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H20-2 Straight Shaft Paddle is WEAK!

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    Rob Klassen

    I recently snapped the shaft of my new H2O-2 straight shaft kayak paddle while rolling up in the 2nd hole at Colliseum (Ottawa R.). I didn’t feel a thing (no impact at all!!). The H2O company refuses to offer me a warranty replacement because they say there’s no sign of a manufacturing defect (and that really sucks in my opinion). This makes me think that the design of the H2O-2 straight shaft paddle is seriously flawed. Does anyone else have a similar experience with this paddle (the H2O straight shaft not the bent shaft)?

    Is it common for WW paddles to snap without the paddler feeling any impact?

    Rob Klassen


    When I was kayaking … i was using the prototype straight shaft and still have it.

    Since I was not a pro-boater H20 bascially told me to beat the shit out of it and I did.

    I used it for 1 year both at the Gull and the Ottawa.

    My paddle probably has at least 80 days on it now as my friend has been using it on the Gull, Gatineau, Ottawa, and Middle Mad.

    And mine is still going strong.




    After breaking two paddles on two successive weekends due to a manufacturing defect (not H2O paddles), I upgraded to an H2O Team. It was scary when I heard/felt it settling on its first trip through McCoys…

    Seems like a solid paddle, great feel, very ridged – I hope it holds together

    At least they have a good warranty.

    All paddles break – it’s just a matter of time…

    I just ordered a breakdown and hopefully it won’t be used.

    Rob Klassen

    But that’s the problem…I don’t think H2O has a good warranty…They didn’t honour the warranty when my paddle broke (it was used only 8 times). I doubt that they’ll offer you a warranty replacement if your H2O team paddle breaks.


    Possibly going through a good dealer may help. They seem to have a little more pull with the companies. Take it to the shop where you buy your gear and they may go to bat for you.

    For example, I had an issue with some Riot products that only carried a 1 month warranty. Jason of Paddle Shack and his staff in Ottawa took care of the out of warranty gear situation with no problems.

    Just an idea.

    Anyway – I’ve done in a paddle on a rock, and another with water pressure alone (RS Phil’s). In a hole, you’re bracing and it feels like the blade disappears. Then you’re upside down before you know what’s happened. Having an offside roll is a good thing.

    If a paddle has a flaw, or a fracture has been started, the forces on the paddle in a hole are a great way of turning it into a canoe paddle. Even if it’s pristine, the force can be really great.


    My H20 (Team bentshaft) is going on 2 years with no problems.

    Keep in mind that a previous knock could pre-stress or hairline crack any paddle shaft. I’ve been at put-ins where paddlers suddenly noticed their shaft had a hairline crack in it (not H20 BTW) from some previous, unknown incident. If there is one and the person didn’t notice, it wouldn’t take much to snap it.



    Best paddle I ever had. Even beats Waterstick, which is saying a lot… Seems indestructable! I think Grahame’s advice of getting together with the shop that sold it to you is your best bet. If it’s Jason (Paddle Shack, in Ottawa) that sold it to you he is usually very, very helpfull in situation like these.

    Hope this helps,



    H2O uses various shafts for different models. The 07 team shafts aren’t even made by the same company and the previous models. Every layup and batch would have it’s particular weaknesses. IMO, the warranty process is meant for problems that the manufacturer has caused.

    The manufacturing defects of previous models like your straight shaft may already be well-characterized and your claim may not fit into a reason that they expect as a manufacturing defect.

    Seriously, everything breaks.

    If you believed everything you read on these boards, you would never buy a paddle again.

    Try hand paddles as an unbreakable alternative.


    I received an email from h2o paddles that stated they had a 18 month warranty.

    How old was your paddle? (Was it 2 years old and only used 8 times?) Just curious.


    I feel it is important that I post a response to this thread as I have been the one dealing with Robert’s warranty claim. It is unfortunate that he feels the need to publicize the issue, in an obvious attempt to circumvent our warranty policy or publicly force us to exchange the paddle, even though it was broken outside of our warranty outlines.

    I was just in the process of emailing Robert to outline the reasons behind the warranty refusal when I saw this on Boatwerks. If Robert feels a public forum is the best route for this then…

    H2O Paddles warrants everything we make for a period of 18 months from the date of purchase. This warranty covers all manufacturing defects which cause a failure while the product is being used for it’s intended purpose. What a warranty does not do is provide absolute insurance to the owner for every possible stress, abuse, etc. that the paddler can do to the paddle within the time frame outlined. If a paddle fails due to an impact stress beyond our intended usage outlines then it is not covered under warranty. These outlines are established through testing done both in house and on the water by our pro-team and trust me… our pro-team usage parameters are well beyond that of the average boater.

    Hitting rocks hard enough to fracture the shaft is not covered under warranty.

