OK first things first, I am right-handed but paddle left-handed and have done for decades. This makes the process of purchasing paddles a bit of a nightmare! My last two sets of paddles have been Werner Sidekicks and in the case of my full carbon versions had involved a long wait for them to arrive from the States.
I make no apologies for comparing the Vertical Element paddles against my Werner paddles in this review as Werner paddles are considered by many to be the best WW paddles on the market.
Vertical Element paddles are put together here in the UK, any length, any feather. So from ordering, paying and then receiving, in my case took all of four days including a weekend. This in itself makes them a very attractive option for me. My VE’s are full carbon, cranked shaft, set at 35 degrees and 197cm in length. So apart from the cranked shaft I have went for a set up that is identical to the Werner Sidekicks that I have been using for the last few years. I have been using the VE’s for a couple of months now so it’s about time to commit my initial thoughts to the site.
A little background on VE:
Vertical Element is a British company driven by elite paddlers with backgrounds in composite engineering and advanced design.
Using this experience and knowledge we have created a new standard in white water paddles.
After an extensive period of research and development by Britain’s finest creeking and freestyle paddlers, we are ready to share this innovation in paddle design with you.
VE offers a personalised service priding itself in the manufacture of lightweight paddles that optimize power and enhance performance
I did the deal for the paddles via email. No hassles what so ever. Order taken, paddles setup as agreed and they arrived when promised. Full marks!
The finish to both the blades and shaft is excellent and are on a par with the Werners. The glue used to join the shaft and fix the blades has been very well done and is incredibly neat. There has cleary been a lot of care and attention given to the paddles during construction to ensure that they are “just so”.
These are my first set of cranked paddles. They did feel rather strange at first but once used for around half an hour it was pretty clear that going back to a straight paddle shaft was going to be difficult. The crank on the paddle feels very natural and even after an 8 mile slog today (on flat water in a play boat) my wrists aren’t suffering at all.
The shape of the paddle shaft means that your grip is very positive. I am definitely not worried about slipping or feel the need to use surf wax.
The blades are fairly big and are not dissimilar to the sidekicks in many ways, however the feel as the blade pulls through the water and the power given is far superior. I haven’t weighed them but the VE’s do feel lighter than my Werners, at some point I will get around to weighing them and get a definite answer.
The bottom line
I have been using Werner Sidekicks for 10 years + and Schlegel Topline paddles prior to that. I want a tough, light, and high performing paddle. British company, great customer service, very good pricing, to be honest there isn’t anything not to like.
The Vertical Element are now my paddle of choice.