Mine! Why? Because other keep needing to use it, not me! *knock* on wood...
As for a real answer, it's an Aquabound 4pc, only $150 and gets the job done.
I used to have a Whetstone that was really heavy, I didn't care for it, but it saved my butt when I crashed at Sunshine on the Green and lost my Sidekick for two days to the river. Still creeking with that Sidekick, though!
My favorite is the Lendal, because it's a real paddle.
there is a small allen key (fits in your pfd pocket) that tightens the 4 pieces together so there is not the usual breakdown paddle wobble. I've been using one as my primary paddle all year, and I love it.
you can get a variety of blade shapes and materials - including carbon nylon blades that do not wear down like glass blades do. the things are virtually indestructable, and paddle like a high performance paddle. I believe they even have a four piece bent shaft coming next year if that's what does it for you.
the blades are interchangeable, so you can buy one shaft with two different sets of blades - one for creeking, one for playing. lose a part of the paddle - simply replace the one part you need without having to buy a whole new paddle.
and best of all, when you fly somewhere you can break it down and take it with you, and not have to paddle with a shitty breakdown on your vacation.
they cost what a real paddle does, but they're worth every penny.
We carried Lendal for a year, and still have a demo left for sale. Most of the customers we showed it to loved the feel and hated the price. It was a big loss for us and dropped the line. Of the paddles that we did sell all of them broke like twigs, and we ended up replacing them with other brands. I've never seen a thinner shaft in paddling. I took one down to Costa Rica to use on my honeymoon trip. It broke on it's fourth day on the water paddling through a wave. I never even rolled over on that trip.
The Werner 4 piece is great, but still most people tend to have issues with the $200 price tag. When using any Werner breakdown be very careful to wipe down the furrels that hold the paddle together between each use- they tend to get stuck together real good. But, if you take care of your paddle it will work great.
We also carry two types of Aqua-Bound breakdowns (during the main season). A pricepoint fiberglass and a more durable carbon model. The AB paddles have grooves on the joints that prevent sand and grit from jamming up the connection. The carbon also comes with nylon carbon blades (like lendal) and nylon carbon furrels (lendal uses fiberglass). This is really nice for the harder users because for most paddlers their breakdown spends most of it's life bouncing around in the back of the creek boats. Nothing is worse than seeing worn or chipped ends before using the paddle.
just a thought.. i had an AQUA-BOUND that got turned into an AQUA-BEND on the big south(broke 2 that day)...anyhow, i took it to my buddy who builds titanium bikes...WILLETS... he ground down the blade pieces(lathe) and made me a 4 piece breakdown with all the gadgets from inside the alum shafts(connectors)....he charged me 100 bucks and yelled at me the next morning!!!! he was up late working on it...i foamed the inside myself... light, STRONG, No flimsey shit.. i lucked out
there were breakage problems with the early '03 shafts, but the shaft was changed for 2004. i have used mine extensively for class V and V+ creeking - no breaks. only one of the new shafts has broken in the united states. this despite pro level creekers like Jason Hale using them. the price for shaft and a set of blades is $265. that's not high for a premium paddle - in fact it's quite low.
+1 for Lendal paddles. I have a 4-piece carbon Lendal that I have been using as my primary paddle for over ten years. I bought it as a spare/travel paddle, but found that I like it better than a one-piece. It has taken tons of abuse and is holding up just fine.
The 4 pieces lock together as Leland explained upthread, and it makes the shaft absolutely rock solid. I have a 4-piece Werner I use as my spare and I HATE that paddle! Those little pop up buttons that connect the shaft pieces are so loose and wiggly. It feels like the shaft is always ready to fall apart on you. Drives me nuts.
Another advantage of Lendal's locking system is that the feather and handedness can be changed and locked in place very easily. So if you give your paddle to someone who just lost their's in the middle of a run, they can set the feather to what they're used to and not whiff a brace or stroke.
Lendal is a Scottish company and was purchased by Johnson Outdoors shortly after they bought Necky kayaks. (early 2000's, I think.) At some point, Lendal got spun off on its own again and, as far as I could tell, quit making WW blades, just blades for surf and touring. And there was no distribution in the US. But thanks for the tip re: Celtic paddles, as they appear to use the same locking tech and also offer WW blades. And the price isn't too bad either, since the British pound tanked following the Brexit vote.
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