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Wilderness Systems Apex FG Review

For effortless strokes and maximum adjustability, this paddle will suit those looking for one high performance paddle to fit all their needs on the water
Wilderness Systems Apex FG
Photo: Wilderness Systems
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Price:  $330 List
Pros:  Lightweight, buoyant blades, easily adjustable on-the-fly
Cons:  Requires care, expensive
Manufacturer:   Wilderness Systems
By Sara James ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 19, 2021
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87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Performance - 40% 9
  • Ease of adjustment - 20% 10
  • Locking Mechanism Security - 15% 9
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Wilderness Systems Apex is a high-performance paddle that kayakers of any experience level will appreciate. The mid-sized blades have a hydrodynamic exterior and fiberglass foam core interior, delivering an exceptionally buoyant and effortless paddle stroke. Although this paddle is more fragile than its plastic competitors, it easily endured scrapes and bumps thanks to the carbon-reinforced edge. The Lever Lock system used to join the two pieces is simple to use on the go and enables the user to select the feather of the blades, as well as the length of the paddle. This feature allows families to share one paddle between users of different sizes.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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59
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, buoyant blades, easily adjustable on-the-flyReliable, lightweight, easy to adjust and extendExceptional value, quality blade design, fiberglass reinforced nylon bladesDurable blade and shaft construction, ribbed fiberglass shaft provides textured gripAffordable, durable blade construction
Cons Requires care, expensiveInteresting looking graphicsHeavier than some models, locking mechanism prone to wobbleHeavy blades, play in snap button locking mechanism systemHeavy aluminum shaft, play in locking mechanism
Bottom Line For effortless strokes and maximum adjustability, this paddle will suit those looking for one high performance paddle to fit all their needs on the waterA versatile, lightweight, and reliable paddle that delivered a strong performance across all metricsThis well-designed paddle delivers outstanding value without sacrificing on performance or durabilityThis model features durable blades that deliver powerful strokes at an affordable priceThis is an affordable entry-level paddle that can get you and your family out on the water
Rating Categories Wilderness Systems... Wilderness Systems... Werner Baja Carlisle Magic Plus Bending Branches Wh...
Performance (40%)
9.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
3.0
Ease Of Adjustment (20%)
10.0
10.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Locking Mechanism Security (15%)
9.0
10.0
5.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Wilderness Systems... Wilderness Systems... Werner Baja Carlisle Magic Plus Bending Branches Wh...
Measured Weight 910 g 970 g 1070 g 1190 g 1050 g
Shaft Material 50% carbon, 50% fiberglass 50% carbon/50% fiberglass Fiberglass Fibreglass Aluminum
Shaft Shape Round Round Round Round Round, Oval
Blade Material Fiberglass, foam core with carbon reinforced edges Fiberglass composite Fiberglass reinforced nylon Fiberglass reinforced polypropylene Polypropylene
Blade Shape Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Dihedral, asymmetrical Asymetrical Dihedral, asymmetrical
Adjustment Style LeverlockĀ® ferrule system LeverlockĀ® ferrule system Push Button Push button Push button w/ basic ferrule
Blade Offset Settings Fully adjustable, inifinity options Fully adjustable, infinity options L45 0 R 45 L45 0 R 45 L45 0 R 45
Length Options Adjustable: 205-225cm ,
220-240cm
Adjustable: 205-225 cm, 220 - 240 cm 220 cm, 230 cm, 240 cm 220, 230, 240 cm 220, 230, 240 cm
Style Low-Angle or High Angle Low-Angle Low-Angle Low-Angle Low-Angle

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wilderness System Apex is a versatile, high-performance paddle designed to make maneuvering your kayak as effortless as possible. The Apex stands out for its buoyant blade design and hydrodynamic surface, which help to deliver a crisp stroke regardless of water conditions. The two pieces of the paddle are joined using the highly adjustable Lever Lock system, enabling you to easily select the feather (blade angle) AND length of your paddle.

