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Review Detail

Bending Branches "Navigator" Paddle
Paddle Reviews
April 23, 2013    
(Updated: May 04, 2013)

You Get What You Pay For

After receiving it from the shipper, the first impression I had of the Bending Branches “Navigator” paddle was that I would probably hang it up on wall rather than use it. It has beautiful black willow blades and a checkered carbon shaft, and is absolutely beautiful. It spent a few days in my living room while I fawned over it, until my wife told me to do something with it. After my feeble attempts to convince her that this was a work of art and not a paddle, I finally decided to put it to its intended use.

I wasn’t at all sure if I would get much use out of it since I use a Hobie “MirageDrive”. However, I usually stick to very skinny water, and that creates plenty of opportunity to put the paddle through its paces. I tend to be a little rough on paddles and I was a little worried I may scratch it up, or worse, break it. Weighing in at a scant 28 oz., this is easily the lightest paddle I have used. Bending Branches uses T-700 carbon for the shaft material, and although I don’t have any idea what that means, I know it is light and very strong. The fiberglass-reinforced blades have a “Rockguard” protective edge, and are quite durable.

The first time I used the paddle, I was very pleased that such a light paddle could be so smooth in the water. There was no flimsy feel to it and it had a very clean entry into the water. For several outings I only paddled short distances and washed it off thoroughly when I was done. I brought it on a weekend trip to Chokoloskee, and found out just how durable it is. The area is noted for tangles of mangrove islands, oyster beds, and shallow water. I spent the day using the paddle for propulsion as well as pushing across rocky bottoms and oysters. I didn’t hold back on rough use, and I really expected the finish on the blades to be shredded. At the end of the day I was very pleased to see the blades looked almost as good as new. There was a little surface scratching on the leading edge where I was literally using the paddle as a push pole across oyster beds. The Rockguard protective strip and fiberglass reinforcing really did an outstanding job at keeping the beautiful wood blades looking good.

We all know that you get what you pay for. At over $200, the Navigator is at the high end of what I would pay for a paddle, but I can’t stress how much it’s worth the money. The incredibly light weight and durability is far better that any paddle I have used. The only drawback is its beauty will make your wife jealous!

Standing and paddling with my Bending Branches Navigator kayak paddle
Bending Branches Naviator gets the job done
Closeup of my Navigator
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