REVIEW: WERNER PADDLES IKELOS
For my recent adventure to Antarctica, I needed to find a paddle I could both travel with and trust in this harsh environment. I needed a 4 piece paddle I could use every day to cover hundreds of kilometers; that suited my aggressive racing stroke (i.e., high angle and powerful blades); and one that would stand up to the abuse of paddling thru brash ice, landing and launching off rocky steep beaches and just day to day abuse of paddling in freezing waters. I ended up choosing the Werner Ikelos because of Werner’s proven track record and for the fit and feel of the Ikelos in the water. So after more than 6 weeks of paddling in South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula over which we covered nearly 400 km, how does the Werner Ikelos stack up?
Firstly, the Werner Ikelos is a beautifully constructed paddle. I purchased the straight shaft, 4 piece Ikelos and it therefore featured the Smart View Adjustable Ferrule System in the center and a snug fitting push button ferrule where the shaft joins the blades. The Smart View Adjustable Ferrule worked incredibly well and as Werner describes, it does make a break down paddle feel like a one piece by reducing flex and mass in the shaft. But that being said, I found myself in a bit of a quandary over the feature. This is an expensive “Ultimate Performance” paddle and therefore more likely used by performance paddlers. How many performance paddlers change their offset? I don’t know of any. So why does the Smart View system need this feature on high end paddles? I also found that the system would get hard to pull apart or reconnect after about a week of use. This was easily resolved by a simple flush with fresh water that removed any salt build up and everything would work great again.
I incorrectly presumed the weakest part of this paddle to be the push button ferrules connecting the shaft to the blades and was concerned about breakage or ovaling of the holes after extensive use. None of these concerns proved founded and the push button system worked flawlessly the entire trip, but again, did require the odd fresh water flush to make sure things still came apart and went together well. Push button ferrules do allow water to sneak into the shaft and the Ikelos was no exception, so I would simply empty out the couple of ounces of water every day to ensure it wouldn’t freeze over night and potentially damage the connections.
The standard diameter, straight shaft was perfectly indexed and fell nicely into my hand. The blades proved to be perfect for my padding style and at 691 cm2 felt very comfortable for an all day paddle. However, other paddlers that tried my paddle did find it overwhelming, although they did not come from a fitness/racing background, so they would be better suited to one of the Ikelos smaller cousins. The Dynel edge also proved its worth when paddling thru miles of brash ice to find open water. There was never a hint that this high end Ultimate Performance paddle couldn’t handle the abuse of bashing thru ice.
On the water, the Ikelos was buttery smooth. A truly effortless paddle to use through out the stroke. The buoyant blades slipped thru the water nicely and provided a nice transfer of energy as you’d push the boat forward. The exit was silky smooth too, thanks to that same buoyancy. I purchased a 215 cm, which is the same length as my every day wing paddle and was the low end of the recommended length using the Werner fit guide and I felt that it was just about perfect for my size, strength and boat type.
In summary, the Werner Ikelos is now my favorite travel paddle for touring and despite a few small reservations about using an Ultimate Performance paddle in the harshest of environments, the paddle performed flawlessly and needed just a simple fresh water flush every so often to ensure the best of fit. Highly recommended to those looking for a powerful, high angle touring paddle.