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Werner Trance 95 Performance Review

The Trance is a breath of fresh air, with good performance and an unbelievably lightweight construction.
Werner Trance 95 Performance
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $364 List | $364.00 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to adjust, high performance
Cons:  Pricey, blade can flutter
Manufacturer:   Werner Trance
By Shey Kiester and Megan Ferney  ⋅  Dec 6, 2018
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92
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Performance - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Ease of adjustment - 20% 10
  • Locking Mechanism - 20% 10
  • Aesthetics - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Werner Trance 95 Performance quickly established itself as a top performer. As a result, it's been a long-standing OutdoorGearLab favorite and is our Editors' Choice in this review. The Trance is the lightest paddle in our test, featuring both a carbon shaft and carbon paddle. With a long rectangular blade shape, this model pulled smoothly and efficiently through the water. It also features a pleasant and straightforward adjustment system.

Carbon is slightly less durable than fiberglass and significantly less flexible than aluminum. For a model with a more durable paddle with similar performance, consider the fiberglass Werner Vibe. It offers nearly top-notch performance at a lower price than the Trance. The Trance is pricey, but if you're looking for a high performing paddle, it might just be worth it.


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Pros Lightweight, easy to adjust, high performanceCuts cleanly through water, durable bladeLightweight, strong, easy on the body to useEasy and sturdy adjustment, lightweight, high performanceHigh performance, relatively inexpensive
Cons Pricey, blade can flutterHeavy, looks like a toyThe handle allows excellent grip but can become uncomfortableSmaller adjustment rangeHeavy, not adjustable
Bottom Line The Trance is a breath of fresh air, with good performance and an unbelievably lightweight construction.The Vibe is a great all-around paddle that moves water well and is easy to manage.This is a high-performance paddle that is easy to pull through the water.The Aqua-Bound Challenge has a a high-performance paddle for serious paddlers.The high-performer Makai was a favorite among some of our testers, while others felt it was too heavy.
Rating Categories Werner Trance 95 Performance Werner Vibe KIALOA Insanity Aqua-Bound Challenge 85 KIALOA Makai
Performance (30%)
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8
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8
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9
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8
Weight (20%)
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9
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4
Ease Of Adjustment (20%)
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8
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9
Locking Mechanism (20%)
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Aesthetics (10%)
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7
Specs Werner Trance 95... Werner Vibe KIALOA Insanity Aqua-Bound... KIALOA Makai
Weight 1.2 lbs 1.7 lbs 1.56 lbs 1.3 lbs 2 lbs
Blade Design Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral
Blade Shape Rectangular Rectangular Teardrop Rectangular Teardrop
Offset 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 8 degrees
Blade Material Carbon Injection molded fiberglass Fiberglass fibrlite epX engineered polymer reinforced with carbon Nylon reinforced fiberglass
Blade Dimensions 95 sq in 100 sq in 83 sq in 85 sq in 85 sq in
Shaft Material Carbon Fiberglass Durable fiberglass Carbon Textured fiberglass
Adjustablility (inches) 8" 16" 16" 10.5" 16"
Length Range (inches) 70" - 78" | 74" - 82" | 80" - 88" 68" - 84" 70"-86" 70" - 80" 70" - 86"
Number of Pieces 1-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 3-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 1-piece (avaliable in 1 or 3) 2-piece 1-piece
Compact Size NA 34.5" NA 66" NA
Warranty 12 months 1 year 12 months 2 years 1 year
Comes with cover No No No No No
Locking Mechanism Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock "Performance" Snap Button Handle LeverLock

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Werner Trance 95 is a favorite among most testers, with many commenting that this paddle is the most maneuverable and the most enjoyable for long paddles around the lake. It features very lightweight construction, weighing in at just 1.2 pounds. It's also effortless to adjust.

Performance Comparison


Our testers couldn't get enough of the fast  light and high-performance feel that the Trance 95 offers.
Our testers couldn't get enough of the fast, light and high-performance feel that the Trance 95 offers.

Performance


The Trance paddle offers high-quality performance. Its carbon fiber shaft and blade keep this product to be incredibly lightweight, which allows users to slice through the water with little effort. During long paddles, this model's light weight makes a difference. You waste less energy moving the paddle around and can save more for paddling. With a long, rectangular blade shape, this model sheds water incredibly well, allowing users to maneuver easily. This blade is also easier on the user's body, as it allows you to push through the water quickly and with minimal effort.


The Trance does have a slight flutter in the water. It's so minimal that most testers didn't notice it until we asked about it after they expressed their initial impressions. While the blade can be seen slightly fluttering through the water on the stroke, it's harder to feel. For most, it was a non-issue. Our testers were so enamored with the featherweight feel of this paddle that they don't mind its light flutter.

