I have an AT Xception in carbon/kevlar. This is the standard sized blade, not the O/S.
- It's the most beautiful looking (non-wood) paddle out there.
- It has, by a narrow margin over the Lendal, the best feeling most comfortable grip of any paddle.
- The build quality is outstanding and confidence inspiring for any high strain activity, ie: beach landings, PF re-entry, bushwhacking, even self-defense.
- A beautifully smooth stroke with negligible flutter.
The Not-So Good:
- It's heavy by carbon paddle standards. Mine is a 220cm 2pc. and it's just shy of 2lbs. Most of the competitors in its price range are several ounces lighter.
- It feels short for its purported length. My 220cm AT looks and feels shorter in the loom and overall than my Werner 220cm. I don't really notice it when paddling, but I did tape the joint together an inch or two wider than the factory setting and found it slightly more comfortable. If I could buy it again, I'd get a 225cm.
- It's a tweener in terms of blade size. It's not quite a mid size blade, but it's a bit bigger than a small blade. I like it for everyday paddling some may find it tough to get that quick burst when you need it.
Overall I'm pleased with the paddle. My other choice could have been the Werner Kalliste which is a terrific stick and much lighter. But I kinda dig the durability of the AT. I don't worry about it when I drop it or stress it like I would with nearly every other elite paddle out there. I like the way it feels when I paddle with it. I feel it's helped improve my stroke. The grip is superb. And it's so pretty I actually hang it on the wall as art in the off-season.I recently purchased an AT Xception Tour O/S Carbon as a compliment to a new QCC kevlar kayak I ordered at the end of 2001. I've been using a two piece fiberglass Bending Branches Evening Mist fiberglass paddle with my plastic Wilderness Systems CapeLookout boat. I wanted to try the new paddle with the old boat to see how it stacked up against my other paddle, and to see if I was a moron spending $345.00 on a paddle. I bought the one piece unit - The joint on the two piece Branches paddle began to get some slop in it, and it does add a little more weight, so I chose a 1-piece unit from AT. I've been using it all winter long (mild winter here in PA, our lakes haven't frozen over)
I could tell a difference immediately with the new paddle, it is much lighter and more comfortable than my other paddle. Another person wrote that the bends in the shaft help to keep your elbows closer to your body: They were right, they do. The result is a more precise catch each and every stroke. The paddle I opted for was the O/S, which has a slightly larger blade than the standard paddle, which is probably why I am faster than I ever was before. If you have 350 bucks and don't want to be limited by any of your equipment, I recommend it. Why not a score of "10"??If it was less expensive, I probably would have given it a higher score.I am a middle aged recreational kayaker whom has been enjoying the sport casually over a number of years. I got a bit more serious within the last year and made numerous and sometimes pretty lengthy day excursions with my kayaking friends. Alas, I found I was really having trouble keeping up with the others, especially on longer excursions, and while we're not testosterone engorged competitors, there is some mild competition at times and it is really is disconcerting to fall behind ALL the time. What to do?
I am certainly as fit as the others, and though I am a bit less experienced as a kayaker, I had a feeling that my boat and other gear needed some updating if I was going to remain more active as a kayaker. After extensive research I upgraded my boat and began looking at other equipment. I found the AT Excel touring paddles after a bit of searching around the Paddling.net site. The recommendations looking convincing as did the specs and anecdotal info presented at the AT website. The price is enough to make a grown man cry, however (luckily my wife doesn't see my credit card bills when they come in). I called 'em up and after some discussion on sizing I ordered my AT Excel Excursion. I've had a chance to use the paddle quite a bit and here are my thoughts:
EASE OF ADJUSTMENT & USE - I purchased the Carbon model with the Friction Lok joint. They also offer once piece units (no joint; no feathering), and a fiberglass model. The gentlemen whom sold me the paddle insisted that I call the 800 number when the paddle arrived so that he could walk me through the adjustments for the joint. However, the directions provided were clear and with just a little fiddling, I was able to get it set up just fine; no 800 call required.
FEATHERING - As is advertised, the feathering is adjustable to any angle desired with the Friction Lok model.
COMFORT & FEEL - The paddle felt right immediately and it seemed like something that I've had for years, like old furry slippers. The ergonomic shape is absolutely correct and the paddle is unbelievably lightweight. Too, the paddle has a nice sprung feel to it. When you really dig in, you feel a slight, but pleasing twang, kinda' like an arrow leaving a fine bow.
EFFICIENCY OF USE: The paddle does really seem to help me improve my stroke and thus my speed. I also don't seem to fatigue as quickly which also increases my overall ability to keep up. I used my new AT Excel the first time on a 26-mile solo overnighter trip on the Potomac river and I felt just great.
DURABILITY - This remains to be seen, of course, but the material, carbon filament, seems sturdy enough. The edges of the paddle blades are very thin by design and I wonder about nicking and chipping. The joint relies on a rubber doo-hickey which is compressed to provide locking. This will eventually wear out, I'm sure. The manufacturer provided one extra rubber piece when the unit was shipped, but I wonder if I will have trouble getting new ones should I need them in the future.
OVER ALL - I can recommend this paddle to any kayaker with one caveat: this puppy is really expensive! You better be a fairly serious, or a fairly wealthy kayaker. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that I spent $439 which included shipping. It was for the cost factor alone that I felt compelled to give the AT Excel a 9 instead of a 10.