Great functionality, rock solid feel and very good performance!
Honu are an Australian brand who have been impressing us with their innovative and well made iSUPs over the last few years, so we have been keen to check out their range of paddles. The Honu Evo 3 Piece Paddle is available in either the Bamboo Carbon version, with three different color ways, and also the full carbon version. It is marketed as a versatile high performance paddle that will perform in a variety of conditions.
First impressions always count for something, and there’s no doubt that the Honu Evo paddle most definitely delivers in this department. It clips and slides together easily and sweetly and feels extremely well balanced in the hands, leaving you just frothing to get out there on the water and try it out. We started out with the Bamboo Carbon version in the blue ‘surf break’ color scheme, and there’s no doubt that the bamboo veneer on the blade and hand-finished paint job give it a very pleasing aesthetic Read on to find out what we found once we got it onto the water, but to give you an up-front heads-up, we think the Honu Evo 3 Piece paddle will be particularly great for paddlers wanting:
- Paddlers wanting a high performance travel paddle
- Paddlers who like their paddle to look great as well as work great
- Paddlers who like immediate power for SUP surfing and sprint-style paddling
- Paddlers who are taller and/or more powerful than average, and like a slightly stiffer-feeling paddle.
Honu Evo 3 Piece Paddle Spec Sheet
- Paddle Category: General purpose 3 piece high performance
- Listed Paddle Weight for Evo Bamboo Carbon model: 640g (22.5oz)
- Actual Paddle Weight: 24.1oz
- Listed Paddle Weight for Evolution Carbon model: 610g (21.5oz)
- Actual Paddle Weight: ???
- Quoted Blade Size: 86 sq.in (555 cm²)
- Shaft Diameter: 28mm
- Blade Angle: 8.75°
- Minimum Length: 67.5” (171.5cm)
- Maximum Length: 86.5” (220cm)
- Adjustment Range: 19” (48cm)
- Packed-down Size: 35.25” (89.5cm)
- Construction: 12K Carbon/ Bamboo, or full carbon
- Warranty: 2 year
Performance Review of the Honu Evo 3 Piece Paddle
Overall Score: [9.5/10]
- Overall: 9.5/10
- Functionality: 9.7/10
- Construction: 9.5/10
- Comfort: 9.0/10
- Performance: 9.5/10
Functionality Rating: 9.7/10
If you’re in the market for a high quality 3 piece paddle, you’re clearly wanting more than just high performance on the water. You’re buying it because you also want the other functionality that a three piece paddle offers. The traveling convenience of being able to carry the paddle in with your inflatable board or other normal luggage, and the length adjustment opportunities so you can use the paddle in different modes, i.e. shorter for surf or sprints and longer for cruising and distance, etc, or for a bunch of different height users. So how neatly the paddle packs down, and how easy it is to assemble and adjust are very important considerations.
The Honu Evo 3 Piece Carbon paddle packs down to just over 35”, which is fractionally shorter than average, but still a little on the long side if you’re wanting to carry your paddle in ordinary luggage. It’ll fit comfortably in most iSUP board bags though.
Assembly of the Honu Evo paddle is straightforward. The hex joint between the blade section and center shaft section is excellent as it does away with the extra weight and encumbrance of a clamp, and most importantly, ensures a rock-solid connection! We really like hex joints, but just bear in mind that if a hex joint gets jammed tight (a bit of sand or salt is all it takes), not being able to twist the shaft to work it free makes it a whole lot more problematic to get the two sections apart. You’re best off ensuring that the sections slide together and apart really easily and freely; don’t ever force the joint shut as you’ll struggle to get it apart again. Don’t hesitate to apply a bit of lubricant if necessary.
The top adjustment section of the Honu Evo 3 Piece paddle slides on very nicely, locked into place by a deep groove so there is no risk of the handle rotating out of line with the blade. The paddle is ‘infinitely adjustable’ within its adjustment range; just flip the clip open, slide the paddle to the exact length required and close the clip. On our test paddle we did find the paddle quite stiff to adjust, but once set to the required height it locked off perfectly, with no tendency to collapse to a shorter length over time.
