Akiak Description

The Akiak is the first modern shoulderless Greenland paddle with exchangeable tips. Inspired by the Inuit tradition of strengthening paddle tips with bone, walrus ivory, and harder wood, Akiak integrates durable polyamide tips with a carbon fiber paddle. The tip unites smoothly with the paddle to form a seamless paddle stroke.

  • Exchangeable paddle tips provide extra protection for the fine tips of paddles.
  • Sharp paddle blade edges provide crisp and precise paddling.
  • A wider loom accommodates modern kayaks.
  • The shoulderless design promotes smooth sliding strokes.
  • The 2-piece design breaks down quickly for easy transportation and storage.
  • The remarkably light paddle weight reduces fatigue on long paddling excursions.
  • Carbon fiber blades create a slim profile that enters and exits the water quietly while adding buoyancy for a light stroke.
  • A low-profile button release creates a sleek paddle shaft.
  • The carbon fiber button never rusts.
  • The high-quality, continuous-weave carbon fiber shaft delivers a superior strength-to-weight ratio.
  • The symmetrical blade shape reduces torque.
  • This allows the paddler to maintain a looser grip and pull the paddle smoothly through the water.


Akiak Reviews

(56)

Read and submit reviews for the Akiak.

Akiak Specs and Features

  • Material Description: 100% Carbon fiber paddle with interchangeable PA paddle tips

Additional Attributes

  • Greenland style ocean kayak paddle
  • Designed and built for ocean touring
  • Swappable tips, an extra set of tips included
  • 100% continuous carbon fiber construction
  • Convenient 2-piece assembly

Where to Buy the Akiak

Learn More

Gearlab Outdoors
Akiak Reviews

Read reviews for the Akiak by Gearlab Outdoors as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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5

Arrived very quickly. Very…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/18/2020
Arrived very quickly. Very lightweight, but nicely stiff. A joy to paddle
5

The Akiak was my first…

Submitted by: paddler894055 on 11/2/2020
The Akiak was my first purchase of a carbon manufactured paddle. Previously, I used self-made wooden ones. I've paddled for 10 years mainly with a euro-style. My first reaction was it's beauty and impeccable craftsmanship. On the water it's lightness and stiffness is amazing. It's improved my stroke form which often would deteriate as the day wore on. The replaceable tips are a great idea. Over all great design!
5

I just received my new paddle…

Submitted by: paddler893660 on 10/31/2020
I just received my new paddle and bag. They look so well made. Unfortunately, I am in Canada and kayaking season is over but I so look forward to trying it out next spring.
5

I have used my Akiak on six…

Submitted by: Django on 10/9/2020
I have used my Akiak on six outings. Mine is a shouldered 220. I hated it for about The first twenty minutes and I had tracking issues for the first hour or so, (I kept drifting to starboard, my sloppy form was to blame). After the first hour it started to feel like second nature and I began to enjoy the paddle. I haven’t used my carbon Camano since I got this paddle. I am sure that I will use the Camano, but for now I am having too much fun exploring the limits of the Akiak. The fit and finish are perfect and the shaft is comfortable. Then blade is clean, efficient and quiet. I am very happy with my purchase and I think that this will be my primary paddle for a long time to come.
5

Purchased start of Sept. ‘20.…

Submitted by: paddler885028 on 10/6/2020
Purchased start of Sept. ‘20. This Greenland stick is very light, same as a carbon Lendal Euro style paddle. Handles nicely for effortless paddling. Well made, tight fitting with no slack/ movement once assembled. Good customer service (thanks Agnes). I would recommend Gearlab to a friend.
5

I had originally planned on…

Submitted by: paddler878093 on 9/21/2020
I had originally planned on buying a wooden Greenland paddle, but Gearlab peaked my interest when I saw the Akiak. So far I love everything about it. It feels incredibly lightweight and balances very well in my hands. The placement of the shoulders are perfect for me. And the ability to break the paddle down for transport is really nice. I've been paddling through some shallow areas with rocks, sand, & roots and so far I haven't seen any signs of wear. And I recently went on a slat water camping trip where I couldn't wash down the paddle as often as I wanted to. So far, I see no signs of corrosion on the few stainless pieces of hardware on the paddle. I am really glad I made this purchase and look forward to the trips ahead.
5

I bought this paddle both for…

Submitted by: nbcdirector on 9/16/2020

I bought this paddle both for the history (and nostalgia) as well as paddling with a blade that claimed to be easier on the shoulders. I'm very pleased with the purchase and this is now my go-to paddle (I also own a wing paddle). I have a SOT that I paddle in mostly protected bay waters in Miami, FL. However when venturing out into more open water, this paddle handles just fine.

