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210–240
Length (cm)
28
Weight (oz)
$299.95
MSRP

Navigator Description

The Bending Branches Navigator wood kayak paddle dares to combine high-tech materials with the natural beauty of red alder and roasted basswood. For added durability, the blades are wrapped in fiberglass and protected with a Rockgard edge around the blade. The Navigator comes with either a snug-fitting traditional 3 hole snap-button ferrule (adjustable for feathering angles 0° and 60°, L or R) or a more versatile telescoping ferrule with infinite feathering angles. The Navigator with a snap-button ferrule comes is lengths from 210cm to 240cm, in 10 cm increments. The Navigator Plus comes with a more versatile telescoping ferrule with infinite feathering angles.

Navigator Reviews

(9)

Read and submit reviews for the Navigator.

Navigator Specs and Features

  • Material Description: Blade: Red Alder and Roasted Basswood, Shaft: T-700 Carbon Shaft

Where to Buy the Navigator

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Bending Branches
Navigator Reviews

Read reviews for the Navigator by Bending Branches 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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3

Nice paddle, but with a…

Submitted by: Tsuga88 on 9/20/2020
Nice paddle, but with a design flaw...I got this paddle hoping it would satisfy a blend of paddling styles. I solo paddle a Wenonah Heron canoe quite a bit. It's a wide (36" at the widest), stable boat, and so I often paddle it standing up in flat water. I love having the ability to stand up, stretch, and scout ahead to spot obstacles or wildlife, etc. Of course, if the wind picks up or there are obstacles, I return to sitting, paddling it like a kayak with a double-bladed paddle. But when I'm on the water hours at a time, it's great to be able to switch between standing and sitting. I'd been using an Adventure Tech (AT) Search Angler paddle that telescopes from 240-250cm, which has been great, but I wanted something with more of a symmetrical blade, and one that would take to steering strokes a little more smoothly while I paddle standing up (I do this paddle-board style, using only one blade and alternating sides, or poling in shallow water). After careful consideration with my current paddle and reading reviews, I opted for the Navigator over the Navigator Angler, since both have more blade surface than the AT Search, and it seemed like 240cm was enough length in my canoe. I inaugurated my new Navigator on a 3-day trip on the Oswegatchie, a small river in the Adirondacks. I very quickly discovered two flaws with my new paddle/boat/style combination. The first issue is one I'd consider a design flaw. The river has a fair bit of rocks, but also sandy and muddy banks and bottom. Some of the Bending Branches promotional videos showed paddlers using the Navigator Angler to push off rocks, and described using it standing up in the shallows while angling, so I assumed this paddle would be up to poling up shallow sections of a river. I quickly discovered, however, that the ferrule very easily unlocks when pushing off a soft surface like sand or mud. Any slight torque of the wrist and the paddle, which I had fully extended, would slide back to it's shortest length. Moreover, once loose, of course it's very difficult to paddle with the feathering angle changing and shifting as you apply force. Going upstream and around sharp bends and obstacles, having a paddle suddenly come loose and spin while you're pushing off a bank is extremely frustrating. At one point I pushed off in the mud and found I'd left half the paddle stuck in the mud, and had to maneuver back with the half I had left to retrieve the other half. Even being cognizant of the issue and trying very hard to never apply torque while pushing off, the ferrule still comes loose at times - it doesn't seem to take much torque in the proper direction to loosen the ferrule. The second issue I have is certainly not a design flaw, but something to be aware of when buying this paddle without trying it. I had tested my AT paddle at 240cm and found it long enough to accommodate my wide boat when paddling sitting down, as you normally would a kayak. So, I assumed the Navigator, at 240cm fully extended, would be long enough. What I didn't account for is that my AT Search has much wider, shorted blades - the blades of the Navigator are longer and thinner, nice for a long day's paddling but resulting in a paddle shaft that's a bit shorter than a 240cm paddle with short, wide blades. In hindsight this should have been obvious, but it didn't occur to me at all. The result isn't a deal breaker, but the paddle's just a little bit shorter than I'd like it to be. You might not think 10cm (<4in) shaft length would matter, but it's definitely noticeable. I also used this paddle with my sea kayak (fully collapsed to it's 225cm length). In open water, it paddles very nicely and my positive experience matched those of other reviewers, despite my above complaints. The paddle is light, and the blade shape is good for smooth paddling over a long day. Given it's marketed as a kayak paddle, I have to give it props as a nice one. The rock guard seems to hold up well against rocks, though the paddle already looks pretty scuffed after my river trip (within reason - it was a rocky river). But the real reason for the 3-stars-only review is the ferrule. Whether in a kayak or canoe, I do lots of swamp and river paddling, and having a paddle that's unreliable when pushing off mud or sand due to the ferrule, especially when you're dealing with a current and strainers on a river, is a real issue in my opinion. This is especially disappointing since Bending Branches has promotional videos boasting about being able to push off with the Navigator Angler, which also features the same ferrule design. I have never had an issue with the ferrule on my AT Search coming loose no matter what I've pushed off (which is within reason - any paddle will break if you're being unreasonable). It's too bad, as otherwise this would probably be a 5-star paddle.
4

