Greenland Paddles

Our Greenland paddles are made to measure using a combination of hard woods and western red cedar to produce a strong paddle with a comfortable weight in the hands. The laminates produce a beautiful visual effect as well as enhancing the paddle’s strength. The tips are reinforced with an epoxy fillet and the blade edges with hardwood strips.

We make two styles of the classic Greenland sea kayak paddle: a standard version and a storm paddle. Both of these are available in a traditional narrow version, a westernised wider blade and a compromise half way between the two.

The storm paddle is a shorter version with the same blade length but a shorter shaft.  This shape offers significantly less resistance to wind since nearly three quarters of the paddle disappears into the water on each stoke. This requires the development of the specialized slide-stroke where the hands slide up and down the non-paddled blade with each stroke.

Storm paddles are made from dimensions used to make a full sized paddle and then the loom length reduced to 8 inches.

The Perfect Paddle?

Traditionally the Greenland paddle was made to fit the paddler. However, the paddler also paddled a boat made to measure. Unless you are paddling a boat that is ‘perfect’ for your size and dimensions, the perfect ‘made-to-measure’ Greenland paddle requires some compromise.

If you paddle a boat longer and/or wider than a Greenlander would have made for you, you will probably need a paddle that is longer than the ‘perfect’ measure.

If you want to use the paddle for paddling that requires lots of hard work (e.g. breaking out through surf or working against tide), you probably want a blade head which is wider than a traditional one.

Key dimensions

Length: This is based on your full reach above your head. When fully extended, but not overly stretching, your finger tips should just curl over the end of the blade.

Loom width: This is based on the distance from the inside edge of your ring finger on your right hand across to the same place on your left hand. There are a number of ways to take the measurement but the simplest is to hold a broomstick or similar and adjust your hands to your comfortable paddle grip and then get someone to measure the distance.

Shoulder profile:  The blade can be shaped to taper gently into the loom or to have a more pronounced shoulder. The more tapered profile is more comfortable for sliding the shaft through the hands for extended sweep strokes. Some people prefer the more pronounced shoulder to help locate the hands on the blade for rolling.

Loom circumference:  We make the looms 1 1/4 inch diameter as a standard. Traditional measurements are thicker but we have found this to be the most popular comfortable size.

Blade width: The wider the blade, the more work you will need per stroke, but also the greater power you can transmit into moving the boat. Traditional blades are quite narrow.

  • Traditional: Blade Width (widest): 7.5-8cm/ 3in
  • Half way:  Blade Width (widest): 9cm/3.5in
  • I no longer make a wider western blade.

Why use a Greenland Paddle

The key advantage of these paddles is the lighter and effectively more restful paddling rhythm that they develop. The swinging motion develops greater use of the core muscles, reducing arm and shoulder fatigue, and largely eliminates wrist flex and ultimately wrist injury, particularly over long distance touring.

Greenland paddles require a little practise to develop proficiency but it is building familiarity not overcoming complexity that requires the practise.

They have a significantly simpler shape, without the variety of scoops, feathers and compound blade angles found in modern western paddles. The Greenland paddle’s narrow profile means that it is less prone than a typical sea paddle to flutter and twist in the water and the wind. This makes paddling smoother and combines to make rolling, bracing and paddling more straightforward; because the blades are symmetrical there is no need to search for the right position to prepare for the required stroke. This means that many paddlers find the Greenland paddle easier to learn to roll with.

Without doubt once you develop familiarity with a Greenland paddle you won’t feel a desire to return to the modern western imitation! The Greenland Stick is the ultimate sea paddle developed over centuries of use in a demanding environment.

Greenland Paddle in Action – Surfing with a Greenland stick

This is a bit of footage from Norman Woods. Norman has been surfing with Valkyrie Greenland Blades since 2014. The only breakage happened when the paddle contacted the sea bed during a roll in strong surf.