Tested this paddle at the East Coast Paddle Festival in Charleston, SC April 2012. Was using a Werner Shuna at the time. Also have a Tybee (same design, more weight, different blade composition). I was pretty happy with the Shuna, but tried the Xception when a rep who's boat I was trying (Confluence...) suggested it. So, with a great deal of trepidation, I did. I had paddled the Werner Ikelos bent shafts before, and again at the festival.
The Xception bent shaft just felt great. I have a slightly high paddle angle, and from the look of it didn't think this blade would favor my style, but it does. Also, the shaft bend and diameter feel more natural and comfortable to me. While the Xception has really noticeable. Great balance and weight. So, I bought one.
This paddle is quieter than the Shuna. May be the foam core, but it's much more fluid through the fluid. (Sorry, couldn't help myself there...) Paddled with my Shuna today. Up the creek, in the swamp, back down the creek. A nice paddle, but I really missed the Xception. Nice and stiff shaft, ferrule works great. Can't really think of anything I don't like about this paddle. Was a bit pricey, but I feel it's well worth the investment. Would purchase again.I have an AT Xception SL in what I think may be the oversize OS model, one generation before the current model. Why "may be OS" because it looks bigger than the current non-OS and I have similar or may be a little smaller than the current OS model.
I am 6'4" and paddle the 220cm model, which I think is just about right if not a little too long for me in a 24 or 22" ocean kayak. With this paddle I suddenly could go 30% farther in the same time and with much less effort compared to the heavier and more powerful 220 cm Powerflex paddle I was using before.
In a summary, for me the *unique* ergonomic handle, the clean water entry/exit, and the light weight were all factors that added-up to make me chose this over a Lendal paddle (Kinetic Touring or Nordkapp). Keep in mind this is personal preference for longer paddling sessions for some the Lendal might be better I liked it a lot as well and I could use that as well without complaints!
Ive briefly demoed a bunch of other paddles the top end Bending Branches, Werner Corryvrecken, and some other paddles (Cannon, Powerflex) and this AT paddle seems to be in its total performance the best fit for my 2-3 hour active paddling sessions. I like the shaft so much that my white water paddle is now also an AT4 paddle.
What I like.
The paddle that's so nice, I bought it twice!
- Very nice angle on the handle bends excellent oval shape for a comfortable grip. The inner bent section is long and allows repositioning of the hands within a good range so I can move my hands in and out and still be on the bend. The transition b/w straight and bent pieces is smooth and does not intrude in the grip - almost unnoticeable. The outer bend is actually not as much a bend but it brings the paddle shaft back to straight this I find extremely nice in hard paddling with my hands way wide, I grip towards the end of the outer bend or even outside of it and the paddle behaves like a straight shaft there with some other models (Lendal or Werner for instance) their outside bends are sharp and angled in such a way that they angle away from the paddler making the grip in this area uncomfortable and thus locking you to use only the inner grip area.
- Light and low swing weight.
- Very clean entry and exit from the water. Cleaner compared to Lendal Kinetic S or Nordkapp blades that I had a chance to compare to.
- Low flutter
- Very buoyant helps with keeping balance at reentries or for rolling and during normal paddling too.
- Nice flex during forward stroke, not too much not too little.
- Plenty of power comparable to Lendal Kinetic S, less than Lendal Nordkapp
Not so good:
- Fixed 60 degree angle only. Works well for me, but adjustable ferule would have been nice to have. Some models in the line-up have it, so it is not really an issue just keep in mind when choosing one.
- Expensive new these things are a lot of $$$, but so are the other top paddles
- The shaft joint is loose on mine, but I got it used and I am not sure how much abuse it has seen from its previous owners. Chances are they did not care much for it as it had lots of chipped areas from hitting stones and had a 4 crack on one blade (which I seem to have successfully repaired with epoxy).
- The shaft can be a little thicker my fingers are on the long side and would like that (should be fine for the average hand though).
- As with all carbon blades, this one is not the best tool for hitting rocks with all your might not a paddle issue, just compared to plastic paddles this one is more brittle
I liked the used one that I bought so much, that I bought a new one on ebay for about half price a week later (today), and I'm pretty frugal.