I initially bought this…

Submitted by: rlhollander on 6/1/2020
I initially bought this paddle for its great looks and light weight. Performance was only a secondary consideration since I had other paddles for that Since it ha proved to have that as well. I got the telescoping ferrel and have decided I really like it. Being able to find the most comfortable length and feather is a great option. While the smallish blade will not provide great power, it is perfect for most of the paddling I do these days. I was a little concerned how the ferrel would hold up, but I have had no trouble with it so far. If you want a good looking paddle for all day use, look at this one.
5

After three years of kayak…

Submitted by: jlsherwoodhighlands on 6/25/2018

After three years of kayak ownership, I'm not experienced enough to compare to every paddle available. All I know is, this is the finest paddle I could ever ask for. It is stiff, lightweight, high-tech and classic in design -- all in one. I already had a perfectly fine carbon paddle -- then I saw this one and had to have it. Period. I love the look -- wood blades on a carbon shaft. I love the ferrule -- which allows easy locking from 215 to 230 cm, and 60-degree left or right. I love the stiffness -- nothing like a carbon shaft. I love the wood blades -- beautifully crafted, yet strongly protected with rockguard and fiberglass. I love to use the paddle -- every time I see it go into and come out of the water, I'm just super-pleased to be out on the water with such a fine piece of equipment. I could not ask for a paddle, and would be surprised if one exists.

5

OMG heaven... my paddling…

Submitted by: Moongypsy on 1/8/2018

OMG heaven... my paddling improved monumentally. I borrowed my neighbors offset carbon fiber with smaller blades and worked my butt off trying to get my cheap boat not to dog walk across the water.

I’ve had much better control with the Navigator. Even though I’ve been kayaking flat water, sloughs have weird currents that are grabby. This light paddle flicks quickly to either side for more efficient corrections.

4

a good day-tripper

Submitted by: paddler236662 on 9/26/2017

I regularly use three paddles. I usually carry a Wind Swift as my wind/spare paddle. For expedition paddling, I prefer a Werner Athena, and for day trips I use the Bending Branches Navigator.

The reason I like the Navigator for day trips is that it is slightly heavier than the Athena and notably less forgiving. As such, it builds better paddling tone and requires more attention to form. It will flutter if my stroke gets lazy in situations where the Athena will not. When I switch to the Athena after working out with the Navigator, I feel like superman.

The navigator skulls well and is particularly well designed for a high brace. It's a good surf paddle, but I tend not to want to use it when rock gardening despite the rock guard. The positive flotation is appreciable. Adding to that, it's the coolest look of all my paddles, and I appreciated that it costs significantly less than the Athena.

5

Love my paddle!

Submitted by: paddler364324 on 5/26/2017

As a 69 year young novice female kayaker, I was looking for a lightweight recreational kayak & a compatible paddle. The fly shop has given me great advice and help with the kayak & recommended the Navigator paddle. When I learned the construction combined fiberglass & wood I was excited to give one a try, knowing the combination would give me a lightweight paddle resulting in little fatigue with use.

The Navigator has been delightfully easy to learn to use, I even feel smooth & efficient as I enjoy this new sport. I appreciate the quality construction, the beauty of the wood, and the protective surface on the outside edge of the wood. Very pleasing and comfortable grip surface.
Thank you, Bending Branches!

5

I have used the Navigator sea…

Submitted by: Paddler.Poet on 8/27/2015
I have used the Navigator sea kayak paddle for two seasons. I love this paddle, but my rating deserves some qualifications due to the learning curve.

