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It is light weight, especially for the materials (aluminum shaft, plastic blades). Our friend who borrowed it has other paddles of fancier, lighter weight materials. She was surprised at how light weight this paddle was. You can butterfly the blades or have them straight. Our strokes are powerful enough for our paddling, but we can't compare it to other paddles.
So, why not give it a 10? A few reasons. First, a product has to be perfect to be a ten. This one is a great product, a great balance of cost and performance, but perfect? That's a tall order. Also, I'd prefer a material other than aluminum for the shaft for safety sake (as in lightening). But for the cost, this may be one of the best paddles out there!
I just like the way they paddle so much that I got a second pair. These are very durable. I don't have to worry about stabbing them into the sand or rocks to push off. The have three adjustment holes for feathering. The shaft is strong and forms a firm connection when snapped together.
They are not the lightest of paddles, but you'd have to pay several times the cost of the Whispers to get high-end paddles that make a significant weight reduction. I believe that the Bending Branches Whispers are an exception to the "you get what you pay for" rule. They are well worth what they cost. I gave them a "9", because I had to file the snap-hole on the second pair to get the snap to set correctly.
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