Few things offer the peace and tranquility of being out on the lake on a kayak, gently paddling as the sun rises or sets…or beams it’s intense rays on you in the middle of the day. It’s times like that which you don’t want anything in life to go wrong, but if you have luck like I do…you’ll be in the middle of the lake and your paddle will break. Yep, it’s happened before, so I set off to make sure I never skimp out on a paddle again!
Alas, be introduced to the AquaBound Sting Ray Hybrid Paddle! Made in Wisconson, USA, AquaBound has made an incredible paddle series with carbon fiber shafts and fiberglass resin paddle blades. AquaBound has many options for their paddles, the Hybrid series is a mid-level paddle (they make full carbon models as well, for a little more wallet investment!). They offer it in 3 different paddle blade setups, depending on what your kayak paddling style is. They make the Manta Ray blades for those with a high angle paddling style, it offers 104 in² of blade surface area, and helps power larger boats in flat and moving water. They also make the Eagle Ray blades for low angle paddling, offering 98 in² of surface area, helping to power loaded boats in flat or moving water. Then they came to my choice, the Sting Ray blades, offering 87 in² of surface area and a design most recreational paddlers will find to be a perfect fit.
Once you’ve decided on the paddle, they offer a few shaft combinations that may interest you. The top of the line is the Posi-Lok, which allows you to feather the paddle in a seemingly limitless angle configuration. Then comes the TLC Ferrell, allowing you a few less configurations locking in at 30, 45, or 60° to fit your preference of feathering, this is a great option as it stays adjustable in sandy conditions as well. Then there’s the 3 Hole Snap Button option, the simplest one with the least amount of play, squeaking, and adjustablity (only locks into 0 or 60 degrees left or right). For my purposes, the 3 Hole Snap was the choice for simplistic purposes.
It took one use for me to quickly realize what I’d been missing out on all these years by skimping out and purchasing ‘value priced’ paddles. The first thing to notice, is that the paddle shaft isn’t perfectly round, it’s somewhat ovalized, and fits a little more ergonomically into your hands, a feature that took zero time to get used to, but makes my hands far less fatigued later on. Also contributing to the carbon shaft’s excellent qualities you’ll find it has several subtle grooves to help keep your grip in place. At first it takes a second to get used to it, but the grooved surface really does keep the paddle from sliding at all, no matter whether you’re using gloves or bare hands.
The first few strokes with the AquaBound Hybrid paddle and I realized how much flex I was getting out of my old paddles. In fairness, my old paddle was less than half the price, but the efficiency I could notice was pretty extreme. With very little flex in the blades or the shaft, it was noticeable how much more energy was being transferred to the water with each stroke by how much faster I was getting across the lake than I used to. The efficiency was a welcome bonus, far more than I’d expected. In fairness, if you have the extra cash laying around, the full carbon blades offer even less flex and more efficiency, I used a friend’s full carbon Sting Ray and the weight savings combined with the nearly zero flex was yet another decent upgrade for sure…but that’s if you have even more cash laying around!
Bottom line: I love this paddle. It’s exactly what I need, and I trust it far more than the el-cheap-o that I had been using. I’ve recommended the Sting Ray Hybrid to several people because of how great my experience has been, and how efficient it’s proven to be for recreational kayaking! So some longer term tests must ensue, right? We’ll keep this page updated with all that is yet to come!
Product Being Tested: AquaBound Sting Ray Hybrid Paddle
Purchase from Amazon: AquaBound Sting Ray Hybrid Paddle