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Is a Double Blade Paddle Good in a Canoe?

Is using a double blade paddle for your canoe considered blasphemy? Watch this first impression of canoe paddling a double blade to learn when to consider using one.

Why I'm Trying a Double Bladed Paddle

You may have noticed that I'm using a double bladed paddle on this trip. That is to save my wrists as the constant J-stroking and correction strokes are causing repetitive stress injuries on my wrist. My wrists are already in bad shape because of excessive computer use from working a desk job. So I find this helps a lot. This worked different muscles and yesterday those muscles got tired too but I could go back to a single blade at that point so being able to use both is quite nice. I'm really liking it so far. This is an Aqua-Bound Sting Ray paddle. It has a carbon blade so it's extremely lightweight. I'm still getting the hang of this double blade thing- i.e. I'm sure my stroke is terrible but it doesn't really matter right now I'm still moving really fast and saving my wrist. anyway, I'm very happy with it. This is the 250 centimeter paddle and was the longest one I could get within a reasonable time frame. I believe you can custom order longer ones. I wish I had a 260 centimeter, even 270 would be better for me. I know some people have very strong opinions about double blade paddle, saying they're blasphemy and I do understand it because the single blade is so iconic and it's part of the beauty of a canoe. For me, this is about function. This is for my wrist, it's a practical thing to do and there is no question about its efficiency. Again I'm not a good double blade paddler, I'm just a beginner and I'm already seeing the benefit. And that’s with an inappropriately sized paddle too. you can't argue with results!

Comparing Single Blade vs. Double Blade

For certain little spots I really prefer the single blade paddle for turning on a dime or any little intricate situation. I'd much rather have the single blade for control. But the double bladed paddle has this easy adjustable feathering system. I didn't think I would like feathering but I actually like it a lot. It really improves the ergonomics of a stroke. What feathering does if you're not familiar is it turns one blade out of the axis so that I’ll have to rotate my wrists less. It gives the feeling that one stroke flows into the next. I like it a lot. I'm feathering it like 30 or 45 degrees on this trip.

I would go back to the single blade paddle but now that I know how much faster I can go with the double bladed, I’m not so sure. I have not had wrist pain on this trip. I can't remember the last time I took a significant canoe trip without significant wrist pain so that's fantastic. I'm really overjoyed about that but now I can't give it up! So I guess I'm double bladed now! I’m certainly still learning the stroke though. I'm sure it's terrible. I also just wish this one was longer as I can't fully extend without bringing the blade over the boat and dripping a lot. so it's impacting my stroke but it's still very fast.

Final Thoughts After the 200km Trip

I'm at the end of my 200 kilometer trip, finishing it in eight days. I really believe it would have taken me nine days with a single blade and I think I would have experienced a lot more discomfort in my wrist. So my first impression has been fantastic. I love it. I will definitely be taking this out again for long solo trips and I'm also interested to try it with tandem paddling too.

Tips if Considering a Double Blade Canoe Paddle

  • Double blade (DB) is fantastic for solo long-distance touring
  • My cruising speed is higher with the double blade even as a beginner
  • Huge impact on wrist strain vs. single blade correction strokes
  • Prefer the single blade for tight maneuvers and moving water. However, this double blade paddle is meant for touring, so with more experience and a whitewater paddle, that opinion could change
  • Consult someone experienced on your blade length. 250cm is relatively long but was still on the short side for me
  • One drawback was paddle drip falling into the boat/onto me
  • In summary, ignore anyone who tells you double blades are no good

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