Choose the Right Canoe Paddle for Your Trip

 choose the right canoe paddle

Is the Sunburst canoe paddle right for you? (photo courtesy of @silveydustin)

Next to your canoe, your paddles are the most important gear for any canoe trip. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which one to use?

Straight shaft or bent shaft? What kind of blade shape? Wood or carbon?

The 2 Questions to Ask Yourself

There are two main questions to ask yourself so you can make the right decision:

  1. How long will you be paddling? Will you just be out for a few hours down a local river? A full day on a nearby lake? A multi-day wilderness trip?
  2. What Type of Water Will You Paddle? Calm lakes? Slow-moving rivers? Fast moving rivers with technical rapids and current? Large lakes with sizeable wave potential?

Here at Bending Branches we make canoe paddles for every type of adventure! Let’s take a look at the paddle models along with the water and trips they’re best suited for…

Entry-Level Canoe Paddles

These entry-level canoe paddles will perform wonderfully on flat water and for shorter trips—a few hours up to a full day.

The LOON is our most budget-friendly wood canoe paddle. Lightweight (20 ounces), comfortable and reinforced with our Rockgard® edge protection on the blade tip, it’s a great choice for recreational flatwater canoeing.

Bending Branches' Arrow canoe paddles

A couple of Arrow canoe paddles (photo courtesy of @curse.tin.kay)

The TRAVELER is another popular choice for flatwater canoeing. Its blade tip is protected by our Rockgard® edge protection and it’s handcrafted from basswood and red alder. It has a comfortable freestyle palm grip and weighs 20 ounces.

The BEAVERTAIL has the classic long and narrow blade that’s designed for deep water lake paddling. Its symmetrical freestyle palm grip will be comfortable all day long. 22 ounces.

Our BB SPECIAL is one of our best selling canoe paddles. It’s combination of performance and affordability makes it a great choice for the everyday canoeist. This is a bent shaft model, which means high efficiency and less strain on your body over many hours. 22 ounces.

The ARROW is the BB Special’s straight shaft counterpart, and is perfect for the recreational flatwater canoeist. It has a beautiful blend of basswood, red alder and maple, weighs 23 ounces and features the classic palm grip.

Mid-Range Canoe Paddles

Maybe you’re looking for a little more horsepower, a little more performance and versatility with varying water conditions. Our mid-range canoe paddles deserve your consideration:

The EXPLORER PLUS, a long-time favorite, is designed for both flatwater paddling and wilderness tripping. Rockgard® protects the blade edges all the way around and it also comes with a durable fiberglass wrap. 23 ounces.

The CATALYST and CATALYST 11 (straight shaft and bent shaft) our sustainable canoe paddle, dedicated to the reuse of excess materials (with $5 from each sale donated to the American Rivers organization). It’s day trip ready and ideal for flatwater. Full blade-edged Rockgard® and a durable fiberglass wrap make it tough.

young boy with expedition plus canoe paddle

A young canoeist with the Expedition Plus (photo courtesy of @damonbungard)

The CRUISER PLUS 11 is built for power and durability, ready to take on rugged abuse for any paddling condition. It features a bent shaft for efficiency, full Rockgard® protection around the blade and a 4-ounce fiberglass wrap.

The JAVA ST (straight shaft) and JAVA 11 (bent shaft) are the lightest all-wood canoe paddles available at just 19 ounces. Their full Rockgard® edge protection and 2-ounce fiberglass wrap make it a durable paddle for most water conditions.

The EXPEDITION PLUS is our most durable canoe paddle. It’ll stand up to the most demanding conditions on long wilderness trips as well as Class I-III whitewater. It features the power T-grip for ultra-control. 24 ounces.

The VIPER is ergonomically designed with a double bend shaft to help keep both your wrists aligned for long hours and days on the water. It’s our most durable bent shaft canoe paddle. It has a curved palm grip and a full Rockgard® edging around the blade.

Top-of-the-Line Canoe Paddles

Both the Expedition Plus and Viper, already mentioned, fit into this category, too, as they’re designed for years of paddling on most water conditions.

But if you’re the type of person who isn’t satisfied with anything other than the best of the best, then these canoe paddles are for you:

bending branches' black pearl 11

The elegant Black Pearl II all-carbon canoe paddle (photo courtesy of @canoe_there)

Combining years of wood-crafting artistry with state-of-the-art composite technology, the SUNBURST ST (straight shaft) and SUNBURST 11 (bent shaft) canoe paddles are ideal for long flatwater trips. A beautiful blend of red alder, basswood and roasted basswood in the blade with a T-700 carbon shaft, these paddles are just 17 ounces.

The straight shaft BLACK PEARL (brand new as of January 2022) joins the BLACK PEARL 11 as the lightest flatwater canoe paddle we make. Its mere 16-ounce weight will be nothing over long distances and days on the water. Constructed of a 100% carbon shaft and foam core carbon blades.

To sum up: the canoe paddles you choose depend largely on the type of water you’ll paddle and how long you’ll be paddling.

Many canoeists cover all their bases by choosing a couple different styles. That way they’re ready for anything!

What paddle questions can we help you with? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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