First to describe the design: the Navigator's blades are laminated black willow wood with clear fiberglass and epoxy coating and "Rock Guard" along most of the edges. Rock Guard is a protective resin which covers the edges Bending Branches paddles and on this model, Rock Guard covers the tip and most of the bottom edge of the paddle. I rather wish it went further along the top edge, too, though the paddle has proven to be adequately durable--indeed, more durable than I first thought. I do not treat it much differently now than I did my resin and fiberglass one. The shaft is carbon fiber with very slight oval indexing. The ferrule is top-notch--I have the three-hole button type--so break down is easy. The drip rings are good and firm so they stay put. The paddler overall is very light and very stiff.

Performance: this paddle is rather unforgiving, but when used correctly it is a wonder. The paddle's stiffness puts all of the paddle motion directly into the water. The forward stroke is probably its optimum stroke due to the blades' shape, and the paddle makes it easy to maintain good speed for long distances without fatigue. The blades are flat-faced rather than dihedral. Because there is no spine on the power face, there is no cavity on the back side of the blade, which means that there's few or none of those power-robbing vortices which can form at the ends of the blade--if you have a proper paddle stroke. The blade is also significantly curved, so it catches quickly. This allows for very efficient propulsion--with a proper stroke. A poor or careless stroke causes a lot of flutter and the paddle may feel like it will be snatched from your hands. Also because of the curve, I find it harder to find the best angle for a stationary sculling brace. With this paddle, there is little between a buttery smooth and powerful stroke and one that feels wounded and tottering. The feedback is instructive. With practice, a good stroke will become automatic even in wind and waves. Being wood, the blades are very buoyant compared to plastic ones, and so the paddle is very lively in the water and easy to retrieve at the end of the stroke, which also really cuts down on fatigue.

Bottom line: This is a paddle that amply rewards practice and good form. It allows a paddler to cover a lot of distance quickly without fatigue. Like wooden paddles in general and Bending Branches paddles in particular, the Navigator feels alive in the water. It is solidly built and tough enough within its environment. Above all, this is a truly beautiful paddle, a piece of art which gets noticed and will take you about anywhere you can paddle a sea kayak.

5

I recently lost my carbon…

Submitted by: jet1 on 7/8/2015
I recently lost my carbon fiber Manta Ray paddle when traveling (TIE your gear down!) and had to use an older wood back-up paddle. I waxed nostalgic for the look of the wood paddle but it needed some work so I decided to look for options, After much research and considering my kayaking ability and general usage I came across the Bending Branches Navigator, a blend of new and old technology. The carbon fiber shaft is bonded to a beautifully designed touring blade and the fit and finish looked very good.

I decided to purchase one and it arrived just in time for my next outing to the lake. I was immediately impressed with the overall quality of construction and the carbon fiber shaft was finished very smoothy, my older paddle was “rough” to the touch which was not a problem as I usually wear gloves, but the Bending Branches was very comfortable to the bare hand. The shaft has the typical 3 position button which was fine, but the Manta Ray had an infinite adjustment coupling which I really liked. The paddle fit together very well and had no "wobble" feel at all when assembled.

The blade section is really a masterpiece of form and function. They use a blend of red alder and roasted basswood in construction and it has a beautiful old school look to it. In addition to that they have a rock guard protective strip on the blade and we all know what that means! The overall weight is 27-28 oz. And the weight is carried to the blades rather than the shaft so it works very well.

The first thing I appreciated was the effortless paddling. It wasn't a "speed" paddle like the Manta Ray but it was much more efficient in transitioning energy to the water. Touring to me means just that, easy efficient paddling for long cursing trips with the ability to cover lots of water effortlessly. That is what the BB Navigator does, and does very well. After a day tour working as a volunteer sweeper for an amateur tour group I was not at all tired out even though as a "sweeper" you are constantly moving and keeping an eye on the crowd and helping people learn kayaking (42 newbies!).

The other thing I noticed was that it, to me, seemed like it was a lot "quieter" in the water than my old paddle. Technique is everything and I immediately developed a bond with this paddle and its effortless design made it a real pleasure right from the get go. I have several paddles and find that switching between them requires a "rethink" of your technique but the Bending Branches Navigator felt like I had been using it for years after about 1 hour of paddling.

If you are looking for a touring style paddle I don't think you can go wrong with this one, it's a real winner!

4

This paddle is light,…

Submitted by: sbyers on 7/3/2015
This paddle is light, functional and beautiful, capable of touring all day efficiently. Also works well for solo canoe paddling. Main complaint is that the carbon on the shaft has chipped on one edge at the ferrule joint, and compared to some other similar ferrules the joint is a little stickier.