It is common knowledge that I love, and exclusively use, Greenland paddles. Over the last few months I’ve received a lot of questions from interested paddlers asking me how my different sticks compare, so to answer that I thought I’d write my thoughts on the various paddles here.
Mitchell Horizon Split Greenland Paddle (USA) – 399 AUD
Mitchell are reknowned for their great paddles and their Horizon GP is a beautiful looking stick. Available as a one piece as well as split, I liked the fact I could use it as a traveller paddle with my folding Folbot Cooper, as well as being able to carry it conveniently on deck as a spare (a key selling point here in Australia). It is finished well, the laminate looks stunning, and it never fails to get a reaction from other paddlers.
It is also extremely light-weight, which is either a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. I’ve broken one by using power-strokes with it, and have felt its replacement creak a bit if I start to put too much strain through it. Keep in mind I’m a big guy and pump a lot of power through them, which is really not what they are designed for. In the case of more gentler paddling, it is delightful to use and the ability to break it down into two pieces is extremely convenient.
Best for: travel, gentle paddles.
Elver Tour Greenland Paddle (Australia) – 330 AUD
The Elver paddles are made locally on the NSW Central Coast here in Australia by a great fella with a real passion for the stick. Generally a single piece of Red Cedar (although he’ll use other timbers and laminates on request), each stick is custom made to order, although in general the measurements are roughly the same for each stick.
The care and craftsmanship is immediately apparent, with the stick lovingly smoothed and finished to perfection. The shape is beautiful, with an oval cross-section on the loom, a gentle shoulder and perfectly tapering blades. It is one of the most comfortable paddles I have ever used, sits beautifully in your hand, rolls well and is an all round fantastic paddle.
Best for: everyday and distance paddling
Supplier: Elver Paddles (Australia)
Adanac Rock Garden Series Greenland & Storm Paddles (Canada) – 750 CDN per set
Made by master wood carver Jill Ellis in Ontario, Canada, the Rock Garden Series paddles were inspired by my regular breaking of paddles, and have been designed and built to with-stand the stresses a power-paddler like myself places on my sticks. The main body is made with quarter-sawn red Cedar with a very fine grain, and then tipped with Purple Heart, an incredibly tough South American hardwood which seems indestructable. The loom is a thick octagonal cross section that offers maximum strength and control over the paddle during sprints, whilst ensuring the paddle weight remains between your hands.
The paddle length on the full GP is the longest of my paddles and was determined according to my height, arm length etc. The storm paddle is the shortest of my paddles and fits perfectly on deck as a spare. The Purple Heart tips make the paddles a little heavier than my other GPs, but this is a small price to pay for the incredible resilience and strength. During some rock gardening sessions I’ve smashed these babies against rocks, concrete and oyster beds, with barely a mark to be seen on them!
Both the full length and storm length paddles perform beautifully. The storm requries a sliding stroke but is so easy to use that my paddling colleagues believe it is faster than the full length paddle! The shorter storm is also great for rock gardening as it is easy to use in tight places.
The paddles are beautifully oiled and have a rich warm smell to them, and come in custom made “paddle booties” to protect them in transit. Mine were also “pimped” with the Fat Paddler logo etched into the tips.
Best for: sprinting, rock gardening, rough treatment
Supplier: Adanac Paddles (Canada)
CohoKayak Greenlander Paddle (Australia) – 450 AUD
This is the first GP I ever used, and what lead to my passion for the stick. It is less traditional than the others reviewed here and more of a hybrid design, with a shorter length, wider blade and more pronounced shoulder. Made from laminated cedar and kiri, it is a solid stick with a fair bit of power, although the tips are not as well attached as I would like for rock gardening.
The loom has a nice oval cross section, which when combined with the pronounced shoulder leads to an easy grip with perfect blade alignment, which helps to reduce feathering for those new to GPs. The stick also feels solid and bouyant, and orients itself perfectly when rolling. The shorter length also means it can be stored on-deck as a spare and is easier to store and transport in general.
Best for: GP novices, cruising
Supplier: Sydney Harbour Kayaks (Australia)
The Final Say
I love all of the GPs for different reasons, but if I had to rank them I would put the Adanac paddles from Canada on top of the list, with the locally-made Elver a very close second. The Adanacs admittedly were custom made for me, are tough as nails, and complement my paddling needs perfectly. That being said, I did the 111km Hawkesbury Classic with the Elver because it is such a magnificent light-weight performance paddle, and being locally-made makes it far easier to order and ship. Both the Adanac and Elver paddles are superbly made, beautiful to the eye, and a delight to paddle. Cheers – FP