Werner Nantahala as "solo tripping" paddle?

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Jun 10, 2013
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I'm looking for a new straight paddle for my solo canoeing for this coming year. I have a Bending Branches beaver tail and basic wooden bent shaft in the longest available sizes. I also have a generic plastic rafting paddle that I take for rocky and shallow water. On my only multi day mixed river and lake trip to date I was tempted to bring all three paddles. I left the plastic fantastic, but was happy to find another along the riverside, which saved the wood paddles some dings. My usual paddling is open salt water so I have looked for a light carbon free style paddle to play with, but cant find anything 60" long with a palm grip. I also worry about durability. Would a Werner Natahala be a good compromise as an all around paddle to replace my beaver tail when "tripping" and also be enjoyable for "freestyle tooling around? and would this paddle be worth putting a store bought or home made Pear grip on? Thanks, Woody
 
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The t grip would drive me nutty if you are doing palmrolls. It will work. That blade doesn't excite me with its huge center rib. It will tend to catch you if you are doing fancy dancy schmanzy stuff. It looks like a fine river paddle where all strokes are active. Not so fine for slicing strokes.

Whats your shaft length? I think that sales of canoe paddles based on overall length should be outlawed. The size of the shaft is all that matters. Are you real tall? I haven't seen too many people that are tall torsoed enough to need a 38.5 inch shaft, which is what the shaft length of the Nantahala is. Granted some paddlers go longer with river paddles especially for whitewater.

So what else to consider? $165 is a nice budget.

Well don't cha know. Our little CEW has been a busy boy

He has just the paddle for you.

But the link is wonky and maybe he can explain. I can't.

The nice little Saranac.. which has no price on it but the link is to another paddle when I try to "Buy" it.

http://www.foxworxpaddle.com/straight_shaft_canoe_paddles.html

Grey Owl used to put out a nice Sugar Island shape with a Pear grip ( called the FreeStyle) which was also excellent for touring and ran under a hundred bucks. Now they even seemed to have dropped their paddle in carbon fiber that was the same shape but much costlier.
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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Never used the Werner Nantahala, but it looks more like a whitewater paddle. That's what the Nantahala River is famous for. I also don't care for the pronounced ridge.

I am a proponent of buying an appropriate paddle for the type of paddling you are doing, and then USING it. What the heck good is a "great" paddle if it's hanging on the wall or standing in the corner. By my definition, such a paddle is the opposite of great: It's useless. Waste of money useless.

So if the right paddle is wood, USE it. It's natural purpose of existence is to get dinged and scratched occasionally as it propels, just as the purpose of your car tires and shoe soles is to wear out as they propel. Fortunately, wood scratches and dings are easily repairable and can be made to look new.

For a general tripping-cruising-messing around shape that's fairly light and not too expensive, I would recommend two wood paddles: the Mitchell Seneca and the Sawyer Voyager. I believe they are both lighter and less expensive than the Nantahala. Both come standard (or can be made) with modified palm grips in 60" lengths. If you order direct from a paddle manufacturer, as I've almost always done, they will usually be willing to put any kind of grip you want on the shaft and make it any length.

60", BTW, is a long sucker paddle for seated or kneel flatwater cruising unless you are well over 6' tall. For whitewater, longer paddles are appropriate for reach, high and low braces.

Mitchells are near indestructible, more so than the Bending Branches and Foxworx paddles I have. I've had wooden Mitchell whitewater paddles for 30+ years, used in hard whitewater, and they still look just fine with some touch-up. I also have a 10 year old Sawyer paddle that still looks knew.

Good luck. Many of us end up with several paddles, some for legitimately different purposes, others as gear sluttish impulse buys.

I used to be faced with the three paddle temptation when tripping: one short bent for flatwater, one medium straight for flatwater, and one long and strong straight for whitewater. I have now reduced my entire arsenal to two paddles for all occasions, both carbon ZRE's: a 48.5" 10 oz. bent shaft and a 57" 13 oz. straight with the "whitewater blade". Both have the ZRE flex shaft for a more "wood-like" spring in the shaft. That's an expensive duo, but they do everything for me and are a joy to swing and carry.
 
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
69
Whats your shaft length? I think that sales of canoe paddles based on overall length should be outlawed. The size of the shaft is all that matters. Are you real tall? I haven't seen too many people that are tall torsoed enough to need a 38.5 inch shaft, which is what the shaft length of the Nantahala is. Granted some paddlers go longer with river paddles especially for whitewater.

5'11" with a 28" inseam. I'm taller sitting down. A generic 60" paddle fits my back but I wonder if my arms may need some thing a little shorter. One of the reasons I was looking at the Nantahala is that I could shorten it. I found a 58" Grey Owl on line but with a T grip. Apparently they are not making shafts any longer than needed for the bent Raven any more. The Saranac looks like a nice paddle for day trips, which really is 99% of my paddling.
 
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