Last week I received a well-used 230cm AT Xception SL Tour with the 45 degree feather to use with my solo canoes from a guy who switched to a shorter paddle for his kayaks. The paddle is about two years old and has a few minor chips along the blade edges and the back of both blades are significantly scuffed from using the paddle to brace the boat while entering and exiting. I'm glad that the seller chose to sell the paddle because I really like it so far.
The only problem I've had with it so far is depressing the ferrule release button to separate the paddle. It's a little stiff at times.
I was very leary about liking the bent shaft because I don't like the bent shaft on my 220cm Werner Kalliste, but I actually do like the feel of this AT bent shaft, so far. I've used it with my hands in the center of the bends as well as with my hands on the outer half of the bends and like it both ways, depending on what I'm trying to accomplish.
This paddle is very flexy! The first time I used it, the rebound of the flex at the end of the stroke reminded me of the same type of rebound with my Bending Branches Infusion Plus with fiberglass shaft. It really flexes and seems to be easy on the joints. I'd previously been using an Epic Relaxed Tour full carbon paddle set to 225cm and 60 degree feather for my solo canoes (when I chose to use a double blade instead of a single blade) and was pretty satisfied with it, but kept reading about how great these 230cm AT Xception SL Tour paddles are with the solo canoes, so I took the plunge when the used one became available in the p.net classifieds. After three outings in my Sawyer Starlight solo canoe in the last week, I agree it is a great paddle for high angle solo canoe paddling. It is WET when using a high angle stroke and water does drip on my head, shoulders, legs and feet, but the paddle's stroke feels very good and I'm learning to accept the wetness.
This paddle appears to be as easy on my joints as the Epic Relaxed Tour and drips about the same amount. I don't know if it's because the AT is longer than the Epic by 5cm, or if it's because of the design and build characteristics, but have come to prefer using the 230cm SL Tour over the Relaxed Tour for the Starlight in the three short (about an hour each) outings in the last week. I suspect that I'll also prefer the SL Tour for my Sawyer Loon decked canoe as well.
On my wife's kitchen scale, this AT
Xception SL Tour weighed in at 25.5 oz and the Epic Relaxed Tour weighed in at 22 oz. That little bit of additional weight doesn't seem to bother me.
The paddle seems to feel good in my hands, but it's been cold since I received it, so I've been using my Glacier Glove Kenai All-Purpose neoprene gloves on all three outings and haven't used it bare handed yet.
I'm so pleased with this 230cm SL Tour for the solo canoes that I may try to acquire a 215cm or 210cm for use with my kayaks. I still use a ZRE bent shaft canoe paddle most of the time with most of my canoes, but this 230cm SL Tour is now my preferred double blade for when I choose to double blade the Starlight.
I realize that three outings isn't much usage on which to form a review, but I'll update the review if my opinion changes. I did use the paddle in some pretty strong winds and the upper blade does catch quite a bit in the wind because it's feather is only 45 degrees and I'd prefer the adjustable feather version of the paddle so I could set it to 60 degrees or greater, but this paddle was less than half price of a new variable feather paddle, so I'll just have to suffer with it on those windy days or switch to low angle strokes in those situations.
I chose the SL Tour rather than the SL Tour OS (over sized), because I'm not real strong - prefer blades with less loading than the larger blades that most people use. That's also why I chose the Epic Relaxed Tour rather than the Epic Active Tour.Recently got the new all-carbon Xception SL Tour OS (Super-light oversized) to complement my older style carbon/kevlar Xception Standard Tour (see different review) It is magnificent. All positive aspects listed in my earlier review apply here as well with a few notable exceptions.
This paddle is light: 26oz on my digital scale. As light as the bent shaft Kalliste by Werner. Despite its weight it feels very solid, much more so than a few of the other ultra-light paddles out there. The edges especially are smooth, taper nicely, and are not too thin.
Much more power. Again to compare it to the Kalliste (I assume its main competition) it is about 5% larger and has a shape that, I believe, provides greater flexibility in paddle angle.
It is also a work of art. It's just a beautiful paddle.
I've been using it heavily for over a month and I honestly can't think of anything I don't like about it. I do believe that there is a certain amount of subjectivity when it comes to bent shaft paddles. Everyone's stroke and grip is different. Different paddle brands' bends won't fit everyone the same. So make sure you try them all.
AT's grip has the mildest bend of them all and for me, it's just right. Your results may vary. Also note that I've had outstanding customer service from AT.