“Paddle with Soul” WhiskeyJack Paddles

One day I went to the mail a found this beautiful postcard from WhiskeyJack Paddles, a company based in Montana but with inspiration from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, advertising their gorgeous wooden standup paddles. After perusing their great website I got in touch with owner Danny B who sent me a couple to try up here in Squamish. Visually, these paddles are stunning and growing up on the lakes and rivers of Northern Ontario these paddles initiated an emotional response because they brought me back to my early childhood days where i would spend all day on river in a canoe with my paddle searching for smallmouth bass and big pike. I also spent a lot of time on Lake Superior and teaching in Rainy Lake, near Quetico Provincial Park and as a gift I was given a Don Meany Original canoe paddle by a friend a number of years back. It’s a paddle that i cherish and use sparingly. I connected immediately to Danny’s paddles and the Boundary Waters area that borders North Western Ontario set deep in the Canadian Shield. Wood paddles are just so beautiful to look at and have the feeling only wood can provide. The craftsmanship in these WhiskeyJacks are second to none. I spend a huge amount of my time standup paddling the Greatbear Rainforest and Pacific Ocean. The Cedar tree is the tree of life on our coast and a tree that was used by the First Nations for virtually everything, from canoes, to longhouses, bentwood boxes, line and clothing. Seeing that the WhiskeyJack paddles were also partly made of cedar brought even more connection. I wish i had these paddles when Andy Lambrecht built me a red cedar SUP for my first trip to the Greatbear Rainforest in 2009. This paddle would have matched the board beautifully.

I received two paddles, the Bootlegger and the Tall Boy. I first took the Bootlegger out to the ocean to have a go with it for an hour or so. I had a hard time taking the blade out of the plastic…..it just looked too good but i was really excited to try it. The new lacquer smell made me smile. The paddle felt great in my hands and I especially like the anatomical T grip which fitted my palm perfectly. Of course the wood paddle was a little heavier than my carbon paddle but that’s to be expected. What you give up in weight you get back in the connection to the land. Its all about the feel. I also liked the fact that it was providing a little bit better of a workout for me, a nice trainer tool as well. The wide blade moved my SUP through the water effectively and efficiently. This paddle will travel with me all the way to the Greatbear Rainforest this fall for my SUP expeditions on the north coast. A paddle like this needs to be taken places so that you can build some experiences into the wood and connect it back to the land. Wood paddles have stories and a life. I am really excited to take it back to Sudbury, Ontario this summer as I continue to introduce people to the sport. I will also have out with me on my evening SUP forays for late night walleye a few minutes away from my parents house.

I then took the Tall Boy out to the South Coast of Vancouver Island for a little sup surf sesh. The Tall Boy has a smaller blade so it was much better suited to the quick movements and aggressive paddling that surfing requires. I had a stunning day with small surf to test the paddle out and to test my new Surftech Infinity KukuHoe. Both pieces of equipment performed beautifully. I surfed for 6 hours straight and i really, really liked the Tall Boy. I was able to drive hard on it and it also braced well. I had no fatigue or soreness associated with the paddle and it sure did look good in the lineup. It makes me feel good to paddle with something that has sustainably come from the land and I know other people feel this way as there is a huge resurgence in wood products, especially in the standup and surf world.

Here is a short 15 second video of one wave with the Tall Boy.
Thanks to Eric and 1iopen Productions.

Thanks Danny B, for the great paddles and the nice touch of putting my name on each one. If your looking for an incredible gift for Christmas, one that will have meaning and will last forever, you gotta get one of these. It will be hard to give it as a gift since you will want one so bad yourself but SUP is about sharing……just get two.


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