I have a shouldered Akiak in Chili Red at 230 cm.
Quality of the finish: I would place this paddle in the “handmade quality” category. Overall it is beautiful, but there are some imperfections and nicks on the loom, the joint has a small gap and a tiny bit of play (whereas my Werner paddles are utterly gapless and tight), and the red enamel is dulled (as in: rubbed and not shiny) near the loom joint. Cosmetic imperfections are not a really big deal, but I would have certainly preferred a gapless tight joint on a paddle of this grade and price. Still, overall, this is a gorgeous paddle, and it is well-made. No doubt about that.
Shipping & Service: Outstanding. After my initial order, Gearlab responded quickly with an invoice for me to inspect. I wanted to make a change with my original order, and this proved to be very easy and efficient. No problems at all. The paddle arrived at my doorstep in Maine (with DHL) in less than a week, and communication from Gearlab was excellent throughout the process.
Paddling impressions: I am not yet ready to report on this, but I will post my impressions as a follow-up posting after I have had enough time to evaluate.
Slight qualms: The extra set of tips included with the paddle came with only one screw. I would have expected at least two (if not four), as that is what it takes to mount a tip. These screws are tiny, special (made of titanium ?) and seem very easy to loose. Also, I had ordered an additional set of round tips, but instead received a set of flat ones. I have reached out to Gearlab and I hope that they will send me a correct set of tips. I will report on how that goes.