Noyo Pacific Kayaking

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What Paddle Shaft is Right for Me?
Kayaking - Kayaking Equipment

What Paddle Shaft is Right for Me? 

Break down paddles come in many configurations. The primary purposes of a breakdown are adjustable feather angles and ease of transportation and storage when not in use. Most breakdowns are two-piece paddles, but three, and even four-piece paddles are available from some manufacturers.

I would recommend paddling with a one-piece paddle whenever possible. They are lighter, stronger, less expensive, and don't have joints that wear, get wiggly, and require maintenance. There is simply less to go wrong with them, especially out on the water when you probably can't do anything about a malfunction. The easier transportation and storability of a breakdown is a plus, but

most people cannot take their boat apart and the boat is usually twice as long as the paddle used with it. If you can paddle a solid boat, you ought to be able to paddle a solid shaft.

A spare paddle should be carried with you, on or in the boat, any time you are on (or even near) the water. A breakdown paddle is about the only reasonable option for this, and my only recommended use for a breakdown paddle is AS A SPARE paddle. The fewer pieces the better because the more pieces, the more there are to go wrong. In my book, Murphy was an optimist! Those with folding or inflatable boats do have a valid reason for wanting a two or more piece paddle as a primary paddle. They do need to keep all of the problems mentioned here in mind when choosing one. Try to keep it to a two-piece because the joint between the hands is not too much of a problem structurally. A three or more piece paddle puts the joints very close to the hands. Avoid them if possible. Bracing and rolling can place tremendous pressures on paddle shafts. The hands are where stresses concentrate and that's the worst place for a joint. It's usually no problem to carry a bag with one or two (or more) two-piece paddles in it, as either checked or carry-on luggage on the plane with you when traveling. At least I haven't had any problems doing it.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every joint system used in breakdown paddles. Some are infinitely variable, some offer just one or two settings. In reality, you are probably only going to paddle at one setting all the time, or maybe two at the very most. Joint strength on breakdowns can be highly variable. It's probably not true of all of them, but those that are infinitely variable are the ones that seem to have the most
problems (Murphy again?). The perfect joint system -- light, strong, solid, easy to use, long lasting, low maintenance, versatile, and inexpensive -- has yet to be discovered. Let me know when you find it.