Review: the Reggie by Saltwood Paddles
Saltwood Paddles, which launched in 2011, makes handcrafted paddles that blend the tradition of wood with high-tech carbon fiber and fiberglass. Aimed at performance paddlers who enjoy rough water and take their equipment seriously, Saltwood’s design show serious craftsmanship and occupy the upper part of the price range. The Reggie is the mid-sized blade between the larger Habit and the less aggressively-shaped Hustle. It’s designed to appeal to whitewater boaters and rough-water sea kayakers alike. The shafts are Sitka Spruce strengthened by a fiberglass sleeve and come in either straight or ergonomically bent shafts. Blade options include either fiberglass or carbon fiber and a choice of colors.
The Reggie excels at what it’s designed for: rough water, maneuvering and blending strokes by skilled paddlers. The large shaft gives a warm, full grip with indexing that gives a good feel for the blade’s orientation. The foam-core blades with thin edges plunge into the water to find green water very well, but still have the buoyancy in the central blade to pop out of the water easily. The shape leads to smooth blending strokes. The big blade may be tiring to smaller or less fit paddlers after a long day, but the Hustle, with it’s softer entry and slightly smaller blade, fits that niche.
Design and Aesthetics ★★★★★
The combination of wood shaft and high-performance carbon-fiber blades has instant eye-appeal to both traditionalists who like the feel and workmanship of wood, and high-tech gearheads that like carbon fiber and foam-core performance. The wood shaft also adds some flex, which helps prevents overuse injuries. Designed by Richard Davis and Mike Robinson, two rough-water kayakers, the Reggie clearly craves a skilled paddler to make the most of its carefully thought out design.
The one-piece design and fiberglass-sheathed paddle shaft can stand up to heavy use. The fiberglass blades will hold up to impact better than the stiffer, more brittle, lighter, and spendier carbon-fiber blades. It’s not the most durable paddle on the market, but it’s quite solid and should stand up to long use if you’re not perpetually smashing into rocks.
At $345-450, these paddles are far from cheap. They’re aimed at the performance market, where they’ll see a lot of use by people who appreciate the subtle differences between designs. The Reggie might be overkill for the casual paddler, but if you’re going to be using a paddle often for a long time, you’ll get your money’s worth.
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