Werner Baja Review
Cons: Heavier than some models, locking mechanism prone to wobble
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|Pros||Exceptional value, quality blade design, fiberglass reinforced nylon blades||Secure locking mechanism, light weight carbon blend shaft||Affordable, durable blade construction||Easy on the wallet, functional, indexed shaft||Very economical, durable blade construction|
|Cons||Heavier than some models, locking mechanism prone to wobble||Heavier than some models available, locking system can become stiff to adjust||Heavy aluminum shaft, play in locking mechanism||Aluminum shaft transfers heat/cold, flexible blades, wobble in connection point||Heavy, locking mechanism wobbly, foam grips prone to slipping|
|Bottom Line||This well-designed paddle delivers outstanding value without sacrificing on performance or durability||Don’t be fooled by the bland rental paddle look, the Skagit FG has premium quality features and is able to perform||This is an affordable entry-level paddle that can get you and your family out on the water||Affordable, functional and suitable for the casual kayaker who is not looking for a high-performance paddle||A budget paddle for those who want to get on the water but are not concerned about performance|
|Rating Categories||Werner Baja||Werner Skagit FG||Bending Branches Wh...||Pelican Poseidon||SeaSense X-Treme II|
|Ease of adjustment (20%)|
|Locking Mechanism Security (15%)|
|Quality of Construction (10%)|
|Specs||Werner Baja||Werner Skagit FG||Bending Branches Wh...||Pelican Poseidon||SeaSense X-Treme II|
|Measured Weight||37.7 oz||35.3 oz||37.0 oz||39.2 oz||42.0 oz|
|Shaft Material||Fiberglass||Carbon blend||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Shaft Shape||Round||Round||Round, Oval||Round, Oval||Round|
|Blade Material||Fiberglass reinforced nylon||Fiberglass reinforced nylon||Polypropylene||Plastic/fiberglass||Fiberglass filled nylon blade|
|Blade Shape||Dihedral, asymmetrical||Dihedral, asymmetrical||Dihedral, asymmetrical||Asymetrical||Asymetrical|
|Adjustment Style||Push Button||Smart View Adjustable||Push button w/ basic ferrule||Push Button||Push button|
|Blade Offset Settings||L45 0 R 45||0, 15, 30, 45, 60 L and R||L45 0 R 45||L60 0 R 60||L45 0 R 45|
|Length Options||220 cm, 230 cm, 240 cm||205 to 260 cm in 5 cm increments||220, 230, 240 cm||230 cm||243 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Werner Baja paddle offers the rare but favorable partnership of affordability, reliability, and quality design. This paddle will attract the price-conscious amongst us; however, unlike most other paddles at this price point, you won't be disappointed by overly flexible blades.
Often the manufacturer of choice for professional kayakers, Werner knows a thing or two about designing kayak paddles, as they have been honing their craft since the 1960s. The dihedral blades are carefully crafted for a smooth entry and exit, as well as a flutter-free feel in the water. This well-engineered design results in a paddle that performs better than other paddles within the same price range. Coming in at a significantly more modest price than Werner's other offerings, the Baja delivers the performance and reliability of a well-established American manufacturer at an exceptional price point.
The fiberglass-reinforced nylon blades performed on par with some of the pricier paddles we test. Most notably, the testers were happy to report that the blades did not overly flex when put under pressure, and as a result, kayakers were able to get powerful strokes. In addition, no bending was found even after extensive use.
Although fiberglass reinforced blades did not perform on par with more expensive models made of carbon fiber. The slight give produced by the locking mechanism was the only thing noted to hold this paddle back in terms of performance.
Ease of Adjustment
The push-button mechanism used to join the two pieces of this paddle is straightforward to use, and when the paddle was new, it didn't cause the testers any concerns. By pushing in the stainless steel push button, users are able to disengage the connection, and a simple twist should enable the two paddle pieces to come apart.
As noted in many other paddles that use this style of joining mechanism, we found that the paddle becomes more difficult to adjust over time as the snap button components are prone to collecting grit, sand, and river residue. Frequent cleaning with freshwater, as well as the application of a small dab of lubricant, helps to ensure that this paddle is easy to adjust even after extended use.
Locking Mechanism Security
The snap button system was found to be a bit lose, producing a slight wobble in the shaft, even when the paddle was new out the packaging. This is attributed to the snap hole being slightly larger than necessary. Although novice users did not notice this defect, advanced users were quick to note that this deteriorated the efficiency of their power strokes.
Compared to Werner's premium (aka more expensive) models, the Baja falls in the heavier weight range due to the injection-molded nylon blade construction and the fiberglass shaft. However, when compared to other manufacturers' paddles made of the same materials and a similar price point, the Baja faired very well in terms of weight.
Most importantly the carefully engineered design of this paddle gives the Baja a well-balanced feel that should not feel too heavy nor wear out the casual kayakers when in motion.
The fiberglass-reinforced injection-molded nylon blades are robust and not prone to flex under pressure, unlike many other budget paddles we tested. The blades stood up well to our gravel test and showed no significant wear in the blade edges. Unlike some other high-performing models made of more expensive materials, we did not feel the need to be careful when transporting this paddle, as the blades are impact-resistant. Users of this paddle can feel confident that this paddle will stand up to whatever they have to throw at them.
After frequent use, the snap button joining mechanism was noted to become more difficult to use, and this is the only component within the paddle that may need some attention and care over time.
The Werner Baja stands out for its exceptional value. It performed significantly better than other paddles of a similar cost and also gave more expensive paddles a good run for their money. Unlike other budget paddles, the Baja does not look or feel like a cheap toy, and users should not have to worry about having to replace it after a few seasons of use.
This paddle will be an easy choice for those seeking both affordability and reliability. This is a budget paddle that does not sacrifice performance and has the added bonus of being produced by a well-established US paddle manufacturer with a reputation for performance and great customer service. Kayakers of all skill levels will enjoy this paddle and will love the price.
— Sara James
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