Chances are that if you need to use a set of breakdown paddles when on a river trip, then something epic has occurred and in situations like that I would want a set of breakdowns that were at least as good as the paddles I had lost or broken.
Vertical Element (VE) are a UK-based company who design and manufacture their own custom whitewater and recreational paddles. The key to any of the paddles from Vertical Element is the fact you can have them configured to how you want them. Blade construction, blade size, paddle shaft construction, paddle shaft diameter, feather, and paddle length are all part of the paddle option list.
The set tested here were a set of Pro Glass Blades on a straight glass shaft. The blade size is “standard” at 740cm2. The blades are available in three different colours – Blue, Red and Yellow. A non-breakdown paddle with this make up would cost £189..
Vertical Element are able to take any of their straight shaft paddle setups and turn them into a four piece breakdown set for an additional £85. That works out at £274 for the set shown here.
The VE set uses a push button system to lock the paddle blades to the shaft. The clamp allows the paddle to be set to any angle and to different paddle lengths. The joint requires no special tools. This makes the whole setup very versatile and should meet the needs of lots of paddle groups. Vertical Elements are custom and the joint in the middle allows the paddle to be extended in length by up to 10cm.
As a right hander who paddles left handed, I am glad that I can set up a set of paddles to a left hand feather if I need it, yet can still set them to right handed for someone else within my paddling group if required.
After hours and hours of use I have found that the setup remains as good as the day they first arrived. There is no slop or play in any of the joint. It is very easy to forget that these are actually breakdown paddles as the performance they offer is exactly the same as a non-breakdown set, which after all is exactly what you are after.
You may have gathered that I do really like these paddles. I like them so much I now own a set with the same setup as the review models and they have filled a really important gap in my gear list. I am now confident in the knowledge that if I do break or lose my paddles is that I have an emergency set stashed in the back of my boat to use. When I next travel aboard, I can carry these as my main paddle tucked away in the boat without worrying about heavy handed baggage handlers.
- 100% glass fibre pre-impregnated with toughened epoxy resin.
- Pro glass blades manufactured at very high pressures for solid hard wearing edge.
- Glass shaft provides small amount of flex preferred by many white water paddlers.
- Weight @ 190cm = Only 945g [+/- 3%]
- Now available as two and four piece splits!