "Activ Touring". With the "green hybrid" shaft (a combo of fibreglass and carbon) and "standard hybrid blades" (fibreglass face, carbon fibre rear and with a foam spine) these are lovely to use.

Epic Activ Touring


• blade size: 18 x 47.5 cm
• area: 685 cm2

Knoydart say: "This blade makes a great all around paddle for smooth, efficient, powerful strokes. It’s also a good open water racing blade for those who don’t want to use wing paddles.

Standard is a 2-piece fitted with a Length Lock centre joint - This allows up to 10cm length adjustment and feather can be set to any angle, right or left control."


Epic Relaxed Touring


• blade size: 16 x 50 cm
• area: 625 cm2

Knoydart say: "The Relaxed Touring blade is best suited to a low angle paddling style or those who want a less tiring paddle.

Standard is a 2-piece fitted with a Length Lock centre joint - This allows up to 10cm length adjustment and feather can be set to any angle, right or left control."

(Pics: Knoydart)

It would be hard to make an objective comparison between the two styles - the Activ looks like what we expect the standard "Euro blade" to look like. The Relaxed appears thinner and longer - not quite an Inuit paddle, but certainly different to anything I've used before. The tech info says it's "best suited to a low angle paddling style or those who want a less tiring paddle". Personally I liked it, it seemed to have plenty of power and I found myself choosing it over the Activ. Which is strange, given it's a somewhat different paddle to my Nordkapp in terms of blade shape and concept. Interesting.

I was worried that what seemed like a narrow blade wouldn't give me support when I needed it, or would restrict my ability to add power when necessary. Not an issue, plenty of both. A session paddling into a stiffish head-wind proved somewhat less tiring than it would have been on my normal blades and I stayed with the rest of the group!

I've also tried the top-of-the-range "signature series" blade - this has a full width foam core and a much smoother, rib-less back. Now that thing virtually jumps out of the water on its own. Mind you, the price reflects that so I'd expect it to, and I'd expect it to make the coffee as well, and put my tent up for me. Very nice though.

Prices range from a reasonable £147 for a 1 piece shaft with "standard hybrid" blades (£183 as tested, with the 2 piece option) to £345 for the full carbon fibre shaft, 2 piece option and ultra carbon blades. Weights are based on a 210 cm 2 piece Length Lock paddle but vary between 840 g and 615 g depending on specification. So they're light then.

Well worth looking at in my opinion. Mine's on order.

Mike Buckley, November 2005