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Yes, it's "better" to have a balanced oar, for performance and comfort/injury prevention issues. Is that easy to achieve, given all of the related factors that go into "fit" for each rower?

A commonly asked and related question is proper oar length, witch incorporates actual weight, "swing weight" & balance, along with your boat and frame components. Can a 5'2 rower use the same set as a 6'1 rower? Sure, but is it optimal or safe?

Given that an oar's performance and weight has to consider shaft design and materials (straight tube or tapered, wood or composite, wood or composite blade) the "moveable" parts are the grip and blade, once you've determined you're going to use a composite tube. Weight the blade, or weight the handle? We offer the option for each (or both!) depending on the desired outcome.

I guided anglers for 10 years and found that the best fit for me performance and comfort wise was a SquareTop Dyno-X with a Shoal Cut blade.

Thanks for starting the conversation!

Derek
 

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If I'm going to row row row my boat gently down the stream, all day, or against a heinous headwind...it's all about those svelte and well-balanced Sawyer Squaretops. If things are going to get real spicy and/or rocky...out come the more sluggish but counterbalanced Cataracts (love that grip thumb indent, btw) with Carlisle outfitter blades. Different strokes for different folks though, to be sure. So if you're built like brick sh!thouse, you could probably muscle through and with anything; but I'm a tall, (somewhat) skinny drink of water so ergonomics and swing weight seem to matter to me more than most comfort-wise. Though that said, I counseled my gf to also get her own set of Smoker Bandits for other reasons that need not be spoken.
 

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Optimally, your oars should be slightly blade-heavy for neutral balance. Your lower hands/arms will put 2-2.5# of downward pressure on the handles and this balances the system. Any more balanced and you actually have to lift UP to put the blade in the water. Any less balanced, and you have to push down harder on the handles to get the blades out of the water.
 
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We offer the Dyne Lite blades in multiple build profiles for composite oars, along with favorites like the VLAM and Duramax. Each has a different weight and performance profile based on the materials used and edge protection options. We also offer options for counter balanced handles in a couple of styles.

We are launching a new blade in the Spring of 2022 during our 55 Year Anniversary, so watch for an opportunity to help us name this new product!


Derek
 

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I agree with Shawn... slightly blade heavy is the best. I want my oars to drop into the water if I let go of them and not into the boat. I think it would be pretty hard to get them to fall into the boat without a lot of counterweight though.

Shawn does a great job putting the weight in the right place with the oars he makes. There is a great thread he made about oars materials, weighting, and a ton of other stuff. Definitely a thread worthy of pinning to the top of the Raft equipment forum.

The main thing I took away from that thread is that counterbalancing works...but its better to balance the weight throughout the entire oar. This means that removing weight from the blade end, tapering the shaft as it gets close to the blade, and then adding the right amount of weight near the handle will have a much more balanced feel and the swing weight will go down.

Taking a pound out of the blade will be similar to adding 3 pounds of counterweight at the handle end. Just plopping 3 pounds on the handle works...but adding weight to the system isn't awesome IMHO. I've rowed the counterbalance oars a little...and I always find myself having to actively catch the oar. All that weight at the handle makes the oar have momentum.

Shawn's oars, along with other squaretops like the ones Sawyer makes, remove weight on both ends so the swing weight is vastly reduced compared to an oar that only adds a counterweight to the oar. For me, it makes a huge difference that is worth the cost of going with a squaretop style oar.

This goes a bit beyond your original question which is pretty simple to answer. I find the rule of thumb of having the length between the handle to the oar stop land 1/3 of the length of the entire oar. At least to start... you can fine tune from there. Weight is only the start...gotta make sure there is clearance between the ends of the oar and that you can ship the oars without it catching on your PFD or seat or other parts of the boat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We offer the Dyne Lite blades in multiple build profiles for composite oars, along with favorites like the VLAM and Duramax. Each has a different weight and performance profile based on the materials used and edge protection options. We also offer options for counter balanced handles in a couple of styles.

We are launching a new blade in the Spring of 2022 during our 55 Year Anniversary, so watch for an opportunity to help us name this new product!


Derek
Happy Anniversary🎂
 

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I’ll echo. All of the above, I got counterbalanced cataracts last year for fishing and wow. Now even my tiny girlfriend rows the raft with ease and can put the boys on fish. I think the whole balancing an oar with even weight distribution is more critical in whitewater applications. I’ve heard horror stories of liquified (yes that’s correct) jaw and facial bones from a counterbalanced oar whacking a guy in the face in a spicy rapid. So, take that anecdote as you wish...
 

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Here are a few opinions:

  • Yes a 5'2" person can row the same oars as someone 6'1" - the distance between the oar locks is the most important factor when choosing oar length
  • Most counterbalanced oars sink - something to consider
  • For running harder whitewater, the Sawyer MX-Gs with Dynelite blades are my favorite
 

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I like the purple Gillmans with the counter balance!!
A properly built oar doesn't really need those.. Just my opinion after using a set.. neat idea, but solving a problem that hasn't existed till they hit the scene..

I prefer counterbalancing for an oar longer than 9 or 10 feet, but it's little more than a nicety if the oar is well balanced, and the oarlocks the proper width for the length of the shaft..

Proper body mechanics for the oarsman to row with is more important than anything else..
 
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I used to run the standard cataract foam blades (I have three, two with tip protectors, if anyone is interested.) until I got a screaming deal on four dynalite blades here on the buzz. Changing the blades to the much lighter dynalites was huge. Much lighter as far as the down pressure from my arms and the swing weight is noticeably less. I run 9.5 shafts plus three inches from the dynalites being longer. Love this set up. Not a fan of counterbalanced sticks. They just seem really heavy to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I used to run the standard cataract foam blades (I have three, two with tip protectors, if anyone is interested.) until I got a screaming deal on four dynalite blades here on the buzz. Changing the blades to the much lighter dynalites was huge. Much lighter as far as the down pressure from my arms and the swing weight is noticeably less. I run 9.5 shafts plus three inches from the dynalites being longer. Love this set up. Not a fan of counterbalanced sticks. They just seem really heavy to me.
how much for the blades? im in the market
 

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Don't do it!
The balance isn't awesome, and their bite isn't awesome.

Or maybe do it, and report back after you get some lighter blades and can then have another data point to add to threads like this. ;)
 

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Last time I talked back and forth with someone about buying these he was in Portland, mailing the blades was going to be 15 bucks a blade. Where are you located? I’m in sw colo. AND MT4Runner ain’t telling lies. There are way superior blades out there. Two are in excellent condition. My spare was cracked and has been repaired with woven glass cloth and resin. Not the prettiest but it’s stout. 130 for all three depending on shipping.
 
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