5

Beautiful paddle technically…

Submitted by: tzolkin on 9/14/2020

Beautiful paddle technically and aesthetically. Lightweight allow maneuvering into position with ease especially on rolls. Becomes extension of the body. Excellent work Gearlab!

5

Nothing but praise for the…

Submitted by: Scol on 9/9/2020
Nothing but praise for the Akiak Greenland Paddle. I have been canoeing & kaysking for just over 40yrs now & have been venturing into the world of sea kayaking. My biggest surprise is the speed & comfort that the Akiak delivers. I thought I would have issues with the lightness of the carbon fibre but it really is a joy to hold & paddle. My speed has improved by approx 10% (as measured on my handheld gps) & again, it is much more comfortable to paddle with. It hasn't quite solved world Peace but I'm sure there is a way ... ;) Cheers ... Scol.
4

I originally posted my review…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/9/2020
I originally posted my review under Aukaneck paddles. I actually have an Akiak, 210, orange paddle. I am seriously loving this paddle. I really appreciate the bright orange color as a great visual benefit especially in a low volume boat. I deducted one star because after my third paddle, in which I was participating in a rescue course, I discovered 2 chips in the paint. Both are on the blade edge. I was originally concerned about the paint chipping but was told under normal use the paint would hold up. I was not in any rocky areas; we were in a sandy beach bay. I am now wondering what to do about the chips. Do I sand them? Can I touch up with paint? What kind? Left message/email to Gearlab but have not heard back yet. :(
5

This is my third review of…

Submitted by: Pendel on 9/9/2020
This is my third review of the Akiak. The first paddle I received had a clicking joint and I did end up sending it back. The GearLab service folks are exceptional, and the whole exchange process was absolutely painless (apart for being deprived of the use of the paddle for a couple of weeks). The new paddle has a solid joint, no clicking and no play. Took it out a few times already; it behaves beautifully. It is a real pleasure to use this paddle and to deal with the company. I am very impressed and recommend both enthusiastically. BTW, their paddle bags are also really great.
5

Just received my new Gearlab…

Submitted by: Bugster71 on 9/5/2020
Just received my new Gearlab Akiak paddle this morning & already hit the water with it. What a beautiful & quiet paddle to use. Took a while to get it right but once I did, wow did it make paddling more enjoyable, quieter & easier on the body. Can't recommend this highly enough. Cheers Gearlab, keep up the awesome work.
5

Great greenland paddle. Light…

Submitted by: paddler234506 on 8/31/2020
Great greenland paddle. Light and strong. Excellent product finish. Great balance
5

Super impressed with the fit…

Submitted by: paddler863780 on 8/27/2020
Super impressed with the fit and finish of this paddle. Works amazingly well. I have never used a Greenland style of paddle but a shoulder injury led me to give it a try. I doubt I will ever use a euro blade paddle again and plan on picking up a second paddle as my spare.
4

Just received my new Akiak…

Submitted by: paddler854730 on 8/17/2020
Just received my new Akiak (230 cm with shouldered loom) and got out on the water to test it out. A few caveats - this is my first Greenland style paddle so the review is part discovery. Second, I’ve been on the water my whole life but only just got my first sea kayak two years ago, so I have a lot to learn. Third, the first paddle I received had a little rotational play at the joint. The folks at Midwest Paddle Adventures and Gearlab were a big help and quickly got a new one sent out to me. The Akiak is a well made paddle. The craftsmanship in the carbon fiber is astonishing. The seams are tight, the weave is consistent and even, the finish is great. On the water, the paddle feels natural. I feel like it gives me more control than my euro style paddle. Bracing becomes a subtle set of motions that take a surprising amount of my weight. The paddle is nice and stiff, and one can easily lean into it without feeling any flex. Rolling is new and far from graceful for me, but the Akiak changed that. Hard to explain, except that maybe having a longer paddle surface helps to go through the rolling motions slower and more deliberately (slow is smooth and smooth is fast). I was in between sizes based on length and loom. I went for the longer paddle - the loom is on the wide side but I can still get two to three fingers on the blade. So far the grip is very comfortable, and the paddle has plenty of power. Slight manufacturing variation aside (everything varies), the Akiak is a solid, well made paddle with a great feel. Will update this as I get more time on the water.
4

