Natalie Kramer Anderson dialing in the line - Mangu bent shaft.


Hard Core Paddles are excellent all-around whitewater kayak paddles, used by paddlers of various skill levels for creeking, playboating, river-running and racing around the world.

All of our paddles are made with a composite-sleeved cedar core shaft which provides strength, low weight, durability, a warm feel and the optimum combination of stiffness and flex. The Dynel-edged blades are light, strong, and durable with an amazingly strong catch. All of our paddles share this unique blade design. For more in-depth information please see the details below or contact me.

What Makes Our Bent Shaft Paddle Design Different

The hand grip area on our bent shaft paddles is long and allows for a much wider range of positioning than many other bent shafts out there. This means you can have a much narrower paddler's box compared to other bent shafts.

If you've tried another brand's bent shaft in the past and didn't like it, we highly recommend you try ours, particularly if you have tendinitis or joint issues. The vast majority of our customers who have tendinitis or shoulder, wrist, or elbow problems have reported significant and often complete improvements after using our bent shaft paddles.

"I started using a Hard Core Paddle in 2017 and haven't looked back; the paddle helped eliminate tendinitis in my forearm and gave me the confidence to get back to paddling challenging whitewater after time lost to injuries. These paddles live up to the hype and then some."

Adrian Wigston

Paddle Shaft Design - Hand grips and placement

The hand grip areas on all our paddles are shaped to fit your hand perfectly so you will never be unsure of whether your blade is in the right position. This is particularly helpful when rolling or if you've lost your grip on your paddle.

Paddle Shaft Design - Forward offset

Our paddles have some forward offset, meaning that the blade is forward of the hand position. This adds to the balance, helping to eliminate flutter, and allows for a more forward blade entry. It also allows for a lighter grip, which helps with tendinitis. If you have never used a forward offset paddle you will find that when holding the paddle loosely in your hands in front of you the blades will rotate down. This may seem strange at first but it does not affect performance while paddling and you will soon get used to it, trust me. In most cases the pros of a forward offset far outweigh the cons. The majority of new paddles designs have some degree of forward offset.

Blade Design

Our blades are relatively small in relation to other high performance paddles out there, but they have an amazingly strong catch.

A small blade does not necessarily mean you have less traction in the water. (I talk about traction and catch, not power, in regards to paddle performance since a paddle has no power. The power comes from you, the paddle transfers it.)

In fact, paddles with much larger blades often spill far more water than ours because of their design, in which case you are using a lot more energy to generate the same driving force.

 "A small blade with a strong catch means you are not wasting energy pulling the blade through the water. In contrast, you are pulling your boat past the blade. Think of a large blade with lots of dihedral as a large tire with no tread on it doing a hill climb while spinning frantically. As opposed to a small blade with very little dihedral as a narrower tire with an amazingly chunky tread doing a hill climb without slipping at all. This is our paddle."

Mike Nash, Owner, Hard Core Paddles

Benefits of Our Blade Design

Our smaller blade size makes it easier to deal while underwater, setting up for a roll, getting worked in holes, etc. While executing Duffeks or similar ruddering type moves, a blade with less surface area is easier to control and just as effective.

Meanwhile, a blade with a strong catch that doesn't need to be pulled through the water at high speed to generate force performs far better in moving water. For example, using moving water to pull you out of a hole, doing pivot turns, etc.. All these benefits make our paddle design an excellent all-around paddle. In short, not a single person who has bought a Hard Core paddle has complained of a lack of power transfer.

Because of this, most people who switch to a Hard Core paddle find that they're more comfortable with a slightly shorter paddle than they were using before. The benefit of a shorter paddle that transfers the same amount of power is that it's more versatile and nimble.

Blade Weight and Swing Weight

The swing weight of our paddles is significantly lighter compared to high performance full foam core paddles.

This is because the blade-to-shaft weight ratio of our paddles is lower. Typically, full foam core blades are slightly heavier than our blades and their hollow shafts are slightly lighter than our shafts. The lower blade-to-shaft weight ratio of Hard Core paddles makes them feel lighter and less clubbish to use compared to a foam core paddle of similar weight. It also makes doing multiple fast strokes feel easier.

"More and more impressed with the paddle, as I use it more. I thought it might be an advanced design that my shitty technique would not take advantage of. No flutter. Plenty of bite. Very happy, and screaming your praises from the rooftops."
Jay Filcman

Blade Flex

The blades have a little flex along the length as opposed to a foam core blade that is completely rigid. This adds to the liveliness and pop of the paddle as the whole paddle flexes through the blades and the shaft from tip to tip. This also eliminates any clubbish feel.

Blade Durability

Hard Core paddle blades are light, strong and durable. They have a Dynel edge, however, unlike other Dynel-edged blades they are not full foam core. This means they are much more resilient to abuse on the blade face and back compared to full foam core blades that are more susceptible to puncture and delamination because they have a very thin skin on either side.

The Dynel edge of our blades also gives them enormous resistance to wearing down over time, unlike fiberglass and other non-Dynel edge blades. This allows the performance of our blades to stay the same for the life of the paddle.


 If you're wondering whether or not you need a 30 degree feather, please try the exercise described below or check out the Tales from the Cripps kayaking podcast at 1:41:20, linked to here, in which I talk more about paddle design.

The reason most whitewater kayakers use a 30 degree feather is that it facilitates and encourages vertical paddle strokes, which is the key to good whitewater paddle technique. If you're wondering why, grab a paddle and follow the instructions below.

If you don't have a 30 degree feather paddle, use the paddle you have and notice how many degrees off of the correct entry angle the blade is when you're in the ending position.

