Werner Vibe Review
Cons: Heavy, looks like a toy
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$170.00 at REI||$364.00 at Backcountry||$189.95 at Amazon||$144 List||$285 List|
|Pros||Cuts cleanly through water, durable blade||Lightweight, easy to adjust, high performance||Easy and sturdy adjustment, lightweight, high performance||High performance, relatively inexpensive||Beautifully crafted, lightweight, well-balanced|
|Cons||Heavy, looks like a toy||Pricey, blade can flutter||Smaller adjustment range||Heavy, not adjustable||Snap-button adjustment system isn't the easiest to use|
|Bottom Line||The vibe provides excellent value for a high performing paddle||A high scorer, this model is a lightweight high performer||High-performance with an easy locking mechanism, this paddle is for serious users||The Makai packs a performance punch, but it is a bit on the hefty side||Not just another pretty paddle! This model combines aesthetics and high performance materials|
|Rating Categories||Werner Vibe||Werner Trance 95 Performance||Aqua-Bound Challenge 85||KIALOA Makai||Bending Branches Balance|
|Ease Of Adjustment (20%)|
|Locking Mechanism (20%)|
|Specs||Werner Vibe||Werner Trance 95...||Aqua-Bound...||KIALOA Makai||Bending Branches...|
|Paddle Weight||1.7 lbs||1.2 lbs||1.3 lbs||2 lbs||1.6 lbs|
|Offset||10 degrees||10 degrees||10 degrees||8 degrees||10 degrees|
|Blade Material||Injection molded fiberglass||Carbon||epX engineered polymer reinforced with carbon||Nylon reinforced fiberglass||Red Alder, Basswood, Roasted Basswood|
|Blade Dimensions||100 sq in||95 sq in||85 sq in||85 sq in||85 sq in|
|Shaft Material||Fiberglass||Carbon||Carbon||Textured fiberglass||Carbon|
|Length Range (inches)||68" - 84"||70" - 78" | 74" - 82" | 80" - 88"||70" - 80"||70" - 86"||70"-80"|
|Number of Pieces||3-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3)||1-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3)||2-piece||1-piece||1-piece (available in 1 or 2)|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||2 years||1 year||1 year|
|Comes with cover||No||No||No||No||No|
|Locking Mechanism||Handle LeverLock||Handle LeverLock||"Performance" Snap Button||Handle LeverLock||Snap Button|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Out of the box, we will admit that we didn't have the highest hopes for this paddle. While Werner is quite the respected name when it comes to paddles, the Vibe strongly resembles the type of paddle that you would find included with a cheap inflatable raft. While it does have some flashy new features — like a sweet locking mechanism and a solid paddle blade design — our reviewers were initially very skeptical of its performance capabilities, doubting that it could hold its own against some of the other top paddles. However, we couldn't have been more wrong and were thoroughly disproved upon the first paddle stroke. The Vibe immediately proved its mettle, earning a very high score in this metric and claiming one of the top spots overall.
The Vibe is an excellent all-around paddle, providing both power and maneuverability when on your board. The Vibe features a blade with a rectangular shape with a hybrid dihedral/scoop profile and 10 degrees of offset. The result is outstanding performance on the paddle's entry, catch, and a more stable paddle stroke. The paddle allows for a more gentle catch and smooth pull through the water.
The dihedral shaping, which helps water evenly shed to either side of the paddle as you pull it through the water, is very pronounced on the Vibe. It also has a scoop shape paddle blade. Together, these make for a great catch and an exceptionally stable power stroke when pulling the Vibe through the water, even at maximum power. Where other paddles would start fluttering with more powerful strokes, the Vibe stayed straight and steady in the water. The Vibe regularly outperformed other paddles, but because it feels significantly heavier, just barely missed the top spot.
The lever-locking mechanism featured on this paddle played into the overall performance. This mechanism has a very low profile that significantly reduces fumbling when switching your paddle stroke. The Vibe's locking mechanism allows it to have versatile adjustability while its profile resembles that of a non-adjustable paddle.
Its heft is where the Vibe falls short. At 1.7 pounds, it is a half-pound heavier than the ultralight models in our review. It doesn't sound like much, but it takes a toll during a long paddle.
This weight difference comes with a big price difference, depending on the models you choose. We found that this paddle does not feel super heavy when in hand, and it might be worth the little bit of extra weight for its low price and high performance.
Ease of Adjustment
The Vibe features 16 inches of adjustability, which is about average among the paddles reviewed. Our reviewers found that 16 inches were plenty of wiggle room to allow for adjustments between paddlers of varying heights.
The Vibe features marks for both the height of the paddler and the paddle measurement itself, a feature not present on all models in our review. This makes figuring out your ideal paddle size much easier. With the helpful measurement marks and a superior locking mechanism (which we discuss in detail below), the Vibe was one of the easiest paddles to adjust. This makes it ideal for use between multiple paddlers of different heights, or when you're transitioning from one area of water sports to another. We did find that most of our testers added 2 to 4-inches to their marked height on the paddle for comfortable recreational paddling.
We never once had any issues fine-tuning the length of this paddle while we were on the water, even in the windiest and waviest conditions imaginable.
As soon as our testers took the Vibe out of its packaging, there were oohs and ahhs over its locking mechanism. The Vibe's LeverLock mechanism is the simplest option and our favorite. It's convenient and very easy to use, making on-the-water adjustments a breeze. The device features a lever that pulls upward. When in the up position the shaft of the paddle easily slides up and down. There are very few moving parts associated with the mechanism, which our testers found to be a huge benefit. We also like that there isn't a ton of force required to raise or lower the LeverLock lever. Other mechanisms took so much force to engage or disengage that they can almost cause you to lose your balance, particularly when the water is a little rough.
Other paddles also feature a system that, confusingly, is also called LeverLock, or Family Adjustable. However, these systems required a screwdriver to adjust the holding pressure. They aren't as intuitive as the Vibe's system and can be a pain to adjust while you are out on the water, especially if conditions are a little rough.
The Vibe has a low rating in this category, as beauty is not its strong point. It is a basic paddle with a black handle and a yellow blade. At first glance, it resembles a toy. It reminded one tester of the paddles that come with inflatable rafts for kids.
It lacks the ultra-modern look and feel of the or the cool graphics prevalent on other top paddles. However, its looks don't deter from its value as it's a high-quality paddle with a modern locking system and great performance. If beauty and weight are deal-breakers, this might not be the paddle for you.
Prices for this paddle differ depending on whether you select the one, two, or three-piece option. No matter which you choose, the Vibe is on the middle to lower end of the price range of the different paddles we have tested. Overall, the Vibe is a phenomenal value option and is a paddle that we would recommend to anyone shopping on a budget. It isn't the most stylish or lightest paddle but holds its own against top-tier products when it comes to paddling performance, all while retailing for a fraction of the price. It is still a bit more expensive than the bare-bones paddles, so it probably isn't the best choice if you are shopping on the tightest of budgets, but it is a great option for the budget-conscious paddler who is willing to invest a bit for a whole lot of performance.
The Vibe offers impressive performance for an introductory price point with a gentle catch and steady forward pull. Adjusting the paddle is simple and easy, thanks to a locking mechanism that is our favorite in the review. While it is a little bit heavier than other options, the three-piece version is the most compactable option in our review. If you're looking for a recreational paddle with high-performance points, we think this is a good pick.
— Megan Ferney and Shey Kiester