    When we received note from Robert that his paddle had failed we were very curious as this is the ONLY straight carbon WW shaft to ever have been broken over the entire 3 years that we have been in production. We have sold hundreds and not one had come back. We test these shafts internally to a breakage strength of over 700lbs. failure load. We also random test shaft samples to ensure that product is up to our standards. In our testing none of these shafts has failed below the above load. So we asked for the paddle to be returned for inspection.

    Upon receipt we carefully inspected the shaft for signs of impact stress and found numerous points that indicated a hard impact was the source of the failure. The shaft was fractured in 2 separate locations outside of the actual break and both additional fractures were spiral in nature ( running circumferentially around the shaft ). Spiral fractures occur when a shaft is stressed to it’s limit and it fails in multiple spots. There were impact indicators in 3 separate spots on the shaft where gouges had been taken out of the surface deep enough to weaken the substrate material ( at least .5mm in depth ). These gouges were also in an orientation that was outside of the fabric orientation which means they were caused by an external impact scratching the shaft hard enough to cause substrate failure. The third and final point was the actual break location being none uniform in separation.

    A non-uniform break location is almost always caused by the shaft being forced in on one edge. This causes failure as a fracture will work away from this impact edge and spiral around the shaft. It is easily distinguishable from a stress break or load failure as one point of the break will be significantly different from the other edges. Usually indicated by a clean break around most of the surface with an impact location having non-radial stress cracks running along the shaft in a non-circumferential direction.

    As with any paddle that breaks we take a significant amount of time to inspect it upon return. We inspect breakages for signs as listed above and
    stress test pieces to ensure load limits are met. As a designer it is imperative that you learn from failures: as these are the indicators of weakness in a product. But at the same time you need to ascertain if that weakness is caused by an action that is beyond the stresses of normal use or if it is indeed a problem area that needs to be addressed.

    The strength of H2O products is one of our paramount concerns and we constantly work towards bettering the product. We have one of the lowest return rates in the industry and can attest to the fact that warranty claims are taken seriously. We have only refused a small number of claims and each of these was due to indicators that the paddle had failed due to impact stress large enough to be outside the normal loads intended for these products.
    However, in each of these instances H2O has offered to the original buyer the option to purchase a new paddle at a discounted price ( Robert included ).

    It always amazes me that people will blame a product for a failure that has absolutely nothing to do with the manufacturing quality of said product. If you take a swim and your boat gets gouged up running the river without you…. is it the boat manufacturers fault…? No.

    H2O Paddles has and will continue to stand by it’s warranty policies. If you buy a paddle and it fails due to a manufacturing defect then we will repair or replace it. If the paddle shows obvious signs of impact damage then H2O Paddles has every right to refuse warranty coverage.

    Steve Horvath
    H2O Paddles


    Thanks Steve for an excellent explanation of your standards and warranty.

    I have had the feeling for some time that folks expect a warranty to function like insurance.

    I am constantly amazed to see paddlers throw thier paddles around like hockey sticks, as if the are designed to handle being tossed on rocks every time they exit the boat.

    Although I don’t use an H2O I do use a paddle that I expect to last and perform for a very long time. Never do I throw it to the bank or lean it against a car or leave it lying in a parking lot. This thing is my soul mate on the river, my transportation when I’m miles from roads in March flows. It’s the thing that keeps me from landing where I’d least like to be on rapids that test my limits.

    I’d be a fool to treat my paddle worse than I hope it will treat me.

    I gotta say when I first read the post that starts this thread I suspected something was out of whack. I thought the writer was being pretty harsh and figured this would become one of those threads where people bashed the hell out of you guys without real facts or details.

    Good on ya for being so transparent and staight forward. If only that kind of proactive approach wasn’t taken by other industry types when they are dragged thru it here.

    Rob Klassen

    I also expected the H2O-2 straight shaft paddle in question to last a long time and I treated it very carefully. It was never thrown on rocks or in any way abused; moreover, it was only used 8 times before it broke.

    The point is it broke under very low impact in a situation that WW kayakers experience regularly. To me that’s disturbing.

    Rob Klassen

    "blondie":ss71nury wrote:
    We test these shafts internally to a breakage strength of over 700lbs. failure load.

    We have one of the lowest return rates in the industry and can attest to the fact that warranty claims are taken seriously. We have only refused a small number of claims and each of these was due to indicators that the paddle had failed due to impact stress large enough to be outside the normal loads intended for these products.
    However, in each of these instances H2O has offered to the original buyer the option to purchase a new paddle at a discounted price ( Robert included ).

    Paddles break.

    Is there an industry standard for breakage strenght or failure load?

    Do other companies offer the discount offer by H2O? I haven’t heard of one, but that’s not saying much?

    FMI: Can the broken paddles be repair by H2O (i.e a shaft breaks can the blades be saved and reattached to a new shaft)?

    Just curious, not trying to thread jack, just appreciating the straight forward candor from H2O.


    I have a H2O and i kick the crap out of it. I thought it was going to break a few times but nope she is still bouncing off rocks. So far only good things from my paddle. I just got a new boat, "Mega Rocker" I will see how they get along with each other.

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