Canoeing Just Got Serious

Compared to its kayaking counterpart, canoeing has seen little redesign over the years, and many would consider the activity to be somewhat antiquated. The Explorer Canoe Paddle is a twist on the classic that gives a new life to the sport, featuring a sporty looking yet functional form. A flexible blade core increases adaptive power and joint protection while a curved carbon shaft and looped grips provide more control and power transmission.

Designer: Kenji Huang


  • Nathan says:

    Are we still riding around in birch-bark hulls? Canoeing has had many advancements, but it’s a leisure passtime because a kayak is more rugged and robust. If a canoe owner is going to spend their money trying to gain performance in the water, they would likely buy a kayak.
    In terms of improvements to the design, I would suggest the flexible core is a negative for this reason: it is now likely to be the weakest part of the paddle and when it fails the rest of the paddle is useless. The blade on a traditional paddle is the strongest point and even if the shaft breaks, then blade can still be used to limp to shore.
    I must say that the loop butt may give an advantage in paddle control, so I like that aspect of the design.

  • Kenji Huang says:

    Nathan thanks for your comments!! It is very insightful and much appreciated. I am though compelled as the designer to defend my work however biased and self serving it might seem.

    In terms of the paddle design, you are correct in thinking that the blade core is the most easily damaged during use but actually (from my research and canoeing myself) it happens to be the tip of the blade as that part hits the river or lake floor. The core is almost never in contact with anything especially because it is inset and would instead hit the frame first. (See heavily used canoe paddles.)

    To address your concern further, the flexible membrane made from polyurethane is specifically chosen because of its superior tear resistance (500-100 lbs/linear inch), abrasion resistance, and load bearing capacity.

    In terms of unforeseen evens of damage or a lost paddle, it is common practice to always carry a spare.

    Loop butt? Perhaps I can use that description in the future.

    I hope these points might reconcile some of your concerns, Nathan and in the spirit of returning a favor, I would love to take a look and critique your work sometime.


  • Jimmy C says:

    Personally, I think this would be a nice paddle design for the canoe or kayak. This was very well done!

  • ken says:

    when I canoe I find I am always leaning over to the side I am paddling on it would be nice to sit more upright. I love this design and would also like to see it in a kayak model.

  • cameik says:

    The bend in the shaft in your design doesn’t address the inherent inefficiency problem with the canoe paddle, the fact that 80 % of effort of muscles is placed toward bracing one hand against the other, and 20% toward forward thrust… A bent-shaft canoe paddle places the blade at an angle which allows both hands to be involved in thrust, increasing efficiency to an amount determined by the severeness of the bend. This bend also places the blade perpendicular to the movement through the water for an increased duration during the stroke, for increased efficiency there also…
    Though I like the idea of the loop grip, I think control might be sacrificed during bracing, sculling, and your basic steering strokes- the c and the j. Instead of a slight twist of the handhold, a more exaggerated movement appears to be required. Quick, flick the paddle 90 degrees left, now right… alright if you only have to do it a few times, but repeat 5000 times… you get my point. Maybe a curve in the middle of the loop might help with control.
    Also, your bracing and sculling strokes would be adversely effected if the membrane was too loose, as a sideways sweeping action is required. (so don’t make it too loose.) Are you an accomplished paddler, or just a weekend cottager with some good ideas you have taken certain effort to realize, yes it sure looks sleek and swift, but is it a real improvement? I think your ideas have merit, it just needs a little refinement…

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