The Rio is a great paddle, we use it for most of our instruction and rental fleet. That being said, it is Werner's budget option and thus is the least durable kayak blade they make. No plastic blade is going to be as strong as a fiberglass or carbon blade. If you can't afford to step up to a fiberglass blade like the Player or Sherpa, look at the Desperado, which is a carbon reinforced ABS, which is stronger than the Rio but still less expensive than a fiberglass model.
I don't mean to disagree, but that's not the experience I've had and I've used Werners for 20 years.
There are benefits to fiberglass and carbon fiber Werners, but durability isn't one of them. I kayak around 200 days a year and simply don't believe that the difference in price between plastic blades and fiberglass and carbon fiber blades can be justified. Four paddles for the price of one? If you aren't getting them for free, it's not a good deal.
Anything that is going to snap or crack a plastic Werner blade will likely do the same to a Werner carbon fiber blade and will surely destroy a Werner fiberglass blade even more quickly.
That said, carbon fiber paddles are worth the money if you can afford one and you are interested in extremely high performance. However, if you aren't in the top 100 kayakers in the world, spend your money on something else.
The difference in performance between plastic and vac-packed is a percentage of a degree. It's not exponential.
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