By Lee Richardson
There are many forms of kayaking, and within these different subcategories live two separate styles which are easily recognizable by the paddle used to propel the boat. The two paddling styles are the Euro blade and Greenland paddle. If you have not encountered both in some way yet, then this will be super interesting for you.
There is always the question of which is better, and below we will compare and contrast these two paddling styles.
The Greenland style of paddle is far thinner in appearance with two skinny blades and a thin, typically round, shaft. The Greenland paddle does not have defined blades and appears to be more primitive in appearance, like a stick. The shaft is often thicker and blades are narrower than the Euro blade style of paddle.
Greenland paddles are great for rolling, can be easier on the body, and can be used in almost any conditions.
Greenland Guru, James Manke, swears by the Greenland Paddle. He says it has lasted the test of time for a reason. There are many things you can do with a Greenland paddle, including the 35 different types of Greenland rolls that you cannot do with a Euro blade - you can do some, but not all.
The actual forward stroke is quite different with the Greenlander than what is recommended with a Euro blade and requires a little more arm strength. The traditionalists love the Greenland paddle as it gives off a certain nostalgia that can bring paddling back to its roots.
The Euro Blade
The Euro blade paddle design offers its own set of advantages, one being the diversity of designs available. Paddlers can choose between low angle, touring style paddles and high angle, rough water or performance style paddles.
The lower angle blades are usually designed slimmer and longer, with slightly less surface area than the high angle blades. These blades are designed to give the user a relaxed stance and low angle stroke, great for touring. The lower angle paddles are often slightly longer than the high angle blades.
The high angle style of blade is used to give the paddle max purchase for a shorter style of stroke, the style of stroke we usually see the sprint and rough water kayakers use.
The Best Paddle for Injury Prevention
The argument still goes on about which is the best paddle for injury prevention. Some say the Greenland paddle is the best for injury prevention because it is so much easier on the joints, however, because the paddle has less purchase, that means you have to take more strokes to go the same distance, the repetitive motion of the movement of the joints is more than with the Euro Blade. The Euro Blade offers a little more efficiency because of its purchase and with some training on forward stroke and torso rotation, some argue it has better injury prevention characteristics.
Both types of paddles are available in a few different types of materials. You can purchase paddles made of carbon fiber, wood, fiberglass, plastic or composite. The composite and carbon fiber paddles are the most expensive, from there the range starts to go down to a carbon shaft with fiberglass blades. Although we see a lot more Greenland paddles made of wood, there are carbon Greenland paddles available on the market as well.
So, Which is Better?
The whole debate really comes down to personal preference. The debate will continue to go on between Euro blades and Greenland paddlers, but we encourage you to try both and see if you can find applications that work for both. The diversity of the sport of paddling and playing around with different styles of paddles is always fun and can open doors to new challenges.
Both designs are useful and it ultimately becomes personal preference which rules the decision making. If you are new to paddling, check out my PDF of simple tips you need to know before you get started.