Performance Comparison


The hydrodynamic finish to the blade doesn't just make the look...
The hydrodynamic finish to the blade doesn't just make the look good, it provides a smooth entry and exit, enabling the paddler to get a more efficient stroke.
Photo: Sara James

Performance


The Apex is a performance paddle constructed with a hydrodynamic exterior. It delivers crisp paddle strokes with ease, aided by the foam fiberglass interior, which provides natural buoyancy to the blades. Most importantly, the blades do not overly flex when put under duress, and the 50% fiberglass/carbon blend shaft is stiff enough to provide an effective transfer of power. Overall this paddle should not hold you back if you have the need to sprint on the water.

If you would benefit from being able to vary your paddle length to...
If you would benefit from being able to vary your paddle length to suit wider kayaks, the Apex can deliver.
Photo: Sara James


Ease of Adjustment


The Lever Lock system used in the Apex is our favorite mechanism tested. First, we noted its simplicity of use. Paddlers simply have to flip a lever to disengage the locking system, enabling the user to rotate the two pieces and adjust the feather angle of the blades. Additionally, you can pull apart the pieces to extend the paddle by as much as 20 centimeters. Even paddlers that are challenged with poor finger dexterity may find this system easy to use.

The Lever Lock join enables the user to adjust the length and...
The Lever Lock join enables the user to adjust the length and feather of the paddle on-the-fly.
Photo: Sara James

Locking Mechanism Security


Despite delivering the most adjustability, the Lever Lock system was also the most secure mechanism tested. In blind testing kayakers did not realize that this paddle was actually a two-piece paddle as no give was felt in the paddle, even when put through its paces.

When new, this paddle felt and performed like a one piece paddle.
When new, this paddle felt and performed like a one piece paddle.
Photo: Sara James


Weight


Weighing in at 910 grams, this paddle is lightweight compared to most of the paddles tested. The carbon/fiberglass shaft and Lever Lock add some weight to this paddle as it runs 50 grams heavier than our lightest contender.

If you are looking to reduce fatigue on your shoulders and increate...
If you are looking to reduce fatigue on your shoulders and increate time on the water, a light weight paddle like the Apex would suit your needs.
Photo: Sara James

Durability


This paddle is designed for performance but should also withstand the test of time if treated with some care. We did not experience any issues with the foam core blades during testing. However, typically blades made of this construction are easier to puncture if hit against sharp objects like rocks. This paddle would not be wise to store in the back of your truck with other sharp or heavy equipment. The carbon reinforcements on the edges protect it from common wear and tear and as a result, the Apex stood up well in our gravel bar testing protocol, showing very minimal evidence of use despite being put through its paces.

After preliminary testing of the Apex paddle, the lever quickly became difficult to return to its original fully closed position. Although this did not render the paddle un-usable, it did cause testers some concern as it can interfere with your grip. Wilderness Systems customer service directed us to some self-help videos, which showed us how to adjust the tension of the internal components. Although this did improve our issue, it didn't fully solve it as the lever never returned to flush as it had when first purchased. We tested this same mechanism in the Wilderness Systems Pungo paddle, and after two years of solid use, this continues to show no signs of any deterioration.

The Lever Lock was popular amongst testers when working well....
The Lever Lock was popular amongst testers when working well. However it was not the easiest to adjust when we ran into difficulties.
Photo: Sara James

Value


Although this paddle falls in the higher price category, you can rest assured that your money is well spent. Delivering markedly superior performance compared to any of the plastic or fiberglass composite models tested, it is easy to tell that the Apex was created with user enjoyment in mind. There are cheaper paddles available, but you get a lot extra for what you pay for.

Wilderness System also offers the Apex in a full carbon model and an...
Wilderness System also offers the Apex in a full carbon model and an angle-specific model.
Photo: Sara James

Conclusion


If you are seeking a lightweight, high-performance paddle that is truly easy to adjust, then you may need to look no further. The Apex is a responsive paddle that can deliver a crisp and effortless stroke. The bonus of being able to adjust the length of this paddle may just clinch the deal for those looking for a versatile option.

Sara James

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