Monday, August 12, 2013
Construction/Appearance: Handles are a fairly standard fiberglass mix, likely machine molded and sanded, and are extremely light. Handles are also molded (I suspect) fiberglass, with a reinforced lower third. The "Angler" model features a nifty paint job - flat black shaft and flat olive drab blades. It should be noted, however, that the olive drab blades do indeed shine and reflect light once they are wet.
The paint does a handy job of hiding manufacturing blemishes that one might not expect to find on a $300 fiberglass paddle, but are pretty likely to exist on a similar $150 paddle. The $300 paddle, of course, has fiberglass work so fine that it's transparent. Nonetheless, the glass work appears to be pretty solid - mine has come into contact with rip rap, concrete, and oyster shells and shows some very minor chipping, which is absolutely to be expected. Grade: B
Ergonomics: Carlisle's web page doesn't list the shaft diameter, but it seems like it's between a typical standard shaft size and a small diameter shaft size. I have big hands, so this is a little weird. Not a deal breaker. The paddle's low weight (2.75lb) would normally make it a winner on its own merit, however, this weight is important because of the stiffness of the Expedition paddle. A heavier paddle at this stiffness would wear down a paddler's arms quickly. Grade: B
Performance: This is a light, stiff paddle that will move aggressive paddlers across the water quickly. I tried to make it flutter at high speed, and only at my highest level abuse would flutter occur. This paddle digs and digs, no joke. I'm not sure if I would recommend it to low angler paddlers. Grade: A
Overall: As far as kayak paddles go, the Expedition Angler is squarely in the middle. And honestly, the paddle's performance shows it. No one will mistake this paddle for the Werner Corryvrecken in carbon fiber, nor will anyone mistake it for a $45 plastic or plastic/aluminum paddle from a sports superstore. The paddle represents a step up for my paddling, at a price I could afford, which is really what gear shopping should be about. Grade: B+