Hey Guy's , so after paddling…
Hey Guy's , so after paddling on and off for the last six to eight months in different environments and conditions with the Malik greenland paddle, I can reassure you that it is a great paddle for beginners and intermediate paddlers. This paddle is not a performance paddle, like for instance the new full carbon Kalleq paddle, it is more of a all around general use paddle that performs just like a wooden greenland paddle would and even better. The Malik is a excellent shouldered Inuit style recreational touring paddle to use on day trip and even for longer adventures. The advantages of this greenland style paddle with it's narrow blade design, is that it puts less strain on our body, like the shoulders, wrists and elbows, and feels more like an extension of our arms witch allows us to travel longer distances by saving energy while enjoying the nature that surrounds us. This new plastic stick is the first on the market and so much fun to paddle with. It is very smooth and quiet and does everything well, like rolls, braces and different paddling strokes and maneuvers. The paddle is fairly light and buoyant, made out of tough, durable polypropylene material with replaceable tips that will last for many years. It's an awesome two pcs paddle that is easily stored on the front deck and witch makes it easier to travel with. I recommend this product for anyone interested in recreational kayaking that wants to progress with their paddling stokes and enjoy the sport . Cheers and stay safe!
At a lower price than other…
At a lower price than other Gearlab Greenland paddles, the Malik is a good solution for two piece Greenland paddles for kayaking schools/camps; however, it should be noted to your students that the hydrodynamics of the paddle is noticeably different than other Greenland paddles. The paddle is durable and can take a solid day of paddling. Most notably, I tested this paddle in Pacific City, Oregon in 22 foot break. It stood up to a gnarly pounding over the lip. That said, if price is the factor steering you towards this paddle, I would recommend a wooden paddle with Gearlab's new two piece ferrule adaptation. If price isnt as big of a concern, turn to the KQ paddle from Gearlab, an outstanding paddle which is far and above. For durability and price, I applaud this paddle. For paddle-ability, I would suggest the KQ over the Malik.
I like the two-piece design…
I like the two-piece design and it's convenience for me to carry
Gearlab have taken a new…
Gearlab have taken a new direction to their previous paddles with the Malik. Made out of plastic, this is a cheaper, lower performance option.
Gearlab sent me the Paddle at no charge which I have agreed to on the proviso that any opinions (positive or negative) are mine to express. I’ve had some limited time on the water with this paddle, comparing it directly to an Akiak. I’ve also shared it amongst a number of other paddlers, both familiar with Greenland paddles and unfamiliar, in order to get their views.
The Malik is not simply a polypropylene copy of another Gearlab paddle. The most notable design difference is the tapered, cylindrical spine that runs down the paddle almost to the tip. I assume Gearlab added this to stiffen the blade with it being constructed from more flexible plastic. This spine changes the dynamics of the blade in the water. The spine acts mildly like the dihedral that you find on many euro style paddles. The dihedral helps water to spill more evenly across the two edges of the blade. This means that the blade experiences less flutter or cavitation in use if you don’t have good technique. Unusually for first time users of Greenland paddles, none that used the Malik reported fluttering or cavitation. And pushing the blade straight down into the water hard it is possible to generate some flutter, but noticeably less than with the Akiak.
Aleut paddles (another style of Inuit paddle from the Aleutian Islands) had a ridge on one side of the blades and many users of them today enjoy the lack of flutter with this paddles when the ridge side is used as the power face.
However the Aleutians did not use the ridged face as the power face. It seems the ridge was incorporated on the non-power face to strengthen and stiffen the paddle whilst allowing it to be made thinner and lighter than an equivalent Greenland paddle. They used the flat face of the paddle as the power face, it seems (records are very scant) with a canted stroke. Much like the way Greenland paddles need to be paddled to generate maximum grip with the somewhat wing paddle effect (I am not great with the how the physics work - but in practice the canted stroke dramatically increases the grip on the water and power from the paddle).
I was concerned that the Malik would not allow the use of a canted stroke due the slight dihedral shade. In practice, I am glad to have found the ridge is ‘soft’ enough to allow some cant of the stroke. However the Malik is unable to generate quite the same power that Gearlab’s other paddles can. I am able to generate slightly faster cruising speeds with a shorter, and noticeably smaller bladed Akiak.
This is the trade-off for reducing the flutter and cavitation that beginners often experience. Gearlab have made the Malik quite wide (as wide as their Kalleq paddle) to maximise drag in the water and this somewhat makes up for the lower efficiency of the blade in generating lift. Which beginners are again going to like and without good technique, many people will find the Malik more powerful a paddle than some other Greenland paddles.
It is possible to skull quite effectively with the Malik, but again the technique is not as smooth as with some other Greenland paddles. The Malik is also a dream to roll with – being big and buoyant, and few are likely to notice much difference even though it is not quite as efficient and precise for generating sweeping lift from the water. Other users have noted that it is dry and quiet to paddle with.
The paddle shares a couple of features with Gearlab’s higher end designs – that being the carbon fibre loom and ferule and the ‘signature’ replaceable tips. I see that Gearlab now offer a cheaper fibreglass loom version which I think is a step in the right direction. A bit of extra weight at the loom would do very little to change the swing weight – the figure that matters most on the water. If I were to buy I would get the fibreglass loom version.
But I am glad that they retained the replaceable tips. Polypropylene does scuff and ‘fur’ up pretty easily with scrapes and dings, and for a paddle like this that is designed to be a bit of a ‘beater upper’ I could imagine the tips getting rough pretty quickly. This would reduce the performance of the paddle. However one of the tips ‘fell out’ of the paddle when it was knocked over onto a hard floor by a dog at a club training day. Yes, the treatment was rough and no one would expect something like a carbon paddle to survive such a fall. But this is a club level plastic paddle and should be able to take this. The tip was easily glued back into place however Gearlab should look to ensure that the design is as tough as can be.
I am not personally a fan of shouldered paddles but Gearlab made the correct choice in having shoulders on this paddle. Beginners find it much easier to locate their hands and paddle symmetrically with the shoulders. I hold my paddle fairly wide (almost a third of the length apart – with the Malik just outside the shoulders or with just my index and thumb inside the shoulder) and with the Malik the little ridges on the blade do dig into my hands a bit. This is not that uncomfortable but for a long day, I can imagine some rub points developing on my hands. Having said that, I don’t see this being a paddle that gets used for 40km-60km days on the water. Those from colder climates that wear thick gloves maybe won’t notice. If I were to use this paddle for extended trips I would consider wrapping some duct tape around the base of the blades.
Those new to Greenland paddle will mostly love this design, and so on that aspect Gearlab have nailed the brief. The paddle is tough, well made and easy to use. The paddle has some limitations, and can’t be made to perform the same as a more refined model when used with good technique. But beginners will get more out of this paddle than more refined models with its limited flutter and more easily accessed power.
The Malik has achieved its brief in being a beginner friendly Greenland paddle. However that same beginner friendliness translates into a paddle that that is a bit more limited in how far you can grow your technique with it. Paddle style is really a personal choice and whatever style you prefer (Greenland, euro or wing) I can name world leading sea kayakers that favour them. However too many kayakers don’t try Greenland paddles because of the impression that they lack power. And this is true if you don’t use good technique (especially the canting of the blade). With the Malik, the dihedral somewhat impedes a canted stroke and so some kayakers who try it may reinforce preconceptions of the low power Greenland paddle. Though it is also true that plenty more who would have tried another Greenland paddle and given up due to the initial feelings of flutter and cavitation will continue on with the Malik. So long as they realise that the paddle has some limitations, and can’t be made to perform the same as a more refined model.