Werner Paddles -- are they worth it?

Dan_Millsip

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I recently purchased a Werner Straight Shaft Kalliste Carbon Fibre paddle. The Kalliste has a foam core blade and is light as a feather. It's designed specifically for low angle paddling and it's not cheap.

On a recent 10 day trip, I changed to my previous paddle (which is now a spare), a Grey Owl Scirocco and was blown away with how heavy the old paddle felt -- it was like it was made of lead! Needless to say, I switched back quickly.

The big question I have for those of you with Werner Paddles is, do you think using a Werner paddle is worth the high expense?

In my books, I feel that if you're someone who is into long distance paddling or paddles frequently, that the expense for the light weight and excellent craftsmanship is well worth it.

Opinions?

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jbj_bc_ca

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I've had 2 Werners. The current one is a Camano Carbon and the previous one, which was 10 years old and a loaner, was I believe the same model but an earlier design. The Camano is very comfortable with lots of power, but has not caused any strain on long trips. It's quite light, though not as light as the more expensive foam core models.

I definitely think using a Werner is worth the expense, but not everyone wants to spend $300-$600 on a paddle. Some people spend that much on a perfectly usable boat, and so would be more in the market for a $50 Canadian Tire paddle. It's just a question of priorities (groceries for a few weeks or a paddle for a decade). :wink:
 

Mark_Schilling

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I've been using a straight-shaft Shuna glass for a while now; an upgrade from my previous (and first) paddle, a Cadence Feather (low-angle). The Shuna is a high-angle paddle, so I had to change paddling styles significantly with it (something I didn't have a problem doing). The Shuna is not a foam core paddle, but it's reasonably light too. It's a treat to use and seems very efficient.

The way I look at it, a decent glass boat is worth upwards of $3500 so why cheap out on the 'engine' - the paddle is what drives the boat and is the link between you and your boat. A cheap, flexible and inefficient paddle will rob you of the energy you put into driving your sleek, efficient watercraft. And, for those of us who enjoy paddling in advanced sea states, it's nice to know that we're using quality gear when our safety relies on it.

I paddle with a few friends who use foam-core carbon paddles (mainly the Ikelos, also by Werner) and it's significantly lighter than my Shuna. But the big difference I notice is with bracing strokes and rolling - the foam core supplies a huge amount of bouyancy.
 

mikec

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I have both the Cyprus and the Ikelos and I would not change them for anything in the world!

As for expense, like anything else in life you have to pay for quality. The only other paddle manufacturer out there manufacturing high end paddles on a volume basis is Lendal, and their product is similarly priced (though a different school of thought entirely.

Other, smaller paddle manufacturers making foam core paddles also have the same pricing scale, it is simply a matter of supply vs demand as far as sourcing the carbon they need for these paddles.

With the significant upturn in defense spending the last couple of years as well as the airline industry using more and more composites (hello boeing dreamliner and airbus A380), carbon is getting pricier and more difficult to source in the "smaller" quantities that paddle manufacturers need, therefore there is a corresponding increase in price.

same thing for carbon for kayaks, which is why some manufacturers are phasing out carbon entirely (hello necky, though that might have something more to do with their sketchy quality control and ongoing pressure cracking problems of their ACL boats more than an increase in carbon costs....).

all that being said, the weight savings on paddles, and the resultant saved energy on long outings = worth the price of admission for my Werners!

long live the Ikelos aka the barn door!

mike
 

Astoriadave

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Aside from the greater paddling efficiency, lighter-weight, better-designed paddles help minimize repetitive motion injuries to wrists, elbows, and shoulders ... says the guy with injuries to all of those areas ... some due to my own stupidity in choice of blade area and shaft length (too large, and too long), and some perhaps exacerbated by heavy, clunky equipment of years gone past.

In explicit terms, it might be that spending an extra $300 now on a really good paddle will save you many dollars in therapy later, and/or extend your lifetime as a paddler several years.
 

GordB

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Apr 27, 2005
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Ladner, BC
I, as mikec, have an Ikelos (210cm straight shaft). I'll not trade that puppy for anything.

It is a huge blade for anyone, but if you don't try to overpower it it is very easy on the joints and muscle groups. That alone is worth the price. I stopped using my former paddle, less expensive, and noticed immediately the easing of joint and muscle strain.

