As a precursor to our next paddle review (featuring VE’s Explorer Aircore Pro straight shaft offering) we thought we’d delve a little deeper into the subject and ask the question: ‘what are the benefits of carbon kayaking paddles?’. As purveyors of all things sit on tops we’re acutely aware that many paddlers’ chosen method of propulsion is:

A) The cheap one they got given as part of a bundle at the shop where they purchased their SOT

B) Something they found lying around and simply make do with

C) A low grade type not fit for purpose

D) Not the tool for the job

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As a sport (if you want to call it that) sit on top kayaking falls beneath the radar of ‘proper paddling’ in many eyes. And that’s probably the reason there isn’t enough correct advice/guidance given when choosing your siton kayak’s ‘engine.’ We’re sure he won’t mind us saying, but even Sitons boss man Mat took time to come round to the benefits of carbon kayaking paddles. It’s only through trying a bunch of kit and having direct comparisons between differently manufactured products that he realised what they offer. That said, be under no illusion that there are still naff carbon paddles out there. Just because a brand uses this material doesn’t automatically make it good. Other factors can make or break how it feels and performs. Stick with the reputable brands and you should be fine, however. So what are the advantages of plumping for a carbon paddle?

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Carbon manufacturing gives a way of controlling shaft and stiffness, blade flex and therefore effectiveness/efficiency. Carbon generally holds its ‘memory’ better than other materials, and therefore shouldn’t bow, bend or lose its shape (too much). High end carbon kayaking paddles are also super tough (depending on the materials used) and as a rule are notably lighter – although this isn’t always the case. Feel plays a big part when paddling your sit on kayak and if your current non-carbon blades feel sluggish, heavy and weigh a ton then it’s definitely time for a change. By owning a high end carbon paddle you’ll increase the amount of time you can paddle without fatigue and therefore enjoy your recreational kayaking time even more. And let’s not forget the less strain a better manufactured shaft has on your muscles and joints. As with everything it’s always worth trying a few different models before parting with readies. As already mentioned shaft stiffness can vary and what works for one paddler might not be the correct fit with another. Stiffer shafts give maximum feedback and efficiency through the water, but can also encourage the user to over exert themselves – an issue which can lead to injury. Meanwhile soft flexing shafts may be kinder to your body but may not deliver enough forward thrust.

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In general though carbon kayaking paddles are the best choice for any type of paddler – sit on top or other. You do pay more, that’s a given, but you’ll end up with a much better tool and therefore a more fun experience. Stay tuned for our review of VE Paddles’ Explorer Aircore Pro In the meantime check out our other paddle reviews – AT Pursuit review –… Aquaboun Manta Ray review –… Ainsworth Sea paddle review –