Aquabound Expedition AMT Paddle Review

Reviewer:Ishi Hara
Product:Aquabound Expedition AMT paddle
Cost:
Construction:230 cm, 38 oz., two-piece paddle, fiberglass shaft, fiberglass-reinforced polythalamide blades (white)
Manufacturer:Aquabound
Reviewer Data:6’0″ tall, 175 lbs., 25 years old, 4 years paddling experience
Reviewer Kayak:17’3″L x 22.5″W Perception Eclipse kevlar sea kayak
Testing Conditions:All conditions: calm, windy, choppy, and stormy; rivers, lakes, ocean surf
Familiarity:4 years
Best Suited For:recreational paddlers
price-conscious paddlers of all levels
paddlers who need bomb-proof durability or an ultra-reliable spare
paddlers who don’t grumble about extra ounces

Expedition AMT Paddle Review: Outstanding Durability

I began paddling with the Aquabound Expedition AMT four years ago. It remains one of the best multi-purpose paddles I have ever used. One of its most impressive features is its bomb-proof construction.

I’ve shoved off of beaches, plowed through surf, and even constructed a makeshift sail mast with this paddle, but it keeps on begging for more abuse. The only “damage” it has ever suffered is that the Aquabound stickers on the blades finally fell off, and there are some virtually invisible nicks and scratches in the tips of the blades.

If you’re looking for an unbreakable day-tripping paddle or a rock-solid spare, the Expedition AMT is a great choice.

Expedition AMT Paddle Review: Excellent Blade Design

What makes the Expedition AMT a true winner is its excellent blade design: It has enough surface area to accelerate, turn, and brace, but it’s sufficiently slender to minimize the effort required for each stroke. The blade has fantastic catch, excellent pull-through, and absolutely no flutter, no matter how much pressure I apply to my stroke. Plus, the blades enter and exit the water cleanly and quietly (no “ker-plunking,” just a soft dipping sound as you paddle along.). It’s rare to find such a great blend of desirable characteristics in a single blade design.

EXPEDITION AMT PADDLE REVIEW

If you don’t know where you might end up paddling (shallow rivers, open flatwater, or ocean surf) and you only want to invest in one, do-it-all paddle, the Expedition AMT might be the perfect choice. Having said that, a few smaller-framed paddlers (usually females) have commented that the blade has a bit more surface area than they would like. For those paddlers, the more slender-bladed Aquabound Tripper might be a better match.

Expedition AMT Paddle Review: Great Value

Another nice aspect of this paddle is its price. I bought mine for $129.99. This may sound a little pricey to some frugal paddlers, but in my experience, most of the paddles that offer comparable performance cost $60 to $100 more.

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And, of course, we’re talking about a paddle that will probably last longer than you or your kayak. I don’t think there’s a more durable paddle anywhere that offers better performance and a cheaper price.

Expedition AMT Paddle Review: Good Aesthetics

Although it isn’t fancy enough to hang in a museum or over the fireplace, the Expedition AMT is attractive and well-made for a recreational paddle.

The white blades may not look quite as attractive as the silky black sheen that you find on carbon blades, nor stay as clean, but an occasional scrubbing with soap and steel wool will keep them bright.

After four years of abuse, the ferrule (where the two-piece paddle joins together) has developed a little bit of “play.” If you shake the paddle hard enough, you can feel the joint shake a little too. That said, I’ve seen plenty of paddles from other companies which have looser ferrules right off the shelf.

More importantly, even after four years, the ferrule is not so loose as to cause any audible rattling to annoy you between each stroke the way many aluminum-shaft paddles do.

Also, I’ve never had to worry about the ferrule fusing together because of sand or grit. With no maintenance whatsoever, the ferrule continues to slide together and break apart with ease and consistency.

Expedition AMT Review: Heavy Weight

The only significant drawback of the Expedition AMT is its weight (which is why I rate its Usability as 7 instead of 10). At approximately 38 oz. in the 230 cm length, it feels noticeably heavy during a long day of paddling. There are some paddles on the market that weigh only half as much, but these paddles are made of carbon fiber and cost considerably more money. As cost-effective recreational paddles go, the Expedition AMT has a very typical, acceptable weight.

Personally, the only time I ever deeply regretted its weight was during the last six miles of a 32-mile day-trip in the Apostle Islands. When I finished, it felt like my arms were going to fall off. It was then that I first considered spending $220+ to find a decent carbon-fiber paddle. Otherwise, I barely notice the extra ounces.

But a word to the wise: If you happen to borrow your friend’s 27 oz. carbon-fiber paddle for a few hours, and then try to switch back to the Expedition AMT later, the Expedition AMT will feel like a brick.

There’s no denying that lighter is better, but if you’re not willing or able to purchase a high-end carbon paddle, and you’re not trying to set any distance records anytime soon, the Expedition AMT is a great paddle.

Expedition AMT Paddle Review Verdict

Don’t let the mildly heavy weight of the Expedition AMT blind you to its outstanding construction, value, and performance. Remember: the extra weight does serve some purpose in this case because it contributes to the Expedition AMT’s virtually unrivaled durability.

The extra ounces should never hinder you unless you consistently paddle beyond 5 miles per day. To get a significantly lighter paddle, you would have to look in the $200+ price range. But if your habit is to spend only a couple of hours on the lake each day, the Expedition AMT will serve you faithfully for years and years and years.

My only other reservation is that the blades and the shaft are quite stiff, so over long periods of time, I experience more soreness in my elbows and lower back than I do while paddling with my lighter, “springier” Whetstone Mako T-1 carbon paddle. The Expedition’s heavier weight may also cause some of this soreness.

Since I only notice the soreness on long trips of 8 miles or more, this might not be an issue to the average recreational paddler. But if you’re a long-distance tourer with chronic tennis elbow, you might want to consider a lighter paddle with a little more flex.

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