Mitchell Paddle Review: A Surreal Paddle

Last summer, I spent 14 days in northern Ontario paddling the Misekow and Albany Rivers. The Misekow is a small river that starts in the NE corner of Wabakimi Provincial Park and flows north to the Albany. This river offers an intimate trip for those who like paddling remote rivers with dancing rapids, daily moose sightings, bushwhack portaging and great pickerel fishing.

My partner and I paddled a Nova Craft Prospector 17 canoe and for flat-water paddling I used a Mitchell Surreal paddle. Using a straight shaft paddle on flat water was a non-typical selection for me, but a friend suggested that I give the Surreal a try.

After the first day I was sold on the paddle. Light weight at 19 oz it was a pleasure to paddle. The wafer thin carbon fiber blade entered the water like a hot knife slicing thru butter, the laminated cedar–ash shaft was flexible and strong, and the paddle’s grip was pleasant to the hand.

Initially, I paddled some white water sections with the paddle, but found that the blade was getting nicked up and I was worried about the over-all durability for use in these situations. On previous trips, I used a wood bent shaft paddle for flat water and for fast water used a more durable white water paddle.

In selecting a paddle for expedition canoeing, I have three main criteria:

First, durability is of primary importance as I typically take 2 to 3 week expedition trips. On these trips I take two paddles, one for flat water and one for white water and they both need to be up to the job.
Second, the paddle needs to be both strong and light. Traveling 300 miles by canoe equals a lot of paddle strokes and weight to strength is a top consideration.
Finally, the paddle needs to feel comfortable in my hands over days and hours of continuous use.

Based on these requirements, the Surreal is a great choice for those who want a light weight – high performance straight shaft paddle for flat water tripping or touring. Over 200 miles of canoeing and the paddle showed limited wear, was easy on the hand and efficient in the paddle stroke.

Specifications:

Blade: 8.25″ wide and 21″ long
Blade composition: four layers of aerospace carbon supported by a cedar core
Shaft: four laminations of cedar and ash
Paddle weight: 19 oz

By Duane Lee

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