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Name: jet1

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I recently lost my carbon fiber Manta Ray paddle when traveling (TIE your gear down!) and had to use an older wood back-up paddle. I waxed nostalgic for the look of the wood paddle but it needed some work so I decided to look for options, After much research and considering my kayaking ability and general usage I came across the Bending Branches Navigator, a blend of new and old technology. The carbon fiber shaft is bonded to a beautifully designed touring blade and the fit and finish looked very good.

I decided to purchase one and it arrived just in time for my next outing to the lake. I was immediately impressed with the overall quality of construction and the carbon fiber shaft was finished very smoothy, my older paddle was “rough” to the touch which was not a problem as I usually wear gloves, but the Bending Branches was very comfortable to the bare hand. The shaft has the typical 3 position button which was fine, but the Manta Ray had an infinite adjustment coupling which I really liked. The paddle fit together very well and had no "wobble" feel at all when assembled.

The blade section is really a masterpiece of form and function. They use a blend of red alder and roasted basswood in construction and it has a beautiful old school look to it. In addition to that they have a rock guard protective strip on the blade and we all know what that means! The overall weight is 27-28 oz. And the weight is carried to the blades rather than the shaft so it works very well.

The first thing I appreciated was the effortless paddling. It wasn't a "speed" paddle like the Manta Ray but it was much more efficient in transitioning energy to the water. Touring to me means just that, easy efficient paddling for long cursing trips with the ability to cover lots of water effortlessly. That is what the BB Navigator does, and does very well. After a day tour working as a volunteer sweeper for an amateur tour group I was not at all tired out even though as a "sweeper" you are constantly moving and keeping an eye on the crowd and helping people learn kayaking (42 newbies!).

The other thing I noticed was that it, to me, seemed like it was a lot "quieter" in the water than my old paddle. Technique is everything and I immediately developed a bond with this paddle and its effortless design made it a real pleasure right from the get go. I have several paddles and find that switching between them requires a "rethink" of your technique but the Bending Branches Navigator felt like I had been using it for years after about 1 hour of paddling.

If you are looking for a touring style paddle I don't think you can go wrong with this one, it's a real winner!