Posted on Sep 27, 2020
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Posted on Sep 27, 2020

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Reading time: 3 min
This season, we've been testing out the Badger Paddles' La Bonga, Badgertail, and Woodland paddles here in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Simply put, they're quiet, sleek, and comfortable in the hand - perfect for Hokkaido lakes and wetland rivers. We'd be reticent to take them on the bony whitewater rivers here, but the thickened blade-ends should stand up to some occasional whitewater use. We worked with Canoa to get a batch of the paddles over here to Hokkaido from Canada, so here's our (rather sparse) preview of the paddles.

Thanks to Guide House Canoa for providing the paddles for testing.

Badger Paddles in Hokkaido, Japan バジャーパドル
From left: Badger Tail, La Bonga, Woodland

KEY POINTS

STRENGTHS

These three paddles – LaBonga, Badgertail, Woodland – are perfect for quiet wildlife-viewing canoe trips on Hokkaido lakes and wetland rivers. Surprisingly good blade-heavy balance for fatigue-free paddling. Blade tips are not too thin, not too thick. Extremely quiet in the water.

WEAKNESSES

Blade-tips not as durable as composite-coated or fully-composite paddles for bony white-water use. Noticeably heavier in the hand than laminate construction wood paddles (but, see above comment about balance).

They call open-deck canoeing the sophisticated realm of paddlesports, and we’ve discovered over the short two years we’ve been involved in this pastime that this sophistication extends to the paddles too. Our friend Naoki from Canoa (see their shop here) got a batch of Badger Paddles in from Canada this season, and we’ve been testing them out on a few trips here in Hokkaido, northern Japan.

LA BONGA PADDLE (LINK)

When we’re using the Badger Paddles, this La Bonga paddle spends most of its time with me, Rob, at the back of the canoe. The blade’s wider, shorter profile makes for more efficient rudder strokes, and the forward power is also good. The rounded profile keeps the paddle quiet in the water like the other two paddles in the line-up.

WOODLAND (CECEBE) PADDLE (LINK)

Haidee loves this long-bladed paddle in the front of the canoe. Her first reaction to picking up the paddle was “wow, this is heavier than other paddles I’ve used”. When used as a paddle, however, the pendulum effect of a weight balance towards the blade end makes it very useable, even for a lighter-weight paddler like Haidee. The gradual blending of the shaft through the throat into the upper portion of the blade is a nice touch, making the paddle feel very solid. Haidee likes using this paddle for quiet forward strokes, keeping the blade in the water all the time. Haidee often makes use of the Northwoods grip, with her palm pressed up against the grip perpendicular to the grip.

BADGER TAIL PADDLE (LINK)

I enjoyed using this paddle when I was paddling solo on a recent Lake Shikotsu trip. The long blade is great for strong, deep forward stokes, and the narrow profile makes it great for leaving it in the water, slicing up for another strong forward stroke.

GRIP STYLES

Most Badger Paddles have a standard comfortable integrated grip. The Woodland paddle has Badger Paddles’ take on a traditional ‘Northwoods’ grip (see a video of a Northwoods stroke here). That’s the grip in the middle in the photo below. For long-distance paddling where conservation of energy is important, it’s nice to have the option of changing up one’s grip – Haidee appreciates the options.

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REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

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Badger Paddles Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

25/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.