After breaking a few lesser paddles while paddling upstream on various stretches of the Missouri River, including tributaries and rock-strewn chutes, along with moderate whitewater on various smaller streams, I took Bending Branches’ advice and ordered a new Expedition Plus to use as my go-to paddle under conditions that would tax the carbon shaft bent paddles that I had been using 90% of the time. I have not been disappointed. This paddle is indeed a workhorse, with features like the power T-grip and the Rockgard® protection all the way from the blade tip to 6 inches up the shaft. Additional protection includes 4 oz. fiberglass wrap on the blade (most paddles have only 2 oz). Bottom line, this paddle will not only take all of the hard use that I can give it, but excels in efficiency for a straight shaft paddle. I have used it in up to Class II+ whitewater and it performed more than adequately. I believe that every serious canoeist, especially ones that paddle in a wide variety of conditions, should have an Expedition Plus in their boat.
After testing and reviewing the Bending Branches A Series Limited Edition and the Sunburst 14, I was excited to find my new BB Sunburst 11 on my front porch. It arrived in the usual 2 day window, in perfect condition, as always. After admiring the impeccable hand-crafted beauty of this one, I loaded my Wenonah Prism and headed to a nearby lake for a test run.
As in the Sunburst 14, this paddle blends a T-700 carbon fiber shaft with a nicely handcrafted blade and grip. This makes for a lightweight, ergonomic paddle, although not as light as the 14. I must admit that the efficiency of the paddle had me a little skeptical at first, given that it is a bit heavier than the 14. The balance seemed different as well, perhaps due to the use of some different woods (my BB rep had explained to me that they had to make a few changes due to the decreasing availability of some of the woods used in earlier models). I later learned that my original Sunburst 14 has a slightly smaller blade, measuring 7.9” x 17,” while the new Sunburst 11 blade is a bit larger, measuring 8.2” x 17,” with a little more thickness and more Rockgard protection,which accounts for a very slight increase in overall weight. After several different trips on the water, in which I paddled flatwater lakes and the Missouri River both upstream and down, I grew to appreciate this little beauty. It does have a slightly different feel than the Sunburst 14, with a little less flex in the shaft, but actually seems to provide more “push” than the 14, due to the larger blade and the slightly stiffer shaft.
All in all, the more I paddle with the Sunburst 11, the more I appreciate its differences. It is a light, efficient paddle that makes a great companion to my Sunburst 14 and Expedition Plus. It provides plenty of power, is light enough to help fight fatigue on long trips, and the 11 degree bend makes for an efficient paddle. I can’t wait to try the brand new all-carbon Black Pearl 2!
This paddle provides enough power to paddle upstream on my home river, the lower MO River and offers plenty of control. Although not as light as some ZRE paddles, the Sunburst 14 is the lightest, most efficient paddle that I have ever used, highly recommended if you are in the market for a premium bent shaft.
In short, I believe that BB has hit another home run with this particular paddle. I can't wait to try the Sunburst 14 XL, which will provide even more power on those upriver jaunts that I have become fond of. In addition, BB customer service is outstanding, always willing to answer questions and offer help. 10 out of 10!
Took it out in my solo boat, along with my Sugar Island-style paddle. Long story short, the ergonomic double bent shaft and grip, along with the incredibly light weight made this paddle a joy to use, especially with the hit-and-switch technique. I will always carry my wood straight-shaft to use for more specialized conditions such as whitewater, but this new BB is definitely my favorite.