Sanborn Canoe's "Unnamed" Paddle - Gear Review

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The guys over at Sanborn Canoe keep proving that they truly understand both paddling and wood-working.  Several weeks back the delivery guy handed me a box from Winona, MN.  Inside was a beautiful wooden bent-shaft paddle and a note from Zak at Sanborn Canoe.  In my hands was a paddle so fresh off the design table that it didn't even have a name yet and I got to give it a test run. YEAH!


Much like the Gunflint Paddle I had the chance to review last summer, this paddle is a work of art.  The design and construction are second to none in the paddle world.  This time around a few additions have been made; the introduction of Cherry wood to the shaft and the Epoxy blade guard has been replaced with a Ash hardwood tip.  This increased the strength of the paddle and amplifies the natural aesthetic of their work.

What I learned after just a few strokes was that this paddle had a much different soul than the Gunflint.   A more modest bend in the shaft (10 degree as opposed to 14 degree) and a smaller blade both depart from the power focus of many of the paddles on the market.  Power is not everything and while navigating the narrow creeks connecting lakes in the BWCA I saw exactly why.  At no point did I think to myself that I was missing the "get-up" the more power focused paddles brag about.  What I did notice was that controlling the canoe was significantly easier and over-steer was all but eliminated.

A couple of ounces heavier than the Gunflint (19oz) went basically unnoticed.  The oiled grip did not.  Sanborn never soaks their paddles in epoxy or marine varnish, so you never have that glossy lacquered feel, but there is something more natural, more familiar about an oiled grip.  Hours in my hand and miles traveled and at no point did I regret choosing this paddle to get me around the lakes.

Want one for yourself?  Well, come up with a great name for this stick and it could be yours.  Enter HERE to win the August paddle giveaway from Sanborn Canoe.

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