There are some SUP paddles that are very popular because of their attractive pricing. There are others that are “good” paddles, and “get the job done”, but are not very exciting…and then there are a few paddles that truly make the sport of SUP more enjoyable. The Werner Nitro fits into this category. Everything from the fit of the palm grip, to the buttery smooth feel of the carbon foam core blade slithering through the water, help to create a incredible paddling experience.
Previous to using the Nitro, I had been paddling the Werner Carve Adjustable (the fiberglass version of the Nitro) interspersed with demoing a few random blades from C4,Sawyer, NRS and Boardworks. There is no particular feature that sets the Nitro apart from the pack, but the “sum of all parts” sure seems to create a paddle that has an amazing blend of smoothness, performance, precision and quality.
We’ve got a Nitro in our demo fleet that see’s daily use on all types of water ranging from downriver and surfing, to performance touring. After using it for the past month, and talking to Earl Richmond (who has used it for the past few seasons), here’s what we have to say:
- EXTREMELY LIGHT SWING WEIGHT:The first thing that you will notice when picking up the 1 piece (which is 4oz. lighter than the adjustable version) Nitro, is that it is so light it almost feels like there’s no blade attached. At 20 oz. the swing weight of this sucker is about as good as it gets. The weight savings (even compared to the Carve) combined with the overall stiffness that carbon provides makes a HUGE difference. Distance paddlers will save energy on longer trip. Try multiplying the amount of strokes that you take on a 10 mile paddle with the weight savings of this paddle versus the one you currently have? Also, imagine all of the energy saved and not lost in shaft flex…Surfing with the Nitro is awesome as well.The blade bites into the water, just like you would expect of a Werner (super smooth). Again, it’s so light, you would expect the shaft to flex a bit when ferrying onto a wave. This is not the case. The Nitro is so stiff, and so smooth. You can take more strokes on the wave because of how light the paddle is, and also because of the mid sized shape. More strokes on the wave in a shorter period of time = better performance.
- VERY STIFF:Carbon fiber is one of the lightest and stiffest materials out there. Paddling onto a wave or down river through chaotic water is easier with a paddle like the Nitro. Since there is no flutter in the blade, and no flex in the shaft, entering your paddle precisely in the water (and taking it out at the right spot) is easier to accomplish. NOTE: the one piece version of the Nitro is stiffer than the 2 piece because there are less moving parts. If it is ultimate paddle control, weight savings and performance that you are after, get the 1 piece…
- SUPER SMOOTH MID SIZED BLADE:The blade on the nitro is 100 sq. in (a smaller blade), and is 100% carbon with a foam core. It has a dihedral on both the power face (front) and back side. Paddling a foam core blade is something that you have to try for yourself to understand how it feels. Because of the foam core, the paddle feels much lighter. The Nitro has an elongated blade shape (as opposed to a teardrop). This means that the paddle excels at mid to high cadence paddling, flows through the water easier than traditional larger blade shapes, and releases smoother and easier. You can also just dip part of the paddle in the water, and take lots of quick strokes to get moving quicker. This is great for sprinting, and also for must make moves when paddling down river. When surfing, it is nice to be able to take a few quick strokes here and there, similar to playboating in a kayak.
- THE PALM GRIP FEELS GREAT:Similar to the feeling of an AT bent shaft pistol grip, the ABS plastic palm grip “just feels right”. After paddling quite a few different brands of SUP paddles, I can say that having a palm grip that is shaped properly makes the difference of being able to fine tune the blade in the water, and also have a feeling of confidence when you crank down on the grip.The worst feeling you can have when leading into a rapid or onto a wave, is feeling the grip slide around in the palm of your hand. The Werner Palm Grip feels just like you would expect it would…it’s money.
- BORN IN THE USA.As with all Werner products, the Nitro is constructed and assembled in the USA (Sultan, WA to be exact). Besides offering a product of the highest quality, Werner also has the best customer service in the industry. You are not just paying for a paddle, but also for a solid warranty and a company that will take care of you for years to come.
- DURABILITY:The Nitro is extremely durable, especially for being carbon. This does not mean that you can run the paddle over with a car, and it will survive (it is not a Surftech B-1), but as far as carbon paddles are concerned, it will last for a long time. The blade is 100% carbon fiber with a closed cell foam core. The closed cell foam will not absorb water if the carbon is punctured for some reason. There is Dynel edging along the perimeter of the blade. This is a compressed Nylon fabric that disperses impact over a larger surface area, thus lessening blows from rock and reef. It work!
We tested the Nitro on the Arkansas River at very low flows (i.e rocky and shallow) for over a month. The paddle has far less scratches on it than I expected it would. The Dynel works great for pushing off the river bed to get on the board, or for pushing away from the occasional rock. The carbon shaft is also very strong and light. Werner uses pre-preg carbon fiber, which is the most efficient, strongest and lightest way to build things in carbon.
- IT’S A GOOD LOOKING PADDLE:This has absolutely nothing to do with it’s performance or durability, but The Nitro is a sexy looking paddle. Similar to a Sweet Srutter or Pyranha Shiva, having gear that looks cool has to count for something. Nothing compliments a Morelli and Melvin race board better than an all black 1 piece carbon blade such as the Nitro.
- PRICE:As with all blingy carbon sporting goods, The Nitro is not a price point paddle. Having one of the smoothest, highest performing and lightest SUP paddles on the planet will set you back by $300. Remember, you are supporting a product that is hand made in the USA, and designed and tested by REAL WORLD whitewater and ocean going stand up paddlers.
- NOT AS DURABLE AS FIBERGLASS:The Nitro is very durable as far as carbon paddles go. We would expect nothing less from a company like Werner, with roots deep in whitewater. If your paddling style involves constantly pushing limits downriver, banging lots of rocks, and having your friends calling you a chronic gear abuser, go for the fiberglass version (The Carve). Fiberglass tends to wear down slower than carbon, and will not run the risk of puncturing like the foam core of the Nitro.
- MID SIZED BLADES OFFER MID SIZED POWER:Large paddlers looking for ultimate bite and power in their stroke, may want to opt for the Spanker or Fuse. The Fuse’s blade is larger by 10 square inches, and the Spanker’s larger by about 6 sq. in. The Nitro excels and taking lots of quick strokes. If you want to muscle your way down river, or even on flatwater, get the Fuse.
The Werner Nitro 1 piece SUP paddle is a gem of a SUP blade. It’s geared towards the paddler who prefers smoothness and quick precise strokes over raw power. The 1 piece design is super stiff and light as a feather. Werner also makes this paddle in an adjustable model which may appeal more to families, and people who mix up their paddling styles (both surfing and touring). Overall, you will not find a stand up paddle that feel more natural in the water. Everything from the intuitive palm grip, to foam core carbon blade (with a front and back side dihedral) combine to create a paddle that will satisfy even the most discriminating of paddlers. Two HUGE thumbs up for this product.