Kayak Paddles In Depth
Now let's look at the paddle shafts.
Wood: Wood has exceptional qualities. It has a certain amount of spring. And if a paddle shaft is too stiff, you're going to get a jarring effect on your hands when you're really working hard. A little bit of spring in the paddle shaft is kinder on your hands.
Wood is great for insulation because if you're paddling in cold waters, it's probably the most comfortable material for any paddle that I've ever used, is wood in cold water. It takes a little bit of care. You do need to replace the seal on the outside and varnish them seasonally if you're using them a lot. And dry them out, otherwise you'll get the outside varnish chipped off, water will get inside, and they will rot from inside, so wood.
Carbon fiber: Carbon fiber comes in a variety of different weaves. Some are very stiff and some have a little bit of spring. A little bit of spring is kinder on your hands. The advantage of carbon fiber is that it's extremely light.
Glass fiber is not as stiff, generally, as carbon. Carbon has good stiffness properties. Stiffness is good in the blade but not in the shaft. You want a little bit of flex in the shaft, but a flexible blade will give a lot of blade flutter. So carbon fiber in the blade, for maximum stiffness, is great combined with a little bit of flexibility in the shaft.