Oar Comparison - Sawyer vs Wood - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-04-2011   #1
BCJ
 
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Oar Comparison - Sawyer vs Wood

Anyone out there who has rowed with wood and thereafter switched to Sawyer composites? Not interested in Cataract oars please, just former woody rowers who switched to Sawyer. Thanks.

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Old 12-05-2011   #2
 
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I used to use Gull woodies then switched to Sawyer Composites with the laminated fir blade. These were the original yellow ones from 20 years ago. I've had them the whole time and they're still my faves. They have been re wrapped (rope) once and blades refurbished with the dynel edge guards. Still going strong. I also have smokers, the newer dual spun composites, and several pairs of Polecats. I've found the Sawyer composites to have the most natural wood like flex of most of the oars I've either owned and got rid of or tried. I don't like whippy oars like Cat's or dead oars like Carlisle. The dual spun composites were more stiff than I liked. Once you get into the 10 foot and longer oars, the Sawyers definitely feel more wood like. Under 9 feet I can't feel much difference between a Pole cat and a Cataract. I would recommend going with the 36 inch laminated blades though. Gives you some options with size. For example, you get a 10 foot oar with a 36 inch blade. Replace the 36" with a standard 30" blade and you have a 9.5 oar. Sawyer does use two diameters though. I like the larger, or outfitter size. This limits you to Sawyer blades. The MX-s and Polecats use standard size blades and are interchangeable with all manufactured brands.
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Old 12-05-2011   #3
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Tthanks MG. Our histories are similar. I rowed with Gulls too, and have been using Smokers the past 8-10 years but need a second set of oars. Love the Smokers, but as I age (gracefully) every once in a while I think about something lighter at the lock. I tried Cats and rowed some commercial trips with Carlisle. Whippy is a good word for em. So what I was after was some first-hand feedback because I'm thinking about getting a set of Sawyers (will still keep the Smokers) but haven't had a chance to row with them. I would definitely go with the large diameter. For blades, I talked to Sawyer and you can actually get a long 5" width solid ash blade similar to the Smoker. I've always felt those Smoker blades are an advantage somehow, e.g., easy to feather. I notice the laminate blades are wider, as are the ash pro-tip. Any observations on the blade width on the laminate or pro-tip ash blade?

PS Sounds like the standard Sawyer FX (or whatever) is enough to satisfy someone who likes a relatively stiff oar, i.e., one that grabs quickly and doesn't feel rubbery. Smokers are definitely a positive feeling oar, i.e., when I need to pull, they're always with me.
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Old 12-05-2011   #4
 
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My take on the blades is this; I didn't like the ash pro tips, too wide. The width is what is key for me. I like narrow blades, 5 to 5 and a half inches. Easier on the joints, and feathering, etc. The Laminated blades are 5.5. I like the longer blade length like on the smokers but think the 36"ers are fine. I use the laminated because they tend not to warp, and they are virtually unbreakable. Just sand 'em out and refinish if you really bang 'em up. I run them on all my oars , even the Pole cats. Price wise they are only a few dollars more than plastic blades. The plastic's break easily so where's the savings there.
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Old 12-05-2011   #5
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Excellent. Good to hear all this from an old-schooler. I definitely don't want wide blades. Sounds like the laminates will be good. BTW, the last time I saw any new Gulls for sale my buddy and I bought 8 of em. Searched and searched and found a marine dealer in Portland. (good story here). I asked and he said "Yeah, I have some of those big whitewater oars here, but we don't ever sell any." So I asked how many he had and what would he take to clear them all out. He got on his puter and clicked and said "I have 8, and I'll take $88.00 each for them, plus shipping." Shipping was around $90. My bud Art is still rowing his. The rest went with a boat I sold about 6 years ago. Adios
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Old 12-06-2011   #6
 
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You maybe interested in a new oar Sawyer has called the square top. It is has laminate fir core with a graphite wrap. I doubt Whitewater West has them in stock yet, but I am sure they can order them. DRE has them on their website, but not sure if they are stocking them yet:
[URL="http://downriverequip.com/index.php/oars-paddles/sawyer-oars/sawyer-square-top-dynelite-oar.html"]
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Old 12-06-2011   #7
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Thanks. Whitewater West did have an unwrapped set of squaretops in stock and I checked them out. They look well made but I'm into the Dynel razor (or whatever it's called) blade which is permanently attachhed. Once that breaks, bye bye. Mostly I'm a traditional wood oar fan coz I like somethin' that feels solid when I pull to move the boat. I have a set of Smokers that were built in 1996 - - that's 15 years. No breaks, no warps and they feel great. Can't say I've seen that many Carlisles or Cats around that long. When I rowed Carlisles as a commercial guide in the early 80's we'd get up early to get first crack at the oar pile to find straight ones. Cats are good but too rubbery (whippy) for me. Anyway, since this is just a place to express opinion, for a second set I'm going with either another set of Smokers or may try the Sawyer large diameters that MG talked about. See a lot of those Sawyers in the Grand Canyon. They seem to hold up well and be strong. But nothing beats a Smoker. I'll still keep those. Peace.
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Old 12-06-2011   #8
 
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Those look really cool but what happens when you break the blade, it's all one piece with the blade not detachable. And if your using a dynalite blade it's just a matter of time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by zboda View Post
You maybe interested in a new oar Sawyer has called the square top. It is has laminate fir core with a graphite wrap. I doubt Whitewater West has them in stock yet, but I am sure they can order them. DRE has them on their website, but not sure if they are stocking them yet:
[URL="http://downriverequip.com/index.php/oars-paddles/sawyer-oars/sawyer-square-top-dynelite-oar.html"]
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Old 12-06-2011   #9
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I too have used Gull oars and used the Sawyer composite oars for this year's Grand trip. They were not as light as the wood laminate oars, but felt pretty light in the hands due to the counterbalancing. These oars do sink. The removable blades are very susceptible to breaking off - a friend at Canyon REO told me that almost every rental comes back with a blade broken off.

I would recommend checking out the laminate Sawyer Lite oars, sold on NRS. They seem like a lighter, much nicer oar than the Sawyer composite. No offense to anyone who prefers the Sawyers, I just don't see why so many people buy these pieces....
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Old 12-06-2011   #10
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Good points Randaddy. More to consider. All in all, I'm having a hard time deciding I need anything but the Smokers, which cover all bases. I did have some Sawyer S/P lights for a time. Actually had a pair of those and pair of Smokers on a 14 Adventurer and tried both. Found the Smokers pulled better, but certainly are heavier. Good to share the experience. Graci.
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