Arca Works Vulcan Whitewater Kayak Paddle First Impressions: CKS Customer Matt Wallin reviews thoughts after four months of using the BEST foam core paddle on the market.
"Gives you that little bit of extra reach to get you over the next drop or hole"
- Matt Wallin, CKS Regular
First Impressions: CKS Customer Review of the Arca Works Vulcan Whitewater Kayak Paddle
Owned by Andrew Hiltbrand, Arca Works, LLC has produced their first paddle called the Vulcan. Make no mistake, this paddle works as good as it looks. After four months of use, I can honestly say it is the BEST foam core paddle on the market. For me, it is my FAVORITE paddle, hands down (I own at least six different paddles from different companies). Fiberglass, foam core, carbon, etc. The Vulcan just feels the best all around and when I do use another paddle, I can’t wait to get back to the Vulcan.
All metrics aside, this thing feels super light on the river. It has just the right amount of weight to dig and get power, but at the same time, it’s "feather in a cap" light. It also has just the right amount of flex/stiffness. I can use this paddle for multiple day trips and not get tennis elbow or sore wrists like some more rigid paddles give me. The feathering is just right. I don’t feel any weird feathering in the water during paddle strokes or when rolling. I would consider the blade size just enough to give you the power you want, but also not enough to put too much strain on your shoulders. The forward set blade design gives you that little bit of extra reach to get you over the next drop or hole, without the massive footprint of the Werner Odachi.
The Elephant in the Room--the X-Grip
I see comments on this all the time. Usually, it is before someone has even held it in their hands, let alone actually paddled with it on the river. Does it look different-sure, but does it work? Absolutely. It can be put on your dominant paddle hand. It gives you that extra grip for torque when you need it and it allows you to feel exactly where your hand needs to be when rolling. Does it chaff your hand after awhile-maybe, but what whitewater paddle doesn't give you calluses. For those that don’t want it, it is an option to be left off the paddle. For me though, I find it way more advantageous than not. There is some sight slip on the side that does not have the grip, but add some electrical tape and that problem is easily solved.
Durability. This thing is just as good, if not better than other foam core paddles offerings from Werner and Select. Will it break, sure, it is foam core after all, so it may not be your everyday paddle. However, after four months of heavy use, including runs on the Cascades, a full week in Colorado, and after it flew off my car on the interstate at 70 mph, my Vulcan is holding up just fine. It will have some initial wear that may freak you out, but after that it holds up very nicely. My advice is to just dab a little car clear coat around the edge when you get it or after one or two initial uses.
200% buy one of these paddles. If you are in the market for a foam core paddle, or just a very nice paddle that is easy on the eyes as well as your body, this is the paddle for you. Once you have a Vulcan, every other paddle you own will go up in flames. Don’t hesitate--Melt the Competition!