This is a follow-up to my…

Submitted by: Pendel on 8/10/2020
This is a follow-up to my previous review. I have just come back from a week on Chamberlain lake in northern Maine. Paddled my Capella 166 RM with a 230cm Akiak there every day in all sorts of weather. The paddle performed very well and was a joy to use. There was no flutter and the shoulders are shaped just right for a comfortable position. Paddling in heavier 2-foot white cap surf brought up by the winds, at times I could hear the joint click on a heavier stroke or a brace, which I think may have to do with a little play in the joint that I had mentioned in my original review. Nothing serious though, and the clicking went away when I rotated the paddle 180 degrees so that the button faced me. Overall, this is a really nice and beautiful paddle.
5

Arrived today and I was out…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/4/2020
Arrived today and I was out on the water (Puget Sound) less than an hour later. Love the weight and the feel of this paddle. I chose the orange for great visibility as there can be many boats on the water. "Slice the water" is no joke!
5

Hello, I just got my Akiak…

Submitted by: Kennybardler on 8/2/2020
Hello, I just got my Akiak paddel days ago. I must say I am 100% happy with it. It looks super nice and it really "slices the water" It has little more weight than my other Greenland paddle but not a problem. Recommend this to everyone looking for a real premium product.
5

Super light and smooth…

Submitted by: dolanbug on 7/31/2020
Super light and smooth design. Cuts through the water like butter.
5

This paddle came highly…

Submitted by: dorseydemaster on 7/31/2020
This paddle came highly recommended by a fellow kayaker and it has changed my kayaking experience! Craftsmanship is outstanding!
5

super light yet strong as…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/31/2020
super light yet strong as superman.. love the quickness and effectiveness while skulling..
5

As a beginner paddler, my…

Submitted by: Gebyar on 7/30/2020
As a beginner paddler, my experienced of using any Greenland paddle will be fairly short. I got my Akiak only less than 3 weeks ago, and had been using it exclusively since. This paddle may not be the lightest ones I own but it's one of the most beautiful aesthetically so far. Few things that I have noticed is that my paddling stroke feel more efficient, smoother (less 'fluttering') and quieter during catch and release than any of my full carbon European paddles. Akiak has certainly given me more confidence and enjoyment in paddling longer in the water. I am currently waiting for the next set to arrive as back up. Thank you Gearlab!
4

I have a shouldered Akiak in…

Submitted by: Pendel on 7/29/2020
I have a shouldered Akiak in Chili Red at 230 cm. Quality of the finish: I would place this paddle in the “handmade quality” category. Overall it is beautiful, but there are some imperfections and nicks on the loom, the joint has a small gap and a tiny bit of play (whereas my Werner paddles are utterly gapless and tight), and the red enamel is dulled (as in: rubbed and not shiny) near the loom joint. Cosmetic imperfections are not a really big deal, but I would have certainly preferred a gapless tight joint on a paddle of this grade and price. Still, overall, this is a gorgeous paddle, and it is well-made. No doubt about that. Shipping & Service: Outstanding. After my initial order, Gearlab responded quickly with an invoice for me to inspect. I wanted to make a change with my original order, and this proved to be very easy and efficient. No problems at all. The paddle arrived at my doorstep in Maine (with DHL) in less than a week, and communication from Gearlab was excellent throughout the process. Paddling impressions: I am not yet ready to report on this, but I will post my impressions as a follow-up posting after I have had enough time to evaluate. Slight qualms: The extra set of tips included with the paddle came with only one screw. I would have expected at least two (if not four), as that is what it takes to mount a tip. These screws are tiny, special (made of titanium ?) and seem very easy to loose. Also, I had ordered an additional set of round tips, but instead received a set of flat ones. I have reached out to Gearlab and I hope that they will send me a correct set of tips. I will report on how that goes.
5

Recently bought a GearLab…

Submitted by: RR1 on 7/21/2020
Recently bought a GearLab Akiak paddle and I'm very impressed with the quality, feel and performance of this paddle. My normal go-to is a carbon fibre Accent paddle which has always served me well but in the interest of learning the Greenland paddle, going easier on my body, and to have a second paddle on longer trips, I decided to invest in the Akiak. The Greenland paddle requires a different paddling technique to get the most out of it but so far I can keep up on sprints and rolling feels all the more natural with the Akiak. Highly recommended! My only wish is that for a paddle of this price point, and considering other models from GearLab are able to be engraved/personalized, I would've liked that choice with the Akiak as well but this wasn't an option. Otherwise, a well performing, light paddle that I will enjoy for years to come.
5

I have just received my new…

Submitted by: paddler808524 on 6/29/2020
I have just received my new Akiak Greenland paddle. The delivery was fast, the paddle meets or exceeds expectations. Thank you, Gearlab!! Kevin.
4

