hand paddles . . . worth a try? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-27-2006   #1
pbowman's Avatar
Cody, Wyoming
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 249
hand paddles . . . worth a try?

i have been thinking about trying some hand paddles on easier runs and at the play park this year to try something new. any words of wisdom from the experienced about this?

i have tried paddle pawz at the pool once, and was surprised at how easily i could roll. i am a flailing idiot all the time, but trying to hand roll with out a hand paddle significantly magnifies this fact. is this to be expected? should i not rely on the hand roll ability a hand paddle gives me vs. perfecting the skill and technique without?

also, the paddle pawz i tried a few years ago were awkward to get out of (in case of a swim), but there now appears to be a pull strap on the new models - does this help in getting them off? can anyone compare the handmade hand paddles by riveraholic (on the buzz swap board) to other commercially manufactured ones - any major differences or advantage of either one?

thanks in advance. later.

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Old 03-27-2006   #2
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Lyons, Colorado
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I think you're referring to POWER PAWZ hand paddles
These are excellent. I think using the Pawz makes a person a much better overall kayaker. You'll notice over time that you have to anticipate moves sooner and read water better when hand paddling. You'll also notice that you have to use the boat more to dictate what actually happens on the water. Most of this is b/c there is minimal POWER generated from hand paddles. Another really cool aspect of hand paddling is that you can use opposing strokes at the same time to move the boat rotationally. Makes cartwheels much easier. As for getting them off............Well that is kind of freaky. I mentioned that point when I first started using mine and the guys that introduced me to hand paddling said "don't swim". You can get them off easily by taking the edge of them closest to your wrist and hooking it on the cockpit rim and pulling. The down side is they don't float. So bye bye $60. If you glue flotation to them then you alter the neutral weight and it effects the performance. Some cool tricks are unique to hand paddles..........I learned the whammy and have improved upon it and now preform the famous triple whammy. Buy some Pawz!!! you'll love'em.
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Old 03-27-2006   #3
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I have tried a a few different types of hp's . I have found the webbed gloves are fine for small play spots ,but when power is needed chosing your hp's is important. Nothing like a large swirl-a-gram with hand paddles on.
They also make great spare paddles . If you can find Surfins that may be
an option for you as well. There are some real nice homegrown hp as well.
They also make great spare paddles.
Good luck.
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Old 03-27-2006   #4
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If you need to, you will get out of them. You can tuck one under your other arm and pull.

They're pretty fun. Give them a try. You can get some hand made ones off of a guy you can find on BT...search for hand paddles. I got mine off of him and they're slick. Much cheaper than ppaws and just as good.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 03-27-2006   #5
oh yeah
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i was in the same boat last spring; i'll try them on easier runs. well, the easy runs went well and now they're my preference on lower volume runs like late season black rock and bailey (i styled supermax second time down). drawbacks: as was said they lack top speed making runs like gore seem scary and they're COLD! buy some gloves to wear under them. contact [email protected] (tim) for a better/cheaper alternative to power pawz.

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Old 03-28-2006   #6
Join Date: Dec 2003
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I have a good friend who paddles exclusively with Power Paws. He swears by them. Don't get the big ones, though, as they get too much purchase (your mileage might vary here). Hand paddles are not the disadvatage that I thought they would be, they are simply different. It is frustrating following Dave b/c he is very slow in rapids and it takes some getting used to in order to keep from doing alot of rapids "blue angel" style. They provide incredible stability, a roll that will give you whiplash, and a monstrous gorilla-style last second boof. However, you will not have the speed of a paddle. Also they might not be as safe as you don't have your hands to help in a rescue situation. Dave paddles most of the toughest water around here with his, and never looks to be lacking. Getting them off doesn't seem to be slow, put the paddle under your arm and pull.
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Old 03-28-2006   #7
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Definitely worth a try

Last year, I made some hand paddles out of one of those ubiquitous blue poly drums I found along my local river after a flood event and started using them a little last year and more often this spring. Had a great time running a local Class III run a couple of weeks ago and found it no more difficult than using a paddle. Here are some impressions:

Back-deck (aka rodeo) rolls are super easy with the hand paddles and seem even faster than when using a paddle (BTW, in nearly 30 years of kayaking, I have only hit a hands-only roll about three times so just the little bit of extra surface area does make a difference). If anything, rolls seem easier in the current than in an eddy... as soon as you are past the pont of no return, agressively go for a back deck roll in the direction you are flipping and you'll be up in no time.

You'll learn to use your lower body and posture to control your boat angle a lot more than with a paddle (hand paddling definitely promotes a good forward leaning, agressive posture)

For some reason, short rapid strokes on alternating sides (like when freestyle swimming) seemed to allow faster acceleration than using both hands at the same time. good to know when you have to get back to an eddy or cross a strong current

When surfing a wave, be careful of dragging an arm too far behnind you to rudder, you could definitely tweak a shoulder. I actually found that keeping the elbows in and bend and a quick dip of the HP near the hip, when combined with agressive lower body edging, provides all the rudder one needs. Spins are easier, if anything since you can really go for torso rotation.

When playing any feature, slow things down and let the water do most of the work.

Boofs are super easy since you can use both hands simultaneously and it is easier to maintain a strong forward posture.

My hand paddles are only about 1 to 1 1/2 inches bigger than my hand. They seem to provde sufficient power, but when I make my next pair, I'll probably make them another inch bigger. I think the creek-size power pawz are too big, but there are definitely a lot of people that swear by them.

Have Fun,
"It's All Good"
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Old 03-28-2006   #8
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Back to taking off Pawz..... You can pull them off under an arm but if you're doing this in order to swim......Good luck getting it back.
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Old 03-29-2006   #9
Denver (Philly Native), Colorado
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I agree, the Power Pawz are great. I started using them last year just playboating and on some real mellow 3's. I use my old Lueve skirt instead of the Bomber Gear so I can scoop the compression strap if I swim.
"When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro" -HST
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