That being said, we offer a wide range of feathers and will be happy to make your paddle with whatever feather works best for you.

Olivia Linney on the Rio Claro, Chile - Photo @campos_de_heilo


Stand up and hold your paddle with your right hand only.

Move the paddle into a vertical stroke position as if you're going to take a forward stroke on your right hand side. (Right hand will be in the lower position on the paddle, thumb on top.)

Close your eyes, and without putting your left hand on the paddle swing it over as if you're going to take a vertical stroke on your left side. (Right hand will be in the high position with thumb down, and right elbow will be raised)

Keeping your body in this position, open your eyes and look at the lower blade. If you have a 30 degree feather paddle it will naturally be in or close to the correct blade angle to take a forward stroke. If your paddle doesn't have a 30 degree feather, you'll probably notice that you have to flex or extend your right wrist in order for the paddle blade to enter the water at a 90 degree angle from straight ahead.

We hope this helps, and as always, please get in touch if you have any more questions.


We want you to get the most out of your Hard Core Paddle. We are really confident in the durability of our paddles, but like any paddle they are not indestructible. We are continually surprised by the variations we see in the condition of paddles over similar time frames. In particular, the wear and/or damage to the tips of the blade caused by hitting and dragging the blades over rocks or concrete.

Our blades feature a Dynel edge which is much more wear-resistant than carbon and fiberglass, but it will still wear over time. Depending on the care taken with the paddle, we've seen the Dynel edge worn away after less than 6 months (when consistently dragged over concrete at whitewater parks), and seen other paddles with a huge amount of use showing only minor signs of wear after several years.

If you are new to kayaking or you find that you go through paddles faster than others then the following info should help you increase the life of your paddle.


Leif Anderson rocks the Mangu bent shaft

Protecting the Blade Edge
Every contact that your blade has with a rock has potential to wear a little bit away, and high impact contact can cause the carbon and fiberglass that encases the Dynel to crack. While some contact with rock is inevitable, it's important that you have a strong awareness of where you place your paddle in the water. If you're paddling regularly on shallow rivers then it can be unavoidable, but you can still try to avoid putting high load on the paddle when it is contacting rock. Having a strong awareness of your paddle placement will also improve your kayaking! Just watch the pros and you'll notice how they put in fewer but more effective strokes.

Blade Edge Maintenance
A hard hit on a sharp rock can deform the edge which may cause the outer carbon layer to splinter. Carefully sanding down these splinters will reduce the chance of any further degradation. The outer carbon and fiberglass layer will inevitably wear away at a faster rate than the Dynel edge. Sanding down the Dynel to match the wear of the outer layers will help maintain the structural integrity of the blade edge.

Blade Damage
Getting a blade jammed between two rocks and loading the shaft can cause a full structural failure of the spine (it will crack). Our blades are really strong but the leverage and subsequent point load placed on a blade in this situation is really high! Again its just really important that you have high awareness of your blade placement. Being aware will also mean you can usually feel what's happening to the blade so you can pull it out before it becomes wedged or let go of it if it has already become wedged.

Solo Adventures
Every now and then your paddle will probably go on a little solo adventure. This can lead to damage or loss and can also be a safety hazard as other kayakers take risks to try and rescue it. Learning to hold on to your paddle when you decide to pull is an important skill. Its not something that you tend to be thinking about when your getting thrashed in a hole so it needs to be something you don't think about! And that means practicing to make it muscle memory. You don't need to swim over and over, but just practice tipping over and reaching for your grab loop while holding the paddle with one hand.


Sam Miles - Clarence River, NZ - Photo Ali Keraiff

General Handling
It may seem silly considering the abuse your gear is subjected to on the river, but being gentle with your paddle can extend its life. Carbon fiber is susceptible to accumulated damage that is not visible. Every little impact or compression can cause tiny cracks in the fibers and over time will reduce its overall strength leading to failure under heavy loads.  We recommend that you transport your paddle in a paddle bag or sleeve whenever possible.

The sun's ultraviolet rays will cause epoxy resins to deteriorate and discolor. On really hot days, if left out in direct sunlight the heat from the sun can also cause blistering and delamination. Try to keep your paddle in the shade when not paddling, and if you need to store it in the sun, rotate the shaft so the blades don't receive the full force of the sun.


We offer a blade replacement service, however, we advise you to consider the pros and cons of going this route.

The most logical situation in which you might decide to replace a blade is if the paddle is still quite new or in really good condition but one of the blades has been damaged in a one-off event.

If one blade or both have significant wear to the Dynel edge, there are several reasons why we wouldn't recommend replacing one or both blades.

In most cases, both blades will be worn to a similar extent so replacing one blade likely wouldn't make sense, and at $150 per blade plus potential shipping costs both ways it's probably only slightly more to buy a completely new paddle.

In most cases, if the blades are badly worn or damaged there is a good chance that the shaft has also had a hard life. You could potentially spend a bunch of cash getting new blades only to have the shaft fail soon after.

We don't offer a shaft replacement service because the process of removing the shaft from the blades is difficult and often results in damage to the blades. So really, you should only consider replacing one or both blades if the shaft is relatively new and in good condition.

If you follow our advice on looking after your paddle it should serve you well for many years.


Single Blade Replacement - $150 USD + Shipping

Double Blade Replacement - $300 USD + Shipping

You will need to arrange shipping or drop off to our workshop in Gold Bar, Washington.
Shipping and drop off address
17006, 424th DR, SE, Gold Bar, WA, 98251.
To arrange drop off, call/text Mike at 206-799-8687 or email [email protected].