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Monday, August 29, 2011

5 Reasons To Get Your Own Paddle According to A Passionate Portageur and Paddling Pooch

The following article was written by paddler, "portageur", best friend to Nancy, and blogger; Preston Ciere of the informative website, It is entitled: Get Your Own Paddle... where Preston - and Nancy - walk us thru 5 great reasons to possess and use your own canoe or kayak paddle(s). Thanks to Preston for allowing us to publish the following post, but an especially big thanks to Nancy, the loveable and loyal paddling pooch - who looks as comfortable paddling in her PFD as she does running the portages with Preston. We know this great article was all her idea!

Preston Ciere with his loveable
 and loyal paddling partner, Nancy.
Preston was born in Hamilton, Ontario. As a young child, he would wander off into the woods looking for what was out there, and has never really grown out of that. He spends every chance he can get wandering around the Ontario wilderness. When back in the city, he spends half his time entertaining other. He started his website as an outlet to tell his tales to the right audience. He’s also particularly funny and when not portaging enjoys writing in the third person.

Nancy was born somewhere in Louisiana (probably), and after migrating north into Canada, bulked up to become the ideal portageur. Her job is threefold: reconnaissance, security and ambassadorship. She stays alert to keep her group aware of any present dangers, especially small critters that would otherwise surely steal supplies. She’s always paving the way along and around the perimeter of portages, scouting the route for any dangers and showing the group how to get past obstacles – though she often forgets the lesser skills of her comrades. Of course the greatest asset she brings is her natural ability to greet new friends along the trails and rivers.  As a trade off to these skills, she rarely carries anything, and paddles even less, but all things considered, no one ever minds.

Guest Badger Blogger, Preston (and Nancy) Ciere, (Ontario, Canada)
Preston and Nancy lookin' cool in a canoe that has seen many miles.
Get your own paddle!

5 reasons why having your own
makes for a better paddling experience
After the movie “The Color of Money” came out, thousands of pool halls were filled with people walking in carrying a little case under their arms. They’d look down their mirrored sunglasses, pop it open and screw together their custom cue, peering around at who was watching them - no doubt, with “Werewolves of London” playing in their head. This was an annoying new trend to say the least - especially when once they started to play it became obvious that a custom cue didn’t make them any good. 

Paddling is nothing like pool (for one thing, you don’t want anything to sink). Having your own paddle has nothing to do with showing off, and isn’t just a luxury for professionals. It’s more about comfort and preference - making your paddling trips as enjoyable as possible. Admittedly, like a custom cue, it will make also you feel pretty cool. 

1 - Better than the rentals
Generally, when you rent a canoe it comes with paddles. So why would you want your own? Well, the paddles you get when renting a canoe are not the greatest. More often than not they’re those small bladed plastic and aluminum ones that dig little water, so they’re slow and offer little control. They’re also terribly uncomfortable, without the give of wood, or shaped to fit your hand properly. The odd time you’ll get yourself a nice wooden paddle - or one that may have been nice a few years ago. If you’re lucky it may be in a size and style that suits your needs, but usually rental paddles are pretty generic, not to mention scratched and worn from years of use.

2 - There’s a paddle for that
How do you paddle, and why? Getting yourself the right paddle for your style of paddling makes for a great experience. For example, ask yourself whether you are more of a “Destination” or “Journey” kind of person. If it’s all about just getting somewhere as quickly as possible, you may want a wider bladed paddle. On the other hand, if you plan on spending more time floating around exploring than where you’ll eventually end up, you may want a longer but thinner blade for control. Run a lot of rapids? Travel long distances? Prefer to be in the stern or the bow? There are paddle styles to suit all those needs. Talk to a good paddle maker and they’ll recommend something to suit your style. 

3 - Get a grip
A truly under-rated element of the paddle is the grip. If you’re going to do a lot of paddling, a nice comfortable grip is what is going to make the experience much more pleasant. Cheap paddles and rentals will have very basic grips designed to just do the job, leaving you with sore hands and blisters. Look for a paddle with a nice contoured shape that feels good in your hands. Pick it up and take some air strokes so you can judge how good the shaft feels as well - too thin or too thick might make for hand cramps. The best part of having your own paddle is that it’ll be free of all those scratches and marks that will cut up your hands after a day’s paddle, because you’re the one taking care of it, and you can even have them fixed - cheaply for you DIY types.

4 - Size matters
Often you may not be able to choose the size of your rented paddle, but even when you have a choice you might find yourself with a bad fit. A poorly fitted paddle can make you bend at the torso during your stroke, making you shift your weight unnecessarily for an unstable and uncomfortable ride. One measuring technique is to check the paddle’s height up to your chin. Unfortunately, this only works for one type (size) of blade. It’s the paddle’s shaft that’s important. The other more common method is to hold the paddle over your head, checking for your arms resting at right angles. This might be a better way to measure, but you still might not be happy with the size of your paddle. The best size will be the one that meets your paddling style. Some like to reach out further, some sit lower or tilted in the canoe. Try out some different sizes and see what makes you more comfortable and stable. 

5 - As special and unique as you are
Recently, when my friends and I were choosing new paddle styles, I took it rather seriously. I spent hours deciding on what size and style I needed. After I finally decided, I asked what made one friend choose his. Turns out, choosing between two similar types, he simply chose the cooler looking one - a completely valid deciding factor. Paddles have all kinds of looks with all kinds of options. You can get paddles in all kinds of colours and stains, in unique woods, with special logos, imprints and even custom paint jobs. 

Bonus - The Connection
There are some that can look at their paddle, show you each and every scratch and tell you a great story about where it happened and why. The first paddle I owned came from a friend who took great care with his, and  insisted I take it, with all the stories attached to it. I was lucky to find it was exactly the right size. Sure, it had been worn in for me, but I soon knew every nook and cranny. It felt perfect in my hand, and it moved the water just right. It was like that old t-shirt you love because it fits you just right. This paddle had been many places, and maybe I was imagining it all, but after all its travels it felt like the paddle was guiding me. 

And that, is why you want your own paddle.

Written by Preston (& Nancy) Ciere [of] for Badger's Blog, August 2011.

Thanks to these two adventurers for
sharing their insights on the benefits
of paddle ownership.
Thanks again to Preston, that guy in the stern, for keeping the canoe so steady so Nancy could look great in so many photos! Plus another big thanks to them both for compiling such a great list of resources and information for paddlers and campers on their website. If you are thinking of doing a wilderness canoe trip, looking for the straight up goods on an Ontario park route, camper's tips and tricks, or how to prepare for your very first real canoe trip, then be sure to add to your list of favourites - 'cause you are going to want to visit this website more then once. You can also follow Preston (portageur_ca) on Twitter, "friend" Nancy, or find on Facebook. And if you happen to meet up with Nancy and Preston on the trail one day, be sure to tell them Badger says "Woof ". (Don't worry - Nancy will know what it means... even if Preston isn't too sure! *wink*)

Note: Comments and opinions of our guest bloggers do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Badger Paddles and are the expressed writings of the "guest" only. All content has been published on Badger's Blog with permission of it's author and is original to the guest writer. All copyright inquiries should be directed to the guest writer/blogger where necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and I couldn't agree with you more.

    Check my blog post on paddles...most notable.. the picture at the bottom of the post of the paddles supplied by the "renter". We were told the paddles were all high quality. Once the float plane dropped us off, the paddles were revealed. They were aweful. We used our duct tape to hold them together for the week.


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