Announcing Gearlab’s first flagship paddle - Kalleq, Inuit name for Lightning. It is the lightest and strongest paddle in their line thanks to its seamless carbon fiber construction. Kalleq incorporates the best-available technology and latest design, offering the ultimate paddling experience.
Read and submit reviews for the Kalleq Greenland Paddle.
First things, let me make the disclosure. Gearlab supplied me with a Kalleq paddle prototype and revised version at no cost to me. Gearlab sort comments from some testers around the world and made some slight improvements to the original prototype based on feedback received. However I believe that I am able to judge this paddle independent of this but the facts are there.
As to a paddling background, my primary interest is in longer distance kayak trips on the ocean, including unsupported expeditions of up to a week. For nearly 10 years I paddled a number of euro blades, and my last euro blade prior to pursuing the greenland paddles was a 630 gram top of the line full carbon Werner. I am not a ‘greenland style’ paddler (though I fully appreciate, and am slowly leaning some, greenland style skills).
Firstly what to expect to view one of these paddles: • Full carbon, light weight. The construction is different to other Gearlab paddles in that with the Kalleq each half is made in one continuous piece of carbon. This improves strength and reduces weight. My Kalleq is slightly heavier than my previous full carbon Werner, however I feel the swing weight is less than the Werner. It is lighter than my other Gearlab paddle. Note I paddle both my euro and greenland paddles with a high angle stroke – more on this later. • Sharp edges. Gearlab have pushed up to the limits of how narrow the edges of a Greenland paddle can be without making them too sharp to hold the blade for extended paddle strokes. The sharper edges are to improve the bite and power of the paddle in use. • Wider blade. The Kalleq is slightly (about 4mm) wider than Gearlab’s current touring paddles – the Akiak and Nukilik. This seemingly small width increase is very significant in the look of the paddle and translates into more power potential on the water. • Improved plastic tip. Still replaceable, but shorter and only held with one screw. The plastic tip also butts up to a thin plastic bush on the paddle itself, which improves the fit. • Same proven ferrule. The paddle is a two piece with the same proven ferrule design as found on their other models. I haven’t heard anyone complain yet about these ferrules – they work well.
On the water I do find this paddle slightly more technical to use than the other greenland paddles. By that, I mean it took me slightly longer to get efficient with it and it required a little more attention to paddle placement on the catch. Having said that, the rewards are oodles of power – in fact more than I can utilise. This is a paddle for fast cruising on textured blue water all day long. It would be very well suited to the newer generation of fast touring sea kayaks - Epic 18X, Tiderace Pace, Rockpool Taran and their kin. If anyone was to try racing with Greenland paddles the Kalleq should be on their shortlist.
If you are paddling with the Kalleq (or many other Greenland paddles) and feel that you are lacking speed or power, be assured that the reason is the wrong technique. Study the canted stroke – if the paddle feels like the paddle has low resistance in the water you are not using it right. The standout feature of greenland paddles generally is their versatility. You can use them with different forward stroke techniques – high angle, ‘wing stroke’ style, low angle – but with all techniques if you don’t consciously utilise the canting you won’t get enough grip on the water. The technique does become subconscious soon enough.
I personally gravitate to a high-angle (very close to the gunnel and almost parallel to the centre line of the kayak other than a little ‘kick out’ at the end) stroke which may not be textbook but has proven to be solid enough. Indeed I have paddled a number of trips now with groups of other kayakers who are using everything from heavy plastic euros, premium Werner and Adventure Technology euros and various wing paddles. With the Kalleq there is no issue keeping (or exceeding) pace with any of them. I also have studied my cadence against these other paddlers and with the Kalleq my cadence is no faster than even a Werner Ikelos for the same speed. This includes times with strong paddlers in identical kayaks to myself.
In rougher water the Kalleq’s lightness translates to a buoyant feel on the water that is very reassuring. Greenland paddles generally speaking excel in rough blue water as they are so predictable at any angle. Unexpectedly I find the Kalleq easier to skull with than other greenland paddles and as is typical of a greenland paddle, rolling is very simple.
The reaction from others that have tried this paddle has been immediately positive. The quality of the paddle is apparent on a look-over, the composite manufacturing appears as good as the best alternatives, the sharpness of the edges is striking and it immediately feels secure in the water.
The Kalleq is going to be an interesting design to watch in the market. I believe that the forward efficiency of this style of paddle when used correctly is better than a euro even if perhaps not quite as good as a wing. However the greenland paddle is superior to all others in versatility for technical strokes, bracing and rolling. It will appeal to traditional greenland paddlers looking to move up to something with a bit more performance potential. But it may also attract a newer type of paddler to greenland paddling – that being strong paddlers looking to churn out long distances at high speeds with high efficiency.
Hi there, I used it for rolling and surfing last weekend. It was so nice gear, cuts water sharply and moves quickly. In other words, it would be convenient for rolling and surfing that requires such movement. I will need to try this on touring. This lightness may not cause fatigue easily. However, I found only one drawback of this nice gear. The sharpness is that it hurts the hand holding the blade. Anyway, I think all Greenland Paddle users should try this. And this is my very personal request, I would like this paddle to have some variation in "width" and "length". Traditional Greenland tools are sized according to the size of the user's body. I want to emphasize this way of thinking. Thanks.