Fall In Love with My New Kayaking Tool - Gearlab Akiak
By David Haynes
I consider the gear that one uses to be a very personal thing. You build memories of each trip and associate them with each piece of gear. I was paddling that kayak, with that paddling jacket, in that body of water with this paddle and it was awesome. Because of that I find that everybody has very personal opinions on what they like to use. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa.
I have been using a Greenland paddle for just over a year now. Last summer while guiding I broke a Werner paddle and was offered by my boss to use one of his wooden Greenland paddles as a replacement. I will say that it wasn't love at first sight. Greenland paddles are different than a euro blade. They are longer, they paddle and handle differently, they are usually heavier and they have a bit of a learning curve to get used to them. However in my current circumstances I didn't have many options and forged ahead with my new life using a Greenland paddle for the rest of the season guiding.
My relationship with Greenland paddles grew quickly. The longer strokes, the movement of your hands to adjust your stroke, the way it feels in the water, it was like falling in love. Luckily I thought that this would be just a summer fling. At the end of the season I gave the paddle back to my boss and returned to trying to use my spare paddle on trips but I couldn't do it. I missed it all too much.
I went searching for my own paddle. There are a few companies locally that make wood Greenland paddles. Some very basic while others very ornate and beautiful however I wanted more than that, I wanted something different but I didn't know what yet. A few more days of surfing the web going as far as looking on Alibaba at the slightly questionable paddles from companies I have never heard of with blurry pictures I came across Gearlab.
Their website was professional, their social media was active and they already had several people posting videos and photos of their paddles across the globe. From the first look at their paddles I knew I had to have one. It was a combination of the very clever replaceable acrylic tips, the beautiful gel coat colours and the fantastic customer support answering all my questions in a reasonable time considering the time difference between their office and myself on Vancouver Island that I knew that this was the start of a new relationship for me and a paddle.
I received my Akiak 225cm paddle at the beginning of March 2017 and could hardly wait to get it home to open the box. Firstly, it is beautiful. The contrast of the black carbon and the blue gel coat make a stunning contrast. The paddle is clearly well designed, engineered and built by people who are obviously passionate about what they are doing. It is well balanced, a reasonable weight and very strong. It so far has been a joy to use both personally and professionally.
When I am guiding I rarely get a chance to use the paddle myself because clients keep asking to try it for themselves. Paddling with friends, the same thing happens too. People are amazed at how different it feels compared to a Euro paddle and because of the well engineered blades the learning curve to control any wobble in the strokes with my Akiak paddle is greatly reduced so people just enjoy using it.
What you use to kayak can be very personal and so I don't want to say that this is the best paddle in the world, however I will say that personally this paddle is the best paddle I have used that fits my personal style and if you are looking to enter the world of Greenland style paddles there is no better company to deal with based on their products, or their exemplary customer service.