Several paddles had noticeably lower performance than the Trance. The Own the Wave model has noticeable flutter when paddling. Of course, they are also far less expensive. Flutter can waste energy, tire you out faster, and can make it harder to maneuver your craft.

Shown here with the Werner Vibe  Kialoa Insanity  and Bending Branches Balance  the Trance is one of the lightest paddles in our review.
Shown here with the Werner Vibe, Kialoa Insanity, and Bending Branches Balance, the Trance is one of the lightest paddles in our review.

Weight


Our testers were amazed the first time they held this paddle. A carbon shaft and blade ensure that the Trance is the lightest paddle in our review. Even other, fully carbon paddles couldn't compare.


Reviewers consistently commented that the Trance felt incredibly light in hand, which made paddling easier, less tiring, and more enjoyable. This is the number one reason testers chose the Trance as their favorite paddle. One commented that it felt like holding a piece of paper. Of course, featherweight gear often comes with high price tags, and this paddle is no exception.

The LeverLock adjustment system is straightforward.
The LeverLock adjustment system is straightforward.

Ease of Adjustment


The Trance features Werner's LeverLock adjustment system, the highest performing method we tested. The Werner Vibe and the Kialoa Insanity use the same mechanism. Simply flip up the smooth panel on the handle and pull or push the handle up or down to adjust its length.

The Trance has 8-inches of adjustment. Each inch is marked in both inches and centimeters. Once you've reached your desired height, make sure the white line is centered in the small hole below the measurements and pull the lever down to lock it. The locking system is solid and does require you to tighten it with a screwdriver.


The Bending Branches Balance and Aqua-Bound Challenge 85 use a snap-button method, sometimes referred to as the Performance method. This also works well but isn't as smooth.

Here are two "performance" adjustment systems. The Aqua-Bound paddle is at the top  the older version of the Trance is on the bottom.
Here are two "performance" adjustment systems. The Aqua-Bound paddle is at the top, the older version of the Trance is on the bottom.

The previous version of the Trance also used this method. This method features a series of adjustment holes that capture a retractable stainless steel button. This process is simple, intuitive, and provides enough adjustment for varying users and situations. We like the LeverLock better.

Here are the inner workings of the Werner Trance LeverLock system.
Here are the inner workings of the Werner Trance LeverLock system.

Locking Mechanism


The Trance now has a LeverLock system in its handle that allows the paddle to lengthen or shorten with the flip of a lever. It's a simple, low-profile system and our favorite in the test. It's also incredibly secure when engaged.


Previously, the paddle featured a Performance locking mechanism with six holes along the handle of the paddle and a stainless steel button that locked into the holes. While this system worked well, the LeverLock update is a significant improvement over the older version.

The Trance blade looks as light and fast as the paddle feels.
The Trance blade looks as light and fast as the paddle feels.

Aesthetics


The Trance has a hi-tech futuristic space-age look with sleek, minimalistic lines. This thing looks fast, and like its come from the future.


The texture of the carbon fiber creates a subtle checkerboard pattern that seems to glow in the sunlight. It runs the length of the shaft and connects seamlessly to the blade. The blade has a glossy finish and is simple in design.

Compactibility


This model features 8 inches of adjustment, which means that at its most compact, it can easily fit into most cars. However, if you plan to travel with your SUP setup, you should consider a paddle that is more compactable.

The 1-piece Trance 95 offers 8 inches of adjustment.
The 1-piece Trance 95 offers 8 inches of adjustment.

The IGK is fully compactable, which means it breaks into three pieces and comes with a carrying case. This allows you to check it onto an airplane quickly. The Trance does come in a 3-piece model, which we did not test.

It is important to keep in mind that if the ability to pack down is not relevant to you, you should not buy a highly compactable paddle. Although these paddles make getting from Point A to Point B easier, they also have more parts to lose, can have play in the shaft, and can be less durable.

Best Applications


This is a high-performance paddle made for serious users. With a high price tag and enhanced performance, this is a paddle for someone who engages in SUP more than once in a blue moon. If you are an occasional paddler or you aren't focused on performance, this is not the paddle for you.

However, if you want the most from your setup and you expect to paddle many days a year, it might make sense for you to drop a little extra dough to get this suped-up paddle. This model is probably not the right choice for river paddlers. It would be a major bummer to lose such an expensive piece of equipment to the rapids.

Beautiful water for a test run of the Trance 95.
Beautiful water for a test run of the Trance 95.

Value


The Trance is the most expensive paddle in our review. However, for the price, this paddle delivers a high-quality experience. A one-year warranty backs the product from manufacturer defects. If you're a serious SUPer, this might be the product for you.

Conclusion


The Trance was an instant tester favorite, with thoughtful construction and high-quality components. Werner makes this product for serious users who demand high performance and quick maneuverability. Lightweight and agile, this paddle pilots crafts through the water with ease.


Shey Kiester and Megan Ferney