I'll be saving up for another foam core very soon.
 

dvfrggr

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Seattle,Wa
mikec said:
I have both the Cyprus and the Ikelos and I would not change them for anything in the world!
I second that! I use my Ikelos for playing hard in the surf, rock gardens and Deception Pass. On trips and long day paddles i use the Cyprus to give my body a break on those long hauls. my other gear is out in the garage but my Werners are in the bedroom where i can keep an eye on them! dave
 

kayakwriter

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I'm with Astoriadave on this one. The few hundred bucks could be the difference between paddling and not paddling. Cheap when weighed against the thousands you've already sunk into other gear.
Several years back I began to develop early warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, which would have threatened my livelyhood (I write for a living) as well as my passion, paddling.
In addition to tweaking my keyboard and bike handlebar to be more ergometric, I bit the bullet for a new paddle. Bent-shaft touring paddles were a rarity then, and the outdoor retailer I work for didn't yet sell any. So I paid full pop (no pro-deal, no staff discount) elsewhere for a Werner Little Dipper. Years later, the paddle's still going strong, and I remain free of wrist grief (knock on carbon fibre.) $700 well spent, I say.
 

Dan_Millsip

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$700.00?!? Wow.

Nice to see that the prices have dropped in the past few years. My Kalliste was expensive, but it wasn't $700 expensive.

*****
 

bobdobbs

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I recently switched to a Shuna straight shaft from an Aquabound paddle. The difference in weight, swing weight in particular, is well worth the extra cost. That said i purchased mine at Ocean River,used/demo for less than 2 bills.
 

mikemike

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Mark_Schilling said:
The way I look at it, a decent glass boat is worth upwards of $3500 so why cheap out on the 'engine' - the paddle is what drives the boat.
Not to be contrary, but I once heard it aptly said that "your torso is like the engine, your arms/hands are like the transmission, and the paddle is like the tires"

...

I have a Werner Iklos 210, bent shaft. It is a pretty amazing paddle, and in a word "yes" in my opinion it's worth it. It's not a paddle that I use every time I go out, but every time I use it I am always impressed. Werner also has outstanding customer service!

One of the only bad thing I've noticed is that during the winter months the full carbon shaft gets insanely cold if you stop and take a break. Your hands will not warm up for a good long while if you put the paddle down and pick it up again. As far as I know Werner is the only major company that constructs their paddle shafts in house. I'd say that they put a great deal of thought into the bent shaft, and for the lightness alone the occasional bought of cold hands is worth it.
 

Kasey

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I have pretty well decided on buying the Cyprus - think the Ikelos is too big for all round paddle for me (but will try it as well when I go to buy)..... would be very interested in hearing more thoughts on bent-shaft vs straight. I tried a friends' bent-shaft a couple of weeks ago (and will try it more before I make a decision). Since I tried it I have been more conscious of how much my wrists rotate when I paddle. I understand the bent-shaft reduces this? I've never had a problem with my wrists and the bent-shaft is $75 more.....
 

DarenN

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bent shaft. hhmmmm; i'm rather fond of being able to slide my hands up and down the shaft for different leverage/extended strokes/long stern rudder/braces/sculling/rolling, etc. for this reason alone i have never tried a bent shaft paddle. for long distance touring i can see the ergonomic advantage, but, for me, i don't think the trade-off would be worth it. just my opinion. i have a Lightning C/F touring paddle that i like well enough but i prefer my Greenland paddles.
YMMV;
DarenN........
 

kayakwriter

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Darren,

You're quite right the bent-shaft is a trade-off. More care is needed in setting up sweeps and rolls. And a bent shaft doesn't rest naturally across my cockpit coaming with the blades parallel to the water and ready for a brace, as I prefer when I'm sailing - I have to hold it in my hands. But for folks like me with dodgy wrists, it's the best of the two options.

Philip
 

DarenN

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Philip;
i too, have dodgy wrists. karpel tunnel and ulnar nerve surgery twenty years ago. that's why i went to Greenland paddles. they're easier on the arms.
to this day i have a hell of a time with cold temps, and the expected arthritis has started to settle in.
DarenN.........
 

