Canoe Paddle Grip: Finished or Unfinished?


Grips can be a polarizing feature for serious paddlers. Just find a canoe forum and search under “canoe grips” to see what we mean!

Why an Unfinished Paddle Grip?

The main reason someone would want an unfinished grip is so it can be customized to perfectly fit the shape and style that person likes.

But it takes skill to shape a grip, and spoiling an expensive paddle is a real possibility for those who don’t have that skill. So few people actually shape their grip themselves after buying a new paddle.

The better option for the vast majority of canoeists is to buy a paddle with a finished grip.

Why a Finished Paddle Grip?

Finishing is needed to protect the wood in your paddle from all the elements it’ll encounter—especially lots and lots of water. Choose one that’s varnished with a high-quality marine varnish. The wooden paddles here at Bending Branches get multiple coats of varnish, depending on the model. A paddle sealed in a quality finish won’t decay, splinter or swell with water.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care for the feel of new varnish, don’t worry!Just take your new paddle on a full-day trip. The wear from your hands, water and maybe a little silt will break the shine and leave you with a soft, but still well-protected grip.

Bending Branches' finished paddle grip

If you’re heading out on a 15-20 mile day with a brand new wooden paddle, consider wearing thin paddling gloves until the finish gets that soft feel. Getting hot spots and blisters on your hands can suck the fun out of a trip pretty quick! It won’t be long before the finish is soft and comfortable.

Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team with your paddle questions today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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