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The Chinook is a superb long-distance paddle, with a super-smooth entry and exit and a gradual power curve - no immediate catch at the beginning of each stroke. The paddle slices through the water effortlessly, like a hot knife through butter. Even though the Chinook is not as light as some other paddles (just over 30 oz., due to the longer shaft needed to support the long blade), the swing weight of the blades is so low that the paddle FEELS much lighter than it actually is. The small blade size, by the way, is also excellent for paddling in high wind conditions. You will hardly notice the wind on the paddle.
Contrary to popular belief, a narrow blade does not mean less speed. Yes, a larger, wider paddle will give you faster acceleration, which can be important for certain types of paddling, in particular racing or paddling in surf. But the Chinook sacrifices absolutely nothing in top speed. The only difference is that you won't feel as much resistance and may therefore conclude - erroneously - that the paddle is not moving you fast enough.
Bracing also hasn't been a problem for me, although it took me a few days to get used to the longer, narrower blade. I don't eskimo roll my kayak, so I can't tell you how the paddle performs during rolls.
For me personally, the Chinook has allowed me to DOUBLE my paddling distance, almost overnight. And I already had a small-blade paddle before, the Werner Little Dipper (don't you hate that name?) So, the Chinook is not just another small-blade paddle, it's really in its own category, with no similar paddles being offered by competitors from what I could tell (and I've looked!).
Here's the catch: As of the date of this review, the Chinook is no longer available because the mold broke and Nimbus is trying to figure out whether to replace it. Apparently, there is demand for the paddle, but not enough to make the choice obvious.
So, if you feel worn out from paddling after just an hour or two and are thinking of switching to a lower gear, you should strongly consider the Chinook. Chances are that, by the time you read this review, the paddle will be available again. If it isn't, let Nimbus know that you heard great things about the Chinook and are disappointed that it's no longer offered.
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