Read and submit reviews for the Oyashio Greenland Paddle.
With a review I think its important to start at the beginning. I started researching Greenland style paddles vs. euro paddles as I have always used a euro style and Greenland was a new concept for me. After spending weeks reading countless reviews and comparisons of one style vs. another I realized it was time to take a chance and put my trusty euro style paddle to the side and decide for my self.
Next I found my self researching what company to go with, as I didn't want to just pick any Greenland paddle to say yup I tried it. For me all roads pointed to Gearlab Paddles, and I'm happy they did.
I contacted Gearlab and requested their assistance in helping me decide what would be the best paddle for me. I'm sure I could assume but lets face it they're the experts, why not just ask.The customer support at Gearlab is fantastic, Gearlab recommended a 225cm Nukilik shouldered carbon fiber weave paddle. Now I'm not going to lie, a paddle made in and shipped from Taiwan I thought I would be waiting awhile for my new paddle to come, but it came pretty fast! When I opened the box and saw my carefully wrapped paddle I felt like a little boy on Christmas morning opening that one gift I had lost countless nights sleep obsessing over. The bubble wrap was carefully removed and in my hand I had a work of art. Flawless in every way, black carbon fiber with an orange tip guard the light danced across the blade. I carefully examined the shaft and quickly noticed the "D" joint I had read so much about, they had claimed this "D" will add extra rigidity to the paddle. I connected both sections and in my hands I held a perfectly balanced paddle measuring 225 cm in length and weighing in at just ounces. I couldn't believe how light this paddle was and how balanced it felt in my hands. I couldn't wait to try it out!
The next day I loaded my kayak and headed to the outlet of a nearby lake to put this paddle to the test. To be clear when I paddle I usually will do so in lakes, rivers and even creeks, depending on conditions. I quickly realized that my stroke needed to be slightly modified, which came about surprisingly naturally. After my stroke felt more natural and I could really get up to speed, I was shocked how this paddle just sliced through the water and got me to top speed in hardly no time. More importantly I was able to maintain that speed with less effort than I had ever experienced. In a way I had never felt before it was as if I was connected to the water. I could move in ways that I was never able to before. They weren't lying about the "D" joint either, this paddle is rigged and feels like a one piece paddle. Not to mention I was able to go further and last longer than I had using a traditional euro style paddle. The best part of all of this was when I was done I didn't experience the same strain and fatigue I use to feel after a long trip.
When I paddle I will usually cover between 5 to 20 miles on an average outing. This coming summer I am planning a 200 mile paddle and I wanted something that could make a difference in the trip. I'm happy to say, I found that something! 5 Stars!!!
The blades are somewhat flat towards the end and rounded towards the loom. Absent is the characteristic "diamond" cross section you will fond in traditional Greenland paddles. The paddle blades are not thick, but the edges are fairly wide and the blade quickly flattens from them inwards.
Like the other review says, I would agree the paddle is a bit stiffer than a lightweight wood paddle. Not terribly stiff though. And that stiffness is not because it is made of carbon - my own carbon paddles are more flexible than most wood paddles - it's a design choice. I suppose, the longer versions will feel less stiff than the shorter ones if they are made from the same stuff (I have the 225cm Oyashio).
What all these features translate to on the water is a paddle, which is very nice to use either to cruise gently or to dig a bit more aggressively. It is forgiving and works well with or without intentionally canting it, but also responds well to a canted stroke. It does not mind how you use it, it won't complain or force you to use it in any particular way like some other paddles would. Low angle and high angle styles work well, as expected with a Greenland paddle.
The blades are nicely buoyant to lift out of the water nicely, without added effort. They are fairly quiet too (not splashing much on entry or lifting much water on exit).
Slicing the water is not as smooth and quiet as I like - the paddle is not a perfect foil shape, so while it is not fat, it is not as slicey as I would like. It does not have as much lift as other some other Greenland paddles K've used. Not bad at all and probably many won't notice, unless they do a head to head comparison with a thin-edged foil-shaped paddle.
