I have now used my Akiak paddle in a number of pool rolling and play sessions. It is a favorite among the group and is in high demand for "test drives".
The satin finish on the loom provides excellent grip when underway and indexing blades angles on this shoulder-less paddle is a a breeze. Given the glossy finish on the blades of the paddle, I was pleasantly surprised by the solid and predictable slide and grip I had on the blades for extended paddle rolls and other maneuvers. The joint of the paddle remains very precise with no wiggle, I have not needed to add any of the wax provided with the paddle to help keep the joint smooth and tight.
The overall feel of the paddle on the water is great not too flexible or too stiff. Gearlab did a great job on the blade shape. Even after many rolls with wet, water wrinkled hands the blade edges do not dig in to my hand at all. Although not quite a buoyant as my cedar paddles, the Akiak moves very smoothly and predictably through the water and has great power when I dig in a bit. My favorite low brace turns are really fun with this paddle. It inspires great confidence even with half the cockpit coaming in the water. I am really looking forward to using the paddle where I don't have to turn around every 50 meters.
I just received my AKIAK paddle and opened the package, these are my first impressions. The AKIAK is a two piece, carbon fiber, shoulder-less, greenland style paddle. GearLab's web site and customer support was excellent through the ordering process and kept me informed with shipment progress.
My paddle has gloss white blades (other colors are available), the loom is satin black and shows off the carbon fiber weave, the tips are replaceable black polyamide plastic (other tip colors are available as well). Very beautiful paddle to behold. The finish and quality is excellent, no visible blemishes or other quality control issues.
I was struck by how precise the connection is between the two pieces, absolutely no wiggle or play in the joint. It came with some wax to help keep the joint functioning smoothly. Much tighter and more precise fit than my Lendahl or Bending Branches paddles. The spring loaded carbon fiber lock button fits flush with the paddle so it won't catch my hand during a sliding stroke or extended paddle roll.
The length of the loom works very well for me and the oval cross section is a good fit for my hands. The fine edge of the blades looks great for rolling and sculling. The weight of the paddle fits right in with my cedar GPs and its just a touch heavier that my redwood GP. Stiffness seems just right for good transfer of power. The plastics tips look very tough and can be changed if they get worn from rocky beach landings or if you just want to change colors. This a genius addition, kudos to GearLab.
I am looking forward to getting the paddle out on Lake Michigan and some rolling sessions in the pool to see how it performs. I will provide a follow up once I have spent some time with the paddle in a variety of conditions.