Gear Review: Switchblade Double-Bladed Paddle from STAGE Ideas

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Alyson Follenius Stage Ideas Switchblade paddle
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Stage Ideas delivers an innovative double-bladed paddle with their Switchblade 2.0.  Promoted as a way to paddle more efficiently without having to switch hands to switch sides, we were intrigued.  Standup Journal Online asked North East paddler, Alyson Follenius to take it for a spin and give us her review.  Here’s what Alyson has to say…

Alyson Follenius Stage Ideas Switchblade paddle
Ever want to review a new innovation in the world of stand up paddling? Stage Ideas is looking for more reviewers for the Switchblade SUP Paddle. See bottom of article for details.

Innovation:  Stage Ideas Switchblade SUP Paddle

With so many brands out there working to create the next best gear item, innovation is the name of the game. That is, creating something consumers want before they even know they need it. When given the opportunity to try out Stage Idea’s new Swichblade SUP Paddle, I jumped at the chance. At the end of the day, if we are not trying new things, than are we really having any fun?

tage switchblade paddle full paddle
Switchblade extends to 156 inches at full length and shortens to118 inches.

Switchblade Double-Bladed Paddle:  Construction

The Switchblade is long and perhaps -at first glance – may even seem “un-paddle-able.” It is an adjustable double-bladed paddle comprised of six interlocking pieces.

Stage ideas switchblade paddle 5 pieces
5-piece construction makes the Switchblade easy to store and pack for a SUP travel adventure! Photo by: Alyson Follenius

Two blades sit on each end and fit into an extension piece via a spring button. There is one middle shaft where both blades secure into the shaft via dual Cam-Locks..

Stage Switchblade paddle interlocking pieces
Interlocking pieces make putting the Switchblade together a snap and easy to adjust to optimal height.

Each paddle end is marked to easily find and remember your desired paddle length. The Switchblade comes in three performance options: Aluminum, Carbon/Fiberglass Hybrid and 100% Carbon Fiber. I tested the full carbon design. It is adjustable from 118” (300 cm) to 156” (396 cm) and designed for paddlers ranging in height from 5’2” to 6’3”. I am 5’6” and used the paddle at its shortest length.

Stage Switchblade paddle level lock
Cam-locks hold the paddle in place for ease of paddling.

Switchblade Performance on the Water

I took the Switchblade out on my 12’6 Starboard All-Star on a day with 10-15 MPH winds. One of the first things I noticed was that the Switchblade functions for recreational use as opposed to a racing stroke which is my usual technique.  I spent 20 minutes working to find a comfortable grip, stroke and cadence. Then one blade came loose in the Cam-Lock and I could no longer get any good strokes on one side. I decided to call it for the day so I could tighten the lock and come back with a rec-style board.

The next day, I decided to give it a second run on a wider, recreational board. The winds were about the same, but it was a much smoother paddle. It took me a few minutes to get reacquainted with the Switchblade and find a rhythm.

Stage ideas switchblade paddle Kialoa board
On Day 2, Alyson decided to try the Switchblade on a wider, recreational board to get the feel for the paddle and become accustomed to its weight. Photo by: Alyson Follenius

Recreational Use: Transition from Kayak to SUP a Snap!

I am accustomed to using a traditional SUP paddle and have never spent much time in a kayak. So, the idea of holding the paddle the same way with both hands took some getting used to. I kept wanting to change my grip to get a better blade entry angle as well as a stronger pull through the power phase of the stroke.

There was a flutter in the blade in my attempts to pull until I realized I need to stop changing my grip. I also realized I needed to change my stroke and surrender to the idea of paddling similarly to a kayak paddle. The exception being that the entire Switchblade paddle would need to be more vertical above my head than a kayak paddle. Standing straighter with less hip hinge at the start of the stroke, made for a smoother paddle overall. I found my groove after a good 10-15 minutes and even got stopped by a couple of kayakers who were intrigued.

Alyson Follenius Stage Ideas Switchblade paddle 2
Alyson finds her rhythm using the Switchblade and gets the feel of how one side of it balances over her head while she pulls the downward side paddle through the water.

Better Balance, but Get those Shoulders Back

The winds made using this paddle slightly challenging as the top blade above my head would create some resistance in the gusts. I also noted with the “kayak style hold” caused internal rotation of my shoulders. It is important to note that I struggle with weaker/looser shoulder joints.  I did enjoy the glide once I settled into the stroke and dialed in the new-found mechanics. I even had a couple in kayaks paddle alongside me and inquire about the paddle. We casually conversed for a few minutes about the design and each went our separate way.

Alyson Follenius Stage Ideas Switchblade paddle 3
The Switchblade paddle makes transitioning from paddling a kayak to a paddleboard easy and quick.

Switchblade SUP:  Pro vs. Cons

Pros:
– Lightweight, especially compared to other adjustable single bladed paddles I’ve used. Weighing in at:
– Easy to assemble/disassemble and could easily be packed for travel in a car or luggage.
– Adjustable for a range of paddler heights.
– Design makes for an easy transition from Kayaking to Stand Up Paddling.
– Eliminates the need to switch sides between strokes therefore decreases time between each stroke.
– Great option for someone new to SUP. The Switchblade seems to act like somewhat of a balance pole (Think tightrope walkers using the Balance pole to minimize their body rotation on the rope). The Switchblade may provide new paddlers a similar experience making it easier to balance on the board for the first time.
– It is a conversation starter! I am all-in for anything that brings us closer into connection with one another. THIS was my favorite feature about the paddle.

Cons:
– It is cumbersome and lot of paddle to carry on the water.
– Steeper learning curve transitioning from a single blade paddle to the double-bladed paddle. It took some time to get used to the grip, not switching grip as well as not switching sides.
– Creates some resistance in wind gusts.
– While it does aid in good tracking, it makes turning a bit more challenging with the added weight above your head.
– Not recommended for paddlers with weaker/less stable shoulder joints.
– Cam-Locks should be double checked prior to each paddle to ensure they are tight enough to hold the blade.

Stage Switchblade paddle
The Switchblade breaks down into 5 pieces, easy to store and pack for you next travel adventure! Photo by: Alyson Follenius

Recommendations for Use

Overall the Stage Switchblade is an innovative and fun way to explore the water! It would be a great paddle to have on hand for newbie paddlers who need a bit more support with balance or are used to sitting in a kayak and looking to make the transition to stand up paddling.

Because it is lightweight and can be disassembled, the Switchblade can easily travel with you on your next adventure. One suggestion I would make to the designers at Stage Ideas, is to offer this paddle as a “kit” option. Add a cap on the paddle so it can be used as a single OR a double-bladed paddle. This may make the paddle more enticing a wider audience of paddlers.

Written by:  Alyson Follenius

Who’s Next? Stage Ideas will Ship the Next Switchblade to YOU

Thanks, Alyson!  Anybody else out there want to try the Switchblade 2.0?  Stage Ideas is offering to ship one to you for the cost of a small deposit for you to do your review, post about it on social media and then send it back to the company.  Any takers?

 

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Alyson Follenius
Alyson Follenius loves all things sea, sand and sun. It is thought that at night she heads back to the sea where her legs morph into a mermaid tail. At least, that is what she tells her swim students. Alyson grew up in and around the water, learning to swim when she was around 6 months old. The water is where she feels the most connected and most at home. This love of the sea heightened when she found Stand Up Paddleboarding which she refers to as her “liquid bliss.” In addition to participating in stand up paddle races and other events, Alyson works as a Holisitic Health Coach, Yoga teacher and group fitness coach. Alyson is always passionate about supporting others in finding their power through living a healthy and joy filled life.