I also think that the paddle is gentle and does not have as much bite during the forward stroke as a more sharp-edged paddle would have. That is not to say it is not powerful - I could dig hard and it won't complain or flutter. The difference is like using a wing paddle vs. a regular paddle - both can be powerful, but the wing paddle has that immediate bite even if you don't pull hard, where even large non-wing paddles feel "soft" in comparison. Same with the Oyashio - it has power if you want it, just gives it to you gently and gradually, without the locked-in and edgy feel my own paddle has. And the Oyashio is not as lively in the water as that home-made carbon Greenland paddle of mine (which is more flexible, with thinner edges, and better foil shape than the Gearlabs paddle). This could be good or bad, depending on where you are coming from. My paddle is exceptionally lively, perhaps could be annoyingly so to someone who does not want to think about it at every stroke and just relax and paddle. With my paddle I can feel the lift of the foil-shaped blade at the beginning, middle, and end of the stroke (and I can change the lift's direction halfway through the stroke: for lift going down in the first half of the stroke, and then lift again while going up in the second half of the stroke). Or I can use it as a wing paddle with a vertical stroke, going away from the kayak. And it responds instantaneously and the bite is immediate, even though my blades are considerably more flexible than the Oyashio's. The Oyashio, in contrast, is much more settled: it won't lash out and try to pull out of your hand due to generating a big lift. It won't try to lead you away from the kayak in a wing-style or surprise you and pull you under with a deeply canted stroke either. It is calm and steady, but it almost feels dull due to this, though it could also be described as settled and predictable. So not bad, just different.
Being hollow, you will more clearly feel it ventilating (pulling air bubbles underwater and making "scratching" noises) if you pull too hard before submerging it well. Not that it pulls more air under, you just notice it more. That's good feedback.
It is not easy to overpower it - it won't flutter under hard pulling, such as when catching boat wakes to surf. It won't flutter in easy use either - basically, an easy to live with and pleasant to use paddle. Just, I don't find it as exciting to use as paddles with sharper and thinner edges and livelier personalities.
Fit and finish are good, not perfect, though nothing serious to complain about. I have the matte carbon black finish. It is not made of one continuous piece or sleeve of fabric - there are several places where you can see pieces overlap. That's cosmetic only, and does not stand out much - you have to look for it. If you buy the white one, the white finish hides that from you. The black "naked" finish shows it all. The two halves fit very snugly, yet easy to put together or separate. No play or wiggle when in use. Can twist rotationally a bit if you tried, but that does not happen on the water.
Overall, a nice paddle that I could be very happy with, had I not had the chance to paddle (and prefer) other designs that offer a livelier feel, more bite during the stroke, and smoother slicing action.
This paddle is stiff compared to any wood paddle. Very similar in feeling when paddling with it, compared to the Northern Light Paddle, since they are both carbon fibre. If you're used to wood paddles, you may find it "wiggles" in the water when you use a carbon fibre. That's because you've been "pulling" too hard on your paddle and if you ease up, you'll find the energy transfer is very efficient.
I thought the construction was a little weird, since the ends are completely hollow. I believe the Northern Light Paddle has newspaper or something else stuck in there to prevent it from sounding hollow when you hit it. Although I'm sure the paddle will hold together just fine, the added air inside the ends makes the paddle feel funny when doing certain rolls with it. For example, the butterfly / angel roll sometimes has the paddle tip floating vertical for some weird reason and requires correction by hand, something I had never had before. For all other rolls that have two hands on the paddle, it rolls like any other.
I've loaned this paddle to beginners to try. 90% of them like the look of it, but also fail to actually understand how to use it. This is the opposite of my Joe O Blenis, where 90% of the people know how to use it and 100% of the people like the look of it. The stiffness in the paddle is really hard for beginners to understand, when they paddle with their arms only, for the most part.
My last words of wisdom are to stick to the black paddle. I found that I have to wipe off this paddle to keep it white coloured, after every paddle. All of my other paddles are black stained / carbon, so I've never had this issue. Just something to keep in mind.