BWCA GBR vs Zav vs BB Black Pearl II Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/15/2022 06:41PM  
I've been interested in carbon fiber paddles for a while, ever since I heard Cliff Jacobson speak their praises for tripping at Canoecopia several years ago.

There are quite a few brands on the market, and I'd like to hear from those who have held two or three from different manufacturers in their hands, what their differences are. I had a Bending Branches pearl II in my hands at the Expo at Midwest Mountaineering a few weeks back. It felt good, but I didn't paddle with it.

I'm asking here, because I won't have an opportunity to try out each of the ones I mentioned for myself. Thanks for any information you can share.
 
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Jasonf
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
 
05/15/2022 08:00PM  
Following as I'd like to upgrade as well...
I have lots of nice gear and and a couple lightweight canoes but still use generic plastic paddles that I've used forever.
 
PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/15/2022 08:21PM  
I remember when I upgraded from my old wooden paddle, or the aluminum/plastic paddles the outfitter gave us, to nice BB bent-shaft paddles. Boy, what a difference! They felt so light and worked so well! I've heard the difference when going to carbon fiber is even greater.
So, what do folks have experience with?
 
kona
distinguished member (257)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/15/2022 08:56PM  
board member justpaddlin is a carbon paddle connoisseur. hope he will stop by and comment.
 
cyclones30
distinguished member(3918)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/15/2022 09:29PM  
I will have a BB in another 2 weeks to compare to my ZRE.

So far I love the ZRE, been on plenty of trips and though I try to be nice to it you still push off the bottom or whatever else might happen and no issues whatsoever. I know some people are going on 10+ years easily with many many trips and no issues.

Find the angle you like and length and get one. I don't think there's a huge difference.
 
05/16/2022 09:28AM  
I've used a Barton, Wenonah, and ZRE carbon paddles. The ZRE is by far my favorite
 
Banksiana
distinguished member(2569)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/16/2022 11:07AM  
I too love my ZRE- probably the single best gear purchase ever made. They give great service as well. Never an issue with the paddles (had to buy a second for when I trip tandem) but I have managed to break two of the ski poles I've bought from them- replacement was quick and without question or judgement. Buy a blemish and get some dollars off. Good luck finding a blemish on your discounted paddle.
 
05/16/2022 11:21AM  
ZRE, Wenonah, and BB carbon fiber paddles. Like the strength and designs. BB Black Pearl I never weighed but felt heaviest followed by the Wenonah. Lightest by a large margin were my ZRE Lite's at 8 to 9 ounces. Another point for the ZRE's is they are custom ordered to your specifications from style, to shaft length, handle, blade width, degrees of bend. The others you picked from stock on hand.

butthead
 
EddyTurn
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/16/2022 04:34PM  
I have 3 ZRE paddles that are used for 8-9 years. Terrific quality, probably the lightest around, great customer service (including repair), may be not strong enough for serious whitewater.
 
05/16/2022 08:57PM  
EddyTurn: "I have 3 ZRE paddles that are used for 8-9 years. Terrific quality, probably the lightest around, great customer service (including repair), may be not strong enough for serious whitewater."

They do make white water specific use paddles.

butthead
 
EddyTurn
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2022 07:57AM  
butthead: "EddyTurn: "I have 3 ZRE paddles that are used for 8-9 years. Terrific quality, probably the lightest around, great customer service (including repair), may be not strong enough for serious whitewater."

They do make white water specific use paddles.

butthead"

They do and I don't find it strong enough for serious whitewater.
 
PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/17/2022 05:18PM  
Have any of you used a GBR bent shaft paddle? (Newman Design)
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member (431)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2022 02:44PM  
Hi Pablo, I mostly paddle with straight shaft paddles and recently picked up a straight shaft Bending Branches Black Pearl ST. I do have a GRB 6 degree and several Zaveral bent shafts. Here's my take:

The Zavs are awesome. Knife-edge blade. They offer 4 different lay-ups so if you want super light get a Lightweight or Ultralightweight lay-up. Even the lightest lay-ups are quite tough. Overall I like their Medium lay-up since it's still very light and the super lightweight ones can actually feel too light on windy days. But - the Zavs are the most expensive. And they offer so many options it can be daunting to order.

GRB - I absolutely love my GRB 6 degree. The quality seems every bit as good as Zaveral. Knife-edge blade same as Zav. It's still very light...like the Zav Medium lay-up (I'll guess 10 ounces). If you want a top quality lightweight bent shaft I'd recommend the GRB for sure. I think they are only $195 (maybe $225?) while the Zav is now well over $300 I think. If I needed a new bent shaft I'd get a GRB for sure and not just to save money over the Zav.

Bending Branches - well I love those guys and have enjoyed every one of their paddles that I've owned. I've been using my new Black Pearl ST on long day paddles and I enjoy it; it's a fine all day paddle. But it's not at the very top performance level of a Zav or GRB. It weighs considerably more than the others and it has thicker edges so it's just not as "fine". But I think it has some new technology with nylon built into the edges so it should be incredibly strong (although the Zav and GRB will surprise you with their strength/durability the Black Pearl should be bulletproof). It's confidence-inspiring. The shaft feels a touch thicker than some and feels good in the hands. Great tripping paddle when you don't know what conditions you might encounter.

Hope this helps.
 
PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2022 03:35PM  
Thank you to everyone for your input.
Justpaddlin,
Thanks for your reply. That's exactly what I was looking for! I have a good feeling about the GBR paddles after hearing back from them immediately after my request for information. Though I love my Bending Branches paddles (all wood bent-shafts) and I love that there made in my neck of the woods, the black pearl that I held seemed fine, but not awesome.

So, I'll see if I tempt myself enough take the plunge with a carbon fiber paddle or two.

Anyone else care to share their findings? Thanks.

Happy paddling!
 
05/18/2022 10:37PM  
ZRE is my primary, but have been considering a GRB as the backup.

Let us know how your purchase goes - and of course, include some photos!
 
timf1981
member (29)member
 
05/21/2022 04:02AM  
Jasonf: "Following as I'd like to upgrade as well...
I have lots of nice gear and and a couple lightweight canoes but still use generic plastic paddles that I've used forever."


Would you like to sell one of your lightweight paddles?
 
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