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I have been canoeing for a few years (about 7) and in the last couple of years had started to get pain in my forearms and hands after paddling for more than about an hour and a half.

After discussing the problem with a couple of people (Lizzie and Ray) it was suggested that my canoe grip was causing the problem. Ray let me try one of his paddles with a different grip to the ones that I had been using and I found this helpful, but had to give his paddles back.

I spent a couple of months using my Grey Owl paddle and trying not to over grip and although it helped it wasn’t ideal and in particularly cold weather or at the end of long trips I was suffering to the point that I was struggling to even hold my paddle.

Then, my sneaky husband put together a plan with Lizzie and Don Paddler to have a new paddle made for me. Along with the improved grip this paddle also has a slightly narrower shaft than my old one, making it easier to hold. I haven’t had as much chance to use it as I would like, planning to change that over the summer, but so far I’ve had a handful of longer river trips and a day on Ullswater without any problems in my arms or hands.

Apart from the improved shape of the paddle, it is a lovely looking paddle and gets lots of admiring comments from other canoeists. I’d highly recommend Don’s paddles and from what I’ve been told about the ordering process Don was awesome, making the effort to discuss the requirements at length to make sure he got it right.


Have spent the last few weeks playing with the Windermere paddle. Such a beautiful blade and incredible craftsmanship, it has been put together by someone who understands how a paddle really works for a canoer. The blade is so smooth to use in deep water; it transfers power nicely so is great powering across lakes; yet the whole blade is weighted well for stroke recovery and the finer fiddly strokes too.
I was initially unsure about the northwoods style paddle grip, but the paddle can be used with either the palm grip or the northwood. I liked how this allowed me options; Switching between the two was like changing gears whilst paddling and like having 2 paddles in one! I’m converted from my old guide paddle for sure!


I have been using Don’s paddles for the last few months. They perform really well. You can instantly tell they are made by someone with a good technical understanding of both canoeing, and how wood performs. Don has the ability to make a paddle to suit each individual. This might be physiological concerns, for example, specific hand grips, flex or surface area to give a powerful or softer ‘lower gear’ paddle. Or, individualisation might be to suit certain paddling environments, for example, shallow estuaries or windy open water. Really you could describe who you are, where you paddle and what you require from a paddle and Don will make you a paddle to suit.