We like the clearly visible measurements printed onto the extendable shaft, which make it easy to quickly and consistently set the adjustment to your favored height each time. (Note, as Honu is an Australian brand the measurements are in metric).
One thing that isn’t clearly marked is the recommended point of maximum adjustment. So we took it to be at the last marked measurement of 220cm, which leaves a 6” spigot inside the shaft. You could for sure extend it to a bit longer, but it’ll be putting a whole lot of strain onto the remaining bit of spigot inside the shaft. Assuming this is the maximum length, the paddle offers a 19” (48cm) overall range of adjustment which should be more than enough for most people’s requirements.
Construction Quality: 9.7/10
According to Honu, the Evo Carbon/bamboo paddle is “constructed using aerospace grade pre-impregnated 12K carbon… that is cured under pressure in an autoclave oven. We then lay into the carbon a 1 mm bamboo veneer and paint the tips to complete the classic look in a matte finish.” The blade “is built on a high-density PVC core with more than seven layers used to create the final shape”. Without the use of a whole lot of high-tech lab equipment, it’s impossible to assess exactly how a paddle is made, so we’re not in a position to dispute any of this, but we see no reason to; the paddle does feel beautifully well constructed.
The Evolution Carbon paddle is identical other than that the blade is all carbon, rather than bamboo/carbon, and this all-carbon model is both cheaper and lighter. Admittedly the bamboo may offer a slight extra degree of durability to the blade face, but essentially you’re paying more for this paddle for the aesthetics. So if performance is at the top of your priority list and you’re happy with a regular black paddle then the Evolution Carbon would seem an even better bet, being an ounce lighter and cheaper too.
Aesthetics do count for something though, and we really like that with the Bamboo/Carbon range Honu has set out to create something that is more than just a functional paddle. It’s clearly well made, stiff and light, but the use of the bamboo and hand painted finish also creates a product that is very pleasing to the eye – you could put this on your wall and people would admire it. It just looks classy. We also really like the fact that it is offered in three quite contrasting color options.
A quick footnote that we will mention for any high quality paddle such as this – it’s very well made, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is built to be abused! Paddles with fiberglass shafts and plastic blades can be treated rough, and they don’t care. Whereas carbon does care. Hard blades can easily get chipped and scuffed, so look after your paddle, and do your best to protect it from hard knocks and abuse.
Paddle Stiffness, Blade Size, Shape and Angle
We put these parameters into their own section, because they’re very important factors that determine who the paddle is suited for. However, they’re not good/bad/better/worse factors that can be assigned a score, as what will be good for one person won’t necessarily be good for another.
The Honu Evo paddle is very stiff – indeed, it’s the stiffest 3 piece paddle we have encountered this year. Unlike in iSUPs where board stiffness is a direct indicator of performance and build quality, the stiffness of the paddle is a much more subjective thing. Paddles can easily be made more or less stiff, and you want the right amount of stiffness for the way you’ll be using it.
Taller, stronger people generally (but not always) favor a stiffer paddle, and stiffness is also generally valued more for environments such as paddle surfing or on a sprint course, where you want to extract maximum power out of your paddle for relatively short periods of time. Whereas over longer distances, too stiff a paddle for your build and strength can become tiring and puts quite a bit more strain on your body if you’re trying to sustain a decent pace.
So if you’re looking for a high stiffness paddle then the Honu Evo is definitely a good one to consider.
Blade Size: Medium
Not that long ago, a blade of 86 square inches would have been near the bottom end of the size spectrum, and it’s most certainly a whole lot smaller than the large plastic blades typical of cheaper paddles. However, in recent years we’ve seen more and more paddles coming in at around the 84-86” size, and it does seem a very comfortable all-round size for a performance blade. 86 square inches is big enough that it doesn’t require perfect technique to make it work, but a blade of this size will always be a lot less tolerant of poor technique.