A really great paddle.…

Submitted by: paddler806053 on 6/26/2020
A really great paddle. Compared to my wood paddle that has very thin and flat tips the Akiak is very easy to handle and forgiving !
5

Just received the paddle and…

Submitted by: JoeM on 6/26/2020
Just received the paddle and it looks and feels exceptional in everyway. The paddle I bought is the Akiak, shoulderless, and size of 220 CM. The orange will make me more visible on the water.
5

Quality Paddle. Great Red…

Submitted by: CTflatwaterseayaker on 6/26/2020
Quality Paddle. Great Red Color. Worth the price I would use full time of water was deeper
5

This paddle does it all. Very…

Submitted by: Clvgne on 6/24/2020
This paddle does it all. Very lightweight without compromising strength. And love the fact you can replace tips easily. This is a great addition to my gearlabs collection. A special thanks to paddlesports of Naples for the great customer service and extensive knowledge to help with questions.
5

Purchased this paddle…

Submitted by: DarrylRKeys on 6/23/2020
Purchased this paddle recently and I am very happy with it. I paddle and roll a lot with a Greenland wooden paddle. The Akiak is a perfect replacement for that stick and has now become my primary paddle.
5

All I can say is why have I…

Submitted by: n0nuf2 on 6/23/2020
All I can say is why have I been using a clunky carbon fiber euro paddle all this time? All of my kayaks (sea, tour, rec, fish) actually paddle faster and significantly easier with this carbon GL paddle. Shoulder stress? Gone. Rolling? Effortless. The technique is slightly different, but much more efficient! High quality. Very satisfied. I chose the shouldered version so I would always know how I was holding the paddle were when my attention was elsewhere. Highly recommended.
5

I first saw this paddle a…

Submitted by: vhcolc on 6/22/2020
I first saw this paddle a while ago, only one person had it the others like me had the normal blade style, after talking to Thor, who loaned me one of his and reading reviews about it i bought one. This purchase has been the best investment i have ever made in any of the sports i do, it reduces stress and strain on the body, my max speed increased by 2 knots, but with less effort and on windy days there is no fighting the wind due to its profile, absolutely love it :-)
5

The paddle is wonderful! The…

Submitted by: paddler803720 on 6/22/2020
The paddle is wonderful! The fit and finish is excellent. I would happily buy from gearlab again.
5

I just purchased the Gearlab…

Submitted by: Manx on 6/14/2020
I just purchased the Gearlab Akiak Greenland-style paddle from a local dealer in Florida. My first impression is this is a quality product. The fit and finish are exceptional. While it isn't as light weight as the Kalleq, it has a great feel to it. I love the elegant and simple design of the Greenland paddles. There are many manufacturers of wood paddles, but very few making a carbon-fiber version of the Greenland paddle. Gearlab makes the most affordable ones I could find, but that doesn't mean they aren't quality items. I was really impressed the first time I fit the two halves together right out of the box and they slid together smoothly and locked in place tightly with no wiggle at all between the two halves. I bought the shoulderless version and I love the way my hands are free to slide smoothly from handle to blade during bracing and rolls. It took me a little while to familiarize myself with the canted stroke, and I still have to work on it, but this thin little paddle packs plenty of power. I can't say enough about the quality of this product. I also appreciate the replaceable polymer blade tips. Mine came with orange tips installed and a spare pair of black tips. Great product.
5

Extremely fast turn around…

Submitted by: paddler776760 on 5/14/2020
Extremely fast turn around after ordering. Beautiful paddle. I could not be happier with my purchase
5

The very light akiak paddle…

Submitted by: paddler773998 on 5/11/2020

The very light akiak paddle is very well balanced, facilitates the movement of the shoulders without fatigue for long hikes, the size of the handle is also good, which helps with the retraction. The finish and materials are very good. The paddle of your dreams! I love it.

5

I had a need for a light…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/31/2020
I had a need for a light strong greenland paddle that had the ability to breakdown in two parts. The Gearlab paddle fit the bill perfectly. The paddle is light strong and is a dream to paddle with. the catch is smooth as well is the exit. I have been using wood greenland paddles for many years and this is a real upgrade.
5

A very solid feeling paddle,…

Submitted by: paddler583952 on 2/24/2020

A very solid feeling paddle, the akiak is well constructed with a very solid feeling joint in the middle. It performs very well, I have done more than 40kms with it and have had no issues so far. The coloured version definitely feels slightly heavier than straight carbon fibre, but the glossy colour is hard to go past.

