Wood vs. Carbon Canoe Paddles

bending branches wood and carbon canoe paddles

(photo courtesy of Paul Villecourt)

Let’s take a look at what might make the difference for you in choosing a wood canoe paddle or a carbon canoe paddle.

First let’s look at the advantages of each material:

Canoe Paddles Crafted from Wood

Wood canoe paddles are as traditional as they come. They haven’t gone out of style, though, and in fact, have gotten better and better over the years. Wood paddles are warm on the hands and naturally flexible.

And one feature where a carbon paddle can’t compete with wood? Beauty. The option to combine woods into various color combinations and patterns in the blade are a huge advantage for the uniqueness of wood paddles.

Take a look at this screen shot of our Canoe Product Page to see what we mean:

bending branches wood canoe paddles

These paddles can be hung over your fireplace as works of art in the off-season!

Wood is quite cheap and so it’s easy to make wood paddles at different price ranges. More expensive wood paddles may have laminate shafts and more intricate patterns, while cheaper ones will have solid shafts and a more simple look.

Another advantage of wood paddles is that they can be repaired, re-sanded and re-varnished for normal wear-and-tear scuffs and cracks.

Canoe Paddles Crafted from Carbon

Carbon canoe paddles are the high-tech younger sibling in the canoeing world. They’re sleek black (the only color option for carbon) and very stylish if you’re into that look.

What’s one area a wood paddle can’t compete with carbon? Light weight. If high-end performance and feather-light weight is your highest priority, go with a carbon paddle.

We offer one all-carbon canoe paddle—the Black Pearl II. It weighs just 16 ounces, barely anything. That, combined with its bent shaft, means hours and hours on the water with little fatigue.

bending branches black pearl II carbon canoe paddle

Bending Branches’ Black Pearl II carbon canoe paddle

Canoe Paddles that Marry Wood and Carbon

There are canoe paddles that offer the best of both worlds—wood and carbon—together. These paddles have the stunning beauty of wood blades with the extreme lightness of a carbon shaft.

Bending Branches has one model that marries the two: The Sunburst. It’s gorgeous blade is a mixture of red alder, basswood and roasted basswood. It has plenty of Rockgard around the edges for protection against rocks and other hazards.

The grip is also wood, and is our symmetrical palm/T-grip blend that’s both comfortable and high-performance.

The Sunburst’s shaft—both the straight shaft and bent shaft models—is made from T-700 carbon, favored by aeronautics engineers for both its strength and light weight.

At just 17 ounces, you’ll barely notice you’re holding it.

bending branches sunburst canoe paddle

Bending Branches’ Sunburst wood/carbon combo canoe paddle (photo courtesy of @alexatchison18)

Which One is Best for You?

Most canoeists have to keep budget in mind. Paddles made with carbon are more expensive. Our two carbon paddle models are over $200. In contrast, our all-wood paddles start at under $100 with the most expensive ones at $159.95.

If you like a sleek, modern look of all-black and high performance is important to you, you’ll love the Black Pearl II. If you’re more of a traditionalist, definitely go with wood. You have many options in paddle design, paddle shape and price.

If you’re more of a cabin canoeist, just enjoying the lake or slow-moving river a few times a year, any of our lower-priced wood canoe paddles will be a great choice. They’ll give you years of great service.

If you’re a serious canoeist with multi-day trips in mind, there are plenty of options in our lineup of all-wood paddles, too.

What questions can we answer about our wood or carbon canoe paddles? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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