Canoe and Kayak Store is an independently owned, specialist paddle-sport store based in Gloucestershire. We also have a store in South Wales inside the Cardiff International White Water Centre, where you can Demo our boats and paddles on the course.

Our roots trace back to the year 2000 when Richard (having paddled since he was a child) was offered the chance to buy a canoe business. Loving the industry but not liking the company he decided to set up his own – opening a shop in Gloucestershire and leading to where we are today!

Unit 8, Damery WorksDamery Lane Woodford GL13 9JR
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    Choosing a Paddle

       Words by Rosie

       on 02/05/2017 15:52:00

    Choosing the right paddle, and why I chose mine! paddles

    After finally putting it to the test this weekend on a couple of Welsh classics, I think my new Warrior paddle from Select is the whitewater weapon I have been waiting to wield. But it’s not been an instant victory. At 6ft 4 and just less than 80kg, I am not your typically built paddler.  Contrary to what many might think, my height has actually not been a big issue when choosing the kayaks that I want. Whitewater kayak designs have developed over the past 10 years to favour a larger front half, even in the smaller more playful boats; the extra volume in the bow aids a kayak’s ability to resurface quickly and push over river features.  I’ve always found I have plenty of legroom after a few bolt adjustments! The piece of equipment that has needed the most trial and error for me has been the paddle.  How long? What blade shape/size? Should it be crank-shaft? What feather? Carbon or glass? These questions seem straight forward but in practice can be confusing and have far-reaching effects on your paddling performance and your body’s reaction to the exertion of pulling these big old spoons through water.

    Here’s a few of my findings over the years:

    Size matters! If you’re over 6ft and paddle a river or creek boat, you can forget about being happy with a paddle shorter than 197cm.

    It sounds obvious, but its actually amazing how many of us are using a paddle that is just too short! If your paddle is too short for you you will struggle to get enough leverage to push your boat where it needs to be, while keeping your grip in the most ergonomically friendly position on the shaft; just wider than shoulder width apart. Length issues often lead a paddler to move their hands together to increase their reach and leverage on each side. Just buy a longer paddle! You should be able to reach the water at the front of your boat purely by rotating your upper body across your centre-line. If you find you have to lean forward excessively to make the distance with each stroke, guess what? Its too short. My 2-part Warriors are adjustable up to 10cm,  so I can comfortably use them shorter in my freestyle kayak (197), long for creeking (202), and can take them all the way to 207cm if I get on flat water and really fancy a touring style.

    paddlesChoosing a degree feather is personal preference, but watch out for your wrist!

    I’ve paddled with all variations of feather (meaning the degree of variation between the two blades) over the years and can honestly say that between the most popular ones, in terms of ease of use I don’t think it matters too much. On the other hand what you really need to watch out for is your wrist. Picture Rocky throwing a punch- no gloves. Now picture him doing it with his fist angled slightly up, at odds with the line of his forearm. It’s going to hurt. Now replace Rocky’s arm with your top hand as it grips the paddle shaft, pushing across to power your stroke. The pain may not be as immediate as when Rocky’s punch goes wrong, but paddling with an offset wrist WILL give you grief in the long run. After paddling with 90s for a year I had wrist problems for about two, after changing to a more sensible feather.

    A crank shaft looks cool, but be sure its for you before buying one!

    After the aforementioned wrist problem, some suggested I should invest in a crankshafted paddle. Other’s suggested I give up my extra curricular activities. Cranks come recommended as a good way to encourage an ergonomic grip (Good strong punch), and if they work for you and you find you can’t find that position without them, they could well be exactly what you need! I didn’t get on with them. I found that the crank was in the wrong place for me, and resented being told where to hold on by a paddle. As with the above, the important thing is to ensure that as you put power through your blade, both wrists can stay in line as much as possible.

    A nice Oval grip makes a big difference.

    All the best paddle manufacturers have the option to oval the paddle shaft. Many do this as standard. An ovalled shaft will guide your fingers to naturally grip on the right side, lining up your knuckle with the top of the blade and giving you the best feel and control over the feather of the blade in the water. This can really make a difference for those who struggle with their eskimo roll!

    A big strong paddle blade will give power, but try to find a blade size that fits!

    If you find yourself taking too many strokes to make a simple move across the flow, one of two things could be going wrong. Either your blade is too small for your pulling power, which is effectively like riding a bike with too low a gear; or the blade is not stiff enough, and is therefore losing energy bending with the water. The rigidity problem mostly exists in plastic paddles, and can be cured by getting a paddle that is either carbon or glass fibre. This will make a huge difference! Carbon foam-core blades will give the most bang for their buck in that regard.  Your blade size is like the gearing on your bike. If too small you’ll lose energy and get nowhere, and if its too big you’ll stall. Time to try as many different shapes and sizes until you find a paddle that fits like Baby Bear’s porridge; just right.

    So what about these Warriors?
    paddles

    This is my first time using a 2part paddle as my main set. I had initially had worries about how strong a 2-part paddle would be, but after seeing it and watching a friend use his with confidence on some of the biggest whitewater in the Himalayas last year, I was sold! The fact the paddle can be broken into two parts makes it ideal for travelling with, and also has fantastic benefits for adjustability! The S-Lock system is nice and simple, only requiring a standard Allen Key to screw it up to performance strength. The blade isn’t giant, but is very stiff and expertly shaped to pull efficiently against the flow. Select use more layers of carbon than any other manufacturer.  I love the oval, which is very pointed against my grip and gives me a lot of feedback on the paddle angle. I’d say I’ll be using them for a good while!

    paddles

    Words by Jamie Greenhalgh - 02/05/2017