5

Beautiful paddle right out of…

Submitted by: paddler528431 on 2/7/2020

Beautiful paddle right out of the box and before it’s been in the water. I debated shouldered vs non-shouldered and went with the latter. It was a wise choice. The paddle falls perfectly within my shoulder width.

3

Gearlab has exceeded all of…

Submitted by: paddler574906 on 1/6/2020

Gearlab has exceeded all of my expectations. My first inquiry was regarding the Sea Shepherd paddle. Following a quick reply I was informed they were no longer in production. I waited for a couple months to see if they would come out with another special edition. After another communication I was told no further special editions were in the works. Being an off shore company I was apprehensive in doing business directly. I had another company get my deck pod for me. The quality was fantastic and I decided to place an order directly with a Gearlab for a Akiak paddle, new paddle bag, extra tips, and stickers. All communications were easy and efficient. Customer service was at the highest level. Shipping was extremely fast and DHL communicated multiple times each day. In three days I had my purchase in hand. The quality of all was excellent. I can’t wait to hit the water with my new paddle and accessories. As a note: I run a global company doing business in 97 countries so I understand the difficulties of doing business internationally. I can only say I strive to offer the same level of service and customer satisfaction that Gearlab and their products have displayed with my order. I would truly recommend this company and their products to anyone that asks. Darwin (Skip) Muir

5

I love the way this paddle…

Submitted by: paddler532779 on 12/30/2019

I love the way this paddle handles, so smooth!

5

Great design and superior…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/10/2019

Great design and superior control to every other paddle I’ve tried!

5

What a piece of workmanship…

Submitted by: paddler562169 on 10/15/2019

What a piece of workmanship this paddle is! In perfect condition right out of the box. Have only quickly tested it today briefly and it behaves just as it is supposed to. I recommend this product to anyone wanting the Greenland paddle experience! Everett

5

Sensational action, balance…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/7/2019

Sensational action, balance and efficiency. It feels so good in the hand that it inspires confidence to stay out longer as fatigue is postponed! My only very mild gripe is water dripping but a a pair of ring guards should sort that.

5

Just received my new paddle,…

Submitted by: Luc-Bellemare on 10/7/2019

Just received my new paddle, a Gearlab Akiak 220. Look is asome and hand grip is very good, so light weight, can't wait to test in the water.

4

Just received my new Akiak…

Submitted by: paddler559747 on 10/7/2019

Just received my new Akiak paddle and will get to try it out at the Gales Kayak Symposium next week. It is replacing my older model GearLab paddle and I think the replaceable plastic tips will be great while playing among the rocks. My older paddle had the silicone tips that I wore through.

5

Beautifully made, incredibly…

Submitted by: Paul-M_Kirby on 3/25/2019

Beautifully made, incredibly lightweight and great motion through the paddle-stroke that is easy on the arms without sacrificing force in the water. I love my Akiak paddle and will be using it on future sea kayak expeditions.
GearLab produce quality merchandise and are one of a handful of companies making high quality carbon-fiber Greenland paddles. There are some great small independent companies in the Pacific NorthWest too - all in the same price range ($300 to $400), but you truly get what you pay for.
I opted for the GearLab Akiak because they come with replacement tips - the most common area on the paddle for damage. I've read (and believe) that when a carbon-fiber paddle gets a crack it is pretty much rendered useless. GearLab have addressed this issue by providing the replacement tips. Reassuring to have on a long trip.
I am definitely a convert from European to Greenland paddles. European paddles have their place. I think I will always use my European paddles for my packraft, for those swift-water maneuvers. But for touring, I've found a winner in the Greenland style. The Inuit have been using this style for centuries and for good reason. Only a practical design would stand up to the test of time. I wouldn't hesitate in spending the money on one the Akiak. You won't be disappointed.

5

Incredible paddle! Making…

Submitted by: MGNkayak on 1/15/2019

Incredible paddle! Making the transition from a top Euroblade paddle to a Greenland style blade was tricky for me until I discovered Gearlab's awesome paddles. Compared to a clunky wooden paddle, these Carbon fiber wonders are light, sleek and sharp when paddling for long distances under all conditions. Their two-part construction (virtually seamless when together) and the replaceable tips make it all the more versatile. The Akiak is Gearlab's shoulderless model, while the Nukilik is the same construction with shoulders. Both are fantastic; it's a personal preference which to choose.

