For expedition paddling, there are three characteristics canoe paddles must meet. Durability is paramount, successful completion of an expedition requires rugged gear. Additionally, the paddle must be light without sacrificing strength. The average paddler takes about 30 strokes per minute, which works out to over 12,000 strokes per day. A few ounces can make a huge difference at the end of the day. Finally, the paddle must feel comfortable because blisters are no fun.
This lonely stretch of river put two models of Zap Paddles to the test. Each paddle provides a different amount of flex depending on conditions. The flatwater version has a slimmer profile. It produced a mile per hour gain over the whitewater version. However, this paddle flexed too much with a powerful whitewater style stroke. The whitewater paddle is like a sledgehammer; when power was applied it produced results. Flex in a paddle is key to reduce the risk of tendon stress injuries.
As for durability and strength, these paddles are without equal. These paddles were used for paddling, digging holes, walking sticks, and for suspending the tarp during a storm. In the past, I’ve worn out mass produced paddles just by using them for their intended purpose. It is remarkable that Zap Paddles are lightweight, but can be used and abused.
The price is the only detracting factor of these paddles. For a custom paddle, the price range is from $425 to $475. However, paddlers that require this type of paddle place a premium on durability and comfort.
Zap Paddles are handcrafted in Georgia and each paddle is made per the owner’s specifications. Unlike mass produced paddles, Zap Paddles attract attention due to their beauty, light weight, and durability. They are the epitome of functional art. Up the creek without a paddle is just as bad as paddling with a crappy paddle.