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Author Topic: GEARLAB Greenland Paddles  (Read 550 times)

FredF

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GEARLAB Greenland Paddles
« on: October 08, 2017, 10:25:36 AM »

For those of you who are thinking of switching from homemade wood Greenland sticks to high-tech carbon fiber, you may want to take a look at what GEARLAB has to offer: see http://www.gearlabpaddles.com/

Background:

For the past several years, I've paddled with wood paddles, but switched a couple of years ago to a carbon fiber paddle from Superior Kayaks. At the time, the 1-piece paddle cost about the same as a high-end Werner Euro paddle, which was about $400. However, a 1-piece paddle has advantages and disadvantages, one of which is where do I put it, strapped on the roof rack with the kayak or inside with my gear? I done both, but decided it was time to switch to a 2-piece paddle for convenience.

Consequently, I began looking at Greenland paddles that I could dismantle. Superior Kayaks, for example, offers 1-, 2-, and 3-piece paddles, but the 2-piece paddle costs $575. which is more than I was willing to spend. Then I remembered GEARLAB, hearing good things about the paddles and had the opportunity to try a shoulderless Akiak model last year on a RICKA paddle. I liked the paddle but also prefer a shoulder on each side of the loom.

GEARLAB:

After checking GEARLAB's assortment, I was intrigued by the Aukaneck model, which in Inuit means "stormy sea" and which GEARLAB offers in only 210 cm length and with three possible blade colors. The design is interesting because the widest part of the blade is 4.25" and comes (like the other models) with an extra pair of exchangeable tips. The price for the paddle is $348.00 and shipping via airmail from Taiwan brought the total to $371.90.

The Aukaneck is a high-performance, high-bred paddle, which not only offers the wider paddle width for power when you need it in the rocks or surfing, but also its shorter length enables more manueverability in making turns and stability when bracing. In short, I think it is a perfect rough-water paddle. Rock bangers and kayak surfers alike might possibly find this paddle surprisingly versatile and effective--perhaps even as a viable alternative to their Euro paddles.  :o

I liked the paddle so much that I ordered a second paddle, yet one more suited for touring and chose the Nukilik. This paddle comes in various lengths and you can choose from two different tip configurations, flat and round, 6 different blade and tip colors, and various lengths. I chose the 210 cm length, orange blade color, the round tip configuration, and black tip covers. GEARLAB emailed me immediately confirming the order, but noted that it was out of stock and would be shipped within 5 weeks. If I wasn't happy with waiting, I could cancel the order. I waited, and despite the possible delay, I received just over 2 weeks weeks later.

The Nukilik resembles other Greenland paddles in that the widest part of the blade is 3.25". It is only .25" wider than my northwest red cedar stick. As expected, it is an able touring paddle that performs well in normal conditions and wind. In stronger winds, it would be a better choice than the wider Aukaneck model.

Both paddles are well made and the locking shaft of the loom feels solid. GEARLAB sends a small piece of wax to lubricate the paddle shaft and lock button. The paddles are light, but not quite as light as my 220 cm Superior Kayak paddle, but certainly lighter than any wood paddles I've used.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that GEARLAB's customer service is excellent. The staff responds quickly to questions and customers receive an immediate notice with a tracking number once the paddle has shipped. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a paddle from GEARLAB again.

« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 07:20:55 PM by FredF »
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Emile

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Re: GEARLAB Greenland Paddles
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 05:16:09 AM »

Hi Fred,

I'm opting for a western red cedar one piece with hardwood edges for my first GP. I was curious as to how the buoyancy compares on the Gearlab paddles to wooden ones? Thanks in advance for your insights.

Emile
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FredF

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Re: GEARLAB Greenland Paddles
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2018, 07:02:04 AM »

Your choice of wood may feel slightly more buoyant, but it will also be heavier. The Gearlab paddle is buoyant but also lighter; the two-piece design more convenient for me. It's all about choice. In the end, you go with what you're most comfortable with.  :)
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Emile

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Re: GEARLAB Greenland Paddles
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2018, 03:36:03 PM »

Well now you have me rethinking it all and considering a Gearlab instead. I'm not sure which model, length, or tip shape. I know that an 88" traditional paddle with a 21" loom was recommended to me (5'11" broad shouldered). I'm a level 2 paddler but certainly want to progress to 3 and beyond.
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Emile

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Re: GEARLAB Greenland Paddles
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 05:32:03 PM »

Update: I've canceled the order on the wooden one and have been in contact with Gearlab (hopefully they respond to my last questions tonight to place an order and take advantage of the dry bag offer). I've decided on the Nukilik but have a bit of a conundrum when it comes to optimal paddle length. The first measurement option where you measure extending the hand up above you (217cm) resulted in suggesting a 215cm length paddle for the width of my kayak (58 cm). The second method of armspan+cubit resulted in a 10cm difference so a 225cm length paddle which also was the recommended length for a wood traditional paddle. I have the options of 210, 220, and 225 in stock paddles (no 215s). Looking for some advice here. I'm also not sure whether to opt for flat or round tips.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 05:49:05 PM by Emile »
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FredF

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Re: GEARLAB Greenland Paddles
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 07:49:04 PM »

I think you'll be fine with the 220 cm length for your height.
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