5

I have carved a dozen…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/14/2019

I have carved a dozen Greenland kayak paddles out of wood over the years and I am very familiar with the engineering and design of Greenland paddles. However, since I have purchased a Gearlab paddle I have not looked back. Gearlab paddles encompass the traditional elements of the Greenland paddle and modernizes them using current technology. I absolutely love this paddle. It is lightweight and efficient in the water making it a joy to paddle with.

5

Excellent greenland paddle.…

Submitted by: paddler484599 on 1/10/2019

Excellent greenland paddle. Durable and decent lightweight. Exchangeable tips are great when the paddle is used in rough conditions (ice and rocks).. Thin blades with excellent catch in the water.

5

非常棒的格陵兰桨,非常适合冲浪及长途旅行使用 (Great…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/10/2019

非常棒的格陵兰桨,非常适合冲浪及长途旅行使用 (Great Greenland paddle, perfect for surfing and long trips)

5

I've used a custom made…

Submitted by: willowleaf on 9/18/2018

I've used a custom made 5-lamination cedar GP for 10 years. Though I originally bought it just for "historical accuracy" to use with a native Greenland replica skin on frame kayak, I found I simply loved the GP and have hardly ever used a standard blade paddle ever since, (though I have several Werner and Aquabounds I carry as spares and loan to friends). I bought a Northern Lights 3 piece carbon GP a few years ago but never really liked it that much -- not the fault of the paddle itself but more the style, which was shouldered and blunt tipped, unlike my accustomed cedar (a Seal model from Friday Harbor Paddles.)

So I sold the Northern Lights and ordered the Akiak this year. I am delighted to report that it feels and paddles very much like the cedar -- in fact I may even slightly prefer it (much to my surprise). The sharper edges to the blade enter the water quietly and easily -- the paddle is very well balanced and feel light as a feather. I weighed it and it is actually the same as the cedar but feels lighter in use. The finish is gorgeous and the spring loaded button on the loom connection is remarkably flush and not in the least noticeable when sliding your grip over it. It's delightful to use -- paddling feels effortless and I detect no flutter. Really love this paddle!

5

First things first, if you…

Submitted by: North-Aus on 4/16/2018

First things first, if you are considering getting a Greenland paddle, ensure you do some research on the ‘canted stroke’ first.

I am a relatively new convert to Greenland paddles, having paddled with euro style blades for 10 years. I mostly paddle the ocean, including week long kayak/camping expeditions. Day trips are usually in the 20-30km (half day) to 40km-50km range (full day). My preference for euro style paddle is a small blade and relatively short length. Currently a Werner Cyprus (carbon) 210cm using a 45 degree feather. My boat is a 580cm (19 foot) 55cm wide touring sea kayak.

Other than some very short plays I have very little previous experience with Greenland paddles. I have long admired the concept – the symmetrical and elegantly simple design – to me these were the paddles you would want to have if the s*$# really hit the fan due to ease of bracing, rolling, less windage paddling in high winds and reputedly more efficient distance paddling. For last few years I toyed with the idea of purchasing a Greenland paddle as my spare paddle so I could mix it up with the euro depending on conditions – but somehow never quite got around to the purchase. My first experience of any serious duration was with a laminated wooden shoulderless design from a relatively well known builder. I knew the principles of using the Greenland paddle but my first few attempts the paddle felt awful. Towards the end of a short 16km trip I was starting to get a little more comfortable with the design, though still paddling poorly (especially retraining the brain to the lack of feather on the left hand stroke). Despite this, the second half of the trip was towards the higher end of my cruising speed with other paddles, which I did not expect. I had already determined that bracing and rolling with the Greenland paddle was as good or better than a euro so I finally committed to a purchase.

In my previous half-hearted investigations I had zeroed in on Gearlab Paddles as my likely supplier. I wanted two-piece (but without an outwardly bulky ferule or needing tools) and I wanted carbon (wood seemed like too much maintenance). The replaceable polyamide plastic tips on the Gearlab paddle were a big plus in resolving one of the weakness I would just have to live with on greenland paddle. Lots of checking around the web revealed consistently positive reviews - a serious company, genuinely interested in the uses of the gear they make and improving the designs over time. I continued to look at other options, but came back to Gearlab.

