Agile, Powerful, Your Next Greenland Paddle: Kalleq Review
By Alex Martin
I've had the privilege of paddling Gearlab's new Kalleq (KQ) paddle since January of 2019. It's been an absolute thrill to push it to its limits over these past few months. I've taken it into whitewater, used it for rock gardening, paddled a 60 kilometer day trip, flown with it around the country to paddle, and used it on the ice covered Lake Winnipeg. For me, nothing says good manufacturing as much as being able to perform in freezing cold temperature, where things are icing once they're out of the water.
The KQ is a big step up from the other Gearlab paddles. It lends itself to more agile paddling, with a more powerful pull right from the get-go. In comparison to other Greenland paddles, I found it to work quite well for maneuver in tight spaces. Although the paddle has a noticeably larger surface area than some of the other Gearlab designs, I didn't have any issues with shoulder or joint pains, even after both a long day and a cold day on the water. Likewise, the paddle clip didn't seem any worse for wear, even with ice build-up on all my gear. The paddle clip pops out nicely, which makes it easy to put together underwater, a handy trick on a heavily loaded sea kayak or one that doesn't lend itself particularly well to hand rolling. It has served me well as both a primary and spare paddle.
I did find the lack of shoulder on this paddle rather difficult to get used to. I quite enjoy having a shoulder to brace the outside of my hands against, and it was something to getting used to. The red bands around the middle helps for visual reference, but not quite the same for me. For those who enjoy a shoulderless paddle, it's perfect. For those who like having the shoulder to separate loom from blade, it will take some time getting used to.
I've been pleased with how little wear the paddle has shown. It's been in a number of tight spots and has inevitably touched up against a few barnacles. Still hasn't shown a scratch on the paddle.
It is certainly nice peace of mind to have the replaceable tips, yet, impressively, I have not need to replace any of the tips on my Gearlab paddles, even after hundreds of hours of use and thousands of kilometers on my paddles. Durability is certianly a key point of their manufacturing, and the KQ is no different. Rugged durability for any conditions.
The slice of the KQ is very gratifying. Combined with the powerful pull of the paddle, you'll find any stroke you use will be efficiently performed. There's also enough power to do a proper high brace, which I've found is not always the case for all Greenland paddles. But, of course, not all paddles are created equal. This power is also what makes it incredibly easy to roll. Those interested in rolling with a Greenland stick will find the KQ easier than a smaller stick (in my opinion, at least). However, that which makes it slicey and fun to roll is also what creates one of its downfalls. It does have a particularly sharp edge to it, just something to watch out for for if you're using it in highly dynamic conditions.
The red bands on the paddle make it easy to spot in the water, but I added two white Gearlab decals for the added visibility. Just makes it easier to spot in the water. For another measure of added protection for your investment, I would highly suggest the Gearlab paddle bag. I've been travelling around with my KQ and feel perfectly safe with my paddles flying in their bags.
Of all the Gearlab paddles I've used, I would recommend the Kalleq above all others. It's high efficiency and powerful pull combined with its smooth slice and release make it a pleasure to paddle. Perfect for those looking for a powerful Greenland paddle.
- The original article is released on Paddling.com.