Werner Vibe Review
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|Price||$178 List||$199 List||$219.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Cuts cleanly through water, durable blade||Easy to adjust, sleek, great paddle performance||Easy and sturdy adjustment, lightweight, high performance||Inexpensive, large adjustment range, durable nylon blade||Inexpensive, easy to transport|
|Cons||Heavy, looks like a toy, flutters under water||Handle more prone to hotspots||Smaller adjustment range||Heavy, top grip feels cheap, shaft bends during power stroke||So-so performance, looks cheap|
|Bottom Line||The Vibe has a unique shape that functions as a solid all-around paddle that moves water well||This top-tier SUP paddle is designed with female paddlers in mind, offering easy adjustability and excellent paddling performance||The Aqua-Bound Challenge has a a high-performance paddle for serious paddlers||An affordable and highly adjustable paddle that will stand up to multiple users and rough usage||This paddle is one of the least expensive options but performed commensurate to its price tag|
|Rating Categories||Werner Vibe||Kialoa Tiare Fiberg...||Aqua-Bound Challeng...||Barrel Point Surf A...||SUPply Co 3-Piece P...|
|Ease of Adjustment (20%)|
|Locking Mechanism (20%)|
|Specs||Werner Vibe||Kialoa Tiare Fiberg...||Aqua-Bound Challeng...||Barrel Point Surf A...||SUPply Co 3-Piece P...|
|Paddle Weight||1.9 lbs||1.5 lbs||1.3 lbs||2.2 lbs||2.1 lbs|
|Number of Pieces||2-Piece||2-piece||2-piece||2-piece||3-piece|
|Length Range||68 in - 84 in||66 in - 82 in||70 in - 80 in||65 in - 83 in||67 - 85 in|
|Shaft Adjustablility||16 in||16 in||10.5 in||18 in||18 in|
|Blade Material||Fiberglass reinforced injected molded nylon||Fiberglass Fibrlite||epX engineered polymer reinforced with carbon||Nylon composite||Nylon|
|Blade Dimensions||100 sq in||80 sq in||85 sq in||95 sq in||Not listed|
|Offset||10 degrees||10 degrees||10 degrees||10.5 degrees||Not listed|
|Compact Size||34.5 in||66 in||66 in||65 in||N/A|
|Locking Mechanism||Handle LeverLock||Handle LeverLock||"Performance" Snap Button||"TwinPin" Collar Clamp||Dual-Pin Collar Clamp|
Our Analysis and Test Results
While not the lightest or highest-performing paddle in our lineup, the Werner Vibe offers solid all-around performance at a reasonable price.
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. The shape is reminiscent of a kayak paddle. While it does have some flashy new features — like a sweet locking mechanism and a solid 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 candidates. There was a bit of a learning curve when it came to using this paddle, but it ultimately proved its mettle, earning a high score in this metric and claiming one of the top spots overall.
The Vibe is a solid all-around paddle, providing both power and maneuverability when on your board. It features a blade with a rectangular shape and a hybrid dihedral/scoop profile and 10 degrees of offset. The result allows for smooth performance on the paddle's entry, the catch. The paddle allows for a more gentle catch and smooth pull through the water. Those familiar with the traditional teardrop shape may find that this paddle initially flutters. It may take some practice to become familiar with how this design moves 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-shaped paddle blade. Together, these make for a great catch and an exceptionally stable power stroke when pulling the paddle 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. It regularly outperformed other paddles but missed out on higher scores because it feels significantly heavier.
The lever-locking mechanism featured on this paddle plays 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. This system does sacrifice comfort in the handle. The shape is less bulbous and more round compared to those with traditional locking mechanisms. The major benefit of the lever-locking system is that the top shaft feels solid. Unlike other paddles, this one felt stable and solid while in use.
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. Much of this weight is in the shaft rather than the 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 provided a reasonable amount of wiggle room to allow for adjustments between paddlers of varying heights. One of our testers is under 5 feet tall and was unable to get the paddle short enough to feel confident using it.
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 helpful measurement marks and a superior locking mechanism (which we discuss in detail below), the Vibe is 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.
The Vibe features a mechanism that is not commonly used. The LeverLock system is the simplest option and a favorite. It's convenient and very easy to use particularly when making on-the-water adjustments. Built into the handle is a small lever that is lifted 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. You can feel the spring drawing the paddle shorter, so two hands are required to secure the length in place. 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. As we mentioned before, the shape is unique and testers noted that it is more like a kayak paddle than a traditional SUP.
It lacks the ultra-modern look and feel, and 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, it 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.
Once you've adjusted to the style of the Vibe you'll find that it 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 and not as pretty as 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.
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