The paddle choice was relatively simple – I wanted a touring design for long distances and I wanted shoulderless for wandering hands during paddling, bracing and rolling. So the Akiak model it was. Not so easy was estimating the correct length. In my initial years sea kayaking I went from 230cm to 210cm and found this a vast improvement – so much so that I now find a 220cm euro paddle quite awkward to use. My Werner is 210cm and I often think it is still a touch too long and I would like to try a 205cm version of that paddle. So I read lots on Greenland paddle sizing (including the guide on Gearlab’s site) and everything pointed to a much longer paddle – 235cm to 250cm! I am 6’4” by the way. I was struggling with ordering such a long paddle but was close to settling at 220cm – just to add some length to my euro preferred length as all indications were to go longer. In the end I emailed Gearlab with a tediously long list of considerations to paddle sizing. They suggested I go with a 210cm Greenland paddle as that is the length I have become used to paddling. This sounded good to me, but did create a new niggling doubt – the paddle blade gets a little smaller as the paddle gets shorter so would this thing, already the smallest bladed paddle in their line-up – be under powered?

I ordered the paddle anyway. As mentioned in other reviews, Gearlab handled the order impeccably. They are clearly very well accustomed to fulfilling online orders. They sent an email to confirm all order details were correct before shipping, and then the paddle was delivered (in regional Australia) only 3 business days after it was shipped!

Paddle was durably packed and came with spare tips and screws, some wax (to put on the ferrule joint if it is a little loose), instructions for how to change all the parts if need be and some promotional stickers.

On examination the paddle is well built. The join at the ferrule is not quite as perfect as my Werner (possibly the best ferrules in the business) – they is a hairline space on the Gearlab paddle between the two halves when joined though this is not in any way a functional issue. Sometimes if I twist the paddle deliberately I think I can feel a fraction of radial play in the join – then I try again and I feel nothing. I may or may not be imagining it and there is certainly no other play in the join – it is very solid.

On the water after only about 50km and a few rolling sessions I am impressed enough to believe this will become my primary paddle and not my spare as originally intended. The kicker here is the paddle’s success with forward propulsion. I had always expected the Greenland paddle to be great for bracing, technical strokes and rolling – and it is. But I am probably also a bit faster with the Akiak than my Werner on the forward stroke. Maybe my euro technique is poor (if is far from perfect) but I doubt it is that bad – I have certainly had no problems with speed or efficiency against others to date. Early days with the Akiak technique wise but Coach Garmin says I am sustaining speeds of between 8km/hr and 9km/hr when conditions are reasonable over distances (7km and 10km) including on a no-current inland water.

I focussed from the very start on getting the canted stroke working and whilst that added to the initial awkwardness it is paying off. Still more work needs to be done. The canted stroke does feel like it has the Greenland paddle working like a wing paddle and the paddle absolutely feels like it is ‘planted in mud’ to use someone else’s phrase. Judging from the feel of the paddle and the speeds on my GPS I am confident in saying that this little paddle has more grip (power) than I can utilise in my kayak. The paddle, when used with the canted stroke at speed forces good body rotation as it is simply too much strain on the shoulders to continue arm paddling for long. I also find my paddling cadence no faster than the euro. I hold the Akiak with quite a wide grip. Compared to my Euro stroke my Greenland stroke starts slightly less forward (otherwise I find it hard to get the right canting angle) and finishes a fair bit further back (which does not result in loss of efficiency like the Euro). I paddle at a variety of angles through a day but often use a reasonably high angle, close in stroke. My Greenland style thus far is slightly lower angle generally (I wouldn’t call it low angle) and I can keep it close in or move out like a wing paddle. I am very slightly faster it appears with it close compared to the wing style stroke. The euro does not seem to like my wing style stroke at all. All up the paddling experience has been nothing like what I expected from my research expecting that Greenland paddles are high cadence, gentle on the body, long distance paddles. Compared to the wooden greenland paddle I tried earlier the Gearlab paddle is more comfortable in the hand and seems to be a little more forgiving of paddling strokes (not as prone to ventilating). I don’t find any problem with any lack of grip on the carbon and I like the smoother feel of the composite finish in the water.

In terms of wear on the body, I haven’t done any long enough trips to test but to date after a 30km paddle there was no soreness to report. That trip involved some heavy direct headwinds for a stretch – never fun or fast but the paddle is easier to control than a euro in those conditions. I haven’t had much issue with fatigue with my Werner either so can’t really compare. The Gearlab paddle is heavier than the Werner but I don’t notice any greater swing weight (and paddling into a good wind it is certainly less weight in the air).

I am also very happy with the 210cm length and can’t see a need (or desire) for longer. Holding the paddle normally for a roll there is less support than the Werner (due to the less width out the end) but extending the paddle about 20cm-30cm (not a Pawlata) seems to give about the same support as the Werner. This is easily done in a fraction of a second underwater. I can still roll without any extension almost every time. Typical of any Greenland paddle fully extending the paddle (Pawlata style) gives a slow roll with so much support you just about can’t fail to come up.