Kasey

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Huh...very interested in your responses! I will keep your thoughts in mind and am still interested in more opinions as well! Funny how greenlandpaddle-people really love them too...one friend up here has one (bought it off a member of WCP) and I'll have to try it one day!
Your wrist problems, Daren and Philip - do you think they are related to overuse from paddling or no? If so, it would definitely strengthen my lean towards bent-shaft!
PS...Dan - sorry, just realized I sort of went off topic...go ahead and move these posts if or when you want! :oops:
 

Dan_Millsip

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Kasey said:
PS...Dan - sorry, just realized I sort of went off topic...go ahead and move these posts if or when you want! :oops:
No worries.

We sell a lot of Werner bent shaft paddles at WC&K. The people who buy them seem to get attached to them very quickly -- especially those who have experienced previous wrist injuries. I notice also that a lot of higher end paddlers (a few who were featured in the "This is the Sea" DVDs, also use them and don't seem to have a problem changing hand positions). I'm also not so sure I agree with kayakwriter's comment about more care needed in setting up sweeps and rolls -- it would seem to me that the indexing on the bent shaft would be much more natural and easier than on a straight shaft.

I wouldn't be too quick to knock the bent shaft until you've tried one.

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Astoriadave

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Kasey, like others who have responded, I also have some wrist tendinitis, which began as a result of abuse caused by improper paddling technique.

My situation might be a data point important for you to consider. Basically, I got sucked into the go-fast competition with a guy innately stronger and better than I was, and figured a longer shaft and bigger blade (Werner San Juan; more area than a Camano!! :roll: ) was required. Wrong. The result was severe wrist and elbow tendinitis and loss of half a paddling season (13 years ago).

I shifted to a shorter paddle (also Euro) which had lesser blade face, back in 1993, and I have been using that same paddle as my primary stick every since, in any single kayak. It is a 220 Lightning. The other thing I did, which along with the change in paddle seems to have tamed the tendinitis, was pay attention to the geometry of my wrist during the power phase of the stroke. I had been pulling (and pushing) when the wrist was bent, a consequence of my "death grip" on the paddle shaft. This is a common flaw of novice paddlers, which I carried into my second season of paddling. Now, I allow the paddle shaft to rotate through my grasp, so that the forward hand, at the end of the stroke, only holds the paddle by my thumb and forefinger, in the form of a circle.

I've considered bent shaft paddles, but have avoided them, figuring if I am able to control the tendinitis without technology, why ruin a good thing. I think that if you are able to pay careful attention to what your wrists are doing during the stroke, and that thumb and forefinger grasp works for you, you might be able to stave off tendinitis using a straight-shaft paddle.
 

DarenN

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Kasey said:
Daren and Philip - do you think they are related to overuse from paddling or no?
my wrist/arm problems were definately NOT caused by paddling. back in those days all i did was a bit of canoeing. back in Saskatchewan we had ten months of winter and two months of bad snowmobiling.

i'm not knocking bent-shafts, it's my opinion.

when i do happen to use a euro, i don't use it feathered.

DarenN..........
 

mikemike

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Nov 22, 2006
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On the subject of the bent shaft and variable hand positions...

When I mentioned previously that Werner had "put a lot of thought into the bent shaft" what I meant was that I was really surprised to find that they had accomidated for holding the paddle during leverage/extended strokes/long stern rudder/braces/sculling/rolling!

Unlike most other ergonomic paddles there is a double bend in the werner shaft and it has identical hand grips on the outer bends as it does on the inner bends. Basically there are a total of four handholds on this paddle shaft, not two That is so you can extend the paddle and still maintain a normal grip on the bent shaft. I was really surprised by this. I noticed that is works better on a bent shaft paddle which is 215 or longer. On a 210 paddle when you use the extended stroke you have a fair length of paddle shaft on one side, but the second grip position is actually so close to the blade that it makes it hard to use.

I actually was in a crazy situation one time where there was so much wind that I couldn't raise my paddle into the air without getting dumped so I used my bent shaft werner 210 with a sliding stroke like you would with a GL storm paddle.

Take it from me: changing hand positions on this paddle is not a problem. The ability to use the bends to landmark your hand positions during various strokes can actually can prove to be a big advantage once you get used to it.

That having been said like other people have pointed out a bent shaft is a trade-off. I don't use it all the time + there are sometimes sitiuations where I wish I had a different paddle altogether.
 
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