Blade Shape: High Aspect
At just 7.125” wide with a relatively square tip, the Honu Evo blade has a modern performance-orientated high aspect shape. However, unlike many other modern paddles the blade design itself is relatively straightforward and traditional, with a small amount of dihedral on both the power face and the rear face. We’ll talk more about what this actually means in terms of how the paddle ‘feels’ in the Performance section.
Blade Angle: Low/Medium
The angle between the shaft and the blade of 8.75° is relatively low, which is consistent with the stiffer-than-average shaft and blade shape – this is very much a performance-orientated set-up, designed for power. There is a tiny element of ‘spoon’ in the tip.
The two parts of the paddle that the paddler is in contact with are the handle and the shaft. Bear in mind that there will always be a degree of subjectivity to a comfort rating, particularly with handle shapes which do come down to personal preference.
The handle is quite rounded, in pretty much every plane, and some of our reviewers found that the convex bulge on the back of the handle was less comfortable than other handles, and it’s just fractionally easier for your hand to inadvertently disengage from the paddle. Handle comfort is very subjective, but because the Honu handle is quite a specific style it would be worth trying it to ensure you’re comfortable with it, especially as because they’re using a non-standard shaft diameter it may be difficult to swap the handle for an alternative.
The shaft of the Honu Evo 3 Piece Bamboo Carbon has a very smooth finish. It’s nice when dry, but we did find it slightly slippery when wet. The shaft is very slightly narrower in diameter than average, at 28mm. (Most are 29mm). This may not seem like a lot but for most paddlers, other than those with really big hands, a narrower shaft is easier and less tiring to grip, so every little helps, and we found the 28mm shaft a really nice size to work with, and suitable for a wide range of hand sizes.
How well a paddle performs is always tricky to evaluate because it’s so influenced by the ability of the user. A paddler with excellent technique can make pretty much any paddle perform if they try. What it actually often comes down to is not so much that one paddle performs better than another, it’s more that one paddle is easier to use because it is more forgiving than another – it still catches, delivers power and releases well even when the user is not concentrating or has less than perfect technique.
The Honu Evo paddle has clearly been designed with performance in mind. Its high aspect blade shape is very much orientated towards the competent paddler who has a well-developed and efficient catch technique. A paddle like this is less suited to the inexperienced paddler. It was very noticeable that our less experienced reviewers were getting a lot of noise and cavitation from the blade when trying to go hard with this paddle, because their catch technique was not quite good enough.
For our more competent paddlers, the paddle is a smooth and easy machine. The catch isn’t quite so instantly immediate as the very best (and considerably more expensive) racing blades. This is largely due to the dihedral on the power face which tends to soften the catch just slightly, but it then comes into its own during the power phase, keeping it smooth and controlled. The blade releases nicely too.
The stiffness factor is interesting as it slightly sets the Honu Evo apart from most of the other quality 3 piece paddles on the market. This is actually a very stiff paddle! If you’re looking for a 3 piece paddle with SUP surfing in mind then lots of stiffness allows for some real explosive power when you’re jamming hard to catch that wave. For paddling long distances at a decent pace though, the stiffness puts more strain on the body and can be tiring for smaller paddlers, so we see the paddle as better suited to the larger stronger paddler.
Summary Review of the 2023 Honu Evo 3 Piece Paddle
The Honu Evo 3 Piece is a high quality paddle, with great functionality, a rock solid feel and very good performance. Its modern high-aspect blade shape is best suited to those with good technique, and its high stiffness factor makes it particularly relevant to the larger paddler. It looks great, it comes in a high quality travel bag and is sold with a two year warranty. Nice one Honu!
Happy paddling! We hope you enjoyed this review of the Honu Evo 3 Piece Paddle. If you have any questions or comments please leave us a comment below!