Where the Werner Cyprus paddle has been a standout for me (it is overall a very, very good paddle) is the instant, predictable and secure bite the blade has in any conditions – particularly great in surfing or in confused seas. Still to test the Greenland paddle for this. I note Gearlab has the wider bladed ‘surfing’ Greenland paddle models for this however the Akiak may yet be sufficient for me in ‘conditions’ on the ocean – I’ll need to test to see.

In all I can’t fault Gearlab’s paddle or their service and a full five stars from me. Price is competitive relative to the Greenland paddle completion (including wood) and other quality paddles.

I am also in a stage of being in slight shock as to the potential of Greenland paddles generally but my rating of Gearlab does not include this factor, just their paddle quality and service.

In summary: • Get the canted stroke concept into your head as early as possible and work on it. • Don’t be afraid of going to shorter paddles, in line with euro lengths. • Don’t be mistaken to thinking this style of paddle is about high cadence, gentle paddling. You can do this but get the canted stroke right and there is more power in these paddles than you can likely use.

5

Followup Review

Submitted by: MBO on 3/26/2017

I have now used my Akiak paddle in a number of pool rolling and play sessions. It is a favorite among the group and is in high demand for "test drives".

The satin finish on the loom provides excellent grip when underway and indexing blades angles on this shoulder-less paddle is a a breeze. Given the glossy finish on the blades of the paddle, I was pleasantly surprised by the solid and predictable slide and grip I had on the blades for extended paddle rolls and other maneuvers. The joint of the paddle remains very precise with no wiggle, I have not needed to add any of the wax provided with the paddle to help keep the joint smooth and tight.

The overall feel of the paddle on the water is great not too flexible or too stiff. Gearlab did a great job on the blade shape. Even after many rolls with wet, water wrinkled hands the blade edges do not dig in to my hand at all. Although not quite a buoyant as my cedar paddles, the Akiak moves very smoothly and predictably through the water and has great power when I dig in a bit. My favorite low brace turns are really fun with this paddle. It inspires great confidence even with half the cockpit coaming in the water. I am really looking forward to using the paddle where I don't have to turn around every 50 meters.

Thanks. MBO

5

New AKIAK - First Impression

Submitted by: MBO on 11/29/2016

I just received my AKIAK paddle and opened the package, these are my first impressions. The AKIAK is a two piece, carbon fiber, shoulder-less, greenland style paddle. GearLab's web site and customer support was excellent through the ordering process and kept me informed with shipment progress.

My paddle has gloss white blades (other colors are available), the loom is satin black and shows off the carbon fiber weave, the tips are replaceable black polyamide plastic (other tip colors are available as well). Very beautiful paddle to behold. The finish and quality is excellent, no visible blemishes or other quality control issues.

I was struck by how precise the connection is between the two pieces, absolutely no wiggle or play in the joint. It came with some wax to help keep the joint functioning smoothly. Much tighter and more precise fit than my Lendahl or Bending Branches paddles. The spring loaded carbon fiber lock button fits flush with the paddle so it won't catch my hand during a sliding stroke or extended paddle roll.

The length of the loom works very well for me and the oval cross section is a good fit for my hands. The fine edge of the blades looks great for rolling and sculling. The weight of the paddle fits right in with my cedar GPs and its just a touch heavier that my redwood GP. Stiffness seems just right for good transfer of power. The plastics tips look very tough and can be changed if they get worn from rocky beach landings or if you just want to change colors. This a genius addition, kudos to GearLab.

I am looking forward to getting the paddle out on Lake Michigan and some rolling sessions in the pool to see how it performs. I will provide a follow up once I have spent some time with the paddle in a variety of conditions.

Thanks. MBO

5

The Akiak is a two-piece,…

Submitted by: Wavespinner on 5/14/2015
The Akiak is a two-piece, shoulderless Greenland paddle constructed of a carbon/fiberglass blend. It integrates replaceable polyamide tips, eliminating gaps, turbulence, etc. The paddle and tips are available in a variety of color combinations.

The price is very reasonable, but the quality is excellent. Customer service is also quite good.

This paddle is heavier and more solid than other Gearlab models. However, the swing weight doesn’t seem to be much greater. The sharp edges slice into the water quite well. The loom is a bit on the long side, but I prefer it that way. The oval cross section is very comfortable. The fit of the two pieces is precise. The balance of rigidity and flexibility is good and provides power without strain.

This is a very durable, attractive and effective paddle. The price seals the deal.