This page is to try to relate the nature of what my paddles are about. Design-wise- I am a minimalist. Smaller blade shapes are lighter and stronger. I believe the way to go is to use the smallest blade shape you are comfortable with- and then length adjust the paddle to get the torque you want. Your paddle should barely ‘stick’ in the water at most rates of speed and the usual torque that you paddle with. But if you need more pull I think the paddle should ‘tear’ through the water a bit to give you a full stroke and keep the blade from stalling out in the water. This provides blow out protection for your shoulders and arms but still gives you the needed torque- with a wider range of motion per torque. This wider range of motion allows you to ‘flavor’ the strokes more by adding nuances of steering through subtle wrist twists. This is very beneficial if you paddle maneuverable boats- like squirt , creek, or rodeo boats- but not such a big factor if you paddle a raft.
So- my blades tend to be small and strong. Larger blades also overload your “machine” (abs/shoulders/arms) with too much torque on every stroke and eventually leads to chronic abuse problems- like Paddlers Elbow. Smaller blades with rounder tips introduce the workload to your body in a smoother manner and is easier on the muscles. If you aren’t tearing your muscles down with too much torque- you are making them stronger with many reps of just the right level of torque.
Many customers come to me ready to wean themselves off of bigger blades that are commonly offered on the market. They are afraid they will be left without enough torque when the going gets tough. If you have concerns like that I would recommend you look at my Wildwater blade- available in curved and trik paddle faces and a full 8” wide. This compares closely with many common blade shapes in the synthetic market- but has the smooth feel and endurance of a wood paddle- superior to synthetics. Or check the Flo or Riot shapes~ slightly smaller and lighter.
One other point about why wood styx are stronger than synthetics- besides being carefully handcrafted for many hours from nearly $100 of top quality materials- compared to a piece of plastic worth about $40 pooped out off a machine and put in a box in well under an hour. There are two key issues. One is edging durability. Pressed glass blades are thin on the edgings and so~ wear down a lot in just a few years. A wood paddle with a thicker edging made of special dynel composite lasts for many year- decades even- and can always be repaired. Cored synthetic blades have thicker edgings- but have problem is the fiberglass skin of the blade is punctured or stressed to the point where it delaminates from the foam core. This can lead to water leaking into the blades over time and the blades becoming heavy.
The second point is that synthetic shafts are hollow. All their strength is in their exterior. This means if you happen to scratch your synthetic shaft- even just 1/16” deep- you have seriously compromised the strength of the shaft and created a stress riser. The next time you stress the shaft to it’s limit- this stress riser is where it will fail. Wood paddles have solid material all the way through and endure these superficial insults much better. And they can always be repaired.
Some might think it is more economical to use a $400 paddle for three years until it breaks or wears down to a nub. But my paddles last decades- with occasionally repairs. Over the course of a decade or two- they not only are more trustworthy- but they feel better too! Mine are a better deal in the long term.