Our recreational line is characterized by shorter, wider blades than the traditional paddles, along with laminated blades and shafts often of contrasting woods for aesthetic and practical reasons. Laminated shafts can be made to be strong and light using hardy and heavier woods on the face and sandwiching lighter weaker woods in the core. The same may be said of the blade – using strong woods on the thinner edge and blade center, with light weight woods near the shaft where the wood is thickest. Another advantage of laminating is the strength gained by the numerous grain patterns of the various wood strips.
Recreational paddles tend to have a stiffer flex. On the one hand this feature makes the paddle more efficient by limiting the loss of power transferred from the paddle stroke. However, this makes the paddle harder on the joints, and more tiring to use for a weaker paddler.
These models do offer some advantages over their traditional cousins: they are easier to use in the shallows, particularly in depths of 18” or less, better in moving water and generally less expensive than traditional paddles.
Sizing your Recreational Paddle
Regardless of the model of straight or bent shaft paddle you have selected, the overall length should be determined by the shaft length from the top of the grip to the throat of the paddle.
The following formula applies: the shaft length should equal the distance from ones shoulder to the water line of the canoe. This will allow you to paddle below your eyes with your upper hand while keeping your lower hand close to the throat.
To determine the approximate length sit erect on a flat hard chair or the floor and measure the distance from the surface to your chin. Add 6” for the approximate distance the canoe seat would be from the waterline. Thus a person whose chin to chair measurement is 26” would add 6” to arrive at a 32” shaft length. Looking at the specifications of our various models you would find that you would probably use a 50” Touring Bent Shaft, a 54” Voyageur or a 56” Chieftain. A one or two inch variation would not have much effect in usage so try for the closest shaft length for the model chosen. Remember to consider that canoe seat heights vary as might a ‘comfort range’ that you might feel more suited to.
The only exception to this rule would be our Hammerhead paddle. A completely different technique is used for white water canoeing and you may end up adding approximately 12” to your chin to chair length.